The heat index is up and with it, the camping season is in full swing. When camping, experts say packing basics like a tent or sleeping bag may be obvious, but there are other packing needs and things to consider before heading into the great outdoors like selecting a suitable campsite.

Where to camp

The Northland is home to several park campsites locations including hundreds at Smithville Lake. Whether camping there or traveling further away, there are specific things to look for when selecting a site.

According to, water should be a priority. if there isn’t water near the campsite, campers should bring their own and be sure they have enough.

If camping in more primitive settings, also suggests beginning the search for a site an hour or two before dark. The site recommends scanning your location for hazards like dangling dead tree branches, flash flood zones or areas that could be at risk for rockfall debris. Also, campers should make sure the tent is pitched on a level surface.

What to bring

After a campsite has been selected, it’s time to pack.

According to a camping checklist by Recreational Equipment Inc., a retail and outdoor recreation service corporation with locations in the Kansas City metro area, flashlights, batteries, chairs and a table are some of the most important items to have while camping. Eating utensils may also be beneficial.

REI suggests also bringing a tent-pole repair kit, a small set of tools, charcoal and grill if the campsite doesn’t provide one and personal storage options like bags, boxes or plastic totes.

Academy Sports, with a location in Liberty, suggests a first aid kit also be taken on camping trips for added safety.

While many campers enjoy building fires, the Missouri Department of Conservation reminds those embracing the outdoors to source their wood locally.

“Tree-killing insects and diseases can hitchhike in firewood, moving much farther with you in a single weekend than they could in years on their own,” states the MDC website. “Once in a new location, these invasive pests can start infestations that kill trees, destroy forests and become costly to manage. The closest convenient source of firewood to your campsite or bonfire is also the safest source of firewood from a pest perspective.”

Additionally, at the close of a camping trip, MDC recommends leaving unused firewood behind at the site or donating it to a fellow camper at the same site.

Northwest Editor Sean Roberts can be reached at or 389-6606.

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