There are a few crucial items that come in handy on every camping trip, but you might not think to bring them along. Not only are these items super useful, they also serve more than one function, which helps you pack lighter.
- Tarps. You can never have enough tarps on a camping trip. Lay one down on the ground to keep your tent dry. Even if it never rains, moisture in the ground can seep into your tent. Suspend one between two trees to act as an impromptu (albeit noisy) wind break. Throw a spare one over the picnic table to keep your gear dry when that unexpected rain storm blows in.
- Rope. It comes in very handy when you're hanging tarps, tying down tents or hanging clothes up to dry.
- Garbage bags. Large, sturdy garbage bags will serve many purposes. Of course, you can keep garbage in them (you don't want to leave any behind). They also work as improvised rain coats (just cut holes for your head and arms) and semi-waterproof storage in a pinch. Just don't leave your garbage out at night, or you'll attract attention from critters.
- Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. If you bring your dogs camping, this is a must. It might be unlikely that your dog ever gets sprayed by a skunk while camping, but if it does happen and you're unprepared, it will be a disaster (imagine the car ride home). A tomato soup bath may mask the smell, but a solution of peroxide and baking soda is the best way to eliminate it. Just don't mix the solution beforehand -- it's the chemical reaction that strips away the oil from the skunk musk. A bottle of peroxide and a box of baking soda won't take up much space in your camping gear.