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.

Best Budget Backpacking Tent
Best Budget Backpacking Tent: Complete Buyer’s Guide

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 4-Person Dome Tent for Camping | Sundome Tent with Easy Setup
  • WEATHERPROOF: Welded corners and inverted seams keep water from getting in; included rainfly offers extra weather protection
  • WIND AND RAIN TESTED: Strong frame withstands 35+ mph winds
  • GREAT VENTILATION: Large windows and ground vent for enhanced airflow
  • STAY CONNECTED: E-Port makes it easy to bring electrical power inside
  • EASY SETUP: In 10 minutes
SaleBestseller No. 2
Coleman 4-Person Cabin Tent with Instant Setup | Cabin Tent for Camping Sets Up in 60 Seconds
  • WEATHERPROOF: Welded corners and inverted seams keep water from getting in; integrated rainfly offers extra weather protection with better airflow
  • BUILT TO LAST: Double-thick fabric stands up to the elements season after season
  • INSTANT SETUP: In as fast as 1 minute
  • ROOMY INTERIOR: 8 x 7 ft. with 4 ft. 11 in. center height; fits 1 queen-size air bed
  • 1-YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY
SaleBestseller No. 3
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 ft. full-floor screen room
  • ROOMY INTERIOR: 10 x 9 ft. with 5 ft. 8 in. center height; fits 2 queen-size air beds
  • CARRY BAG: Included for easy storage

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

Bestseller No. 1
oaskys Camping Sleeping Bag - 3 Season Warm & Cool Weather - Summer, Spring, Fall, Lightweight, Waterproof for Adults & Kids - Camping Gear Equipment, Traveling, and Outdoors
  • USED FOR 3 SEASONS:Our Sleeping Bags can be used for 3 seasons.They are designed for 35~50 Degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, these bags also have a weather-resistant design to keep you warm even in extreme conditions and prevent you from any dampness - this is achieved through double-filled technology.our sleeping bags are designed to ensure that after a tiring day of trekking, hiking, travel or any other exploration you can get a good and relaxing night’s sleep.
  • DESIGN: Separated zipper at the bottom can also make your feet often come out through the wind. Half-circle hood with adjustable drawstring keeps your head warmer even in extreme conditions.Our sleeping bags are designed to provide much needed rest after a full day of outdoor activities.
  • MATERIAL:Outer Cover Material-premium 210T Anti-tearing Polyester Fabric which is waterproof and Breathable; Lining Material:190T polyester pongee ; Fill-Material:100% hollow cotton
  • SIZE&EASY TO CARRY:(190 + 30)cm x 75 cm.Can be wiped clean or machine washed making it versatile and convenient. Each sleeping bag comes with a compression sack with straps, allowing for super convenient storage and easy carry maneuverability
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SaleBestseller No. 2
MalloMe Single Camping Sleeping Bag - 4 Season Warm Weather and Winter, Lightweight, Waterproof - Great for Adults & Kids - Excellent Camping Gear Equipment, Traveling, and Outdoor Activities
  • ✅ EXTREMELY COMFORTABLE SLEEPING BAG!! MalloMe sleeping bags are designed to provide much needed rest after a full day of outdoor activities. It is made so that no matter how hard and rough the ground is, your sleeping bag will always be comfortable.
  • ✅ GREAT FOR ALL SEASONS – These sleeping bags are designed so that it will keep you warm and safe even in near-freezing temperatures. The sleep bags also have a waterproof, weather-resistant design to keep you warm even in wet weather conditions and prevent you from getting damp - this is attained through our double-layer technology, our hexagon shaped fabric, and our S-shaped stitching.
  • ✅ EASY TO CARRY AND CLEAN! – The MalloMe sleeping bag can easily be wiped clean or machine washed making it versatile and convenient. Each sleeping bag comes with a compression sack with straps, allowing for super convenient storage and easy carry maneuverability
  • ✅ DURABLE, LIGHTWEIGHT AND SKIN FRIENDLY- The highest grade 100% polyester material is used to ensure the bag is lightweight, durable, and easily portable. No more lugging around excessive weight in your backpack. The material is also gentle and soft on your skin.
  • ✅ 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEE Our sleeping bags are the absolute best and a must have for outdoor camping gear. We provide the best customer experience possible. In case anything goes wrong, be sure we will respond to your concern within 24 hours.
SaleBestseller No. 3
Lightweight Blue Sleeping Bag by RevalCamp. Indoor & Outdoor use. Great for Kids, Youth & Adults. Ultralight and Compact Bags are Perfect for Hiking, Backpacking, Camping & Travel.
  • ⚡⚡⚡ TODAY's SPECIAL - get it for $23.50 - normally $28.50
  • ✅ ULTRA LIGHTWEIGHT AND EASY TO PACK - these sleeping bags pack down into an ultra compact bag in seconds. There’s no need to fold or roll it. Just stuff it into the sturdy carrying bag, pull the straps, and it folds down into a small, light TWO POUND package that will easily fit in any backpack.
  • ✅ ROOMY AND COMFORTABLE - at 30 x 71 inches, these sleeping bags are incredibly roomy for any adult or child under 6’1. It’s easy to get in, get out and turn around to find a comfortable sleeping position. The zipper stays closed, and the plush filling means you’ll sleep like a baby.
  • ✅ COLORS AND DESIGNS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY - with 23 bright, vibrant colors and designs to choose from, every member of your family will find a sleeping bag they love. And mom and dad can even zip up two bags to create one large super snuggly double sleeping bag.
  • ✅ 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE - we strongly stand behind the great craftsmanship of these sleeping bags. If you aren’t satisfied with the comfort, the size, the weight or for any reason at all then just let us know and we’ll be happy to give you a full refund – no hassles, no delays, no questions asked.

