by Gary Hawkins, July 12, 2017
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Organization is not the only ingredient to successful camping, but it certainly helps to get you off to the right start. Whether you have a teardrop camper, tent, pop-up trailer, or small travel-trailer, storage space is at a premium. Over two and a half years, we've developed and modified our teardrop camping packing list to include just the things we need, having discarded many items we thought would be a good idea at the time.
To give a little context to our packing list, our family consists of my wife, Yafei, our three-year-old daughter, Xaria, and me. We normally pitch a tent close to the teardrop (three sleeping in a teardrop queen bed is a bit cozy), and we're usually away for two to three nights at a time. Our destination could be a regular campground, primitive campground or boondocking site.
Storage Boxes Ready for our Next Great Adventure - also 8 inch Dob
If you're unsure whether you'll use an item or not, attach a Post-It note or sticky dot to it. Remove the Post-It note or dot when the item gets used. If any are still in place after say, four trips remove the item and delete from your packing list. You can always add it again later.
Below are a few clarifying comments on our list (working down from the top):
- Box #1 is always in my 4runner in case of an emergency;
- Box #1 now includes an emergency roof-mounted LED flasher for added visibility if broken down on the side of the freeway. This is an excellent addition to our gear and greatly improves nighttime roadside safety.
- Box #3: I use a single-ring Coleman Butane Stove, in addition to the two-ring burner in the teardrop galley;
- Box #3: I use a Jetboil Flash Cooking System for boiling water for coffee and tea - it's so quick;
- Box #3: The full-sized tablecloth for picnic tables is held down by four dive weights;
- Box #5: This includes items for the tent we nearly always pitch next to the teardrop. The tent is used for sleeping, changing, a place to be if it rains (more interior space than the teardrop), and Xaria likes to bounce on the air mattress;
- Box #5: We always carry earplugs for sleeping, in case of noisy neighbors!
- A combination of the 400W inverter built into the 4runner, 120V mattress-blower (Box #5) and 75ft of extension cords (Box #1) takes all the work out of blowing up the air mattress for the tent;
- Box #9: You'd be surprised how many scorpions you can find in the desert so we carry an Escolite UV Flashlight. Xaria loves scorpion hunting!
- We now favor a regular cooler with 20 - 25lbs of ice over our 12V electric cooler. We found food stays colder, and it's straightforward to get extra ice when needed;
- The 8-inch Orion Skyquest Dobsonian telescope only goes with us on trips we know it's going to get used. It's always transported in the 4runner. The teardrop bounces around too much when driving - I'd be concerned the optics would lose alignment.
- The items in the yellow block: We seldom take the Suaoki portable shower stuff or Reliance portable toilet. These only get used if I go out backcountry hiking without the family;
- The sleeping bags are for the tent; we use regular bedsheets in the teardrop;
- The blow-up mattress is used in the tent;
- I have a selection of water containers. Typically, we take around 12 gallons of water for a 2-3 day trip;
- The Coleman Evanston 6-person tent provides lots of extra living and sleeping space. The tent is tall enough to stand up in and ideal for changing clothes. The rain-fly area is perfect for storage;
- You'll notice some ham radio items in the list, along with hiking gear, and CB radio gear for off-roading;
- The yada backup camera (a full review can be found here) helps with parking, particularly if traveling alone;
- We take a Coleman 10ft x 10ft beach canopy if we not sure that shade is available at the campsite;
- We normally carry an Outland propane firepit and tank; sometimes this is replaced by our Nexgrill tabletop grill. The firepit is useful as we often come across "open flame restrictions" associated with elevated wildfire risk;
- The Camco tri-leveler ensures the teardrop is well set-up on an uneven campsite;
- Finally, we make sure we've always got a few toys for Xaria. She particularly likes digging in the dirt.
- The extra clothes we carry are pretty self-explanatory, except to say a wool hat (beanie) and dive fleece are ideal for wearing in the tent if nighttime temperatures plummet.
Our Friend, Hans, Enjoying our Portable Firepit
I'm happy to answer any additional questions if you have them. Please leave a comment and respond when convenient. Also, please let us know what are your must-have camping items.
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