Camping 101: Packing for an overnight

One of the first trips my husband and I took together was camping near St. Michael’s Island, Maryland. Although just an overnight, it was a risky proposition considering that we were still just getting to know each other. There would be no electricity, no running water and no internet.

More than anything, this trip would test how well we “survived” each other. Have you ever put a tent together with someone you didn’t get along with? Exactly. We had to lean on each other.

There was a full moon that night and the tide dropped so low that we could walk out into ocean. We stargazed and talked for hours. That trip cemented us as a team and our love of camping.

On one of our many Maryland camping adventures.

On one of our many Maryland camping adventures.

Switzerland is a camper’s dreamland. Not just because of the incredible scenery, but because the country makes it so readily accessible. Trains take campers right to the best trails and there are designated campsites around every corner. You can even skip the tent in favor of a Swiss Alpine Hut. Some of the “huts” are downright luxurious, boasting saunas and swimming pools!

This weekend we’re forgoing the huts and taking our tent for its first overnight in Switzerland. We’re traveling by train to picturesque Interlaken and then hiking to the “Valley of 72 waterfalls.”

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Since our first camping trip, we’ve developed a bit of a routine when packing for an overnight. My husband handles the major equipment–tent, gas stove, tarp. I provision the food and entertainment. I particularly love camping just one or two nights because I have more room in my pack to make our trip comfortable instead of bare bones. It is a vacation, after all.

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Women’s Osprey Kyte 46 ($160).

I spent more time researching my pack than many of the apartments I’ve lived in. Osprey is one of the few companies that designs packs especially for women and I belive it is worth the splurge. The Osprey Kyte 46 is big enough so that I do not feel too restricted, without being so cumbersome that I’ll be whining on the trail. I’d always prefer to take less and hike a little lighter.

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Sea to Summit ultra-sil compression dry sack ($25).

I’m able to compress my sleeping bag down a few sizes thanks to my Sea to Summit compression dry sack.  My sleeping bag goes in the bottom compartment of my pack. Clothes are packed in the middle, with food and other necessities on the top.

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I like to wear lightweight stretchy jeans–they look polished, but feel like yoga pants. I also wear a tank top, a long-sleeved shirt and a sweater or fleece. I bring a different tank for the next day so I feel fresh, but am taking up minimal space. I add a cotton scarf, so I look pulled together and these lightweight shoes are perfect for Alpine hiking–no need for the leather boots.

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The real survival essentials.

I would never camp without playing cards (our game is Gin Rummy), my toothbrush (instantly refreshing no matter how dirty you are), my sunglasses and a little something (like these gold earrings) that make me feel nice. As far as “beauty,” I limit it to a tinted moisturizer with a high SPF and basic lip gloss. I save most of the room for the vittles.

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Forget the trail mix…we like to eat.

Obviously we could survive on protein bars and water, but why would you for an overnight? Cooking in the wild is half the fun. My go-tos:

  • A pre-cooked sausage to grill for dinner;
  • Chopped vegetables, such as bell peppers and onions that can be a side dish;
  • A healthy snack, such as olives or campfire Jiffy Pop;
  • One sweet for an after-dinner treat;
  • Eggs for a protein-rich breakfast (they come in their own carrying case); and
  • Ground espresso and a tiny creamer–there is nothing better than campfire coffee.

Finally, I like to freeze a small, bottle-sized boxed white wine and then use it to keep the other foods cold. We could do with less, but a glass of wine with the sunset is what makes it worth it.

A few links to inspire your next camping trip:

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