My first introduction to the outdoors were family "camping" trips. Load up the Honda Accord with a trunk full of camping gear and a car top carrier full of other shit and head for a campground. Four humans and a Beagle all crammed into that car, fully loaded. This maximum approach to camping was probably what fostered the outdoor flame I have today. During high school I picked up a book by Colin Fletcher about backpacking and started obsessing. I went to the far other extreme of the family trips by fitting everything I needed in backpack for a weekend. This worm hole led to Cuben Fiber tarps, Carbon Fiber Poles and way too much money spent saving a ounce.
The last few trips we have done have involved a healthy dose of car camping. After creating spreadsheets for backpacking gear weights, I have felt a little lost on how to car camp. My wife and I have together charted into these unfamiliar waters of the car camping world.
The First Trip- "Ok. Car camping! So....do we eat backpacking food?" I asked my wife as we stared at a gear wall of specialized outdoor equipment. "No I think we bring something fancy, like.... I don't know. Something!?" she responds with. Our first attempt at packing for an overnighter went like this about food, water, gear, clothes, and even what tent to bring. After too much time loading the car and organizing the stuff we hit the road. Pulling into camp we realized we did it wrong. Our tent was too small. A cooler? Extra clothes besides the ones we are wearing? This was car camping, we could bring anything that would fit in the car! Next time we would be prepared and bring chairs. Who knew you didn't have to sit on rocks when you were car camping?
The Second Trip- I am almost certain the first thing we loaded was the chairs. We looked at each other in excitement, realizing we wouldn't have to change positions on the rock so our asses didn't fall asleep. This time we brought a cooler. No not my lunchbox converted to a cooler, I mean a real cooler.....with ice. We opted for the luxury 2 person backpacking tent that was deemed too heavy for backpacking by me. "4.5 pounds? Are you kidding me?" We thought after the first trip that food would be easy, but we were wrong. It appears that no matter how hard we try, we just end up bringing the rehydrated version of our backpacking meals. Burritos. Now I love them, but this is car camping and the options are endless. Something we realized on the first trip was that you could bring gear just in case. "I might want to go for a run, or maybe a ride, and definitely a hike." This time we pulled out of the driveway a little heavier then the last time, but we were determined to do it right......or so we thought.
The Third Trip- "Salad? Yeah salads!" Sara said with excitement. The third time we were stepping up our lunch menu by adding salads. No not our typical dinner salads. Canned beans, store bought dressing, roasted veggies, and fruit. We weren't holding back.....watch out! With food finally taking shape we focused on bringing all the stuff we always forgot. The little things like extra water, so we don't have to ration our use to ensure we have enough to put out the fire. And who knew you could bring wood if there was expected to be much. Yeah car camping was starting to get easier. That is till our friends busted out a table, TWO burner stove, and rubbermaid containers full of specialized car camping luxuries. Sara turned to me and saw the options unfolding behind my eyes. Before I could even begin to compile the specialized gear list, she made sure to put in a request for a car camping table. It seems that over the last few years she has figured out how to deal with my......obsessions over gear by just ensuring she gets in on the action before the funds are depleted.
Shit We Forget-