Camping Gear: Basics and Bonuses

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Having the trailer is a huge advantage for us, because it doubles as storage for all of our camping stuff. It allows us to pack stuff we might not otherwise bring (Exhibit A: the portable suitcase bar) but there are also the must-have items. I've collected the things we use, or something close to ours, and have them all here in one convenient place.

The basics

Assuming you have something to sleep in/on (Like a trailer or tent to sleep in) this is pretty much all that you really need.

Our stove and lanterns are all antique, but you can buy new editions today. Our lanterns are both 1950s, and the stove is a 1960s version.

We always have at least two coolers; one for food, and one for drinks. The main reason for this is to make it so that we aren't constantly opening and closing the food cooler, and we can have the kids get their own drinks out of the other one, and we don't have to worry about it getting closed completely. Worst case, we're stuck drinking warmish beer, which isn't nearly as terrible as spoiled eggs or meat. And again, our drinks cooler is actually vintage (it looks like like this one) but there are loads of new cooler options out there.

Bonus stuff

These toe the line between important and ridiculous, but these are the versions that we have.

After years of buying new camp chairs every spring, we finally invested in these really great Coleman camp chairs. They're sturdy and comfortable, and the built in table is a serious bonus.

Good marshmallow roasting sticks are a must; we don't want to use sticks we find on the ground, and the old unbent metal hanger is difficult to manage and can cause burnt fingers, so we love these collapsible versions instead.

I bought this 4-in-1 camp table because we needed somewhere to put the camp stove, but I never could have imagined how perfect this table set is for the job. You can set them at 3 different heights, (low like a coffee table, regular card table, or higher counter height) and use them clipped together as a square or a long rectangle, or separate. We generally use one of them high for our camp stove, and the other one low as a table by the campfire. The low version is also perfect for music in the park and other picnic-type events and it never fails to get comments.

A good citronella candle isn't always a must-have but you'd much rather have it and not need than end up being a mosquito buffet for your whole trip!

Ridiculous bonus stuff
(but we totally bring it all along)

This is where we get silly. I know that.

Jamie bought me a hammock for Christmas, and since napping is one of my favorite camping activities, it's a must-have for me.

The Coleman camp oven is basically just a box that fits over the burners on your camp stove; we've make biscuits before and roasted a pork loin once. It's not super accurate, so let go your souffle and macaron dreams, but it's decent for simple things.

Jamie and Max bought some campfire colors when they went camping last summer, and now I'm hooked as well. It's basically a packet of metal shavings of different types, and they let off different colors as they burn. You can see them in (slo mo) action in this Instagram post.

And last, it ain't a party without a string (or five!) of party lights! We found these Coleman lantern ones, so of course we had to get them, and I love that they're battery operated so we can hang them anywhere we choose.

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