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4×4 camping essentials guide: Experience the great outdoors to the fullest

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Off-road adventures are an international endeavor, and without the right 4×4 camping gear, it can turn an overlanding trip into a dangerous endeavor. Just take Australia for instance.

Every year, droves of people immerse themselves in Australia’s natural beauty, looking to make the most of its highly coveted weather. But before the adventure begins, you’d better start shopping for some camping gear.

For the seasoned camping veteran, most of the stuff you’ll need will already be set in place. But for newbies and anyone thinking of lengthy off-road journeys deep in the desert, both a lot more equipment and preparation are involved. Getting there means having a decent 4×4. Not necessarily a hardcore truck you’ve just bought brand-new at the dealer, but a reliable rig in any case.

Prepare your vehicle accordingly

If camping in more remote areas, have your 4WD SUV or pickup truck fitted with basic vehicle protection. Things like bull bars, skid plates and rock sliders are all great items to add to that off-road shopping list. You’ll also need more traction, so look for off-roading tires with sand/snow ratings and good reviews. Lift kits, long-range tanks, diff breathers and other off-roading 4×4 gear may also need to be put into play, all depending upon the terrain you plan on traversing, of course.

But spending a significant amount of time away from civilization also means having a self-sufficient infrastructure in place. Adequate amounts of water, food and fuel for more than your planned length of stay is vital. You don’t want to get stranded somewhere and not have enough supplies to survive an extra night or two. You’re also going to need to have all the necessary 4×4 camping items to prepare meals, enjoy the scenery in comfort, and get a good night’s sleep. Here are some essentials for making that camping getaway truly great.

Shelter and furniture

A tent should be the first thing on your list. One that’s right for the number of people in your group, and not too big or too small. Pole tents are the most common, but you can also use your 4×4’s roof rack to pitch a rooftop tent. Go for tents that are well made, hold up against the elements, and provide a good night’s sleep. Also, consider something that’s easy to set up. Extra poles, pegs, rope and a mallet come in handy, too.

Of course, you’ll want some shade, and an awning does this best. Different shapes, like side, wing or wrap-around awnings can give the additional space you need outdoors. You can also use screens as windbreakers or for added privacy in cramped campsites. To keep your feet dry, get some comfortable, non-slip matting that is also eco-friendly toward the terrain below.

In addition, spend a few dollars on sturdy chairs with good padding, and preferably constructed from materials that won’t soak up rainwater easily. Lightweight folding chairs don’t take up a ton of space, and tend to be fast-drying. Accompanying tables should be the right size, with bigger tables working best under awnings, while smaller tables serve as a platform for stacking goodies like kettles, ovens and cooking utensils.

Sleeping

Sleeping bags are synonymous with camping. Look for quality, weatherproof ripstop cotton and canvas combos that are also comfy and warm. If traveling with kids or teens, be sure that their sleeping bags are the right size and offer enough warmth. For more comfort, inflatable mattresses will get you dozing in no time, just remember that 12V compressor pump. Pillows, sheets, and blankets are a given, just be sure to pack a few extra if you’re camping during the cooler months.

Cooking and eating

If you don’t have that extra table, get a fold-out camp cupboard instead. The shelves can hold pans, pots, plates and everything else you need in one tidy location, and often come with a durable wooden top for preparing meals. And while a cooler may sound convenient for shorter trips, having a dedicated 12V portable fridge is the way to go.

A separate BBQ can be redundant in organized campgrounds, but it’s nice having one close by for when it’s time to grill solo. If you don’t have a dedicated power supply running on panels, a gas stove is another solid cooking alternative. Just make sure to stock up on gas bottles in the right size beforehand.

Also consider basic cooking utensils, like tongs, knives, salad spoons, can openers, peelers, pans and pots as well as cutlery, bowls, plates, cups and glasses. Some stores have these in camping packs intended serve anywhere from two to eight campers. Other items here include kettles, cutting boards and water jugs. Additionally, roof carrier mounted water jugs with spigots will allow easier clean up and provide extra fresh water.

As for food, which tends to be based around personal preference, items like non-perishable canned goods should always be packed, along with fresh produce, some protein for grilling, and grains for cooking. Coffee and tea, condiments, drinking water and some suds never hurt either.

Lights

Being able to see at night means more enjoyable moments as well as increased safety. With a separate power supply, campers can light up both indoor and outdoor areas with lanterns, flood lights and light strips. Lights come in different brightness levels and different color temperatures to create either a relaxing camping vibe or a brilliantly illuminated site. You can also combine these with smaller reading lights with rechargeable batteries or USB port plugs, as well as a series of flashlights, with head-mounted units being the most practical.

Personal hygiene, cleaning items and general safety

Certain off-grid situations call for a camp toilet, as portable units offer an inexpensive way to keep things tidy. Tent showers are also a must, with separate standalone pop-up variants and roof rack mounted versions being the most common.

You’ll also need toiletries like soap and shampoo, separate swimming and shower towels, tablecloths and wipes, disinfectant and toilet paper. Disposable garbage bags and bins to hold all of your waste is also vital, with rear tire-mounted garbage bins offering more storage space and less stank. A hose running to the roof-mounted water tank is never a bad idea either, as it will help you clean more methodically while reducing waste. A camping broom and dustpan or a mini vacuum are quite useful as well.

Sunscreen, UV resistant clothing, and hats are all vital gear to get, as are insect repellents a first aid kit and a snakebite anti-venom kit.

Power

The final items to consider are all powered. Fridges, water pumps, lighting and many other off-roading 4×4 gear all require electricity to function. Smartphones, cameras, video equipment, computers and more all need juice, which is why having a solar panel setup that charges a battery power bank could be vital. Initial costs might be steep but solar power is undeniably useful when overlanding, especially once upgraded and modified to accommodate additional devices and appliances. This translates to longer off-grid adventures with more comfort and convenience.

4×4 camping closing thoughts

Of course, not everyone reading this will need all of the items listed. Needs and budgets vary greatly, both of which dictate what is purchased and outfitted. So be sure to do your research, and shop for camping accessories at dedicated camping and 4×4 stores nationwide for the best deals.

On the upside, most of the gear you need can be picked up in one trip to the nearest camping supply store. Difficulties pertain to decision making more than gear accumulation in this game. In a place like Australia, where hundreds of registered camping sites are sprawled across the country and there are millions of untamed places to pitch a tent offer refuge, deciding precisely where to go can form quite the imposing dilemma.

 

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