Fast and Light Car Camping

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Recently I went camping in Charleston for a weekend and while I was there I had the fun experience of watching an entire troop of Boy Scouts setup camp. For the 4 scouts and 3 chaperones, they had an entire 6’x10′ enclosed trailer jammed full of gear. They setup 5 tents, 3 tarps, 4 chuck boxes, and a small arenas worth of chairs. When they saw my setup, they chuckled quietly to themselves; all I had was my tent, folding table, 3 chairs (as seen above), a cooler with all of my perishables and then my gear inside the tent. When I went to bed at night, I simply folded the chairs and table and put them under the rear vestibule, locked the cooler to keep out critters and went to sleep. So, when the inevitable thunderstorm rolled in, all of my gear stayed dry and I didn’t have to leave my comfy sleeping bag. On the other hand, I heard the neighbors tarps fly past my tent, the yelling to get everything out of the rain (now that the tarps were gone) and curses in several languages which just gives proof to the diversity that the boy scouts represent.

While camping fast and light when backpacking makes perfect sense, who wants to carry the kitchen sink, it’s easy to fall into the same trap when car camping because the only ill effect is on your gas mileage. However, when you take something, you feel compelled to set it up or use it even if it isn’t practical; the tarps the boy scouts brought would be a good example. We were in a completely open meadow; no shelter from the wind, and no secure point to lash the tarps to but since they had them they decided they had to use them. And, since they had to use them, they trusted the rain to not topple them, so they trusted their gear underneath them to stay dry…by bringing a weak-link in the chain of necessary gear, they ended up having more hassle then if they had just left them in the trailer and packed up their food at night (which is a good idea no matter what).

As a man once said, “Simplify, Simplify”

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