Idyllwild Camping Setup: What worked and what didn’t

We made our first-ever camping trip to Idyllwild this past July and had a blast. There’s plenty of remote camping in this area that gives you the perfect chance to get away from crowds, visit the quaint mountain town, and enjoy a warm campfire all in the same day.

This is our first post in a new series where we will highlight various situations and changes we make to our camp setup. Now that we have a family of four plus dog it’s crucial to be efficient and pack light — while still being prepared. It’s an ongoing battle so this will be a regular series here at the blog.

What Worked

    • New, small LED lanterns, got rid of older big lanterns.
      I previously packed two big lanterns that worked great. But they were big and clunky, and plowed through batteries. Costco had a sale on a 3-pack lantern set — two small and one medium size. It was around $12 bucks! All are LED, bright, lightweight, and efficient. They even have a red glow setting so not to blind our neighbors. I packed one of my old ones just in case these didn’t work out, but they did, so the big one will be used as a garage soft light now and for power outages.


    • Smittybilt Awning modified with a bigger shade.
      This will get an article of it’s own soon! I have a Smittybilt Trail Shade that I got for $60 bucks. Modified it to easily mount to my roof rack, and picked up a super lightweight and durable shade tarp for $15 on Amazon. It worked out great.
    • Small Bathroom Tent for the ladies room.
      My 3 year old needs her privacy and the lack of restrooms at remote campsites won’t stop our plans! I picked up this WolfWise Pop Up Privacy tent and setup our portable toilet inside, along with toilet paper and other essentials. While my son and I still did our business in the wilderness (for the most part), this was perfect for my daughter and wife to comfortably go potty. Not bad for under $40 dollars. Oh, and it hardly takes up any packing space.


  • Gazelle T4 Tent
    Again, this will get an article for itself soon. But for now let me tell you that this tent is great. My wife can put this up by herself in under 3 minutes. No poles to deal with at all. It fits my family of four and dog comfortably. Probably our best piece of camping gear I’ve ever purchased. Check them out here.
  • Ditched the kitchen tools box. Being an old military trunk, it is big, heavy, and clunky while storing only my camping plates and utensils. I moved a few plates (one for each of us) and a compact set of utensils into our camping food box. It’s not as “organized”, but this cut down on weight and it’s one less thing to bring.

What Didn’t Work

  • Google Maps. It was fine once we got up the mountain, but the original directions from our home would’ve taken me up a major highway that had been shut down for months. Glad I went online and did my research beforehand.
  • Dog Sleeping on the tent floor. This was our fault for not bringing her blanket. Always bring your dog’s blanket camping to protect your tent floor and she will know here sleeping “place”. We forgot ours!
  • Outdoor blanket for the kids to sit/play on. They didn’t use it for this. It got trampled and filthy. Not even the dog wanted to sit on it. Won’t bring that along anymore. Bare dirt is just fine.

That’s about it! Overall it was a great camping trip to a remote area of Idyllwild, CA. My family has grown to enjoy dispersed camping a lot more than campgrounds. Something about the freedom and desolation that makes it a unique experience.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out our camping gear checklist!

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