Camping

Camping Checklist: Essential Gear to Take Camping

Are you thinking about going camping? What should you take with you? Here's our beginner's guide to camping to get you started.

We live in a fast-paced society. Work, keeping appointments, running errands, tending to household chores; by the end of the day, you feel like you’re going to collapse (and probably do, right on your couch or in your bed!)

All of that chaos can leave you feeling run-down, detached, and just completely exhausted. While planning an elaborate vacation on a tropical island at a 5-star resort would certainly be wonderful, you’re budget probably doesn’t allow for such lavishness.

Fortunately, there’s a way that you can get away from it all, kick back, relax, and reconnect with your loved ones, yourself – and nature – without breaking your budget.

How? – By going camping!

When you’re feeling like you need to take a break from reality, camping is just what the doctor ordered. Spending some time in nature unattached to your demanding schedule and disconnected from electronics and the never-ending stream of information is exactly what you need to recharge your batteries and feel less like an automaton and more like a human again.

If you’ve never been camping before, you might be feeling a bit concerned about what to bringing. While you want to “get back to basics”, you still want to be comfortable and have all of the essentials on-hand to ensure your excursion is a success.

So, what should you bring? In this guide, we’ll share a list of all the basics that you’ll want to take along on your first camping trip.

A Tent

The first (and most basic) essential that you’ll want to have for a camping trip is a tent. Shelter from the elements is absolutely essential, and a tent provides the portable shelter you need to stay warm, dry, and comfortable.

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With so many different styles, types, and sizes to choose from, however, trying to select the right tent might seem like a daunting experience. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice for your needs:

  • Size. You’ll want to make sure that you choose a tent that offers enough space for you and your comrades to spread out, but you don’t want your tend to be so big that setting it up and breaking it down is a pain. Consider the number of people who will be sharing the space and make sure that the tent can accommodate everyone. It should offer enough room to fit all of the air mattresses and/or sleeping bags you plan on using. Before you buy, it’s a good idea to get inside a set-up floor model so you can see how much floor space and head room it offers. Make sure there’s enough space for you to sit up without pumping your head and enough room for the tallest member of your crew to fully stretch out. As a general rule-of-thumb, choose a tent that has a capacity for two people more than the actual number of people who will be using it; for example, if you’re camping with 6 people, opt for an 8-person tent.
  • Three-season style. A three-season tent is comprised of a body, mesh panels, and a rainfly. All of these things combined provide you with shelter from the elements, as well as the ventilation that’s needed to avoid stuffiness and dampness inside the tent.
  • Privacy. If you’re camping with a big group or young children, you may want to consider a multi-room tent. A 2-room tent features two spaces that are separated by panels that can zipper shut, closing off one section of the tent from the other. A 3-room tent is the same basic design, but it also features a screened-in “porch” on the exterior, which is great for changing out of shoes and clothing or for storing gear apart from the main “living” area.
  • A tub floor. You never know when it’s going to rain. To avoid getting flooded out, opt for a tent that features a one-piece sub floor that’s constructed of waterproof fabric. These floors are seamless, so water can’t penetrate through.

