I’ve been a borderline minimalist for many years now, but in recent months that proclivity has shifted into overdrive. I moved out of my apartment back in October when my lease came up for renewal, and moved in with my girlfriend. A few weeks later, due to a bizarre and distressing situation that we are still waiting to see the conclusion of, we were suddenly forced to find a (different) new place to live. I scrambled to secure a new living arrangement and packed up all my belongings in just a couple nights (it’s worth noting that in between these two moves I managed to fit in my second kidney biopsy, which added to the experience).

A move is always a catalyst for inspiring one to downsize, but those grueling, back-to-back moves caused me to develop a really blasé sentimentality toward possessions. These days, if I can’t fit it in a couple backpacks or boxes in under half an hour, I’m not interested in having it.

Over the past few months, as I’ve explored options for downsizing and reducing the number of things that I own (while maximizing functionality), I’ve found myself naturally drawn to things made for camping enthusiasts. It doesn’t hurt that I also, upon occasion, enjoy going camping and already have a toe dipped in the camping gear world.

For years, I’ve defended my love for sporks (the ones with tines built into a scoop, not the ones with a fork on one side and a spoon on the other, which makes it impossible to use both at once without getting your hands disgusting and contaminating your food). I’ve added to that collection a portable, collapsible cup that is great for keeping in my backpack in case I’m out and about and come across a water fountain. It can also double as a bowl or plate.

I have a reusable, easy-to-clean straw that I carry around to avoid unnecessary plastic waste in situations where I really need a straw (although I typically drink straight from the glass when I’m in a restaurant).

Of course, I rarely leave home without a water bottle, but I wouldn’t consider that “camping gear” per se.

I’ve seen folks who use a sleeping bag and a mattress pad instead of a bed. I’m all for that, although I don’t think I could ever convince my partner to go for that. That does help increase space during the day when the bed is unneeded, and many mattress pads can fold up and double as a sofa as well.

Beside my bed, I keep a portable camping power station to charge my devices, and provide a reading lamp for the rare times I use a dead tree formatted book instead of an ereader. It also is useful in the winter, during rare periods of power outages.

I keep my toiletries and essentials in a dopp kitt, and take everything out as needed. At the end of a shower, I dry off my soap and shampoo containers, and return them to the kit. This not only makes it easy to travel, but leaves me feeling less overwhelmed because all my things aren’t spread out everywhere and creating clutter.

I mention these things because, perhaps like me, you’re looking to find high-quality, highly-functional things that are unobtrusive but handy when you need them. When first looking into minimalism / essentialism, a lot of folks wouldn’t immediately think “camping gear”, but that can be a great place to start.

By only using the essentials and keeping everything in a predetermined place (usually inside a bag or travel container of some sort), I’m able to know where everything is at an instant, and maintain a calm, organized mind by not having to worry about all my stuff.