Planning for a camping trip with a few friends, or the entire family, for a night or two can become stressful and out of control very fast if you let it.

This is more common among inexperienced campers, as they can be intimidated by the seclusion from civilization and absence of modern conveniences that the activity entails. A few luxury items are fine, in moderation, but over-packing for a weekend camping trip is a common occurrence and those who do so will end up lugging around unnecessary items all weekend.

Perhaps the most commonly over-packed item is clothing. Seasoned campers will tell you that, more often than not, one outfit will do just fine for a weekend trip. It’s worth it to invest in quality outdoor clothing, such as shirts and pants that fight odor and are designed to be worn for days at a time.

I would always bring extra socks, though. Wet socks aren’t fun. Similarly, makeup is an item that should always be left at home, even if you’re camping as a couple. The point of camping is to get away from the pressures of everyday life, which means you can be you and not worry about looking good or impressing anyone. The people you’re with are with you because they want to spend time with you; makeup just isn’t necessary.

As far as gear and supplies go, it can be tempting to try to bring extra firewood, and if you’re at a campsite with ready access to your vehicle or RV, you may have room to bring extra. However, weekend trips will require a lot of firewood and it will be impossible to carry as much as you’ll need. Besides, it’s never a good idea to transport wood from one area to another. You’ll have to buy your firewood locally or forage for your own, which is a good skill to possess anyway.

Some might also be tempted to bring along comfortable seating options, such as bleacher seats or chairs. Again, campsites with RV access accommodate this, but in reality, a log or large rock will do just fine. Extra food is also hard for some to resist packing, especially when children are present. As important as it may seem to bring boxes of snacks, though, stick to the bare essentials if you can. This will also reduce the risk of crumbs and wrappers being left on the ground, which means a lower risk of visits from curious animals.

Lastly, we come to those items that really aren’t necessary at all, but many people want to bring along. Such items include MP3 players, musical instruments, expensive cameras, and books. While the importance of these items varies with each individual, the majority of the time they’re an encumbrance and detract from the point of the trip in the first place: to get away from it all for a weekend. Granted, some solo hikers like to listen to music on the trail, and a harmonica around the fire is a good time. However, if you’re campsite is a ways away from the car and packing comes down to this or that, leave these things at home and save room for the important stuff. Besides, a guitar case can be quite a burden during a hike.

There are several items that we feel we can’t go without during a weekend in the outdoors. Parents will undoubtedly want to pack more than necessary to ensure that everyone is safe, well-fed, and entertained. Furthermore, there are those who pack as if they’re staying at a hotel during a weekend trip to New York or San Diego. However, camping is about ridding ourselves of a reliance on these items as a means of entertainment. There are endless opportunities for excitement and learning in nature if you only take a moment to stop and see them for yourself, so please, leave the makeup and guitar at home. 

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