What To Take On A Camping Trip

What To Take On A Camping Trip | Must Have Items!

Get ready for the ultimate camping adventure with these must-have items! Always be prepared with this list of essential camping gear.

Camping trips are an inexpensive and fun way to enjoy nature.

Whether it’s for a weekend getaway with family or an extended backpacking excursion, there are some items that should always be included in your checklist.

If you’re going car camping, packing light is not an issue, so you can bring all the items necessary to make the trip enjoyable and safe. Here’s our camping essentials checklist!

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Sleeping & Shelter

tent setup in forest

The first items on your list should be a tent and a sleeping bag. It's important to choose a tent that can fit all the people going on the trip in addition to any extra gear you may be bringing along.

  • Tent:  You need a place to sleep and keep the bugs away. Bring some extra tent stakes in case you break one.
  • Sleeping Bag: I prefer down sleeping bags, they are the warmest and most comfortable.
  • Pillows: Unless you want to use a rolled-up sweater as a pillow don't forget your pillow.
  • Extra Blankets: Always good to have extra blankets in case it's colder than you thought. These can also be used to help insulate you from the ground.
  • Air Mattress/Sleeping Pad: Definitely invest in one of these. The ground is hard, and cold. You will not sleep well without one.

Food & Water

cooler filled with food

You'll want to bring plenty of food—enough for every meal plus snacks—and lots of water for hydration. Make sure you have a variety of foods that are packed with energy and nutrients so that everyone stays full throughout the day.

  • Water Container: I like to fill a large water jug for things like hand washing or rinsing dishes.
  • Ice Chest/Camping Fridge: You will need a way to keep everything fresh and have cold drinks.
  • Snacks: Things like chips, beef jerky, trail mix, dried and fresh fruit. Don't forget the smores.
  • Drinking Water: I'll usually buy a few large gallon containers of spring water for drinking.
  • Camp Meals: Keep it simple, burgers, steaks, tacos, & hot dogs are some favorite camp foods. Eggs, bacon, and sausage are easy for breakfast. If you want to get fancy I would suggest preparing meals at home and just reheating them at camp. Things like chili, stews, lasagna, or premade breakfast burritos.
  • Camping Desserts: Smores are always on the table for me.

Clothing & Footwear

hiking footwear

Make sure to pack clothes appropriate for the climate you're visiting — hats, gloves, jackets, pants, etc., depending on how cold it gets at night. Don't forget about comfortable shoes too!

  • Extra Clothing: Camping can get dirty and it gets cold out there.
  • Rain Gear: Always want to be prepared for the worst nature has to throw at you. Especially in the mountains, the weather changes fast.
  • Hat: A baseball hat works, but wide-brimmed hats are better for sun protection.
  • Gloves: These come in handy not only to keep your hands warm but can also be used to protect them from hot pans or splinters.
  • Thermals: Only necessary if the evenings are cold. I usually pack a pair just in case. These are also nice to sleep in.
  • Sunglasses: You will be glad you brought these for the extra sun protection.
  • Shorts: I prefer to hike in shorts, even when the weather is cold.
  • Socks: I would bring extra, it's nice to have a fresh pair to sleep in.
  • Underwear: Along with extra socks, extra underwear is another necessary item for me.
  • Hiking shoes/boots/trail runners: Bring some comfortable shoes for hiking.
  • Camp shoes: It's nice to have comfortable shoes for camp especially if you've been hiking a lot during the day. A lot of campers love Crocs because they are lightweight, comfortable, and easy on and off. I usually pack a pair of sandals or some slip-on shoes.

Backpack & Extra Gear

woman hiking with dog

A backpack is essential for carrying around all of your supplies during the day, including water and snacks.

  • Daypack: If you are planning on doing any hiking you'll want one of these.
  • Headlamp/Flashlight: This is essential, you don't want to be walking to the bathroom in the dark
  • Lantern or extra lighting: Always nice to have extra lighting to put on the table or ambient lighting around camp.
  • First Aid Kit: Accidents happen and you want to be prepared.
  • Water bottle: Don't forget this if you're going to be doing any hiking.
  • Camping Chairs: A lot more comfortable than sitting on the ground.
  • Sun Screen: Great for keeping any sunburns from happening, you don't want to nurse a bad burn out in the wild.
  • Bug Spray: Always have this on hand, a lot of areas especially by water have a lot of mosquitoes.
  • Toilet Paper/Wipes: Don't leave home without it. A lot of campground bathrooms don't always refill theirs.
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Floss: You will want to keep up with hygiene while in the outdoors. It just makes you feel so much better and cleaner when camping.
  • Towels/Hand towel: Great for when you are ready to clean up or take a dip in the stream.

