You’ve decided to go on an offroad and camping adventure, what gear do you need? And more importantly what gear do you NOT need. Before you pack the kitchen sink, have a read of this guide so you don’t overload your vehicle.
This question is answered by each camper differently but there are many things that are essential for every camper, like a first aid kit, recovery gear, food and water of course.
The first question you should ask yourself is not necessarily what do you need for tent camping or touring, but what type of excursion you’ll be going on?
Although seemingly a trivial topic, it can get a bit complicated when we talk about the Gross Vehicle Mass & Payload capacity. This article should benefit first time off-roaders and perhaps even a couple of key points for seasoned campers to avoid the likelihood of something bad happening.
Over the years, our customers have had more off-road expeditions, both global, national and weekend trips than we can count. Camping, when done right has a way of bringing peace and reducing stress amidst our busy lives.
We’ll provide a simple printable checklist for you to plan and prepare for your next off-road camping trip as well as give experienced guidance on some camping essentials.
If at any point you would like to jump to a particular section, click on any of the table of contents links to jump right to what you’re looking for.
- WHERE TO BEGIN WHEN PREPARING FOR YOUR CAMPING TRIP
- Tent vs Camper
- HOW MUCH FOOD AND WATER SHOULD I BRING?
- CAMPING MUST HAVE ITEMS
- First aid kit
- BEFORE YOU ROLL
- How to Prepare Your Loadout For the Rough Ride
- TRAILER SECURITY AND PREPARATION
- FOOD AND COOKING UTENSILS
- CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR
- CAMPING EQUIPMENT
- FUEL & VEHICLE LUBRICANTS
- General Spares
- Electrical Spares
- LONG STAY EQUIPMENT
- RECOVERY GEAR
- HOW TO PREPARE FOR CAMPING: A JOURNEY BEFORE THE EXPEDITION
WHERE TO BEGIN WHEN PREPARING FOR YOUR CAMPING TRIP
As we mentioned before it all boils down to what type of camping trip are you going on? Will it be a weekend trip? Will it be a family outing or one with the boys?
After you’ve determined what type of trip it’ll be, it’s now time to plan/prep your mode of transportation. Obviously, we’re big fans of 4×4 Utes with a tray back, because it allows for better utilization of space and the option to add canopies or a Trayon Camper which allows you to avoid towing and setup your campsite in a snap.
Tent vs Camper
We recommend a full layout party prior to leaving for your trip. Set up each tent and account for everything from the tent poles to the corner stakes. Check the seams and fabric for rips and tears. Apply a water-proofer of your choice should you be going to a wet climate.
If you have one of those pop-up style tents, test out all the actuators and supports for smooth operation. Again, check for rips and tears of the fabric as well as operate the zippers.
So why set up your tent prior to arrival, you may be wondering. To be honest no one likes being the Newby and showing up unprepared, but beyond that it’s a good practice to get into even if you’re a camping pro, it gives you a chance to clean it up if you forgot to last time, check for holes and all the pieces. And if it’s been a long time since you went camping, you might also want to check for mould.
When operating a camper, the preparation before leaving is no different of a process. The only difference is that your home away from home is mounted to your ute. You should still operate the fold-out function of the sleeping quarters. If you have the pop-up or pop-out style camper, you should still verify the proper operation of all your gas struts etc.
Campers can be useful to minimise setup time, although some camper trailers can take just as long as a large tent. We generally like to avoid towing when we go camping, unless it’s to bring a boat. The idea here is to reduce the risk of something going wrong when you are 1000’s of kms from the nearest town (like many of our customers do on a regular basis).
HOW MUCH FOOD AND WATER SHOULD I BRING?
When deciding how much food and water to bring it will depend on how many people will be joining you and if it’s an easily accessible location with camping supplies. A rough estimate is 1000-1500 calories worth of food and 1.8 litres per day per person so your fridge or cooler should be fully stocked. Fishing equipment is also useful.
A lot of campers try to bring what they would normally consume during their normal work week but when you’re camping and enjoying all the trip has to offer, it’s surprising how little you’ll consume simply because you’re more active and busy with on-the-road life.
