If you are traveling in a small car or wagon you will want to settle into a campsite for any stay longer than a night or two. Most climbing destinations have some sort of free camping. Chat with the locals, other visiting climbers, or consult the guide book before forking over $20 a night at the RV park. Here are the steps to turn your claimed patch of real estate into a home away from home:
1. The Tent
By this point your ride should be pretty fit for sleeping in; however it is very nice to transfer your sleeping arrangement to a tent for extended visits. This will save you the headache of a nightly rearrangement of your gear and belongings. The key here is making sure your mattress fits the dimensions of your tent, or vise versa. Remember, even if your bed fits the surface dimensions it still has to fit through the tent door!
2. The Sink
Most free campsites lack any sort of water spigot. Fortunately it’s pretty easy to bring one with you everywhere you go. This seven-gallon water jug is available at most shops that carry any kind of camping equipment, and serves as a perfectly portable kitchen sink.
Keeping a large container like this reduces trips into town for water and makes hand washing, cooking, and cleaning dishes pretty darn easy. This polyethylene jug is BPA-free (just a media scare anyway) and keeps water tasting fresh even when left in the sun for several days. In addition to the water jug it is nice to carry a few quick-dry towels with you. On a similar note, camping near a creak or river is ideal when possible. The unlimited water supply comes in handy for clothes or personal washing, or for a midday swim on a scorching summer afternoon.
Most of you outdoor enthusiasts realize the convenience of a headlamp and probably own one. What you might not have considered is picking up some sort of lantern in addition to this brilliant light-source. A warm-lighted lantern can greatly improve the atmosphere on long winter nights. A warm, yellow light is also nice to cook or read by, and does a good job of keeping moths out of your face. I prefer a battery-powered lantern to those that use gas because I can use it in the car or tent without fear of dangerous fumes. Avoid the ghostly alien-light of cheap Coleman lamps.
4. The Chair
Last, and perhaps most important: the camp-chair. Nothing compliments a morning coffee and book like a comfortable, broken-in seat. Put some thought into this. Find something that allows you to easily lean forward to tend the stove, as well as sit back and enjoy the spoils of your labor. Trust me, you’ll be glad to have it.