Camp Kitchen Essentials

camping cookware

When it comes to the camp kitchen, there are several items you’ll need to ensure your meals are made properly and safely.

  • Camping Stove and Fuel: Don't solely rely on a fire for all your cooking. These are a lot easier to get started and heat up water efficiently.
  • Utensils: like forks, spoons, etc...
  • Plates, bowls, and cups: I usually have a few dedicated mugs, plates, and bowls just for camping. But plastic and paper ones are fine to bring along for convenience.
  • Tin foil: This always comes in handy for things like packing up food or cooking things like potatoes in the fire.
  • Paper towels: Great for easy cleanup and use as napkins.
  • Cleaning supplies, and dish soap: You will need a way to clean any dishes, pots, and pans.
  • Knives: One chef knife and one pairing knife are good enough. I usually have a pocket knife with me at all times.
  • Cutting Board: You'll want one of these to cut up any fruit or meat for dinner.
  • Pot: Great for reheating food like stews or chili.
  • Kettle/Coffee maker: If you need your coffee in the morning or hot drinks in the evenings, a percolator or my favorite an Aeropress is the way to go.
  • Frypan: I always use a non-stick pan, for easy cleanup. You can usually just wipe it out with a paper towel.
  • Cooking Utensils: Spatula, serving spoons, BBQ kit, etc...
  • Lighter/Matches: Don't forget these, it's hard enough starting a fire with these tools.
  • Roasting sticks: Not only great for smores but for cooking meats like hot dogs.
  • Plastic bags/trash bags: You'll want to keep your area clean and clear of trash to avoid any animals coming to visit you unexpectedly.
  • Wood: Bring wood from home or buy some close to home and bring it with you. The stores close to campgrounds will be overpriced because they know you'll be desperate if you don't have any. Also, most campgrounds are okay with you gathering the dead branches but don't want you cutting trees down.
  • Tinder: Lint from a dryer's lint trap works well or just collect some around camp.

Optional Camping Supplies

man shaving with hatchet

Depending on the type of camping trip you’re taking, you may also want to bring along a few extras:

  • Shovel: This can come in handy for digging out firepits or throwing dirt on a fire to put it out. One like this folding survival shovel is my favorite.
  • Hatchet/Axe: A hatchet is my tool of choice. It's small and versatile, you can chop wood or hammer stakes in the ground with one.
  • Saw: If you'll be collecting firewood around camp it's nice to have one.
  • Tarps: Can be used to lay on the ground to keep gear dirt-free, and cover things in case of rain.
  • Eazy-Up: One of these pop-up canopy tents is fantastic for shade cover. Necessary for desert camping.
  • Rope: You will always find a need for rope. Whether to tie things down on your vehicle or hanging food in a tree to keep it away from critters.
  • Hammock: Perfect for that mid-day nap.
  • Games: These are some of my favorites Bocce Ball, Spike Ball, a Slack Line
  • Folding Table: These small lightweight folding tables are very convenient especially if no picnic table is available.
  • Large containers: Use these to stay organized when camping and make packing and unpacking a lot faster. You can have one container for all your kitchen stuff, another one for sleeping gear, etc...
  • Bluetooth Speaker: This is an essential item for me. I like having music playing especially in the evenings around the fire.
  • Electric generator or power bank: These are becoming an essential piece of gear for most people. You are going to want to charge phones, cameras, flashlights, GPS devices... This portable power station from Jackery is a popular one.
  • Carabiners: Not just for climbing. These clips always seem to come in handy for clipping items to a pack or hanging things like bags.

Final Thoughts

We hope you have a better idea of what to take on a camping trip. Camping is an amazing way to explore nature while still having access to modern amenities.

For a stress-free camping experience, make sure to have this comprehensive packing list so you're always prepared.

From essential items like toiletries to those that can help bring extra fun and comfort during your trip, having these essentials will surely guarantee a successful camping trip.

With proper preparation and packing all the necessary items on this camping checklist, you'll be able to enjoy all that nature has to offer without worrying about forgetting something important back at home.

So get ready and plan your next camping trip!

Check out some of our articles below for some suggestions of great camping gear!

Before You Go...

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