Summer in Montana. We all know what that means: Camping Season! While you old grizzled camping vets probably don’t need much advice for tackling the great outdoors for a night or a week or a couple of weeks, the rest of us (especially those from out-of-state) might need a refresher on the finer points of this great Montanan sport.
The one thing that will make camping (or a great many other things in life) a lot easier is–drum roll, please–making a checklist. Yes, it’s that simple. Writing down what you need and getting organized beforehand will save you a ton of headache. You’ll think through what you need, make sure you bring it, and know what to take or what not to next time by adding or removing things over time from the list.
Of course, everyone and their brothers-in-law will have a different opinion on what to take camping (not to mention how to camp and where to camp). With that in mind, we here at WBC would like to put in our two cent’s worth on camping in Montana so that you’ll actually look forward to it, instead of dreading cramming every camping-style thing imaginable into your pickup or minivan.
Invite a friend – sometimes you’ll just want to bring the family, but it can be a lot more fun if you know another family and bring them along.
Prep your gear – use the checklist below to double-check what you’ll bring, and make sure the tent stove, matches and lantern work.
Prep the food – write what you plan to eat for each meal out, then prep what you can at home (wrap the potatoes in foil, chop the veggies, slice the meat). Remember, we’re dealing with a family outing, not an ultralight cross-country race, so you don’t need to go crazy on the freeze-dried food (which often tastes terrible). Neither is this a five-star resort, so forget the chocolate soufflés and the crêpe suzettes for now. Pack simple, traditional foods like foil dinners, pancakes in a bottle and so on (more ideas below). Make sure to bring condiments, utensils and tools!
Get the family involved – get everyone in on planning the checklist and watch the excitement grow!
If you’re busy or want to keep your kid’s stress down, consider shorter trips to close-by places and pack light. After all, this is Montana, for crying out loud, and in the Western part you can easily reach Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake, a dozen National Forests and countless lakes within easy driving reach. Try car camping for a less strenuous take on camping. Finally, have the kids bring their own stuff – give them a list of things to bring and have them look after it.
Whatever you do, “Safety First!” Always keep a well-stocked first aid kit within reach.
Finally: The Camping Checklist
Family Camping Checklist
- CAMPSITE GEAR (Keep all camping gear close together before you leave so it’s ready to go.)
- Tent, poles, stakes (get an easy-to-set-up model)
- Tent footprint (ground cover for under your tent)
- Extra tarp or canopy
- Sleeping bag for each camper
- Sleeping pad for each camper
- Repair kit for pads, mattress, tent, tarp
- Extra blankets
- Camp chairs
- Headlamps or flashlights (with extra batteries)
- Lantern fuel or batteries
- Camp stove
- Fuel for stove
- Matches or lighter
- Frying pan
- French press or portable coffee maker
- Roasting sticks for marshmallows, hot dogs
- Food-storage containers, bags
- Trash bags
- Water bottles
- Plates, bowls, forks, spoons, knives
- Cups, mugs
- Paring knife, spatula, cooking spoon
- Cutting board
- Biodegradable soap
- Sponge, dishcloth, dishtowel
- Paper towels
- Extra bin for washing dishes
- Clothes for daytime
- Shoes: hiking/walking shoes, easy-on shoes, water shoes
- Extra layers for warmth
- PERSONAL ITEMS
- OTHER ITEMS
- Maps, area information
- Pet supplies and food
- Foil dinners — One version is chop up some potatoes, onions, carrots and maybe some sausage and wrap it all in tinfoil with a little butter and a sprinkling of Italian seasoning, then keep it in the fridge until you head out.
- A liter bottle of pancake batter, frying pan and spatula. You can put this in a cooler if you like, though a lot of folks don’t worry about it. You can use homemade buttermilk, which is quite stable and you can add the eggs at the last minute; they’ll be just fine overnight.
- A box of granola bars, a dozen fruit leathers and s’mores ingredients
- Camp classics: Corn on the cob and beanies and weanies always go down well while camping.
There will always be extras to bring, but keep the extras down to a minimum. Once you go beyond the basics, it’s hard to stop!
You can get most of the items above at your local WBC: check out our supplier Do it Best’s camping gear for what we have to offer.
Do you have anything that’s a must-have for family outings?