Camping season is just around the corner and in Minnesota, there are over 70 state parks and countless other campgrounds, resorts and forests to explore and go camping in. Being out in nature is a good way to relax, to get in touch with yourself and the things around you and to experience something new and exciting first-hand whether by yourself or with friends and family. We asked our expert, Trent Ranzau, who is knowledgeable in all things outdoors, to point out some of the key things to bring along on a camping trip, especially if you’re going to venture out into the Minnesota wild on your own.
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Trent Ranzau studied Natural Resources Technology with an emphasis on Forestry and Wildlife Management at Vermilion Community College in Ely, MN. He has been on over 10 camping excursions by himself to the wildernesses of Northern MN and Canada, and he and his wife have a standing order to visit every State Park in Minnesota. Ranzau is knowledgeable in all things trees, animals, outdoors, you name it. He shares some key things to remember to take on your next camping trip and why they’re important.
Bring along matches
Keep them in a Ziploc to keep them safe from water exposure. Ranzau’s tip is to put a few cotton balls in the baggie to wick away any moisture that gets in, and if you find yourself in a pinch in the woods, you can use it for starting your fire. The cotton balls can also be used for first aid. Matches come in handy for making fires to dry off clothes, to heat up food and to stay warm through the night.
Be sure to pack a knife
A drop point knife is best. It’s low in profile and doesn’t take up a lot of room in your pack. A good knife can be used for many things: cutting branches for making a fire, opening canned food, fileting fresh-caught fish, etc.
Bring insect repellant
Especially in Minnesota, it’s a good idea to carry (and use) plenty of insect repellant. Certain times throughout the year, black flies, horseflies and our ‘state bird,’ the mosquito, can ruin a camping trip in no time. It’s a good idea to call ahead to see how the bugs are if you’re planning on camping at a resort or park.
Related: Winter Camping Guide For Minnesota
Take a rainproof journal
This is something you might not think of, especially if you’re going out camping by yourself, but a rainproof journal can serve many purposes: log what you do and where you go, record daily weather information, record if the fish are biting and what types of bait you’re using, note if the bugs are bad, etc. It’s good to look back at the journal to reference these things when you’re planning your next excursion.
Make sure to have a weatherproof tent
A soggy tent is no fun for anyone. Ranzau says that a weatherproof tent is a must, especially while camping in MN since the weather can turn in an instant. It’s good to be prepared. A tip for campers is to set up your tent when you arrive to your site, while there is still daylight. Setting up a tent can be difficult, and as stated before, a MN day in the summer can be nice and sunny, but the thunder clouds can roll in quickly.
Pack high-energy foods
High-energy foods like jerky, nuts, dehydrated fruits, bagels and honey are all easily stored and don’t take up too much precious room in your bags. It’s wise to eat high-protein/nutrient foods especially for hiking, portaging and other intense outdoor activities.
Bring a two-piece fishing rod
If you’re planning on fishing, bring a two-piece rod along. It stores easily since it comes apart, and if you’re hiking to a fishing spot, you don’t have to worry about your rod snagging and snapping off on your way to catch your dinner.
Another tip, suggested by Ranzau, is if your’re planning on camping by yourself, leave a note behind or tell someone the details of your trip. That way, all of your bases are covered in case anything happens.
Related: Best Honeymoon Suites In Minnesota
Amber Ranzau lives on the edge of Uptown in Minneapolis and is a gal about town. She frequents the local restaurant scene, loves to support new and local businesses, follows the latest and greatest fashion and design trends, and she does all of this while working as an interior designer, spending time with her man, The Specialist, and taking care of her two goldfish Felix and Petunia and their tankmate Huey the Snail. Her work can be found at