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 299 Piece All-Purpose First Aid Kit (FAO-442)
  • Contains 299 essential first aid supplies for treating minor aches and injuries
  • Clear plastic pockets for organization and easy access to first aid supplies in an emergency
  • Ideal for home, travel and on the go use
  • Compact case measures 9.25" x 2.875" x 7"
  • Case color may vary based on availability
SaleBestseller No. 2
Be Smart Get Prepared 10HBC01082 100Piece First Aid Kit, Clean, Treat & Protect Most Injuries With The Kit that is great for Any Home, Office, Vehicle, Camping & Sports. 0.71 Lb
  • Manufactured by the #1 leading manufacturer of First Aid Kits in the USA. 100 pieces of comprehensive first aid treatment products.
  • This Kit meets United States FDA Regulatory Standards as a Medical Device. Ideal for most businesses and perfect for family use at home or travel.
  • Fully organized interior compartments provides quick access. The rugged, sturdy, high density plastic case is impact resistant
  • Compact size case measures 7.5in x 2.5in x 6.8in, is portable and can easily fit anywhere.
  • Features Easy Slide Latches that securely locks into place.
Bestseller No. 3
Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose First Aid Kit, Portable Compact First Aid Set for Minor Cuts, Scrapes, Sprains & Burns, Ideal for Home, Car, Travel and Outdoor Emergencies, 140 pieces
  • 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 + 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 two pairs of gloves and a helpful first aid guide

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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Best Backpacking Chair: Complete Buyer’s Guide

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 Camping Chair with 4 Can Cooler | Chair with Built In 4 Can Cooler, Black
  • Built-in Cooler: Keeps up to 4 cans cold and easily accessible
  • HOURS OF COMFORT: Thanks to fully cushioned seat and back
  • CONVENIENT FEATURES: Side pockets, mesh cup holder, adjustable arm heights
  • Dimensions: 24 Inches Wide; 18.1 Inches High
  • BUILT TO LAST: Strong steel frame supports up to 325 lb.
SaleBestseller No. 2
Kijaro Dual Lock Portable Camping and Sports Chair, Maldives Blue
  • -This portable Dual Lock chair gives you a premium seating experience with no-sag seating, durable diamond ripstop polyester, and breathable mesh on seat back
  • -The Dual Lock chair is perfect to take with you whether you are tailgating, camping, or watching your favorite sports teams
  • -Includes: 2 cup holders, organizer with zip & mesh pockets, carry strap attached to chair, and carry bag
  • -Supports up to 300 pounds. Product Weight- 9.4 pounds
  • -Locks open for extra stability/ Locks shut for easy transport
SaleBestseller No. 3
Cliq Camping Chair - Bottle Sized Compact Outdoor Chair Sets up in 5 Seconds Supports 300 LBS Aircraft Grade Aluminum
  • THE BOTTLE SIZED CAMPING CHAIR FOR ANYWHERE: Cliq Camping Chairs are almost the size of your drink bottle, making them the most compact portable chair on the market. With a robust construction and easiest setup on the market, see why we're the most backed camping chair in the history of crowdfunding.
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  • STURDY AND STABLE FOLD UP CHAIR: Cliq outdoor folding chairs have been built with quality and durability in mind. Featuring aircraft grade aluminum, twice stitched ripstop ballistic nylon, double seams for durability and solid rubber feet tips, Cliq portable chairs are built for maximum strength. Our four legged, tip-proof camping chairs have been tested extensively and support up to 300lbs while only weighing 3.5lbs.
  • A CAMPING CHAIR THAT IS BUILT FOR ANYWHERE: The Cliq folding chair is super compact and versatile. Use it as a camping chair, folding chair, lawn chair, backpacking chair, beach chair and more. Suitable for barbecues, picnics, beach days, backpacking trips, camping trips , music festivals and concerts. The Cliq camping chair is an essential to add to your camping accessories.
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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

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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