How to pack a lightweight camp box

Travel journos live on the road, leaving at short notice for days in the wilderness. Though it sounds romantic it often precludes the luxuries of home – hot meals, a warm bed and steaming coffee in the morning. Or does it?

How to: Pack a Camping Box

How to: Pack a Camping Box

How to pack a camping box

How to pack a camping box

Evan Haussmann shares his secrets to surviving the endless roadtrip.

Over the years of travelling at short notice for work or on a whim, I’ve built up a reliable, lightweight camping box I can throw into the Landy or as baggage on an airliner. When I get to the other side I’m confident I’ll have everything I need … and then some.

The box

Everything fits into one of those tough black boxes you can buy at most supermarkets. They’re cheap, light and double as a table. I put a layer of thin, high-density foam in the base for protection. Two webbing straps around the box hold the lid on securely.

What’s inside?

Inside I have a bed, chairs and a kitchen. I can power my laptop and charge camera batteries, treat wounds and hangovers and most importantly, enjoy steaming-hot plunger coffee. You’ll notice I haven’t chosen the most luxurious options but you can upgrade it to suit your requirements – for example, a more comfy mattress would be most welcome.

The kitchen

• Camping gas stove and extra gas canister (note: these aren’t airline friendly). I recommend a Jetboil with an integrated lighter because it heats quickly and it’s light on fuel. It also comes with cooking utensils. A filter coffee plunger kit is available (at a price) and that’s the best way to start a day after sleeping rough.

• Lightweight nesting pot-and-pan set

• Insulated camping cups

• Paper plates and holders

• Utensils. Supermarkets sell full plastic sets for a pittance.

• Serrated knife, penknife with corkscrew and bottle and can opener or my Leatherman

• Potato peeler

• Bowls. Sea to Summit has a range of collapsible rubber bowls in various sizes. The larger one doubles as cutting board.

• Braai grid with retractable handle. Keep it in a thick plastic bag or it will soil everything it comes into contact with.

• Short-handled braai tongs

• Firelighters. Yes, I know a real man can light a fire in a blizzard with wet matches and a turd! I say, use technology (get ones in little plastic bags … no smell! Ed).

The scullery

• Collapsible sink from Sea to Summit.

• Add dishwashing liquid, sponges, dishcloths and hand soap.

• Transfer washing powder into a 250ml mineral water bottle.

The dry store

• Filter coffee, tea, sugar, salt, pepper and spices. Throw in a half-litre box or two of long-life milk and small water bottle to decant it into once opened for mess-less storage.

• Foil, black bags, toilet rolls

• Duct tape always comes in handy.

• Tarpaulin for shelter or as a ground sheet.

• Small tripod chairs.

Power and lighting

•Inverter. These come in various sizes and poweroutputs. A 300-watt inverter can power a laptop and charge camera batteries from the cigarette lighter in your vehicle. It’s almost essential in the digital age.

• A cigarette lighter port replicator is useful if the car has one outlet.

• Torch and lantern (with extra batteries)

• Candles

• Matches and lighter

The fridge

Cheap canvas, silver-lined supermarket cooler bags loaded with ice will keep things fresh for a day or two. I put these into small cardboard boxes to improve insulation.

Bedroom and dining

• Lightweight tent. There are a range of technical hiking tents on the market. The Campmaster Bushwacker Dome 2, which sleeps two, costs a few hundred rand and it’s compact.

• Self-inflating camping mat

• Lightweight sleeping bag. Add a 10-degree liner for versatility and to optimise the space-to-warmth ratio.

• Hammock. If you know how to sleep in one you don’t need a tent or mattress.

Miscellaneous

• First-aid kit

• Sunblock and a hat

• Water purifier pump or tablets

• Box wine bladders for extra water storage. All this fits neatly into the box so I know that on a Friday after work the only thing you’ll need to do is stop for food, wood, ice and beers. Everything else is sorted… even the kitchen sink.

Have any comments tips or tricks to share? 

This article appeared in Getaway Magazine