For many families, camping includes a long list of things to bring – everything from tweezers to your iPad. However, real honest-to-goodness camping requires very little. If you are seeking a real camping experience, there are some things you need to know and a lot of things you can leave behind.

Real, honest-to-goodness camping requires a bit of bravery and a lot of determination to pull off, but once you have gone camping with a minimal amount of stuff, you may never go back to long lists and over-packing again.

Sleeping Gear

This type of camping requires very little in the way of sleeping gear. A tent and a sleeping bag should be sufficient. Of course, if you are camping in the dead of winter on top of a mountain, common sense prevails, and you need more than just that. However, if you try camping with a minimal approach, then a tent, a sleeping bag, and perhaps a plastic tablecloth for the ground will give you a grounding effect.

Food and Water

Camping in this way does not require much in the way of food. Some simple recipes such as chili, hot dogs, rice, and beans should suffice. There are tons of ways to bring along dehydrated foods as well. Dehydrated foods last longer, taste just fine, and you can find them in many places. There are also many varieties sold.

For real basic camp food, however, fishing and eating your catch is the best way to go. Of course, if you are not experienced in fishing, you may want to bring your dehydrated supplies and canned chili along for the ride.


Cooking over the campfire without the use of a camping stove or barbeque gives the real effect of down-to-earth camping. Water is something that you should bring along in excess. You never know if you will need it for drinking, cooking, or washing up. Never go camping without extra water; even if you want to get the real effect of down-to-earth camping, you can put it in a canteen.


Hiking boots and lots of layers of clothing are necessary. Even if you strip down the layers as you go along your day, it is better to have layers than bulky camping clothing that is too heavy for daytime use.


If you want to feel like a real camper, matches for your campfire, newspapers to help get it going and lighter fluid are necessary. Keep some flashlights and extra batteries in your vehicle just in case, but leave them there to get the full effect of camping.

Homemade materials such as oatmeal and aspirin for bee stings and bug bites are great to have around. Bring some rope; you never know when you might need it. Other essentials include toilet paper, homemade bug repellant, sunscreen, and an ax for wood chopping.

There you have it – the basics for real honest-to-goodness camping.