Perry Whitaker is the head of the online St. Louis Adventure Group and has been an organizer there since 2008. The Adventure Group has over 2,000 members and organizes hikes, floats, camping trips and other outdoor adventures for active St. Louisans. A serious outdoor enthusiast, Perry has camped, kayaked, biked and hiked all over the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico and Central America. Here are Perry’s top tips for packing for a campout.

(Photo credit: )

(Photo credit:

Perry Whitaker
St. Louis Adventure Group

In addition to the packing tips below, Perry recommends that you load up on information and help. Information can come from your local outdoor store, weather services and books. Perry suggests “60 Hikes within 60 Miles of St Louis” by Steve Henry, saying “Although it’s aimed more at hiking than camping, you can’t beat the quality of information contained in that book.” Perry also recommends the Missouri State Parks website and the Ozark Trail website. Help comes mostly from friends, in the form of information, equipment loans and camping buddies. Perry points out that you probably know lots of people who would love to go camping with you, if you’d only ask them. Here is Perry’s packing advice.

Pack more food and water than you think you’ll need

You should always carry a few extra snacks because hiking requires a lot more calories than sitting on the couch. Trail mix can give you a little boost of energy when you need it. You’ll need water, and you should have a method to purify more water in an emergency. You’ll probably use more water than you expect. Water bladders are great.

Shelter and insulation

The weather can change unexpectedly. Be prepared for a sudden storm or getting lost in the woods. Take a raincoat, some extra clothing, wear good wool socks and avoid cotton. In addition to your tent, carry an emergency blanket or at least some trash bags. (You should always carry trash bags anyway so you can pick up your trash and any trash dropped by other campers.)

Flashlight and tools

Have a flashlight and an extra flashlight. Going to the bathroom at night or looking for firewood when the fire gets low is a lot easier if you can see where you’re going. Also you must be prepared in case you’re out on the trail longer than expected (that almost always happens). Minimal tools include a Swiss Army knife and a few feet of duct tape as they can fix almost anything.

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(Photo credit: stock exchange)

(Photo credit: stock exchange)

Navigation and communication

You need a map and compass. Sometimes you can find free maps online. Pack a map and compass even if you plan to use a GPS. The GPS on a smartphone only works sometimes, so you really can’t rely on it. Have a whistle on your backpack so you can grab it quickly in an emergency. Sometimes cell phones won’t work way out in the boonies. Make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

Potential lifesavers: fire and first aid

Everybody loves sitting around a campfire and laughing with their friends, but knowing how to build a fire can also save your life. Always carry a first aid kit and know how to use it. Bug spray should be considered part of your first aid kit because mosquitoes, ticks and chiggers are evil.

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Lauren Haas is a writer who specializes in finding the fun! Lauren was the publisher of the St. Louis Area Family Gazette for eight years, and now writes freelance articles on St. Louis events and attractions, budget travel, arts and entertainment and fitness topics. Her work can be found at