If you head out to the mountains every weekend or experience shopping bliss as soon as you step into Cabelas this post probably isn't for you. If, however, you think "roughing it" entails staying at a three star hotel because all of the five stars are sold out and cooking outside usually is done in conjunction with a tailgate party, read on.
EVERYONE should have a nice stash of camping gear. Even if you live in an apartment in the middle of a huge city and never intend to go camping in this lifetime, the following items may come in handy sometime (like during a power outage or after an earthquake):
- A free standing tent with room for the whole family. This item could be used if your house is destroyed in a tornado or earthquake and you end up camping out in the back yard for a time. Also, if it is below freezing and you somehow end up with no heat in your home, you can simply pitch the tent in the living room and stay considerably warmer since it will help hold your body heat into the small space.
- Sleeping bags--one for each family member. Sleeping bags have lots of uses--slumber parties, bedding for spare guests, camping out in the backyard in the above mentioned disasters, etc.
- Flashlights. I don't know anyone who hasn't experienced a power outage and the first thing you want to grab during a power outage is a flashlight. Be sure you have one flashlight for each family member and lots of spare batteries.
- A cooler. Aside from its usual use, that of storing food during camping trips, having a cooler on hand is useful for grocery shopping trips when you don't plan on coming straight home yet still need to keep your milk and eggs cool. Coolers are quite useful for parties--just add ice and beverages and you are good to go. My cooler has been used for everything from an impromptu fish bucket to the spiked punch dispenser at the kid's last party (after we found out what was going on it was their last party period!).
- A manual can opener. Just a reminder. Most people who camp have a separate set of eating and cooking utensils however if you never camp you may forget that a manual can opener is quite useful when the power goes out and all you have is the electric version.
- A camp cook stove and fuel. We have a barbecue grill on the deck for barbecues but for emergency cooking when the power goes out, the grill is kind of tough to use. With a camp stove, cooking is a breeze. Just remember to use the stove outside or in a very well ventilated area to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. You will also need a stash of matches to light up your stove.
- GPS device. For city dwellers, GPS devices can be used for "geocaching", or, in the case of Hurricane Katrina, when all landmarks were washed away, a GPS device would have been useful for even knowing which was was up.
- A first aid kit. Even though you may have a collection of random first aid supplies spread throughout your home, having a thorough, comprehensive kit all together in one bag is really useful in the event of an emergency--you don't want to hunt through the house for the supplies you need.
- Other useful stuff: tarp, rope/paracord, binoculars, a really good knife and sharpener, two-way radios, chemical hand warmers, bug spray, etc.