By: Jay Brewington
Okay…I admit it. I am lazy. I think in most cases you could exchange the word lazy for minimalist. I have less to carry, less to clean up, and less to go wrong. When others are still setting up their gear, I am in my chair. When they are packing up, I am heading home.
Is this the right way to camp? No. It isn’t the wrong way to camp either. This article will give you an idea of what the lowest end of the spectrum is like. As you add more items to this list remember the following points:
- It’s your dog, you walk it. You are responsible for the items you take.
- Leave no trace. Take everything out that you bring in.
- Never (and I mean NEVER) sacrifice safety.
The new hi-tech camping gear allows the lazy person (err minimalist) to carry more items and still keep the weight down. There has also been a drastic improvement in freeze dried meals. You can actually lower your weight and volume usage if you are willing to throw some money at the situation. I don’t think this is really necessary for an overnight (or even two night) trip.
So what do you need? This is what I now take when I go for an overnight trip now:
Stuff you always carry anyway
One if the nice things combining camping with fishing is that many of the things you need for the camping experience are already in your inventory. With that in mind, I am leaving out a complete discussion of equipment that I think fisherman would already carry. I’ve compiled a quick listing of these items:
- FRS Radio
- Bug Spray
- Head Lamp
- Swiss Army Knife
- Fishing Pliers
First Aid Kit: Don’t leave home with out it; whether it’s for a day or a week on the water. They weigh around a pound. Hopefully you will never use it.
Tent: I use a Hennessey Hammock tent. This tent weighs in at 2 pound 10 ounces. With no rods or sticks, it stores compactly in the nose of my kayak. The drawback to this tent is the need for trees. Ground tents designed for backpacker work well, also. They weigh just a little more.
Sleeping Gear: I chose a fleece sleeping bag. This weighs about 1 pound 8 ounces. Since I am not camping in extreme conditions, I don’t see the need for a sleeping bag. This bag is only rated to 50 degrees and works for me down to about 45. If you are going to be camping in the winter months, you might want to invest in a bag with a better rating.
Camp Chair: Definitely take one of the collapsing camp chairs. They are light and sturdy. Nothing is worse than not having some place sit when you are at the campsite. The ones with arm rests weigh about 8 pounds. The biggest drawback to them is they are bulky and can be tricky to pack.
Cooking Equipment: I use a propane burner system. There are definitely lighter systems on the market. I like the convenience and reliability. The Coleman 1 burner propane stove I use weighs two pounds. The fuel cell is heavy, but compact. I was also able to add a two mantle lantern (3.5 pounds) that uses the same fuel. Total weight of the system is about 8 pounds. I added a small cook set that weighs in at less than pound.
Many die-hard minimalists prefer an alcohol stove. They are much lighter and virtually trouble free. You can even make your own. (Article to come later). The most basic example of this is the Trangia Stove. You can buy a stove and cookset for under $30.
Soft-side Cooler: Once again, technology has come to the rescue. The new coolers function well in the fall, winter, and spring. 8 pounds of ice will keep overnight and into the next day. The advantage of the soft sided cooler is that it collapses out of the way on the return trip.
You gotta eat. A clean shirt might be nice. Provisions include all of those supplies you need to replenish after a trip. Again, depending upon how much effort you want to put into it, the amount you take can vary greatly. The length of the stay will also increase the weight in this area.
Water: You need a gallon for each day out. Since most of the camping in our area is done in a saltwater environment, water purifiers are out. I do not know of any products that purify saltwater. For an overnight trip I’ll take one gallon. If you are lucky, someone with a canoe will be camping with you. In that case they can carry a 5 gallon jug at the front of their boat and use it for ballast.
Food: This is where I really pare down. For a one night trip, I stop at one of the local sandwich shops and get a sub for dinner. For breakfast, I carry one the many brands of breakfast bars on the market. A couple of bags of chips for the campfire bull session and you’re good to go. Instead of ground coffee, I carry instant. I can get all of my food and beverages into the soft sided cooler.
Oh…one other item. “She who must have her way” usually provides me with some kind of fresh baked chocolate cookie to share. Just because we are camping doesn’t mean we have to be uncivilized.
Many of the campers I go out with disagree with me on this point. They like to prepare more elaborate meals. I have to admit that the smell of bacon frying in the morning is a wonderful thing. Fresh caught fish cooked over an open fire tastes great! If you don’t mind the clean-up, you can add a few items to your larder and still have a trip with minimal weight and effort.
Clothing: I carry two shirts, a second pair of wading pants for the next day, and a pair of sandals. This is one place you need to watch the weather. Rain Jackets (or suits), sweatshirts, or other inclement weather gear might be needed. Many campers carry them all the time; just in case. Clothing does not take up much space and or weight. It is better to have that rain jacket than to be wet. Clean, dry clothes will increase your comfort level immensely.
My Luxury Items:
What is the stuff that really makes you comfortable? Is it a favorite pillow? Maybe you want to take a book to read. Luxury items are those things you could live without, but they are just nice to have. Even the minimalist carries luxury items.
Ice: This is my #1 luxury item. It is unfortunate too. It is bulky, doesn’t last, and adds a lot of weight. But it is soooo nice to have cool drink after a day on the water. The ice and food go into the soft sided cooler.
Beverages: Yeah, you can drink water all of the time. But what fun would that be? Whether we are talking about alcoholic or non-alcoholic refreshment, it just makes sitting around the campsite more enjoyable. If you do take adult beverages, please drink responsibly. One thing I have heard but never tried. Some canned beers do freeze well.
Bug Lamp: If you camp in the summer, you need something to provide protection from the mosquitoes and no-see-ums that are in our environment. Even in the fall and spring, the biters can come out and get you. The new OFF plastic lamps are lightweight and seem to do a pretty good job of warding off the pests. I have yet to field test it. But they work well in the backyard. I took it on one trip to test it out and it was so windy, I couldn’t find out.
Personal items checklist
Here are some key items to bring along on any trip lasting more than a day:
- Medications Including prescriptions, pain killers and antihistamines Bring along a plastic storage container to keep them dry
- Toilet paper
- Personal hygiene items
- Toothbrush and paste
- Biodegradable soap
- Comb or brush
- Contact lens supplies
If you are interested in really low weight, low volume camping; check out this site: http://www.hikinghq.net/
These guys are hardcore ultra-lightweight backpackers. It is an excellent site full of great information. Plus, they have an attitude and ethic similar to the paddle anglers around Tampa.