Best Selling Tents

SaleBestseller No. 1
Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent, Green
  • Dome tent with spacious interior allows you to move comfortably
  • Easy setup in only 10 minutes
  • WeatherTec system with patented welded floors and inverted seams to keep you dry
  • Large windows and a ground vent for superior ventilation
  • Measures 9 x 7 feet with 4-foot 11-inch center height
SaleBestseller No. 2
Coleman 6-Person Dome Tent with Screen Room | Evanston Camping Tent with Screened-In Porch
  • Weatherproof: Welded corners and inverted seams keep water from getting in; Included rainfly offers extra weather protection
  • Conventional pitch: Sets up in 15 minutes
  • Bug-free lounging: 10 x 5 feet full-floor screen room
  • Roomy interior: 10 x 9 feet with 5 feet 8 inch center height; Fits 2 queen-size air beds
  • Carry bag: Included for easy storage
SaleBestseller No. 3
Camping Tent 4 Person, Waterproof and Windproof Easy Set Up Dome Tent with Mesh Windows, ILOFRI Family Tent for Camping, Backpacking, Hiking, Outdoor. Camping Gear 4 Person Large Tent - Orange
  • ☀【Roomy & Lightweight】 The camping tent with a setup size 2.2 x 2.2 x 1.4m(7.2 x 7.2 x 4.6 ft) is spacious for 3 - 4 adults.Tent weights 3.5kg(=7.7 lbs) can be stored in a portable carry bag sized 58 x 15 x 15cm(=23 x 5.9 x 5.9 inch). Space saving and Easy to be carried in a backpack.
  • ☀【Waterproof & Windproof】 The waterproof tent designed with welded corners and inverted seams keep water from getting in; double-slider zippers for opening/closing door and windows outside or inside the tent; 4 fiber glass poles & 8 alloy pegs & 4 fixing ropes make the tent sturdy and windproof; hook, pockets and E-port makes life in the tent more convenient.
  • ☀【Multi-Purpose】The dome tent made of high-class oxford fabric at the top& sides with alternative mesh windows/door which provide excellent ventilation, PE fabric floor to prevent from wet, makes it an ideal tent for camping, backpacking, hiking, outdoor, backyard, festivals, party, and beach activities. Perfect choice for family, couples, adults, babies, kids,and even regular pets.
  • ☀【Easy Set-Up &Fast Take Down】 The easy setup tent could be set up easily in 5 mins by 2 people, no professional skills or tools needed. Fast take down the tent by removing all poles& ropes and fold it after releasing the air trapped inside, and then store in the carry bag.
  • ☀【Warranty and Customer Service】We provide customer friendly 1-year warranty for any quality issues. For more details or any other problems please feel free to contact the brand first for the satisfied solution (Replacement or Refund).We'll follow up within 12 hours.

Sleeping Bags

When you’re sleeping out in nature, basic blankets won’t cut it; instead, you’ll want to invest in a quality sleeping bag to keep you warm and cozy.

Check the temperature rating of the sleeping bag and consider the time of year when you’ll be camping. If you’re going out during the warmer weather, a summer sleeping bag should work just fine; however, if you intend on camping again after your first trip or you just want to ensure that you’re ready for any type of weather Mother Nature throws your way, a 3-season bag is a better idea, as you can adjust it according to the temperature.

Another suggestion: avoid the “mummy-“type sleeping bags and instead, go for a standard rectangular sleeping bag; it will give you a lot more room to spread out.

Sleeping Surface

You’ll also want to bring along a surface to set your sleeping bag up on. While an air mattress might be tempting, if it gets cold, it won’t do you much good, as there’s no insulation; plus, there’s a chance that it could pop or deflate, and even if it doesn’t, you’ll need to worry about inflating and deflating it.

With that said, we recommend a sleeping pad. These pads are specifically designed for camping. They provide a bit of cushioning between you and the ground, and they also act as a layer of insulation from the cold earth.

Look for something that’s made of durable, high-quality materials that have insulating qualities; the higher the insulation value (known as “R-value”), the better.

Best Selling Sleeping Bags

SaleBestseller No. 1
Envelope Sleeping Bag - 4 Seasons Warm Cold Weather Lightweight, Portable, Waterproof Compression Sack Adults & Kids - Indoor & Outdoor Activities: Traveling, Camping, Backpacking, Hiking, Dark Grey
  • COMFORTABLE, DURABLE, SKIN FRIENDLY– 100% polyester lining is skin-friendly & comfortable. High quality 290T polyester makes it durability. You will be comfortable no matter how hard and rough the ground is.
  • GREAT FOR ALL SEASONS – Keep you warm and safe even in near-freezing temperatures. waterproof, double-layer technology keep you warm in wet conditions and prevent you from getting damp.
  • SPECIL DESIGN– Single size: 33 by 86.6 inches (W x D), weight: around 4 pounds. Zip two together for one large size, which can be used for two persons. Couples and friends can relax and sleep sweetly after kinds of sports. Can be fully opened to be a blanket for picnic or play.
  • EASY TO CARRY AND CLEAN, LIGHTWEIGHT – Wiped easily by hand and allow to machine wash, versatile and convenient to clean. Equiped with a compression sack, straps, super convenient to storage and easy to carry. Roll control design makes folding quick and easy.
  • 100% SATISFACTION – The products with higher quality but lower price. We also provide the best experience to customer.Feel free to contact us if you don’t satisfied and we will respond to your within 24 hours.
Bestseller No. 2
Coleman Sleeping Bag | 20°F Sleeping Bag | Brazos Sleeping Bag, Blue
  • KEEPS YOU COZY: Stay warm in temperatures as low as 20°F
  • DIMENSIONS: 75 x 33 in. ; for campers up to 5 ft. 11 in.
  • PREVENTS HEAT LOSS: A draft tube along the zipper keeps body heat from escaping
  • BUILT TO LAST: Durable construction keeps insulation from shifting
  • EASY PACKING: Fasteners lock bag in place for easier rolling; no-tie cords keep bag cinched tight; stuff sack included
SaleBestseller No. 3
MARMOT Trestles 30 Mummy Sleeping Bag, 30-Degree Rating
  • Mummy style 30 degree sleeping bag for backPacking and other outdoor activities; featuring SpiraFil high loft insulation for maximum warmth and durability
  • EN tested to provide a comfortable night’s sleep at temperatures as low as 30°f
  • Anatomically shaped foot box for more wiggle room and less heat buildup
  • Weight: 3 pounds, 1 ounce.; Pack volume: 640.7curie (10.5 liters)
  • 70d 100 percentage polyester, 2.2 ounce/yard; 70d 100 percentage embossed polyester, 2.2 ounce/yard

