Our Camp Essentials: Packing for a Sleep Under The Stars

Monday morning started as it does any other day:

We snoozed our alarm until 7am, had coffees on the deck while supervising Piper’s morning peruse, and watered our newly planted cedars while chatting about the day ahead. But then Monday’s generic pattern broke when our truck didn’t start.

Without a way to get lumber to continue the build of our deck after work, we were forced to take a night off from doing housework. Suddenly left with an open evening, we did what any local would do on a beautiful, warm summer night: we packed our Jeep and headed up a mountain for a one-night getaway and a sleep under the stars!

From our home, we’re lucky to enjoy many private mountain locations, so we made it an easy, quick rip to one of our go-to spots in The Soo Valley. And it just so happened to be the night of the Perseid meteor showers.

Getting out into nature like this does something special to a person. No matter how full the workweek, taking a deep breath while watching the sun set over snowcapped mountains seems to diminish anything that isn’t important. Sure there are nights when all we want to do is watch a good movie and snuggle on the couch (the night to follow was one of those), but sometimes the call of the soul is away from our creature comforts and into Mother Nature.

Having access to fresh mountain air a half hour from home is not something we take for granted—we feel incredibly lucky to have access to places like this, and we do our part to camp responsibly and leave no trace. And part of that process involves our pack: the gear we bring with us on every camp trip.

Since we first started camping over a year ago, we’ve spent over four months in the rooftop tent, travelling from California and Nevada to Tofino and Coastal BC, and we’ve made a lot of changes to our pack over that time. So today I wanted to share our overnight gear essentials and chat through the basics of overlanding gear.

My camera is old and semi-broken, so a lot of my photos have been developing these rainbow effects!
Sushi, the perfect camp food. Doesn’t need to be heated up, or kept too cold!
The rainbow effects was only happening when I put the lens up to Mike and Piper…
Piper, in her native BC fireweed glory.
The space we take up!
We love our Tepui tent.
Wild fireweed.
The view from bed, ft. a big ole mosquito!

Our Camp Pack Essentials

The main areas you have to consider in a nutshell are: eating (dining, food prep, cleanup), existing (garbage solutions, storage bins, survival gear), enjoying (speakers, chairs), and sleeping (pillows, sleeping bags). If you can check yourself for all of those bases, you’re ready! But if you want some guidance for car or rooftop tent camping, here’s what we do:

Our pack starts with our vehicle, Judy the Jeep, but the list still applies to whatever vessel you’re traveling in. We have a 2019 Jeep JL Sport Wrangler and we’ve mounted our Tepui Kukenam 3 on a Frontrunner Roof Rack. We adore the tent (we also have the Tepui boot bags–now Thule branded as they recently acquired Tepui), and while we love the look of the roof rack, it was a nightmare to install and required a few re-installs at an attempt to reduce noise. In the future we might try another. Also on our roof rack, we have storage for gas and water for extended trips. We use the Rotopax Gas and Water Cans which interlock together tightly with the Pack Mount, making perfect use of the remaining space while still allowing for our big waterproof bag to be mounted and strapped overtop for longer trips.

Food and food-preparation are a huge category for us, so we don’t mess round. That said, we’ve pared down our food storage and cooking situation tremendously since we first started overlanding. We used to have an electric fridge, a large 65L cooler in addition to our 35L one, and we weren’t as efficient with our meals. Now, we bring our $129 Coleman Gas Burner and Grill or our Tembo Tusk depending on what we’re making, and fuel (an important thing not to overlook!)

In addition to a grill or way to prepare the food, you need fuel cans or a small propane tank that comply with your cooker. In addition to a propane tank, we bring pancake fuel (for this Portable Folding Outdoor Gas Camping Stove). And sometimes, as was the case of this camp trip, we take this all out of the equation and bring takeout with us! Just make sure you think through the whole meal experience. We have a whole tote bin dedicated to o only food stuff. It includes utensils, pots and pans, serving spoons, spatulas and can openers, colanders and graters, as well as ways to clean up: wet-wipes, bags for dirty dishes, Castile soap and a scrubber if we have access to a creek or river.

After you’re set with food, water and a place to spend the night, you’ve got to make sure you can enjoy where you’ve found yourself! That means a great portable speaker (we use the JBL Clip 3) and camp chairs. We have Woods Chairs, as well as these Canvas Butterfly Style Camp Chairs from my shop. We also have a luxury we love to big with us: our iPad for watching moving in the tent. We mount it to one of the inner rails of our Tepui using a simple RAM Mount system. For sheets and bedding, we use this Teton sleeping bag, and we bring our personal pillows from home as well as one long lumbar pillow we both use at the head of the bed. Below I’ve scoured my fave shops for the camp gear we have/use:

Shop Camp Goods

Trip Reel

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