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Dadventurer Essential Camping Kit

So, My last blog was all about keeping it simple when going camping with the kids... And this blog is all about being prepared when planning a camping trip for your god damn awesome adventurous family. No, they do not contradict each other! I think it is dead important to keep it simple and enjoy all the getting-back-to-nature-iness and getting as far away from your wifi signal as possible... (I swear I was feeling my phone, that I was not carrying, vibrate in my pocket halfway through this last wifi detox, I think I've got a problem.) I also happen to think you do need to remember certain essentials like your food, a table and, well, the kids!

Although I'm dressing this up as an informative piece to assist you in your planning and preparation so you can have an awesome family adventure. It is also a list for me to refer to next time and also proof to my amazing partner in adventure, the mumventurer, that i do know what the hell I'm doing, thank you very much! Jeez you forget the folding table, tents, toys, water and fridge one time and they never let you forget it, hey!

So I'm going to write a list now! Let's go anti clockwise from the top left because... why not?

  1. Stocked fridge OK, you don't need a car fridge, even up here in the tropics, but, man, it makes it easier! You can easily survive a long weekend out bush with an Esky (cool box - UK, Chilly bin - NZ, Unknown - US) through some careful planning and a heap of ice. After a couple of years on a cheap but decent alternative we've ended up, predictably, with the same fridge as everyone else and we're loving our Engel! Fridge or not, do some groundwork. Know what meals you'll be cooking and prep everything you can so you're not dicking around trying to chop loads of veg with a Swiss army knife or whatnot in the sand. Don't tell my wife I said that because I am all about the winging it... but she's right! For this trip we even had a couple of pre-prepared lasagnes, and some nicely marinated meat vacuum packed ready to spill onto the grill. At the very least get your local butcher to vacuum pack a different meat for each night with whatever marinade they'd recommend (they won't even charge you for that... unless they're really crap!) then veggies and salads to put next to it and drinks in aluminium and cardboard... because glass is a pain in the ass to dispose of and you don't want it dropped and broken in your camp!

  2. Individual Luggage A bag of clothes for each person in the car. Simple. Take more than you need, because you need more than you think you need. And even now you've read that and adjusted your expectations you still need more that you think you need. Swimmers, jocks (boy), knicky knacky noos (girl), couple of outfits per day. warm jumper for mornings, snug bedtime clothes, hat and sunnies, comfy shoes... done!

  3. Baby Wipes Shitloads of baby wipes, they are the best thing about your adventurous parenting lifestyle... For cleaning spilt food, snot, bums, bits, hands, the car, everything else on this list.

  4. Solar panel This is the first time we've taken a solar panel anywhere but it will come on every trip now! I only bought it because I was bored and it was on special at BCF but it was so good, and not just because we had a catastrophic battery failure just as we were about to set off. If you're planning on leaving the car parked up a couple of days and keeping the camera, fridge, drone and whatever else gets plugged in running, get one. It also made sure we looked like we know what we were doing to anyone cruising past our camp, which is important!

  5. Water Stacks of water, loads of water. As a Yorkshireman or an Ex-Yorkshire man, depending on who you ask, I drink a lot of tea, but water also comes in handy for cleaning up, washing hands and, you know, surviving. You can never have too much and there is nothing more frustrating than trying to wash up with a minuscule amount of water. Do your research and find out whether there's drinking water available where you're heading...

  6. BBQ or other such cooking equipment Having started taking the Weber on our trips, I bloody love it. It is so quick to set up and use, it is so much safer that relying on the camp fire when there's little ones about and there's minimal bush fire risk! You can bury it in the back of the car cos you won't need it until you get where you're going. So get your cast iron collection, you're fancy-ass BBQ, your trusty portable butane stove or even your Trangia in the car! We go with a simple gas bottle stove, cast iron camp oven and occasionally a double jaffle iron in addition to the BBQ. We didn't buy a ute to travel light!

