"No expectations," says Californian Alex Gray of his pre-Baja mantra. "Every time I’ve had expectations of incredible surf, I’ve been let down. I think the mindset needs to be focused on a fun trip with friends. Scoring surf is icing on the cake."

Gray says his intermittent camping trips to Baja have grown more consistent over the last three years. And over that period of time he's begun dialing in a list of essential items needed to do the peninsula correctly. Some of what he's learned has come from trial and error.

"One of the dumber things I’ve done is not fill my spare gas can," Gray says. "I think everyone has a flat tire story, or car breaking down. Those experiences always suck in the moment, but always seem to be what you share more than any others after the trip. That’s the fun. Figuring out the puzzle pieces."

While a flexible mindset should be at the top of your list of things to bring when camping in Baja, Gray says water should be high up there, as well.

"Water! Go buy five gallon cans, which you can seal. Fill them up at your local grocery market or nearby water station. It’s cheap, and better for the environment than buying plastic water bottles."

All the essentials. Photo courtesy of Alex Gray.

Here are the rest of Gray's Baja Camping essentials, with his notes included italics:

  •  5’9″ Channel Islands “Fever” This is my favorite all-around board that I bring on every trip.
  • Body Glove 4/3 RedCell A great combination of warmth and flexibility. I get cold easily, so I’m always in this 4/3.
  • Spy Optic “Helm” I ordered all my glasses with the happy lens and polarized. I’ve never been a fashion sunglass guy. I need what works to cut that harsh afternoon glare off the ocean while surfing all day.
  • On A Mission 6 foot regular Rasta AGray leash I designed this leash for all around conditions to hold in small-to-large surf.
  • Goal Zero inverter, nomad solar panel, and lighthouse flashlight Forget batteries! Goal Zero is the best solar gear out there. Easy to travel with, these products charge my gear and keep me charged along the way.
  • Primal Kitchen protein packs and food bars These protein packs are easy to add with coffee and sustain energy for long morning surfs.
  • Jetboil Probably my most traveled-with necessity. Boils water in minutes. Great for coffee and oatmeal in the morning. Also good for Mountain House meals in the evening.
  • Bitchin Sauce This sauce makes any stale tortilla taste amazing.
  • HeadlampA must that goes on my head as the sun sets every night.
  • Garmin GPS Always great to have location plots when you get far enough south out of cell range
  • Yeti soft cooler Fits nicely in the car packed with too much stuff. Keeps ice cold for days.
  • Uggs Nothing better. Easy to put on after a surf and you can walk around comfortably in the dirt.
  • Duct tape, lighter and knife Ya need 'em
  • Toilet paper There ain’t any bathrooms down south
  • Canon G12 and GoPro Personal photo and video
  • Gas can and spare tire Don’t leave home without them
  • Chair Best thing to get off the dirt comftorably and hang watching surf or around the fire.
  • Spare tire fluidEasy, genius for a popped tire
  • Baby wipes When the toilet paper you bring becomes sand paper
  • Nemo tent and shower
  • Coleman stove and grill