It's safe to assume that some people who own and operate recreational vehicles do so to avoid the rigor of outdoor living. Either that or they have a family of suburban sophisticates that require a certain level of civilization to coexist properly with nature. Still, it would surprise most of us to see how many motor home owners revel in the natural retreat of authentic camping. Maybe not to the extent of Survivorman or Henry David Thoreau, but camping is part of our American heritage. Even if you are the most domesticated and sheltered human in the world, if you own a motor home, you should always come equipped with camping essentials in case of emergencies. We've compiled a list of these few essentials.
The first thing you need to consider is something you should already have in your motor home; a first aid kit. The fact is, a first aid kit can mean the difference between life and death (dramatic, I know) and not necessarily on the spot. If you receive a gash or cut, while it might not seem dire, they can get infected if the wound is not addressed properly in a timely fashion. Same with burns. Antibiotics, burn gel, bandages are all necessary to keep your wound clean and covered. Things like eye drops, medical tape and a snake bite kit are essential as well
Next, you need to decide how hardcore you want to go. Granted, if you have a camper on hand, you'll probably be keeping it pretty modern, but some people like to keep it real and sleep under the stars. If you do, you may not need a sleeping bag or a tent, but if you have kids, that is a more realistic accessory. Either way, you should have a tarp folded and tucked away as a canopy against rain. Remember to keep the tarp set up away from the fire, as the heat is liable to melt it (as most tarps are nylon and plastic blends). A tarp is actually one of the most important of camping features. It can be used to lay on the ground or over your head, as a makeshift outhouse or shower, the applications are limitless.
What is camping without a fire? If you are going to build a fire, we strongly suggest that you find a dry area and surround it with any large to medium sized rocks you can find. Since fire is by nature a wild entity, it acts on it's own and can spread if not properly monitored and maintained. A rock circle fire pit will help prevent a forest fire, but also make sure to clear out stray leaves and foliage around the outside of the circle to keep that area safe. If you want to start a fire, but don't want to go through the strenuous process that Tom Hanks had to in Cast Away, then have some lighter fluid and matches on hand. Make sure you keep them secured in the kitchen, however, and not in a storage compartment. You want to avoid the chance of the bottle being punctured and causing a hazard.
Some more objects to consider would be special made skewer sticks that can be used to cook hot dogs and marshmallows on the fire and a skillet that doesn't have a plastic handle. Also, folding chairs can easily fit anywhere in the RV and will make camping much more comfortable then sitting on a cold slab of stone. You should pack hiking boots or sneakers if you plan on exploring. Regular shoes, when used on the rough and unbalanced terrain of the woods can eventually lead to blisters or inconsistent gripping of the earth.
Perhaps the most crucial essentials to camping are a compass and a knife. While we in no way advocate the use of weapons such as knives for adolescents or younger, a good knife handled by a responsible adult is like the screwdriver of the woods. It can be used in any number of situations, including a first aid situation that might call for cauterization or simply to cut clothing. Simply having it on hand in case of an animal attack is yet another reason to pack a blade. Generally, however, you'll use it to clip fishing lines, anchor tents and even as your makeshift spatchula during cooking. While most of the concerning scenarios I just described are unlikely and may cause you to rethink your retreat into the forest, most wilderness aware outdoors-men carry much more than a knife when venturing off the path. We would rather you were prepared with the right tools then end up in a situation that cannot be solved because you came empty handed.
Camping is a part of life. While many of us might not understand this, having spent all our lives sheltered on a couch, set up in front of a television, the bond with nature is inherent in all of us. It's something we evolved out of over centuries of societal progression, but there is a special bond built between man and wild that cannot be denied. There is nothing quite the same as the serenity of sparkling stars and swaying trees and we passionately persuade all of you to go camping at least once in your lives. Now that you know what to bring, you can visit the great outdoors knowing you are equipped.
Tyler Baker; OSM Writer