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A list of things I’ve forgotten on camping trips because I didn’t bother to make a packing list.

If it can be bought, it can and will be forgotten in my basement.

By: Aaron Rickel Jones + Save to a List


1. Campsite reservations.
This one has only happened once and is pretty hard to recover from. My buddy Ryan and I ended up driving several hours into Big Sur only to turn around and drive several hours back to his parents house.

2. Chips for the seven layer dip and hummus for the tomato basil wheat thins.
We ended up trying to dip the tomato basil wheat thins in the seven layer bean dip and needless to say the combination isn’t on track to win any Michelin stars.

3. Camp chairs.
Fortunately we remembered while still on the road and were able to stop by a friend’s house and borrow their Tommy Bahama beach lounge chairs which coincidentally ended up being phenomenal stargazing chairs.

4. Various combinations of shoes, socks, and underwear.
If you have the opportunity to choose, ending up with shoes and no socks is better than the other way around. But if you really have the opportunity to choose, just choose both.

5. My fiance’s sleeping bag.
The jury’s still out on whether I forgot it or she forgot it, but I simply ask that you take note of the owner of the sleeping bag before you draw your own conclusions.

6. A can opener.
However I’ve never let this get in the way of getting a can opened. It’s honestly shocking that I haven’t inflicted more damage to my extremities with the number of cans I’ve massacred open with a multitool.

7. Tent poles.
Technically, I didn’t forget the tent poles because I was nine and wasn’t doing the packing. My grandpa and uncle ingeniously strung the tent up to the trees, and my mom’s good attitude got us through a pouring night of rain in a tent without poles.

Remembering to bring a good attitude actually seems to have a greater effect on the enjoyment of my camping trips than any single item I’ve forgotten. (Except perhaps the campsite reservations, although I managed to forget a good attitude on that trip as well.) Part of camping is dealing with the unexpected, which includes things that you could have easily remembered had you taken a few moments of spare time to write them down in bullet form on a spare piece of paper or the notes app of your phone but didn’t and now have to improvise around or forgo entirely.

What’s funny is the more comfortable I make my camping trips, the more likely I am to forget things. The more camping knick knacks and gadgets and fanciness I bring into my life, the more camping stuff I manage to leave in my basement when I load up the car for an adventure. That’s where I’m realizing my water jug is right now while I’m en-route to a camping trip away from potable water.

8. Water Jug
I need to get better at making and remembering to use lists, there’s no question about it. At the same time, I’m realizing that I’ve inadvertently bought into the myth that more stuff equates to more fulfilling experiences, and therefore a more fulfilling life.

Turns out, it doesn’t. But it’s difficult competing with that myth when outdoor recreational cooperatives (who will remain unnamed) do such a damn good job marketing all the new camping gear I don’t have.

9. A Fancy Pantsy Cooler, a ‘Spensive Solar Charger, a Better-Than-Your Camp Stove, and a $100k Sprinter Van
I need to get better at remembering that the more stuff I have, the more stuff I have to forget. These days it’s all too easy to buy a camping version of every luxury I have in my house, (last time I was at REI I impulse bought one of those camping egg carriers that I haven’t used yet and maybe never will) pack it all up in my car, drive it to a campground, and call it camping.

The best way to avoid forgetting stuff is to start letting go of stuff—all the extraneous bits and pieces of camping stuff which over complicate the whole thing and, in the end, probably take more away from the experience than they add to it anyway.

The second best way is to make lists.

    We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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