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

Bestseller 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
Bestseller No. 2
Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent - 14' x 9', Green (40008)
  • Instant 60 Second Setup; Sleeps 9 people; Fits two queen air mattresses; Center Height:78
  • CORE H20 Block Technology and adjustable ground vent
  • Features room divider and wall storage pockets keep items neat and off the tent floor
  • Electrical cord access port (port is fully closable when not in use)
  • Includes rain fly, tent stakes, and carry bag
SaleBestseller No. 3
CAMPROS Tent-8-Person-Camping-Tents, Waterproof Windproof Family Tent, 5 Large Mesh Windows, Double Layer, Divided Curtain for Separated Room, Portable with Carry Bag, for All Seasons - Updated Blue
  • 【Roomy for 8 People or 9-Person Family】 CAMPROS tent is the perfect family tent you’ve ever seen. With the dimension of 14 x 9 x 6(H) ft. 3 queen air mattresses or 8 sleeping bags are well fit in the tent. Ideal for family car camping or camping site.
  • 【Durable & High-Quality Material】 Made with 185T polyester. With the 1000mm polyurethane hydrostatic rated coating high-tech, the tent guarantees PU1000mm water-resistant. The tent stays completely dry under the light rain. CAMPROS tent keeps you warm and take you to sweet dreams at night. Ideal for outdoor camping, hiking, fishing in all weather.
  • 【Easy Set-Up】 No particular skills needed, 2 people could set up the tent easily in 5 min. The camping tent comes with a smooth zipper and well-made poles. The carry bag is 24.6 x 8.26 x 8.26 inches big as a sleeping bag. You could restore the tent in the carry bag easily.
  • 【Breathable & Separated Room】The camping tent has 1 large mesh door, 5 mesh windows & mesh tent top, which allow the breeze to come in and keep the bugs out. CAMPROS tent comes with a separated curtain to provide divided rooms. You could also enjoy movie time at night when projecting on the divided curtain. The camping tent weighs 17.4 lb. You could carry the bag in your backpack or store in the car easily.
  • 【No Risk Purchase】 CAMPROS offers unconditional 1-year quality assurance to offer you a risk-free purchase. If you have any questions about the tent, email us at any time. We offer a 24/7 customer service and we’ll give you a satisfied solution in 12 hrs. The tent also includes stainless stakes, guy line rope for protection. Just buy it!

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
Sleeping Bags for Adults Backpacking Lightweight Waterproof- Cold Weather Sleeping Bag for Girls Boys Mens for Warm Camping Hiking Outdoor Travel Hunting with Compression Bags(Blue)
  • Today's Special - get it for $24.99 - normally $28.50
  • PLENTY OF ROOM. Comfortably fits most campers up to 5 FEET, 11 INCH tall. SEZE: 31.5 by 86.6 inches (W x D). Our sleeping bag can be used in 3 seasons with a design temperature of 50℉- 68℉(10℃-20℃). Recommended limit temperature: 41℉-77℉
  • GOOD QUALITY WITH AFFORDABLE PRICE. The stitching and material feels neat and comfotable. Outer Cover Material: 190T Nylon, Waterproof and Breathable Fabrics; Lining Material: Polyester Pongee; Fill-Material: hollow cotton. WARM AND SKIN-FRIENDLY
  • A THOUGHT OUT DESIGN. Drawstring allows you to tighten hood and KEEP YOU HEAD NICE AND WARM. The idea of having a zipper at the foot to allow more warm or cool air to enter or exit the bag in different times of the season
  • LIGHTWEIGHT AND COMPACT DESIGN. Pack Weight is 3LB, the compressed packing size is 7.9''-14.2'' and would take up less space. Convenient to carry along for any outdoor adventures, class camping trip, the aquarium, summer camp, couch surfing, jam bags, office crashing, and as an em3rgency blanket for vehicles
SaleBestseller No. 2
Coolzon Lightweight Backpacking Sleeping Bag for Adults Boys and Girls, Cold Weather Kids Sleeping Bag for All Season Hiking & Camping
  • CONVENIENT STORAGE-Each sleeping bag is equipped with a compression bag with straps. Our compression bag has the biggest advantage of its large capacity, which makes it easy to store and carry. It can be packed into an ultra-compact bag in a few seconds without folding or Rolling, saving you more time
  • ROOMY AND COMFORTABLE - They are incredibly roomy for any adult or child. 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.The conventional size is more suitable for teenagers, and the larger size is suitable for adults.
  • WATERPROOF, BREATHABLE AND WARM-We found the best balance between waterproof, breathable and warmth to make you more comfortable when using.
  • ADVANCED MATERIALS- This sleeping bag is durable,high quality fluffy cotton fabricis very soft ,the highest grade of 100% polyester fiber is used as the surface material,and hollow cotton is used as the fillerto ensure light weight,durability and easy to carry,it can help you get rid of the hard work,Hike and a hard day,bring you a relaxing warm sleep.
  • BEST CHIOCE- 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.
Bestseller No. 3
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 10~20 Degrees Celsius. 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
  • SIZE&EASY TO CARRY:(190 + 30)cm x 75 cm.Can be wiped clean making it versatile and convenient. Each sleeping bag comes with a compression sack with straps, allowing for super convenient storage and easy carry maneuverability
  • 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

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.