Cooking Supplies

You’ll also want to make sure that you bring the necessary essentials to prepare meals. There are a few basics that you’ll definitely want to bring along, including:

  • A camp stove. A traditional camp stove, which features two burners and is powered by propane, is really all you need. It’s lightweight, easy to transport, and easy to set up. It also offers enough space to hold skillets, pots, and even a camp coffee pot (you’ll definitely want to bring one of those along, too!). Make sure you pack a few canisters of fuel to be on the safe side. Also, we suggest trying it out before you head out, just to make sure you know how to work it.
  • A cooler. Since you won’t have a fridge, you’ll need to keep your food and drinks cold somehow! Make sure you opt for a high-quality, durable cooler that offers enough space to accommodate the perishable foods you plan on bringing, as well as a few cold beverages. The thicker the insulation, the longer your stuff will stay cold. If you’re packing for a large crew, a cooler that features built-in wheels and handles is a great choice, as you’ll find it’s a lot easier to tote around.
  • Pots and pans. Bring along at least one frying pan and one pot.
  • Plates and cups. While you don’t want to use anything breakable, you should also avoid single-use products to reduce your waste. Reusable plates, bowls, and cups that are made of non-breakable materials are ideal. You can wash them down when you’re finished and use them over and over again.
  • Cutlery and cooking utensils. Again, you don’t want to bring your best stuff, but you also should avoid single-use items. Instead, opt for inexpensive and reusable spoons, forks, knives, spatulas, tongs, mixing spoons, etc.
  • A coffee pot. We mentioned it above, but it’s worth mentioning again; make sure you bring along a portable coffee pot that can be used on a camp stove so you can brew up a fresh cup o’ joe when you need a pick-me-up.

Lighting

While a campfire can certainly serve as a source of light, it won’t do you any good when you’re trying to get ready for bed in your tent or you need to make a trip to the bathroom.

Portable lighting is essential. Pack plenty of flashlights and battery-operated lanterns. Headlamps are great, too, especially when you need to see what you’re doing but also need to use both of your hands.

A Utility Knife

A utility knife is another must-have. You don’t need anything crazy, but something that offers the basics, such as a foldable blade, a can opener, a screw driver, etc. This tool will come in handy for so many different reasons; cutting kindling, slicing food, opening cans, etc.

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Water Bottles

Staying hydrated is always important, but particularly when you’re out in nature, hiking, playing, or just soaking up the sun. Make sure you bring something that can hold plenty of water; ideally, it should be insulated, too, to keep your H2O nice and cool. An easy to open lid is important, and you may even want to opt for something that has a clip that you can connect to a belt loop for hands-free portability.

First Aid Kit

While you certainly hope you’ll get through your trip unscathed, it’s far better to be prepared. With a first aid kit, you’ll be able to tend to any unexpected cuts, bruises, scrapes, burns, bug bites, or blisters that may pop up.

