Aside from the obvious tent, sleeping bag, flashlight, food and good shoes, there are things you may not have thought of when planning your camping trip in the desert. Here are some things that I found helpful or wish I had while on my last desert camping trip.
1. Wipeys. While camping out in the desert in Utah and Arizona, we found that most camp grounds do not have showering facilities. Even after searching for other nearby locations, there were no showers to be found. Not to mention that if you are backcountry camping, you won’t even have a bathroom to use. This is where the beauty of wipeys come in. Wipeys can be used for many purposes while camping. We used baby wipes as they had a slight fresh scent.
- Showering: Wipeys can leave you refreshed after a long day of hiking.
- Toilet Paper: When there are no bathroom facilities, wipeys help you get fresh after you’ve done your business. Unless you prefer to use the local thorny plant life as a substitute.
- Blowing your nose
- Cleaning your hands before eating during hikes
- Refresh your face while hiking
2. WATER. I cannot stress enough how important water is while camping in the desert, especially when backcountry camping. There is not an abundance of water or streams in the desert and any shallow pools you find will undoubtedly make you sick. It is recommended that you take at least 4 liters of water per person per day on any camping or hiking excursion in the desert. A favorite of our was our water bottle bags since they can be easily packed when empty. Do drink a lot more water than normally while in the desert. When it comes to water in the desert, more is always better. You never know if you might get lost out there and without water, you are greatly reducing your odds of survival.
3. Trash bag. When camping in the desert, especially in the backcountry, there won’t always be a trash bin for you to get rid of your trash. It is important that you leave no trail behind you and having a trash bag handy makes it easy to clean up after yourself.
4. Sleeping Pad. We made the mistake of thinking we would not need a pad and that our sleeping bags would be enough. Jason actually made the brilliant determination thinking it would be too bulky to carry around backcountry. Boy was he wrong. Sleeping pads provide many uses that we did not realize until after we experienced camping in the desert. Being from Florida we are used to soft ground and warm nights.
- Padding from the ground: The ground is hard in the desert. Everywhere. A sleeping pad will undoubtedly be the difference between a decent nights rest and the hell of sleeping on a hard surface or tiny pebble rocks.
- Added warmth and protection from the elements: Deceiving as the deserts hot sun may be during the day, it gets very cold at night and even more so when you are sleeping directly on the cold ground with nothing more than the tarp of your tent and your sleeping bag protecting you. A sleeping pad provides an extra layer of insulation.
It is worth the extra bulk you’ll carry. Just trust us on this one.
5. Sleeping bag liner or extra blanket. It gets cold at night. Very cold. Trust me when I say your sleeping bag will not be enough to keep you warm. We only brought a thin liner, at my insistence because Jason thought it would be warm, and we were freezing on several nights. Just bring in.
6. Extra food and snacks. We all expect to have some barbeque each evening and maybe some sandwiches during the day while hiking, but it is always better to have more than be in an emergency situation and run out of food. We took some extra freeze-dried food that we could cook with our mini stove. While hiking and backcountry camping, always bring extra food and snacks. The days are hot and aside from regular exertion from walking, the sun will make you hungry and thirsty. Just like with water, you don’t want to get caught without food if you get lost.