Secluded from civilization, many campers may worry they won’t have enough supplies to last the night, causing many apprehensive outdoorsmen and women to overpack. Grossly. Five sweaters, three pairs of shoes – one for the camper, her friend and her friend’s mom – just in case. Four frying pans, two coolers full of food, and many other extraneous items are just a little too much for three people.

Extra this, extra that

Don’t double or triple up on the clothing you will likely wear once. Try to wear only one main outfit. No extra rain boots, sweaters, base-layers, sunglasses, etc. Most of that can be bought on location at a supply shop anyway if you find that you are really lacking. Put yourself in your own shoes: You’re going to want to put on a clean shirt… but you might be too dirty to put it on just now. So you’ll wait till later when you’re clean, and that never happens when you’re camping, and the next day you put on the dirty shirt again ’cause you don’t want to get your clean shirt dirty.

Make up

Ladies, that animal isn’t running away from you because it just saw you with no cover-up or eye-shadow on, it just has a natural fear of humans. So who are you out there to impress? Let your face breath freely for a weekend and you’ll find that your husband probably appreciates your natural beauty more than you thought. No hair driers or curlers either!

Too many, or too big books

We admire your ambition, but you’re really not going to finish Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace in one weekend. Not even in one week. Save it for the month-long vacation.

Camp seating

Are you worried about your bum getting dirty? Having little rocks and twigs stick to your pants? Worried about sitting on a bug? That’s being in the outdoors! Don’t fill your trunk with individual seating for everyone, especially that goofy inflatable tailgater chair. Sit on a rock, a tree trunk, a log, or make-shift a seat out of your cooler or the trunk of your car.


You can never pack enough firewood to last you a weekend of meals. Bringing firewood from one area to another is often the way that invasive species like the emerald ash borer spread, too. You’re going to end up buying or foraging for more supplies anyway, don’t fight it.


One guitar and a harmonica are cool, even advisable for a late-night serenade or to accompany your beers. There’s no need to bring a 32-piece orchestra out into the woods. You might get a visit from the police that way.


A GPS is practical, as is a cell phone (in case of emergencies). The camera and iPod start to be questionably optional. Anything more than that, and you’ve just defeated your purpose of getting out into nature where the point is to try to get away from all those daily interruptions. Let them charge at home for a while.

The kitchen cabinet

We know you want to keep your family fed, but they’re never going to eat 30 granola bars, 10 cans of Spaghettio’s, three loaves of bread, fruit snacks, chips and crackers. Just take the essentials for main meals and leave the snacks. That will decrease your chances of surprise animal visits anyway.


Conversely, find out what essential items campers most often forget by clicking here.

Photo: (guitar) Joe Lewis, (lipstick) Debs

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2 thoughts on “Eight Useless Items That Campers Overpack

  1. a camera = questionably optional? I could see that if we still had to use the turn of the century models that took up an entire suitcase, but come on, isn’t camping for the memories and scenery? What better way to preserve the memory of the scenery than with a simple, pocket sized, point and shoot.

  2. Yeah, I agree with some things, but no camp chairs? Have you ever actually sat on a log or dirt for more than 30 minutes, let alone the hours you spend sitting around the fire at camp? I’ll stick to my folding chair, which more than pays me back for the small amount of space it takes up.

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