What If You Forget Something at Home While Camping?

What If You Forget Something at Home While Camping?

You ever feel like you’ve had a hypnosis to forget something? Whether roughing it in a tent at a primitive campsite or using an RV to intermingle modern comforts with the simplicity of nature, most campers have a shared fear of forgetting something important behind at home.

Let’s take a look at what you really need for camping, what your options are should you actually forget an essential, and how you can identify and prep to not find yourself in that predicament.

Did You Really Forget an Important Camping Item?

two people watching a campfire on a cold day

The first question you need to ask yourself is if your forgotten item is an essential, nicety, or non-essential. Is the item crucial to providing yourself with the basics of survival – food, water, shelter, and relief from outside elements?

If not, then the item is likely a nicety or non-essential item.

The most basic answer to your ‘need’ question will largely depend on what type of camping you’re doing. For example, a fire source when primitive camping is much more essential than when you have warmth and cooking capabilities from the electricity of an RV.

A secondary question is if you have an alternate item that could serve the same function. For example, you forgot your waterproof matches or flint, but you do have a lighter and ziplock bag that could offer a waterproof fire source.

This may moot an item’s necessity.

The above said, an item’s importance is still somewhat a relative term, meaning what’s important to you may not necessarily be important to the act of camping itself or another camper.

For example, the main objective of your camping trip was to take amazing photos, but you’ve forgotten your camera at home. This makes that camera move up your list of important camping items even though it’s not essential to camping.

Still, most campers actually find that they overpack for camping. There are a lot of “camping” gadgets and equipment on the market today.

Some of it is useful, and other items just take up precious cargo space and detract from the purpose of your camping activities. It’s highly likely that your camping trip can go onward and upward without any forgotten gadgets.

Specialty camping pots and pans, camping kitchens, fryers, grills, and toasters, for example, are a few items newbie campers often think they need to bring. The truth is that you can cook almost anything on your menu so long as you have a tripod, saucepan, and cast iron skillet and/or Dutch oven.

How your menu is cooked may change a little, but your camping trip may be even tastier without the distraction.

Electronics, such as televisions, radios, gaming devices, computers, and so forth, are items that often find their way on camping supply lists.

While a weather radio is often an essential, especially in storm-prone camping areas, and you should have a communication device in remote camping areas for your safety, much of the entertainment electronics won’t be missed once you take advantage of nature’s activities.

I found out the hard way that you better remember the supplies to hanging things in your camper.

So, begin by asking yourself if the item you’ve forgotten is truly essential to your camping safety and function to know if you need to figure out what to do about forgetting it.

My Forgotten Camping Item Is Home / Essential: What Do I Do?

When you’ve forgotten a camping item that you must have, you have four options:

1. Buy It Again

a man who forget something and it comes to mind

According to the Kampgrounds of America’s 2018 North American Camping Report, over 60 percent of American households have at least one camper. It’s an activity/ lifestyle that’s growing rapidly and crossing all seasons.

The ever-growing popularity of camping is good news for campers who forget their gear when they’re too far from home to turn around.

Why? Retailers of all shapes and sizes, from big box and athletic stores to grocery stores and gas stations, commonly have at least the basics of camping gear on their shelves. If you’re willing to rebuy, then you can likely find and rebuy your forgotten camping item without traveling far.

While it’s an added expense, you’ll now have a backup on-hand for future camping trips. Alternatively, you can always sell the item used and recoup some of your money, or you can donate it to a thrift or secondhand store so that those less fortunate can more easily afford camping equipment.

2. Borrow It From Another Source

Your second option is to borrow or obtain the item once you get to your campgrounds. Most camping neighbors are happy to oblige fellow campers.

Depending on where you’re camping, the campgrounds may have a gear shop or visitor services center that loans, rents, or sells camping supplies.

Keep in mind that borrowing from a neighbor is for necessities and limited gear, not luxuries and innumerable items. You’ll also want to keep basic camping etiquette in mind as you make contact with your neighbors.

Regulated campsites usually have quiet hours from 10 p.m- 6 a.m., meaning you’ll need to plan your visit accordingly unless it’s an emergency. Many campers take the privacy and security of their campsites very seriously.

Respect those boundaries by announcing yourself as you enter your neighbor’s campsite. Of course, be sure to clean any items you borrowed before returning them.

3. Improvise A New Way Or Tool

There are a plethora of camping stories where clever minds improvised through a forgotten camping item. Just such occasions are actually how a lot of modern camping gadgets became commercial products.

Improvising is about using what you have for new purposes.

Let’s say you forget your cooking vessels at home while camping but have a roll of aluminum foil, foil pockets can cook an array of items over a fire’s coals or in an RV oven.

Did you forget your tent or waterproof pad for your sleeping bag? If you have a tarp, you could fashion it into a primitive tent or fold it to protect your sleeping bag.

I’ve even seen flashlights secured to hats with duct tape after the wearer forgot to bring a headlamp for nighttime bathroom trips into the woods.

Get creative if you forget a camping item. But, you also need to know when it’s time to implement your fourth option – retreat.

4. Retreat From Dangerous Situations

It will likely be time to retreat if you’re camping remotely and have forgotten certain essentials at home. You must have shelter and adequate clothing to protect you from the elements.

You must have a water and food supply. You must have a basic first aid kit for emergencies.

You must have a fire and light source. If you can’t rebuy, borrow, or improvise these items from what you already have, then always put your safety above the continuation of your camping trip.

Without these essentials you place your safety at risk, and your camping experience can easily turn into a fight for survival. It’s better to turn around and obtain your forgotten essentials, even if you lose a camping day or need to reschedule, than to unnecessarily put yourself in harm’s way.

Note that many campgrounds will save your reservation if you contact them that you’ll be late arriving due to a forgotten essential.

Don’t forget that safety isn’t just a matter of your basic needs being met. Consider where you’re camping and any environmental threats in relation to your forgotten item to know if retreating is your safest option.

An area with intrusive and curious wild animals, such as bears and big cats, make forgetting trash bags a much bigger risk for secluded tent dwellers than someone staying in an RV.

Staying in an area without a weather radio is a much different risk for those in a flash flood area than those staying in an area not prone to sudden, severe weather.

How To Preempt Forgotten Essentials

a family doing some dry camping with a blue tent

Avoid facing the above four options by spending a little prep time on your camping trip. This includes researching the camping area beforehand.

Know the environment. Know the risks. Know the amenities. Know the bare minimum equipment you must have for a safe and fun trip.

Once you know the camping area, you can easily make a checklist of the camping supplies you’ll want and need to bring. Some campers, particularly primitive campers will designate a red bag for all their bare minimum essentials to ensure retreat isn’t their only option should they forget a camping item.

If you’re using an RV, preload it with the bare essentials. The day before your trip, add secondary supplies and do a final checklist to ensure you have everything onboard on the day you depart.

It also helps to look at user reviews and local camping blogs to get a better idea of what’s actually an essential for a particular camping area if you’re not familiar with it. For example, a user review tells you that a campsite is particularly wet and windy during a certain month.

You can then be prepared with your own kindling for fires, rain gear, select the most appropriate fire-starter source, and know how and where you’ll do your cooking.

Nothing is worse than getting to a campsite and having to realize firsthand that you forget a particular camping tool at home because you didn’t know beforehand that it would even be an essential.

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