Of course this is not a prescription for success and it’s definitely better to have and not need vs need and not have…especially when it comes to food and water. Just remember that everything has weight and you want to avoid overloading your vehicles (GVM) Gross Vehicle Mass. You’ll need to keep track of the weight you’re putting in, especially if you have 4WD accessories like a winch, steel bullbar, roof racks, underbody bash plates, extended fuel or water tanks. These all eat into your payload and you’d be surprised how quickly it all adds up.
Research the temperature and environment you’ll be residing in to make sure you can sustain your food and water as well as have plenty to consume. Should the temperature be high you’ll obviously need more water or if you’ll be hiking a lot you will need a higher caloric intake.
CAMPING MUST HAVE ITEMS
Everyone brings items that they realise have added weight but in the end were not used. At some point we’ve all packed a bit too much gear, but there’s some things that should always be considered regardless of the type of trip you’ll be taking. These items are:
A well stocked First-Aid kit could mean the all difference when you or someone you care about is injured. Keep in mind a FA kit is not just for injuries, rashes, upset stomach, headaches and any other ailment should be accounted for as well.
Secure it to your vehicle in an easy to access location so you can grab it quickly if the situation calls for it.
We all hope for the best but we must also plan for the worst. A catastrophic failure on the trail is considered the worst but it doesn’t have to be if you have the proper tools.
Each tool kit is personal and will have vehicle specific items. Start with the basic tool kit and work your way up from there.
Depending on how remote you are going, you’ll want to plan ahead and think about some spares that could get you out of tough situations.
Spare item is a category that can get out of hand quickly. You want to be prepared but you don’t want to add an inordinate amount of weight. Spare items need to be well thought out and definitely in your kit.
Electrical spares, mechanical spares, extra batteries, fuses, wires, connectors etc. can take up a lot of room and weight, ensuring you organize and distribute the weight across your ute is key.
*See checklist for a detailed list of suggested spares
BEFORE YOU ROLL
Two things to remember while packing for off-roading and camping: 1. Organise and 2. Organise. Everything will move and everything will chafe or rub while driving off road. Think about how much you move in the seat as you’re driving down the track. Now imagine loose items or wires from the new lights you just installed. Everything will move, everything will rub.
Put your items into plastic containers or storage of some kind. If you happen to own a Trayon Camper then you are well on your way to everything having its own nook and home for the journey.
Take your time in the preparation of your ute, your packing, and your plan. It’s better to be prepared before you roll-out than to be unprepared and figuring it out on the track. There will be plenty of that as it is, no need to compound issues.
If possible, use light weight plastic or breaks-resistant containers and plates/bowls
All storage jars should have screw type lids to avoid spills of your pasta or rice. On rough tracks, check your containers regularly. Bring ziplock bags or old milk containers in case of a spill.
On long stretches of track with chatter-bumps, aluminium cans can wear through. Crafting foam between the cans will prevent rubbing together.
Plastic bottles for your cooking oil, ketchup, etc usually have a flip-top lid. Tape over the lid and put into a sandwich bag which will contain the leak if it opens.
Labelling your containers well will help you find what you’re looking for deep in the fridge or storage box.
If travelling with a slide on camper, double-check all flat surfaces for unpacked items. Finding your washing-up liquid all over the interior after 100K of rough track might not be ideal when you arrive at camp.
TRAILER SECURITY AND PREPARATION
If you have a trailer, use the same diligence you would for your ute to ensure proper operation on the track.
Everybody, both male and female has their “at home” routine but out on the trail you will inevitably adapt and overcome. However, some essentials we suggest fall in the ‘must bring’ category such as toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and water for washing. Just remember to use zip lock bags to carry wet things, or some fiddly tubes or containers that tend to open and leak. Cleanliness goes a long way to enjoying your trip.
FOOD AND COOKING UTENSILS
Having a 12V fridge will keep your food fresh, drinks cool, and is highly recommended. A cooler will suffice on the shorter trips but the theme around this article is to pack accordingly and not carry extra.
Ensure you check weather reports and pack accordingly. The season will determine what you pack. Sleeping bag, sheets, pillows and all the variations for heavy and light packing need to be investigated and tested when possible. Day and night temperatures will vary as well, understanding the weather will ensure you bring the right sleeping gear.
