Backpackers checklist: camping & cooking gear

Tent

Backpackers checklist: camping & cooking gear

This is the second part of the series of posts about packing light for a backpacking/hitch-hiking trip. In the first part “Backpacker’s checklist: What to take and how to pack light for a trip?” we advised you on the clothes and toiletries you’d need, and we gave you some handy tips about how to make your luggage light and compact.

In this post we will show you all the necessary gear you’d need if you’re going camping.

Camping gear

Rule 1: Waterproof and light tent

This is all you need. There is nothing worse, than waking up in the middle of the night in a soaking tent, so make sure it’s waterproof and you use all the straps and pegs to stretch it to the maximum.

If you are travelling as a couple, buy a tent for 3 people and use the extra space for your bags.

Our tent weighs 3,2 kg. it’s not too much but I think you can find lighter tents.

As we are a couple, we don’t carry it in a bag like this but divide it in two parts: the base + the poles and the flysheet + the pegs, and we carry those two parts in our rucksacks.

Backpackers checklist: camping & cooking gear

Rule 2: Tiny sleeping-bag and a mat

If you’re not just going hostel-hopping, but are planning to couchsurf, camp or sleep rough, a good sleeping-bag is important. We normally travel in summer, so our sleeping bags are designed for mild/hot weather, but if you’re planning to camp in winter, you’d need a warmer, more specialised one.

In the past we used to take cheap foam travel mats but this year we’ve switched to self-inflatable mattresses, which are only a tiny bit heavier but the added comfort is incomparable.

This is all the sleeping stuff we have:

Backpackers checklist: camping & cooking gear

Cooking equipment

Rule 1: Stove & gas

A small camping stove (9) and a small bottle of butane just in case you get stuck somewhere and have to cook an emergency meal. If you hitch-hike this might happen a lot.

Rule 2: Pots & pans kit

Buy a combined pot & pan kit (1), they’re really useful and more than enough for a couple.

Take a spoon-fork-knife in one (2), a small plastic device that will take you a long way.

Take a sharp knife for general cutting (3).

Take a small plastic cup (4), it’s not heavy and so much better to drink from than an aluminium pot.

It’s also a good idea to have a small bottle with washing-up liquid (5) and a small sponge for cleaning your cooking equipment (6).

And make sure you have a tin opener (7) and a corkscrew (8), they’re always good to have.

Backpackers checklist: camping & cooking gear

And this is what it looks like when all compactly packed together :)

Backpackers checklist: camping & cooking gear

Rule 3: Basic food

It’s also a good idea to have some backup food with you in case you get stuck somewhere for a night. You won’t need a lot, it’s just to keep you alive and you will probably be able to get somewhere and buy more food after a day.

We always have with us some coffee (1) and sugar (2) in light plastic containers. A cup of coffee in the morning is a lifesaver after a night of camping in the forest!

It’s also a good idea to have some instant soup (3) and some emergency pasta (4) or rice.

We also normally have some stock cubes (5) and some spices e.g. curry powder (6). They can be useful if you’re couchsurfing and you want to cook a nice meal for your host.

Backpackers checklist: camping & cooking gear

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We hope you will find it useful. It took us a number of years to master the art of packing light and we are happy to share our experience with you :)

If you have any other ideas or suggestions which could help us all to pack light, share your knowledge in the comment box below! Thanks!

written by: Ania

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10 comments

  • Be aware that in most EU countries, if you are found carrying a knife like the one in the photos, you can (could) be arrested, even if it’s obviously part of a cooking kit. It does’t matter if you are hiking. Carrying a knife in public places is illegal. Much less problematic is carrying a Swiss Army knife in your backpack. I take mine everywhere :)

    PS: Ownership of flick knives (switchblades) is illegal in most EU countries. Read this for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switchblade

    PPS: Always use plastic containers with screw caps and lids when carrying food or liquids in your pack. Glass breaks easily, and press-on lids come off easily.

    • Thanks a lot for your, as always, useful tips, Paul! We haven’t been aware of the knife issue but we’ve never been searched either. Must purchase a Swiss army knife then :)
      And you are absolutely right about the plastic food containers. Thanks a dozen!

  • Interesting. I take a good sleeping pad and small pillow. I don’t take cooking equipment because with photo equipment it just won’t fit. I’m already pretty heavy, with tent and sleeping stuff. I’ve found so many situations where something hot is easy to find. Of course if it is a wilderness trip, that’s different.

    • I agree with you. Unless you’re camping in the wilderness, it’s usually very easy to buy something cheap and nutritious to eat. Cooking gear just weighs you down. You can’t beat a fresh baguette, a nice chunk of cheese (or a few slices of ham) and some grapes :)

  • Your checklist seems very similar to ours for our weekend trips away. Coleman do a fantastic range of tents and I have to say our three man tent is just big enough for the two of us – for the few extras pounds I am grateful of the extra space! :)

  • Thanks a lot for getting involved guys. It’s always good to hear that we are on the right track!!!

  • I have never taken with me any bottle with washing-up liquid and any small sponge for cleaning cooking equipment. And also more practical to use thermal cap then plastic cup. By the way, plastic very toxic with hot temperature products, so do not use plastic dishes anywhere.

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