The hatchback is packed with all of the basics. You have your tent, sleeping bag, several changes of clothes, a pantry's worth of meals and a fridge’s worth of beer. That's everything you need, right? Well, not exactly.
The truth is you're probably forgetting about a thing or two — or maybe don’t have it altogether.
We compiled a list of underappreciated gear you should make a part of your next camping trip.
Cost: starting at $79.95
Cooking food and boiling water over a campfire is nice ... if you have time for that. Enter the Jetboil, a dependable compact stove that can boil water in seconds. With Jetboil, you can wake up, make an entire meal and hit the trails in a matter of minutes.
Cost: starting at $29.95
A multi-tool is a useful item you can take on your camping trip. But you shouldn’t settle on something cheap. Spend the extra bit on a Leatherman — a near-perfect multi-tool that’s durable, corrosion-resistant and can be used for everything from gear repairs to food prep to cutting up tinder.
3. Fanny pack
Cost: Around $20
Fanny packs have long been associated with ‘90s dads, but this useful if not goofy-looking pouch has come a long way. Many outdoor brands now make fanny packs that double as backpacks, giving you back support, a water bottle holder and plenty of storage for small day hikes, all in an easily reachable location.
4. Water treatment
Cost: Starting at $15.95
If you're getting water from a lake or creek, you'll want to be sure that you treat it with a water filter or purifier to kill off any potentially harmful bacteria. If you can't afford an expensive water filtration system, bleach (yes, bleach, in extremely small doses) will do, as will iodine and Aquamira.
5. Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap
Cost: Starting at $6.99
For staying clean, look no further than Dr. Bronner's. You can use Dr. B’s to wash just about everything — your body, hair, clothes, dishes and even your teeth, if you're really that desperate. Plus, peppermint keeps the bugs away.
6. Duct tape
Cost: Starting at $3.99
"Wrap duct tape around your water bottle," says Eric Dorata, founder of Park Passage, a trip planner service for national parks. "It's crazy to say, but it has saved my life before."
Besides its household uses, duct tape can also be a camper's best friend. All it takes is one small crack in your water bottle on an intense hike for your life to be in danger. Before heading out for the day, wrap your water bottle about five or six times with duct tape.
Before hitting the trails
You should make a mental checklist before going out into the wild. For a standard four- to six-hour hike, Dorata recommends two liters of water, a First-Aid kit, a map or phone, a headlamp, a hat, sunscreen, whistle, rain gear (both top and bottom) and a warm layer of clothes.
"Lastly," Dorata said, "I always encourage people to take a moment to unplug and take in the beauty of their surroundings."
Ready to hit the road? Here's a list of the best trails in each state.
Image: Patrick Hendry