By Pete Rogers
If you ask twenty people what their five basic tools for camping are, you’ll probably get twenty different answers.
Since camping is a broad topic, ranging from backpacking trips to drivable RV’s, we will narrow the focus somewhat.
Here we will cover primitive camping from your vehicle and backpack camping.
What are the five most essential tools for camping?
First is a multitool. With the advent of the multitool, they have become a necessity for anyone camping. After buying several and trying a ton of them, I settled on a Leatherman Rebar. I like a tool that has a saw blade as well as the standard screwdrivers, pliers, and two knife blades. The Rebar also has a file, which I like for emergency sharpening of other tools.
The multitool will save the day more than just about any other tool you have with you. When vehicle camping, I always have two with me.
The second item could actually be the most important and that is a good camping axe. I have often said that if stranded in the wilderness, the one tool I’d want to have with me is a 2.5-pound axe. With this tool, just about anything is possible. Council Tool 2.5 lbs. boys’ axe with a 28” handle is the perfect camping axe. And it’s made in the USA!
Cutting firewood, making tent stakes, driving in stakes, building shelter, making fire, you name it – the axe is the best all around tool for any camping outing.
One key point here, most people never sharpen an axe when they purchase it. But axes are not sold sharp. There are liability issues with having sharp tools on store shelves.
Therefore, a dull axe is a dangerous axe. When it takes too much effort to use it, it becomes unsafe. Take the time to sharpen your axe. As Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying, “If given six hours to chop down a tree, I will spend the first four hours sharpening my axe.”
A sharp axe is a safe axe. It takes less effort to do the job when it is razor sharp.
The next item for camping are fire starters. This is plural on purpose, because you always need more than one method of accomplishing this. Many people like the disposable lighters or matches for this, but experience has taught that these are less reliable than a Zippo lighter. I don’t have to hold a button to keep it burning. It is a constant flame that will get the wood going.
A second fire starter is a ferro rod. This rod, when scraped, emits hot sparks that will get an ember going in a fire bundle. If the lighter is out of fuel, the ferro rod will always work.
The fourth item is perhaps as important as the ax and fire starter, and that is rope. I carry a minimum of 100’ of 550 paracord everywhere I go. And I mean everywhere. My wife used to ask why I always had rope with me. Now after 20+ years of being together, she knows. There are few things that are as useful as a rope.
But a rope is useless if you don’t know knots. Take the time to learn some basic knots that are useful everywhere around a camp. Square knot, two half hitch, bowline, clove hitch, and Farrimond friction hitch are all necessities around camps.
If you struggle with knots, use my son’s analogy, “If you can’t tie a knot, tie a lot!”
Lastly is a good first-aid kit. While this may seem like a no-brainer, I’m always amazed when camping with someone and they don’t have a first aid kit.
Band-aids, butterfly bandages, antibiotic cream and gauze all help with cuts, blisters, bruises and other things that happen around a camp. Adventure Medical Kits offer some of the best kits on the market for outdoors activities.
And one more essential for any outing is a positive attitude. It’s not included in the list of equipment because it’s not something that can be purchased.
But having a positive attitude on your adventure will make any trip worthwhile and every experience memorable.
Just be sure to include the other five essential items and your camping trip will be a wonderful time.