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10 smart things to carry when camping in the wild

When out in the wilderness, camping out under the stars, there’s no luxury of ringing a bell and calling for room service
Image courtesy: Flickr/Matt Ming/CC BY 2.0

When out in the wilderness, camping out under the stars, there’s no luxury of ringing a bell and calling for room service when you need something. You simply have to pack smart – something that’ll go a long way in helping you brave nature. And, so, here’s a list of things that you should always carry in your backpack when camping:

For business behind a bush

Most times, while trekking, finding a toilet is almost as good as looking for hidden treasure. It may be a while before you reach camp (where you can get a toilet tent). But what will you do when nature calls in a middle of a nature trek? Make sure you have a pack of wet wipes. These are available on trekking and adventure gear websites. In case you can’t find any, opting for baby wet wipes is the next best option. If you do happen to locate a restroom but it’s not the cleanest, a sanitiser spray can be your knight in shining (plastic) armour.  There are some pretty innovative options for ladies, too – FUDs (female urination devices), natty paper cones, for instance, come in handy when dropping low isn’t an option. Catch our drift, ladies? These are available on Amazon and some beauty product stores in the country.  But no toilet arsenal is complete without a toilet roll – a multipurpose creation that continues to solve problems each day.

Clean drinking water

It is not always possible to get bottled water on your trek. Also, it is too cumbersome to load your porters with cases of bottled water. It is simpler to invest in some effective and lightweight water purifiers. Lifestraw is one of the more popular and easy-to-carry purifiers available. Simply put the straw in water and as you pull, water passes through the filters in the straw and gets purified. Some brands even offer a UV-ray attachment. This comes attached on top of the water bottle and while you fill water (even from the bathroom tap), switching on the UV rays for a minute and shaking the bottle, does the trick. The other option is to invest in water purifying tablets that are easily available (although the chlorine smell may be a put off for some).

Bath cheat

There may not always be a stream nearby to take a dip and clean yourself. Create your own bath cheat. Carry a pack of large-sized bath wipes, get a quick rub down and you’ll feel fresh without having a shower. Another sound investment is chewable toothpaste. These are chewing gum sized tablets that clean your mouth on the go – chew for five minutes and spit. This does away with the need to brush your teeth or look for water to do so.

Packing done right

Get a large plastic bag and line the inside of your backpack before you pack your things in it. This will water proof the items in your bag, even in torrential rainfall. You might already have a waterproof backpack, but this simple trick will ensure that nothing gets wet, even if water manages to seep through your bag. Keep a few spare ones to store wet clothes or dirty laundry.

After-bite itch reliever

While going on a trek, most of us carry some form of insect repellent, whether it’s a bug spray or an insect repellant cream. But what happens if you get bit or stung despite using the repellant? Avoid red, blotchy skin by using an after-bite itch reliever. Yes, such a thing is available in the market! Of course, you could carry some calamine lotion with you, which also helps heal the bite wound but nothing beats a cool ointment that kills the urge to scratch.

Sports injury tape

While on a trek, the likelihood of twisting your knee, pulling a muscle in your shoulder or hurting your ankle is high. Hopefully, you will be careful enough not to get such an injury. But if you do, carry a pack of sports injury tape (KT Tapes being the most popular brand). These can be put on any art of the body, around the injured muscle to hold it tight, unlike crepe bandage. These tapes are useful if you have shin splits or aching calf muscles. The tape can be left on for three to four days. And what’s more they come in different colours, so you can look cool too!

Thermal sheet cum reflector

A Mylar blanket or space blanket is a cheap and effective way of keeping the cold at bay. The sheets can be used in many ways. Wrap yourself in one when you begin to feel cold, it will trap your body heat and keep you warm. They are waterproof and can be used as a groundsheet to keep your sleeping bag from getting damp. Either that or use it sun shade or to catch rainwater. And the best part is that it can act like a reflector, so if ever you’re lost and need help, an SOS signal is just a sheet away.

LED head torch

Invest in a good head torch with LED bulbs.  It’s easy to wear and leaves your hands free. It can also double up as a lamp inside the tent for when you either need to find something, or are craving a quick read. Simply clip the torch onto any loop on the inside the tent’s roof and done.

Quick dry clothes

Invest in two sets of quick dry shirts and trousers, now available in India. When you reach your camp in the evening after your trek, change into your night gear and simply dip these in the nearest stream or half a mug of water, wring out water and hang outside your tent. They will be dry within the hour and ready for use the next day. This way you don’t need to carry too many clothes other than this set of two on a long trek – a wise thing to do when you want to keep your backpack light.

Trekking harness

This one is for bird watchers and photography buffs. You can wear this harness and strap your camera and binoculars onto them instead of carrying them around your neck. This distributes the weight evenly on the shoulders and back making it easy for you to walk around with them. Of course, you can stow it away in your bag but then they won’t be easy to access. With the harness, the camera can be quickly released from its hold, so that you don’t miss out on a single shot.

For more on where to begin your next trek, grab your copy of 50 Great Adventures.

Suggested reading:

Everest Base Camp: how to trek there & live to tell the tale

Four treks for the nature lover

Expert tips for your first trek to the Indian Himalaya

Trekking to Goecha La, West Sikkim

Treks and village stays in Kumaon, Uttarakhand

Best treks in the world


AUTHOR'S BIO: Vidya Deshpande is a freelance writer and takes trips with women travellers to offbeat locations, with her venture, Soul Purpose Travel.