The easiest option: purchase a pre-assembled first aid kit that features all of the essentials, including:

  • Bandages (in an assortment of sizes)
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Burn cream
  • Anti-itch cream
  • Gauze
  • Medical tape
  • Iodine
  • Disposable sterile gloves
  • Tweezers
  • Pain relievers
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Cough medicine
  • Sun burn relief cream
  • Antihistamine tablets and cream
  • Eye wash
  • Distilled water

You could also make up your own first aid kit. If you do, make sure you include these basic essentials. Also, if young children will be traveling with you, make sure you bring along kid-safe medications.

Best Selling First Aid Kits

SaleBestseller No. 1
First Aid Only All-Purpose Essentials Soft-Sided First Aid Kit, Blue, 298 Pieces
  • The First Aid Only 312 Piece First Aid Kit will have you prepared for any potential emergency at home, in the office or on the go.
  • Contains 312 pieces of essential first aid supplies for use at home, in the office, or on the go.
  • Clear Pockets in the fabric pouch keep the 312 first aid supplies organized and easy to locate.
  • This kit is the ideal size, fitting nicely into a backpack, vehicle compartment or desk drawer.
  • First Aid Only 312 pcs First Aid Kit will have you prepared for any potential emergency at home, in the office or on the go.
Bestseller No. 2
Band-Aid Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose Portable Compact First Aid Kit for Minor Cuts, Scrapes, Sprains & Burns, Ideal for Home, Car, Travel and Outdoor Emergencies, 140 Count
  • 140-piece Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose Portable and Compact Emergency First Aid Kit for use at home, in cars, outdoors, dorm rooms, camping, offices & on-the-go. Helps care for minor wounds, cuts, scrapes, burns, itches, pain, skin rashes & insect bites
  • All-purpose, compact first aid kit includes essential first aid and wound care supplies like cleansing wipes, gauze pads, assorted bandages, rolled gauze, antibiotic cream, itch stopping cream, acetaminophen caplets, an instant cold pack, and much more
  • Emergency kit includes a variety of Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandages in assorted sizes for minor wounds, as well as Band-Aid Brand First Aid Products gauze pads, non-stick pads and rolled gauze for larger minor wounds
  • Includes full size 0.5 oz Neosporin plus Pain Relief topical cream to help prevent infection while relieving pain and full size 1.0 oz Extra Strength Benadryl Itch-Stopping topical cream to help soothe itching
  • Travel first aid set also contains Tylenol Extra Strength acetaminophen caplets and a Bengay Non-Medicated Instant Cold Pack to help ease minor aches and pains, as well as 2 pairs of gloves and a helpful first aid guide
SaleBestseller No. 3
M2 BASICS 350 Piece Emergency First Aid Kit | Dual Layer, Wall Mountable, Medical Supplies for Business, School, Car or Home
  • BUY ORIGINAL FROM SELLER “M2 BRANDS”! Trust that you are getting the highest quality and most complete first aid kits available.
  • INCLUDES MOUNTABLE HARD CASE WITH ORGANIZERS: 2 layer case to store both large and small med items with tilting shelves for easy access. Rugged & sturdy.
  • PROFESSIONAL GRADE MEDICAL & SAFETY SUPPLIES: Over 350 commonly used items for businesses, families, disaster preparedness.
  • PROTECT YOUR WORKPLACE, FAMILY & FRIENDS! Always be prepared: M2 Basics 350-Piece Professional First Aid Kits will keep you prepared for most common minor injuries or emergencies. Versatile to fit your needs: vehicle, survival, pet, office, emt responder, college dorm, camping, travel, boat, commercial
  • Note: The contents of the kit are organized into several packages to avoid shifting of items in the box during shipping. Please arrange the items into the organizing shelves and compartments as you prefer upon receiving the 1st aid kit.

Toiletries and Cleaning Supplies

To tend to basic hygiene, make sure you bring the basic toiletries and cleaning supplies. Examples of products that you’ll want to have on-hand include:

  • Bar soap (packed in a portable, waterproof container)
  • Shampoo
  • Sanitary products (if needed)
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Comb/brush
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels/hand towels
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Multi-surface spray cleaner (biodegradable is ideal)
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags

Even if the campground has a restroom and a general store, you’ll still want to pack these items with you. If the store is out of soap or the bathroom runs out of toilet paper, you’ll be happy you came prepared!

Camping Chairs

Even if your campsite offers a picnic table and benches, you’ll still want to bring along a camp chair; these chairs are a lot more comfortable than those metal or wood benches.

