A whopping 77 million Americans go camping every year.
If you’re set to do the same and spend your next vacation in the wilderness, you need to make sure you’re prepared with all the camping essentials you could need.
There’s a fine art to packing for a camping trip. Forget something vital and you could run into trouble. But if you bring everything but the kitchen sink, you’ll find the long countryside walks a lot less enjoyable as you struggle under the weight of your backpack.
Learn more about five pieces of camping gear that people forget to pack.
11 Camping Essentials
Knives are at the top of our essential camping gear list thanks to their many uses, which you can learn more information about here.
While some campers find fixed blades more resilient and durable than folding knives, many others prefer the added safety of a folding knife. These kinds of pocket knives allow you to secure the blade while it’s not in use.
It pays to invest in a high-quality folding knife to ensure it’s up to any task you need it for. Look for one that’s lightweight and durable with a sharp stainless steel blade.
SPF 50 Sunscreen
Nothing puts a dampener on a camping trip more than sunburn.
While you might not realize it at the time, all that open countryside leaves you exposed to the sun’s harsh UV rays. And not only is it dangerous to walk around with inadequate sun protection, but having to carry around a backpack on sunburned shoulders can also be very painful.
Protect yourself with a zinc oxide mineral sunscreen. Go for a non-greasy, water-resistant formula. This ensures it absorbs into your skin faster, doesn’t leave white residue marks behind, and will keep you protected even if you’re sweating.
A headlamp is one of the most useful items you can include on your camping supplies list.
Yes, all cell phones have flashlights on them these days. But a headlamp provides hands-free light when the sun goes down. And they often have long-life rechargeable batteries so you won’t get caught out in the dark.
Look for a lightweight, all-purpose headlamp with multiple brightness levels and an adjustable beam direction to help you switch from task lighting to distance lighting.
Vacuum Water Bottle
You should be able to load up on water at campsites and might even find fresh, drinkable water on your hikes. But you still need a place to store that water and carry it around with you.
Your best choice is a vacuum-insulated water bottle made from stainless steel. This kind of bottle will keep your water chilled for up to 24 hours. And if you opt for a wide-mouth opening, you’ll even be able to add ice cubes to your water for extra coolness.
You can’t go camping without a tent, but it can be difficult to choose the best one for your needs and experience.
Try to get the most spacious tent you can while also taking assembly and weight into account. Some tents that are easy to assemble can feel claustrophobic, while a spacious tent you struggle to put up or carry isn’t ideal either.
Look for a tent with enough floor space for all your essential camping gear. Practice putting it up and taking it down in your backyard or a nearby park. Trust us, you don’t want to get caught out studying the instructions when it’s raining!
No camping packing list would be complete without a sleeping bag. But you want one that’s warm and comfortable without weighing a ton.
Opt for a sleeping bag that provides maximum insulation no matter how cold it gets. Some even promise a toasty night’s sleep in 30-degree temperatures.
You’ll also need a good backpack to carry all your essential camping gear. Head to a camping store and try some models out. This will help you get a feel for different brands and styles. As well as a comfortable fit, you should look for a water-resistant backpack with a good suspension.
Even if you’re expecting sunny skies and warm temperatures, thunderstorms can often catch you off-guard when you’re camping. Having an extra set of clothes on your camping checklist means sudden weather changes aren’t such a big issue.
But as well as having enough clothes, you’ll need to ensure the clothing you bring is rainproof, waterproof, lightweight, and breathable.
Avoid cotton clothes and jeans, as they take longer to dry. Opt for wool socks and synthetic layers for their moisture-wicking abilities. You’ll also need a lightweight fleece for warmth and a waterproof outer layer such as a rain poncho.
Portable Gas Grill
If you’ve ever tried to cook on a campfire, you’ll know it’s not that easy. Make sure you’re all well-fed on your next camping trip by including a portable gas grill on your camping list. Go for a collapsible model that’s easy to clean for the ultimate camping cookout.
Map and Compass
A map and compass might sound old-fashioned when we’re all so used to using GPS for navigation. But a map and compass won’t lose signal or run out of battery like GPS can. They’re also lightweight and compact, helping you save much-needed space in your backpack.
Anything can happen when you’re out in the wilderness. Make sure you’re prepared with an all-purpose first-aid kit on your camping supplies list.
You can buy a ready-made kit or assemble your own. But if you do decide to gather your own first aid supplies, be sure to include everything you’d need to treat common problems like blisters, stomach troubles, minor cuts, burns, and bites.
Your Camping Essentials Guide
Knowing the kinds of must-have items you’ll need on a camping trip comes with experience. Trust us, once you’ve forgotten spare clothes or a headlamp once, you’ll never make that mistake again.
But thanks to this list of camping essentials, you can ensure you’re as prepared as a seasoned camper, even if this is your first trip into the wilderness.
For more travel-inspired tips and advice, be sure to check out our other blog posts!