Best Backpacking Knife
The Best Backpacking Knife Under $100: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

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

Bestseller No. 1
First Aid Only 299 Pieces All-Purpose First Aid Emergency Kit (FAO-442)
  • Emergency Care: A total of 299 essential first aid supplies for treating minor aches and injuries
  • Set Include: Adhesive fabric and plastic bandages, antibiotic ointments, BZK antiseptic towelettes, burn cream packets, aspirin, ibrufen, gauze roll and pads, wound closures, cold pack, and other multi-use items for any potential emergency
  • Convenient Packaging: Fabric case with clear plastic pockets for organization and easy access to first aid supplies in an emergency
  • Compact and Spacious: Two separate layers with individual compartments make retrieval easy and quick
  • First Aid Care Ideal For: First aid care for home, travel, and on the go use
Bestseller No. 2
Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose Portable Compact First Aid Kit 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 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
First Aid Kit Hard Red Case 326 Pieces Exceeds OSHA and ANSI Guidelines 100 People - Office, Home, Car, School, Emergency, Survival, Camping, Hunting and Sports
  • Made by the number one leading manufacturer of first Aid kits in the USA. 326 pieces of comprehensive first aid treatment products. manufactured from the highest of quality facility exceeding safety standards for emergency first aid, for adults and kids.
  • Meets or exceeds OSHA and ANSI 2009 guidelines for 100 people. Ideal for most businesses and perfect for family Use at home.
  • Fully organized interior compartments provides quick access. Rugged, sturdy, high density plastic case is impact resistant.
  • Two separate layers of first Aid for large and small first aid Products and tilting shelves designed for easy access and refill.
  • Wall mounts or folds compactly for storage. Case dimensions: 13" X 12" X 4". Easy slide latches securely locks into place. Includes a refill order form.

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.

Best Backpacking Chair
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

Bestseller No. 1
Coleman Camp Chair with 4-Can Cooler | Folding Beach Chair with Built In Drinks Cooler | Portable Quad Chair with Armrest Cooler for Tailgating, Camping & Outdoors , Black, Roomy seat: 24"
  • 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 pounds
Bestseller No. 2
GCI Outdoor 37060 Freestyle Rocker Portable Folding Rocking Chair, Indigo
  • Outdoor Rocking Chair: Portable folding chair quickly and easily folds flat for simple storage and transportation
  • Quality Construction: Constructed from sturdy powder-coated steel, foldable chair frame supports up to 250 pounds and includes padded armrests, a mesh backrest, and beverage holder
  • Smooth Rocking: Folding rocking chair with patented Spring Action Rocking Technology rocks on most outdoor surfaces; Use this outdoor folding chair as a rocking camp chair, lawn chair, or sports chair
  • Simple Setup: Outdoor rocking chairs open and close smoothly via patented EAZY-FOLD technology; These folding chairs for outside also feature a convenient carry handle
  • Compact: Portable chair measures 24 x 25 x 34.8 when open with a seat height of 19.7 and folds to 24 x 4.9 x 34.8 inches; 12.1 pounds; Limited lifetime warranty
Bestseller No. 3
Coastrail Outdoor Camping Chair with Lumbar Back Support, Oversized Padded Lawn Chair Folding Quad Arm Chair with Cooler Bag, Cup Holder & Side Pocket, Supports 400lbs, Grey, XXL
  • ADJUSTABLE LUMBAR SUPPORT: The back of the outdoor camping chair has an alignment strap which can be adjusted as your need. Meet the ergonomically designed to support your lumbar so you can enjoy luxuries comfort
  • COOLER BAG & CUP HOLDER Keep your beverages cool in this built-in cooler bag(3 cans of cokes capacity). A convenient cup holder is built in to the left arm. The fabric is made from a durable outdoor-quality 600D oxford polyester
  • HEAD & SIDE POCKET: Hanging from the right arm is a convenient storage organizer for all of your gear. It has several pockets to keep things organized and separated. Extra head storage bag for more storage spaces, Stuff with a pillow for neck support
  • PADDED DESIGN: The padded seat and back of this chair is designed to offer you more comfort and has a weight capacity of 400 lbs. The steel frame offers more strength and durability. The foam padding is a comfort feature that you can't live without!
  • SIZE: Open: 35. 8" x 19. 6" x 42. 1" , Folded: 48" x 7", Weight: 12 lbs. perfect to be used indoors or outdoor activities such as a picnic, camping, traveling, hiking, patio parties, fishing, and any other outdoor activities. Even use it in the home!

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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