Camping is a lot like learning how to walk; we all start out a little clumsy, we might fall down a time or two, but ever we get more confident and are off and running! If you are just getting into camping, or even if you are a grizzled veteran of the outback, there are some essential spare camping items that are easy to carry and will save your weekend, should something go astray.
- Batteries. They do not have gauges and, let's face it, even if they did we probably would not look at them anyway. Carrying a spare set of batteries for your important electronic devices, like the flashlight, camera and mobile phone, is the smart thing to do. Backpack campers will want to standardize their electronic devices on the least number of different battery-types as possible, in order to save weight and space. There are models of most electronic devices, except for mobile phones, that operate on the popular AA-size batteries.
- Stove fuel. Nothing ruins a camping trip quicker than a lukewarm cup of coffee on a chilly morning, so carrying a spare canister of fuel for the stove is a great way to ensure that you will start every morning off on the right foot.
- Parachute cord. Also known as "550 cord" because of its 550-pound breaking strength, parachute cord is a small diameter kernmantle rope that is available at most sporting goods stores and military surplus stores. Because of its strength, it can be used as replacement guy lines for tents or tarps, and yet its small diameter also makes it useful for replacing a broken shoestring.
- Duct tape. Thankfully, duct tape is now available in numerous colors so you are not stuck with traditional silver, when it comes to patching a hole in your tent or tarp. Duct tape is also essential for splinting a broken tent pole and does a decent job of splinting broken bones as well, should disaster really strike. Backpack campers can save weight and space by wrapping twenty or thirty feet of duct tape around a small piece of wooden dowel rod, instead of packing the entire roll.
- Tent stakes. Like socks in the clothes dryer, tent stakes have an almost uncanny way of disappearing, between the time you pack your tent at home and when you start to set it up at the campsite. Carrying an extra stick, or even an entire set if you might be erecting some extra rain protection, can save a lot of extra work at the campsite.
Even if you only camp a few times each year, having a small set of spare items on-hand can keep most situations from reaching a level that might encourage you to cut the trip short. Successful camping is all about preparation, so be proactive and pack for unforeseen events so that they just add to the fun and adventure, instead of ruining the trip.