The outdoors, and more specifically camping, is a fantastic pastime. It is something that we should all try at least once in our lives. Being outside will connect you with your primal needs to be one with nature. Even if you are a city person at heart a few days in the outdoors and camping beneath the stars will help you to reset more than just your internal clock. Trust us on this! Camping is something that you need in your life. However, there are safe ways to go camping and unsafe ways. Being prepared for anything that occurs in the outdoors is important. Our top ten camping safety items will make it possible for you to have a safe and enjoyable trip. Not to mention that proper preparation will also help you to be as comfortable as possible!
While we are providing a top ten list of camping safety items, we would like to note that this list may be different depending on the time of year! Make sure that you are prepared for summer or winter camping the right way before heading out into the wilderness!
Now it is likely you will find lists out on the internet which include gadgets and gizmos. Heck, I even use some of these myself when outdoors. However, what we are going to provide here are the basics to ensure that your camping trip is a safe one. So let’s dive into the list!
10. Bug Repellent and Sunscreen
Bug repellent is a necessary item to have with you. As spring turns into summer and fall a wide variety of insects will start to come out. The most dreaded of all of them are the mosquitos. However, there are plenty of other insects like ticks which also carry disease. You want to avoid these at all costs so having a good bug repellent on hand will help to prevent contracting things like Malaria, Zika, West Nile, or Lyme Disease. If you are spending a lot of time in the thick woods make sure to have something with a high Deet content.
Additionally, another quick thing you will want to have on hand is sunscreen. Even on cooler days, the sun can still give you a burn. In order to prevent things like skin cancer, it is critical to cover yourself with sunscreen with an appropriate sun protection factor (SPF). Many sunscreens now come in a handy spray. Remember to bring it with you in your pack so that you can reapply as necessary. The most commonly recommended SPF to use is 30, however, you want to make sure you carry the SPF that protects you the best.
9. Fire Starter
You may think that you are prepared to start a fire in an emergency situation because you have a set of matches. What is this though? It has been raining all day, your pack is soaked, and so are the matches. What are you going to do now? This is why it is important to have another means of starting a fire. The warmth will help you stay alive on a cold night and will allow you to cook as well. The best combination that you can hope to take with you is a flint and steel. Many fire starters now include a magnesium rod which really ups the reliability of getting a spark. Make sure to add a fire starter to your camping safety items.
8. Headlamp or Flashlight
Everything feels safe and comfortable during the daylight hours. At night though, our primal fear sets in. This is the time when our instincts tell us that there is something just beyond the fire light that is sure to jump out and eat us. That fear is founded as there are many predators who are nocturnal. Not to mention that darkness is just generally disorienting. Having a trusty flashlight or headlamp on hand can help extend your ability to function at night. A headlamp is my preferred choice because it frees up my hands for doing work or catching myself when I trip over a tree root! Though you can get a much higher lumen rating with a flashlight.
7. Safety Whistle and Mirror
We all hope not to be lost while out camping. Hopefully, you have left behind a general area of your whereabouts with friends and family. This will help rescuers find you more easily. In addition to this though, you should carry along a whistle and mirror. These devices can be used to signal rescuers to your location. In many instances, like the sample product below, you can find these combined together in a single tool. Having a multi-function tool like this will help save you weight in your gear while also giving you an edge during emergency situations.
5-in-1 Emergency Safety Whistle Mirror Combination
6. Wildlife Protection
The best part for me in being outdoors is being able to go wildlife viewing. While all wildlife encounters should be enjoyed from a distance, this may not always be the case. If you are hiking in the backcountry you may happen along with a wild animal. It is likely that they will hear, smell. and see you coming before you see them. However, in the chance that they do not, you should have some bear or other animal repellent on hand to help give you an opportunity. Additionally, you should follow these tips from the National Park Service on respecting wildlife.
5. Food plus Water Filtration
If you are planning on car camping it is likely that you will have food and water on hand and available. However, if you plan to adventure away from camp you need to make sure that you take enough food and water with you for at least an extra day beyond what you are expecting. this will ensure that if something happens you can quickly get the nourishment you need to keep going. For me, I keep extra dried foods and granola bars in my pack. These take up little room and are normally filled with the things needed to give long-term energy.
Water is a little trickier. You need to balance your needs for water consumption with your weight limits. Remember that each gallon of water weighs about eight pounds. When you are hiking you need to drink more water than normal. This means that it could be weight prohibitive to carry all of the water you need. Not to mention that the water itself may not be safe to drink. Therefore you should take along a mini-water purification device to help provide you with safe water.
4. Pocket Knife or Multi-tool
Having a pocket knife or multi-tool handy is what the military calls a force multiplier. Not only can the knife be used for protection and preparing food, but it can also be used to help you prepare sleeping arrangements or traps. Having a multi-tool increases your abilities even further. Some that include small saws can help with breaking down firewood. A pair of pliers can help with reattaching things to your pack. At the very least if yours has a toothpick it can get that pesky jerky that is stuck between your teeth! Depending on your price point these five multi-tools are excellent choices for new or experienced outdoors people.
3. Emergency Blanket
Emergency blankets are another one of those items that you never want to have to use. However, when out in the wilderness it can help you retain heat. This may be critical as cooler weather settles in overnight. In most instances, you can find water, wind, and moisture-proof blankets. these can help you stay dry and warm if shock has started to set in. They are generally lightweight and fold up small enough that you can in a way set and forget the blanket in your pack. It is handy to have in first aid emergencies as well because they can help protect an injured trail mate as you get them to safety.
Emergency Mylar Blanket
2. Compass and Map
With the advent of cell phones and more reliable cell phone coverage many people do not think about carrying a compass. I have been in plenty of National Parks and backcountry camping situations though where I have not had cell service. Therefore it is important for you to obtain a compass and topography map of the location you are planning on going. Not only do you need these tools but you need to know how to use them. Finding a local orienteering instructor and taking a course from them can go a long way when you are lost and need the skill. Having the topo map while planning can be very beneficial as well. Once you map your route out on the map you can quickly take a picture and send it to friends and family. In this way, if something bad does happen they have a clear direction on where you are headed.
1. First Aid Kit
You really should have a few first aid kits handy in your home, car, and camping gear. They are relatively inexpensive and can help with minor injuries that occur in any location. However, at the very least you need to make sure that your camping gear includes a first aid kit. You should review the contents of your kit on an annual basis at the very least and replace any expired items within it. Yes, first aid kits have a shelf life! You will want to make sure that your camping first aid kit includes bandages, gauze, tweezers, antiseptic, scissors, pain medicines, small splints, cleansing wipes, burn cream, and gloves. Try to find a kit that is compact enough but includes these important first aid items.
Final Thoughts on Camping Safety Items
Now it is likely that after reading through our list if you are experienced, you will say we missed something or didn’t include something on our camping safety items list. We would agree with you! There are many additional items that are necessary for camping and camping safety. However, if you are just starting out these are the minimum things that will ensure you are ready for a potential emergency while camping. You will still need other things like a tent, sleeping bag, food, backpack, etc. However, if you take these things in your pack you can be confident that your safety is covered! So get outdoors and enjoy that camping experience safely with your friends and family.