Sometimes it is good to go camping with the bare necessities. Sure, camping at a campground with a camper, internet, and an arcade can be fun but nothing beats getting unplugged from the world for a few days and camping in the wilderness. There are many places here in Michigan where you can camp along a trail off the beaten path.  If you really want to go on an adventure, you should consider camping in a place like the Grand Canyon or some other National Park that offers primitive camping.

Over the years, I have camped all over North America. I have camped in the Grand Canyon, Alaska, New Mexico and many places in between. I love camping off the beaten path. I have a list of must-have gear that I never leave home without on a camping trip. Below are a few of the things I must have.


When going on a camping trip where you will be hiking into a campsite, a good backpack is necessary. A good pack will make 50 pounds on your back feel like 30 pounds. The opposite is also true. A poorly designed backpack will make 50 pounds feel like 80 pounds. One brand that we carry at Earth’s Edge is Osprey. Osprey makes a wide variety of packs, including day packs for short hikes and larger packs designed for going on multiple day camping trips.


The clothes you wear when hiking is extremely important. Most experts will tell you that layering is necessary. Over the years, I have found that wearing wool and synthetic garments is a must. When I hiked the Grand Canyon, I wore a synthetic layer and a thin wool layer over the top of that. Together, these garments kept me warm and dry in the morning before the sun was up and cool and dry during the heat of the day.

When it is raining, I will wear a waterproof coat but I typically only wear coats when it is raining. Wearing several layers is less bulky and easier to move in than a coat.

I prefer to wear quick drying pants when hiking. While in the Grand Canyon, I only had a couple pairs of pants with me. I chose pants made by North Face that I could easily wash in a creek and dry in the sun. When layers are needed, I wear synthetic long john’s underneath my pants.


The biggest mistake I see first time hikers make is buying a pair of hiking boots one week and going on a long distance hiking trip the next week. This is a recipe for a disaster. Make sure your boots are broke in long before going on a trip. I buy new boots at least six months before going on a long hiking trip.  I make sure they are broke in on short hikes long before I go on a long trip. New boots are stiff and hard on feet. I always wear blister socks and a pair of wool socks. This helps prevent blisters. I always pack mole skin and duct tape to ensure if I get a hot spot or blister on my feet, I can use the mole skin and tape to protect that area.

When selecting boots, I prefer above the ankle boots for hiking in rocky terrain.  I prefer that my boots are lightweight and waterproof. Boots can be extremely expensive, but if your feet are wet and covered in blisters on a hiking trip, your trip won’t last long. Take care of your feet when hiking and your feet will take care of you.


One thing we all need when camping is water. There are two options when it comes to water. A large amount of water can be carried on their back in a bladder of some type or in a large bottle.  You can also purify water that is collected from a lake or stream. Most people choose the second option. I carry a water purifier with me. Most water purifiers can turn the nastiest water into potable water. Purifying water bottles and iodine tablets is another option that is popular with campers.


Purified water will be used for drinking and for cooking. When camping off the beaten path, you will want to pack freeze dried food. Freeze-dried food is lightweight and easy to cook. I have lived on freeze-dried food almost exclusively for up to 3 weeks. There are many brands to choose from and a wide variety of different breakfast, lunch and dinner options so you don’t get tired of eating the same old thing.


Preparing freeze-dried food requires some type of portable camp stove and a little bit of water. Simply pour hot water into the bag of freeze dried food, let it sit for a few minutes, and dinner is served.


A few other things that are necessary when camping off the beaten path include a lightweight tent, a lightweight sleeping pad, and a lightweight sleeping bag. The key when camping in the woods is having lightweight gear.

Purchasing all the must have gear can be a daunting task, especially if you have never gone camping off grid and are not sure exactly what you need. The good news is Earth’s Edge will be holding a Happy Camper Expo on May 4th. We will have reps from many top brands, including Osprey, MSR, Thermarest and Outdoor Research in the store doing camping seminars and answering any questions customers may have. Are you interested in camping? Do you need a new tent or backpack? Come check out this event on May 4th and take advantage of special promotions and prizes.

We live in a time where we are always plugged in, always on the run, always answering the phone and email. Unplug this summer by going camping. Visit Earth’s Edge so we can help you get geared up for the great outdoors.