To get ready for any camping trip you plan carefully, bring warm clothes. Other than that it will depend on how rugged your camping experience is to be. What will be available or not available? This information is absolutley necessary when you will be living for the next few days away from civilization and where the necessities of life are scarce. Of course you will research the area and learn the ruggedness of the terrain, the temperature and how safe the area is. There may be bears and other varmints that you will need to learn how to deal with. All food will have to carefully hidden from them.
Since you will be carrying your bed, your food and your clothes on your back if you are hiking distances to get to your camp, you will want to make these as light as possible. However, you can stock your car – if you are driving – with the extras so you can replenish your supplies when you have walked the trail. Basically you will need to have the right weight sleeping bag depending on the season of the year and the expectant temperature. (All this information can be found online.)
As for food and water stock up on these. Take along some tablets that sterilize your water if you run short and need to dip from a questionable stream. As for food go for the lightweight dried varieties of food that can be easily reconstituted. Dried fruits and dried meats and breads that will keep are excellent choices. Store these in lightweight plastic bags. Take along powdered milk, and if you expect to do any cooking take along some aluminum foil. This will eliminate the necessity for carrying cooking equipment.
As for clothing, plan on layering your clothes so if you overheat, you can shed a layer, or if you are cold you can add a layer. Be sure and have plenty of extra socks and good hiking shoes. An extra pair stored in the car would be great. Light weight rain gear is a necessity as will be several pairs of gloves if camping in colder weather. Extra under wear may be needed as are paper towels and tissues. Yet, if you are camping in areas that are along seldom traveled trails, you may have to improvise.
No matter how well you plan your mountain camping trip there will surprises you did not plan on. Hopefully, they will be pleasant ones such as this un-expected possibility: Someone before you had built a campsite and abandoned it. The fireplace is workable and strewn around is an old iron skillet, a camp stool and yes, even some eating utensils. You had no planned on cooking but this is an advantage you must put to good use. You gather some dry wood and build a fire. While it heats up you dig a few hills of potatoes that is growing close by the pit. For the next meal you scrub the skillet and, since you had forsight enough to bring some cooking oil, you will have fried potatoes. You don’t have a spatula but you do have a metal spoon spoon and a fork.
How did potatoes get in this area? The peelings from a camper took root and now have grown into baseball sized potatoes. You clean them as best you can by scraping off the dirt with some leaves. You wrap them in aluminum foil and you have an unexpected meal you had not planned on. Okay, you day camping trip may not be exactly the same as the one I have imagined, but there will be experiences you could never have planned on. Take my word for it.
So, how do you pack for a mountain camping trip? Lightly, compactly and with the anticipation of having a good time. Of course, you will probably forget some small item – don’t forget matches – but ingenuity and making do is a part of any camping experience.