  7. Kids bikes Or other "big ticket item" outdoorsy toy. The balance bikes get a heap of use, go over any terrain and take up little room. But what outdoor toy would help your little adventurer get the most out of the camp site and get a heap of use. Quick obvious tip... if it doesn't get used it isn't getting a holiday next time!

  8. Wash bag Toothbrush each, toothpaste, soaps, shower gels, shampoos and conditioners (for the long haired daughter, not the super manly dad - although my beard does feel lovely and soft after a week sharing mum's conditioner!) Anything daily use and small enough to fit in. Have a dedicated bag you can chuck it all in and unroll at the toilet block/riverside/water bottle. We use a little fishing bag because it's got loads of compartments and rolls up small. Some sociopaths keep these ready stocked at all times but who is that prepared for adventure? spoiler alert - it's not me!

  9. Bedding For us it's a sleeping bag each, then an extra blanket per swag or tent for the cooler nights. You might prefer your doona or duvet and extra soft pillows from your bed. Well la di da, very fancy! Keep the kids warm or you will not be sleeping well.

  10. First aid kits We've got two because we're clumsy. Not really, we have a new, well stocked one. then we have an old one restocked with the day to day medicines we rely on at home if the kids are sick (so, Panadol and Ibuprofen) and some funny band aids because they look cooler on a grazed knee than proper ones! Don't go without, drop the $100 or whatever just to be safe. If heading remote you'll want snake bite extras and that too, so maybe $150.

  11. Cooking Gear I have a box of cooking and eating gear which includes oils, spices, matches, mugs, cutlery etc. I have a dynamite collection of knifeyforkyspoonies, sporks and other camp cutlery that are shit to eat with but look cool so I make everyone use them. Some hot tips for this box are a chopping board - which doesn't need to be too big because of all the prep you've done before you set off (see point 1). A good sharp knife (in a sheath or cover, preferably), don't buy a crappy one, or rely on a folding utility knife, I promise you'll regret it. Actual cutlery, but I'm too bloodyminded to follow my own advice here, besides, I love saying knifeyforkyspoony. Paper plates and bowls will half your washing up and keep the fire going when dinner is done, obviously no plastic you environmental disaster zone! Aluminium Foil because jacket potatoes on the camp fore are so easy and so so good, Sandwich bags, sealable, to wrap food to go back in the fridge. BBQ wipes are great for cleaning up cookware (or bbqs!). Salt and pepper, the flavourings, not the greatest hits album. at the very least, in fact chuck in some HP sauce and some ground chilli too!

  12. Camping gear The essential and not so essential tools that make camping easier! Keep it all together in a box so it's easy to find. Tent pegs. A hammer for hitting tent pegs (and crocodiles, if they invade your camp!) - not a rubber one, a proper one. Fire making stuff, matches, lighters, flints etc so you don't look like a moron smashing stones together to get your camp fire roaring 3 days from now. Mozzie-Fuck-Off (TM), not an actual product as far as I am aware. Pack a thermacell (google and buy if you don't already own it!), mozzie spray and whatever else works to keep the little buggers in check! Light - about a thousand torches, head torches, flashlights and table lights. Tools like spanners to make safe gas bottles and bbqs or whatever else might be broken after you bounced through those rivers on your way to the camp site. I'm not mentioning car tools, that are already in your car to get you out of basic trouble, aren't they? Well - aren't they?

  13. Shade tent Extra shade for the kids just in case you can't find a nice tree to camp under. If you're struggling to find the kids somewhere nice and cool to chill out while you prepare dinner, set up camp or whatever, you'll be fighting a losing battle. Chuck a gazebo or extra tent in so you've plenty of space to play and eat dinner in case the sun is being a pain in the ass.