If you’re staying in your camper the bedding and sleeping arrangement will be custom fit to your setup. Sheets, blankets, pillows will all have to fit in your foldable or pop-up camper. If you have a solid type camper, set up your sleeping situation as you would at home.
Depending on your journey and destination, it might be a good idea to bring an extra set of bedding. We’ve had a few instances with an over-excited dog and the extra sheets came in handy.
CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR
Winter or summer? Raining or dusty? All environments where you’ll be staying should determine what you’ll bring. Pack to your surroundings for the trip and have a few items for the rain you weren’t expecting.
At a minimum, you should have doubles of everything. If we’re going on a week-long trip, we bring 10 days worth of clothing just to be sure. Hasn’t happened that we need the extra clothing but as we always say – better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
The below checklist will be tailored to your trip and is not all-inclusive. Customise your clothing for your trip.
Pro-tip: when packing, roll your clothing to fit more items and keep it organized with luggage packing bags. They are cheap and it’s a relief to reach into your storage and grab the exact item you’re looking for.
Camping equipment is a category that takes a lot of practice and trial and error to dial in. There’s only so much that you can test in-store. Your friends can recommend certain items to you but it takes real-world use to know if it’s the right piece for you.
If you can borrow an item for a short trip to see if you like it before you buy it that would be ideal, but when you are down range it’s not the good time to regret any purchases.
Modify the blow list if you are tent camping or in a camper.
Campers will need far less “camping” equipment due to most of their gear being tucked away inside, but it’s always a good idea to bring such items as listed above for that rare occasion you might get out of the camper and hike into a location.
FUEL & VEHICLE LUBRICANTS
All lubricants and fluids should be kept in approved containers and secured with tape or in a secondary container to mitigate any spillage of any kind. For the longer trips, you should plan accordingly with higher quantities. It’s easy to bring twice the amount of lubricants and fuel you might need so measure carefully to keep the weight down.
Spares will vary from vehicle to vehicle. Age, condition, duration of trip, and simply how hard you are on your ute will all play a factor. Remember everything has a weighted value both physically and usability. Plan accordingly for the journey, not the destination. Have a rough idea of what might break before you roll.
All parts and hardware should be kept in a durable container if possible. Inventory items and organize for ease of use when you need to replace or repair something.
Before an issue arises you should practice at home making connections, testing for shorts in your connections, soldering connections and any other issue you might think of electrically.
Pro-Tip: buy some water-resistant heat shrink with pre-fluxed solder to make for easy, weatherproof connections when on the track. If you have a newer vehicle and your not handy with electronics, that’s all good.
LONG STAY EQUIPMENT
Expeditions on rough terrain for extended periods of time (1 week or more) will require much more equipment and supplies. Assess and plan accordingly to ensure you have what you want and need for the duration of the camping trip.
Communicating is the absolute essential function while away from home. Whether it’s using your mobile phone, a satellite phone for those remote locations, or having a Spot beacon to send the “All Good” signal to loved ones. Communication devices are a tool of adventure that’s sorely missed when things break bad.
Vehicle recovery gear is exactly as it sounds. You’ve got yourself in a bind and need assistance to set it right. It’s always a good idea to go out with a friend or group but occasionally you’ll have to recover yourself. Having the right gear makes all the difference and practising on how to properly use that gear mitigates frustration on the track.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR CAMPING: A JOURNEY BEFORE THE EXPEDITION
As we mentioned in the beginning of this article, each packing list should suit the individual that’ll be camping. Do not follow another’s packing list or packing style to the letter. That is what works for them and more than likely they have spent many outings refining their process.
Use this packing list as a guide and have faith that you’ll assemble an excellent protocol for each trip but first the journey must be had.
Just keep in mind that your payload is limited, so ensure you know your numbers. Read our article on why you need a GVM upgrade which goes into more detail about the trade-offs between heavy 4WD accessories & payload.
If you’d enjoy a conversation on what to pack or even how to pack for your upcoming journey, stop by the shop at Trayon and we would be happy to get it all sorted.