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The Most Essential Safety Items to Pack for a Camping Trip

The Most Essential Safety Items to Pack for a Camping Trip

Written by: Jamie Strand

So you’ve decided to trek out on a camping trip this summer (if you’ve yet to decide where, browse through campgrounds with reviews on or refer to ‘best of’ lists to uncover spots you may not have otherwise considered, like canyon country, the Black Hills of South Dakota, or Taughannock Falls State Park). While planning out your adventure in terms of geography is the fun part, you may eventually find out (in the event of an emergency) that not taking the time to plan for safety can ruin your fun pretty quickly.

Packing for a camping trip can be a tricky task. You don’t want to take more than you need or more than you can carry, but you also want to ensure that you have the essentials, especially when it comes to health and safety items. While campers may need specific personal items, such as prescription medications or a Medic Alert bracelet, they should include some essential first aid and safety items as well. Below, we discuss a few such essentials to help you prepare.

1. Basic First Aid Kit

A basic first aid kit is essential to any camping or hiking trip; however, campers and hikers should consider their personal needs, activities, and destinations, and customize their first aid kits accordingly. You may choose to purchase a ready-made first aid kit, or you may build a customized kit suited to your individual needs.

Generally, first aid kits for outdoor adventures should contain the following items:

  • Roll bandages, sterile gauze pads, butterfly bandages, adhesive tape, various adhesive bandages, and cotton swabs
  • Antiseptic wipes and antibiotic ointment
  • Tweezers, safety pins, nail clippers, and scissors
  • Bee sting and snake bite kits
  • Antacids and pain relievers
  • Sunscreen, sunburn lotion, and burn ointment
  • Poison ivy cream and cleansers

If you plan to spend time on hiking trails, you should also include some items that will assist you if you need to make a splint for an injured limb. Essential items for a splint include boards and twine.

2. Items to Ward Off Insects and Wildlife

Repellents of nearly all kinds are ideal safety items to include in your camping or hiking pack. For instance, you should include an insect repellent in your pack to ward off pesky bugs while you enjoy your time in nature. Insect repellent is also important to protecting your health because it helps prevent insect-borne diseases, such as malaria, West Nile virus, and Zika fever, and uncomfortable or painful insect bites. Insect repellents also can save you from tick bites that may result in Lyme disease or Powassan virus.

Another repellent that you should carry with you in certain parts of North America is bear spray. Bears are common in several of the national parks in the United States, and it is better to be safe than sorry by carrying bear spray at all times, making noise as you hike, and informing park staff if you have bear sightings.

Related Read: Wildlife 101: What to Do When a Bear Attacks

3. Locating Devices

Even if you hike with a group, you may need to alert authorities to your location for help. Some hikers choose to carry emergency whistles because they are loud and can help rescuers find you even if you no longer can yell. Another item hikers and campers should carry with them in order to be located in the event of an emergency is a signal mirror. These items can attract searchers in the air and on the ground. Keep in mind that plastic signal mirrors are more durable than glass signal mirrors.

4. Extra Food and Water

Hikers and campers never know when an emergency is going to arise. That’s why you should always carry extra food and water with you; a good rule of thumb is to carry at least an extra day’s worth of food and at least one water bottle in addition to a filter or purifier for treating water. The best way to stay hydrated while camping or hiking is to drink water, and the best way to pack food is to include non-perishable foods that are nutrient-dense and will provide you with much-needed energy. Extra food items may include trail mix, nuts or seeds, dried fruits, energy bars, granola bars, and ready-made tuna salad pouches.

To have the safest camping trip possible, you should carry essential items such as a basic first aid kit, items that will protect you from insects and wildlife, locating devices like emergency whistles, and extra food and water.

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