  14. Fun stuff We add one box of fun stuff specifically for the camp site. we have a couple of board and card games in there for the parents (currently Travel version of Settlers of Catan, Perudo and playing cards), frisbees - but really good ones, Aerobies!, Bocce sets - one for kids, one for grown-ups, a football and a few jigsaws and kids card games. We rarely use much of it because, you know, camp fires! But I sometimes wish we had. We always chuck a box or two of glowsticks in for the kids too - so much fun when there's no light but the stars!

  15. Folding table Take one, for chopping, cooking, storing stuff away from the dirt or just for keeping sharps and cookware away from little ones. If the kids need one to eat - take an extra one for that too.

  16. Food A box of stuff that doesn't need to go in the fridge. Maybe potatoes, wraps (like bread but smaller and doesn't get squashed too easily), Muesli bars, chips (crisps!), snacks. Pack a load of extra snacks that the kids like, pack a load of extra snacks the grown-ups like. Always useful to have some tins and dry foods you can rely on and don't have to refridgerate. A couple of go-tos in ours are those tins of potatoes that can go straight into a pan for a few minutess and those "just add water" pancake mix things... Great breakfast opportunity which can make some drink space in the fridge!

  17. Fishing rods Another way to make some space in the fridge is to catch your own food while you're on tour... We have found that a plan B is still important but we do love a good fish so we chuck them in there anyway if we are heading somewhere fishing is allowed. My next fishing rod will be in two pieces so I can actually fit it in.

  18. Camping chairs Good ones... and for me, anyone who has camped with me when not sticking to this rule will attest, a chair rated for my 100kg frame. Too many people have seen a cheap chair crumple under the weight of me plus one cuddly child!

  19. Swags Or tents... or caravan, or whatever... We do love the simplicity of the swags and the kids seem to be sleeping so well in them. We have the luxury of a tropical climate though so we do not need the extra space a large multi-room tent, caravan or trailer would allow.

There's a few extra things not pictured that we probably take for granted that I will add because they are an important part of our preparation for these trips.

Firstly, know your car and know what you can make it do. Don't go driving down any tracks that will put you in danger because your car doesn't have the clearance or your driver doesn't have the talent. You can always go do some practise and return next year to take it on. Nothing would ruin the holiday quite as badly as $30000 of scrap metal to tow home. It's also worth a bit of extra planning and a dummy run to make sure everything on your list will fit into the car. With a couple of days to go you can easily swap out your massive bbq for a small camping stove, but it's a stressful thing to find out on car-packing day!

The auxiliary battery is a must if you're running a fridge in the car, or any other power hungry devices. It's also very handy if your main battery struggles. You can buy standalone battery packs that don't have to be permanently installed that you just plug and play to your car's standard sockets. Worth a look!

Kids stuff. Let the kids pack their own fun stuff around their car seat. Ours take a soft toy each as a travel mascot and colouring pens and books then a load of random crap we know they won't touch but it keeps them quiet while we're packing the car!

The boxes we use to stack in our ute are definitely not those boxes that Coles use to delivery our groceries (!) although they would be perfect, they stack and fold down when not in use. Any stackable box will do but make them easy to use and buy ones that fit your car well, or you'll end up with stuff packed between them.

We have a UHF radio in our car which I'd hate to rely on in an emergency, but it'd be better than nothing. Besides, it's heaps of fun when we're in convoy with friends. If you're going properly remote I would strongly recommend a satellite messenger to keep in touch in case of emergency. They're not cheap though!

There'll be a separate blog post on this coming soon but our co-adventurers on our latest trip added so much value for us and the kids. The kids and adults had their besties in tow which made everything more fun and meant that we were sharing the planning load and there to (literally) drag each other out of trouble if necessary. Needless to say, having a likeminded, adventurous family with us made the whole trip better so they'll be our adventure team from now on whether they like it or not!

I hope this guide gives you a good starting point when you're planning your next adventure with the kids. We love to get out and adventure and a bit of planning takes all the stress out of it for us and the kids. It would be great to hear from other dadventurers (and mumventurers) out there with any items I haven't included in my list. Happy adventuring guys!


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