When someone says they're "going camping" it could mean any number of things. To your super crunchy, adventurous friend, "camping" might mean going on a 3-day backpacking trip with some freeze dried meals, a hammock, and a compact water filter. To your second cousin who grew up in western Nebraska and now lives in Los Angeles trying to stand out as a TikTok influencer, "camping" could mean sleeping with the windows open at a condo on Catalina Island. Really, the two could not be more different.
We figure you're probably somewhere in the middle. You might be down for both options, but one of them is very clearly backpacking and the other is a pleasant vacation...but not camping.
So, what can you do to upgrade your normal camping trips? First, we recommend identifying which areas of your current camp setup create the most stress or have the most moving parts. Write those things down and choose 1 or 2 to prioritize first.
We've shared some of our favorite camping upgrades below.
Outsource your lodging.
Want a super easy way to simplify your camping experience? Outsource your lodging! Maybe you don't know how to pitch a tent, don't have your own RV/trailer, or simply want to elevate your accommodations.
There's no shame in finding a campground that takes care of the lodging for you. Lots of campgrounds provide visitors with tents that are already set up, a renovated Airstream camper with hook ups, or all-season yurts to simplify the lodging experience.
If you choose this route, you can usually expect to get some other amenities and bonuses with it! Locations like Auto Camp Campgrounds typically provide basic kitchen items (pots, pans, utensils, dishware), bedding, and bath towels. In addition to those items, Auto Camp locations also provide manicured outdoor spaces with picnic tables, fire rings, fire supplies, and more.
Some would call this sort of thing glamping and we don't disagree. It really is a luxurious experience in some of the most beautiful outdoor settings. Outsourcing your lodging may not be something you do for every trip, but it sure is an excellent treat!
Store your gear so you can "grab and go."
One of the best ways to improve your camping experience is to store your gear smartly. Start by laying all of your gear out so that you can see it. Then, group things into categories. Some common categories include: sleeping, kitchenware, fire-starting, and "can't live without this tool."
Next, thin out some of the categories. Select items from each category that you absolutely want to have with you at every camping trip. The non-necessary items can be set aside.
Once you have the "must have" items for each category, find storage containers that you can use to house these items. You can use a compression sack, a hard-sided bin, a hard or soft-sided cooler, etc. You want to pick a container that you can easily load in your vehicle. Questions to consider when choosing your containers:
- Is it water-tight or waterproof?
- Can it double as anything else? A stool, table, day bag?
- Can it keep critters out?
Ultimately, you want your go-to gear to be readily accessible so that you can easily grab an already packed container of your camping items, toss it in your car, and go! Oh, and make sure you pack some clothes for yourself.
Plan your meals.
One of the most enjoyable parts of camping is cooking and eating in the great outdoors. To make the most of your camping meals, plan ahead and bring the right supplies.
Consider the length of your stay and the types of food you want to eat during your trip. You want this camping trip to feel like a vacation, so don't go overboard. This probably isn't the time to create a unique, complex meal each night. Instead, as yourself if any of your meals can do double duty. Bringing some ground beef in your cooler? Make camp tacos with half the beef and save the rest for saucy meatballs another night.
Bring food you'll actually want to eat. Sure, you might be able to get by on a bunch of granola bars and trail mix, but we think you'll be pretty hangry by the end of day 1. Save your friends the frustration of dealing with you when you're tired and hungry and pack some food that is satisfying for both your tummy and your soul! If freeze-dried meals make you happy, bring those!
Invest in gear that is multi-functional.
When you're camping, space is at a premium. When possible, try to invest in gear that is multi-functional so that you can save space. We don't recommend going out and getting a bunch of new things at once because it takes time to understand your camping preferences so that you can determine what you will actually need and use.
Tools from retailers like Outdoor Element can be very helpful. With multitool options like the Firebiner that functions as a carabiner, fire-starting tool, hex wrench, and glass breaker, you can confidently explore the outdoors.