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Camp chairs that are collapsible are ideal. We also suggest investing in something with a high back for better support, as well as arms that come complete with built-in cup holders for your comfort and convenience.

Best Selling Camping Chairs

SaleBestseller No. 1
Coleman Portable Quad Camping Chair with Cooler , Red, 37" x 24" x 40.5"
  • Camping chair combines a cozy design with a convenient armrest cooler
  • Built in 4 can cooler pouch keeps cold drinks within reach
  • Fully cushioned seat and back provide support and comfort. Comfortable 18.1 inch. Sitting height
  • Mesh cup holder and side pocket offer quick access to personal items
  • Collapsible, folding design is easy to store and transport. Carry bag included
SaleBestseller No. 2
Sportneer 2 Pack Camping Chairs, Portable Backpacking Folding Camp Chair, Small Lightweight Collapsible Camping Chair for Outdoor Camping, Backpacking, Hiking, Picnic, Travel, Festival
  • [2-pack] Robust Quality: The frame made of heavy-duty aluminum ensures stability and durability of this camping chair
  • Ultralight & Compact: These portable chairs can be folded into a small piece of 14.25" x 5.25" including the carry-on bag and still weights 2 lbs. It is extremely easy to carry during outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and backpacking
  • Easy Set-up: Aluminum shock-cord pole structure makes this camping chair for quick intuitive setup
  • Low-height: This chair’s height is 13.8" with a back height of 26". It MAY NOT be suitable for people with back pain problems or those who can’t get up from low positions
  • Weight Capacity: This robust chair is capable of taking weight up to 350 lbs. This heavy duty chair is a necessity for campers, hikers, backpackers, adventurers and anyone who loves outdoor activities
SaleBestseller No. 3
Best Choice Products Set of 2 Adjustable Steel Mesh Zero Gravity Lounge Chair Recliners w/Pillows and Cup Holder Trays, Black
  • LOCKABLE RECLINING SYSTEM: Smoothly glides into an ergonomic zero-gravity position, with removable elastic cords that immediately adjust to your body's weight
  • PORTABLE DESIGN: Lightweight, foldable design makes these an easy addition to your next trip to the park, beach, or your child's next sporting event
  • CONVENIENT & DETACHABLE TRAY: Removable tray is built with two cup holders, a phone holder, and a tablet holder so you never have to be far from your favorite drinks or media devices!
  • DURABLE CONSTRUCTION: Features a high, 250-pound weight capacity with flexible, low-wear textilene fabric for lasting quality!
  • REMOVABLE, ADJUSTABLE HEADRESTS: Includes a removable, padded headrest for an extra element of adjustable comfort; OPEN DIMENSIONS: 32.5"-61"(L) x 25"(W) x 33.5"-44"(H); FOLDED DIMENSIONS: 38"(L) x 25"(W) x 6"(H)

Food

Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you pack up some yummy snacks and nourishing meals. But again, you aren’t going to have access to a fridge or microwave, so the meals and snacks you’d usually munch on at home might not work at a campground. Instead, you’ll want to bring easy to prep and easy to cook items, or things that don’t need to cooked. Examples include:

  • Dehydrated foods
  • Trail mix
  • Cereal bars
  • Dried fruits
  • Nuts
  • Instant coffee/tea
  • Oats
  • Deli meats/packaged meats/cheeses
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Beans
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Popcorn (that you can cook on a campfire, of course!)
  • S’more supplies

Those are just some suggestions. When it comes to the food you bring camping, just be smart and plan ahead. Make sure all perishable items are properly packed and stored in your cooler (and of course, be sure you bring along plenty of ice and ice packs so that your cooler stays nice and chilled).

Additionally, it’s a good idea to pack your perishables in air-tight, waterproof containers so that they won’t be exposed to water as the ice in your cooler melts.

Drinks are also important. Of all the beverages you pack, it goes without saying that clean water is an absolute must; however, you can also pack some other beverages, such as juices, sodas, and even some adult libations (for those who are 21 and over in your party, of course!).

Adrienne is a traveller and blogger with many years experience of the outdoors life. An adrenaline junkie at heart she loves to try different sports and activities all year round. With a degree in journalism she combines her love of sports with writing here at BeActiveOutdoors.com Contact adrienne@beactiveoutdoors.com

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