Top ten things to bring when camping for free or dispersed camping primitive camping essentials

Top Ten things to bring when you are FREE camping (Primitive camping, Dispersed Camping or Backcountry camping)

Camping is a great way to get back to nature, but it can be hard to know what to bring when you're going primitive. Primitive Camping, Backcountry Camping or Dispersed camping is all under the umbrella of free camping. 

Each area that you are free camping in (not just your backyard) has its own rules, so make sure you are aware of the specific area rules and regulations that apply.

Typically, you will find most primitive camping spots state that you can stay for 14 days within a 30 day period. Also, you will be required to be at least 100 feet off the road, Most primitive camping areas will be located on State and National Forest Service Land or BLM land. You can research the dispersed camping areas in your state online. For example, for my state of Colorado, you can head over to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife page under dispersed camping, and check out all the info that you will need before you head out. 

If you're planning on camping in an area where dispersed camping is allowed, then there are some things that you'll need to bring with you.

picture of tent camping in nature

Here are our 10 Ten things (plus a few extras) of the things we always bring when we are Free Camping: 

-A tent: This will provide shelter from the elements and keep you nice and tucked away from bugs, etc. when sleeping.Your tent should be large enough for everyone who will be using it (and their gear), but small enough that it doesn't take up too much space in your vehicle or on your campsite so that everyone has room to move around freely without being crowded out by other tents being set up nearby! Yes, you can also bring your RV and most dispersed camping places will have an area you can find that will be flat enough for your RV to park. We have camped for free with our tents and with our RV, and both have their pros and cons. It truly depends on where and when you are camping!

-A sleeping bag: The second most important item for any camper is a sleeping bag. No matter where or how long you plan on camping, it is always better to bring along a sleeping bag because it will help keep you warm during cold nights or chilly days when there isn't much sunlight outside in nature (and sometimes even if there IS). We recommend getting at least one rated down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit or less as this will keep you nice and cozy throughout the night while camping out under the stars! 

-A Headlamp or Flashlight (or both!): It's important to have light so that you can see what's going on around you at night time. If someone needs help or there's an emergency situation happening nearby then having a flashlight can help keep everyone safe! Also, the headlamp is extremely handy for cooking at nightoutside or doing anything with both hands. 

-Bring plenty of water: For water, the average person drinks 1/2 gallon per day. So, make sure you multiple this by the days you will be out camping and the amount of people you have with you. Also, we like to bring an additional 5 gallon of water container for all those times you need water, but not necessary pure water for drinking. Things that you may need extra water for include: cooking (pastas, etc), pets, portable shower, hand washing station, dishes, and so many more. I always like to bring extra water, it's best to be prepared!   You should also bring extra water purification tablets and/or a filter so that if the water source isn't safe or doesn't taste good, you can still get clean water for drinking and cooking purposes. Head over to your local outdoor store to pick up these tablets or purifiers. 

-Food: Give yourself some time before your camping trip to prepare meals, or grocery shop for quick easy meals to make while camping. There are tons of recipes on Pinterest that lay out great, fun meals to make when camping. Like in the water situation, bringing extra food is helpful. 

-First aid kit-You never know what kind of injuries might be sustained while out in the wilderness, and it's best to be prepared. Bring any medications or supplies you might need for yourself or others who are with you. 

-Trash bags- We cannot stress this one enough! There are typically no trash facilities when free or dispersed camping. This means that every piece of trash you accumulate with you, you need to take out of the forest too!! ! It's important to be respectful of the area where you're camping so that no one else is disturbed by littering or other damage to the land. 

**Ladies if you are camping while on your period, make sure to pack extra supplies of whatever you typically use at home. We love to bring our Ladybitz Drybag or our Ebb&Flo Drybag with us when we are camping, so all of ur feminine hygiene trash can go in the odor-absorbing trash pocket inside of the bag. This can also be handy for throwing away used makeup wipes, or anything else that needs to be disposed of while keeping odors trapped inside and tucked away until you get back into civilization. 

-Groover (or toilet, wag bags, shovel) and Toilet paper! When you are camping for free, these areas will not have pit toilets to use. Make sure you bring the items that you know how to use and set up properly. There are lots of camping toilets, wag bags (bag inserts for camping toilets). Find the one that works for you and make sure to bring it along!

-Camp Chairs: I typically pack this right after I pack the first aid kit. Having my comfy camp chair is so nice after hiking all day, or just being able to relax at night and watch the stairs. There are so many different types of camp chairs out on the market, find the one you like and is in your budget and bring it!! You will not regret it. 

-Sporting Items: This can include your fishing pole (fishing supplies and fishing license) Stand up paddle board, kayak, mountain bike, or just a backpack to be able to hike around the area. Do some reach on where you are primitive camping so you can plan what you might want to bring!

Protective Items: It's also important to bring things like sunscreen, bug spray, and sunscreen again because there is nothing worse than getting sunburned while camping! Sunshirts or Sun Hoodies are also a great item to have in your bag for camping. 

-Lastly, don't forget to bring some sort of entertainment! Whether that means books or board games or even just an MP3 player with some tunes on it so that everyone can listen together in the evenings after dinner has been cooked over an open fire (which is really fun), having something fun to do will make everyone more relaxed. We also enjoy just bringing plain paper and a writing utensil you can play easy games or write stories too. Sometimes the easier the game, the more you will play outside. When we first went camping with our toddler, after she went to sleep we ended up writing about the day and the funny things that she did. We added it to her baby book, and now she can look back at her first camping trip! And all it took was a plain piece of paper. 

Yes, we could add so many more items to our list! And no, we did not include our what to bring for clothes when camping list, but we will save for another time.

What about you? What is on your list to bring with you when camping for Free?

Happy Camping!


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