Music is the soul of most social gatherings, particularly camping. However, musicians typically need to pack quite a few extra items when compared to ‘regular’ campers who need a little more dry clothes and goodwill.
If you’re an adventurer musician yourself and are preparing for a camping trip, stay for a while as we talk about camping while packing light:
Don’t bring your main instrument on the trip
First and foremost, you’ll want to bring an instrument that you use as a backup. Even though most instruments are fairly robust in that they won’t break in half after being dropped against the floor, their tone (and features) can suffer tremendously.
The way this correlates with packing light is quite obvious; if you intend to bring your main acoustic guitar outdoors, you’ll probably want to a high quality gig bag or case to keep it protected through and through. Hardshell cases are usually heavier than the instruments themselves, so you’ll inevitably have to cut out quite a few things while making your checklist.
Consider buying a more compact instrument for camping purposes exclusively
The vast majority of musicians who are at least somewhat proficient with stringed instruments will have no problems handling a ukulele. Ukuleles are perfect for campers who are packing light, as they are both much smaller and weigh considerably less than their six-stringed counterparts.
The story with keyboard players is quite similar; instead of bringing your 8-octave Yamaha, consider buying a cheap, portable synthesizer. If you’d rather prefer to play music from an external drive (CD, flash, or aux), search for a model that supports your preferred mode of connectivity.
The point is that you won’t need to spend much money on a portable backup instrument; in fact, you’ll save considerably more money by not having to repair your main instrument in the case it gets damaged, plus you’ll benefit from more storage space and a lighter backpack.
Compact amplifiers for outdoor use as party-starters
Acoustic instruments can be pretty loud if the player is using the right strings and is attacking the instrument relentlessly. However, you may find yourself in a position where the volume of the howling winds is overpowering your guitar, or at the very least, it’s killing its tone.
While most musicians wouldn’t really consider bringing their 100-watt Marshall on a camping trip for several reasons (huge size, requires specific power supply solution, remarkably pricey), bringing a small compact amp may be an excellent idea.
First and foremost, portable amplifiers can work with any instrument that accepts instrument cables (semi-acoustic guitars, violins, basses, ukuleles, and such). Secondly, they’re incomparably cheaper both in terms of actual price and maintenance. Thirdly, they barely weigh more than a few pounds and are perfectly suited for light-packing campers.
If you want to gain the most out of your amp convenience-wise before you buy one, search for a battery-powered one. Alternatively, RV campers could wire their bedroom amps with their vehicle’s power generator.
Buy a gig bag with pockets
The front pocket of most instrument bags is typically designed to hold a couple of effect pedals, a few instrument cables, a tuner, and a variety of smaller accessories. Since you probably won’t be bringing your full music gear, you can use this compartment to fit food rations, a couple of essential tools (pocket knife, screwdriver), and stash a miniature first aid kit easily.
Musician Adventurer’s food shortlist
As a general rule of thumb, you should try to avoid mixing products containing any liquids with your instruments, even if you’re carrying them separately.
While electronics and water/juices are natural enemies, liquids can also cause some serious damage to wooden acoustic instruments. That’s the main reason why musicians tend to keep their water bottles strapped to their backpacks while you’ll mainly find dry foods in their side pockets.
Dried fruits and nuts are generally great when combined with energy snacks; this combination will help you keep a relatively full belly before the main course is prepared while you’ll get a decent boost of healthy fats, fiber, as well as protein.
Canned food is also a good option, as there’s a minimal chance of it leaking through your backpack and potentially ruining your instrument or music gear.
Nut Driver and its camping uses
A basic nut driver is meant to tighten or loosen nuts or bolts. Even the smallest of nut drivers can be used to make quick on-the-fly adjustments on your guitar’s truss rod, but it can also be used to adjust 0.25-inch nuts on your car or RV.
Essentially, nut drivers can be used in pretty much all cases that screwdrivers are used for, although they aren’t as versatile. Given that they’re super-small and light, you should keep one in your bag just in case.
Adventurer Musician’s camping tools
Considering that you’ll have considerably less storage space available in comparison to your camper friends, you should prioritize bringing only the most necessary tools with you.
Light-packing musicians should always have a pocket knife, a roll of duct tape, and a flashlight. Although there are numerous other tools that could be of great value, they’re either too heavy or too bulky to fit in the limited space your backpack has to offer. If you can’t fit an entire first aid kit in your pack, make sure to bring at least a handful of gauzes, wet wipes, and antiseptics.
We hope that this guide was useful to you and that you have learned something new today on how to go camping while packing light as a musician. Make sure you are staying safe in these times we are all going through and have a good one, guys!
About the Author
Norma Spencer is a writer with a Ph.D. in Business Administration (Management). At the moment of writing this bio, Norma is in Germany, planning to spend at least a few more years in Europe in the coming years :)