What to Bring Camping: The Essential Items for an Ideal Trip

Best Camping Gear
Bradley Page
Written by Bradley Page

Camping is such a wonderful outdoor activity because it helps you relax with your family or friends. It’s important to note, however, that you have to make sure that you bring the right stuff on your camping trip. Any mistake can turn the trip into a nightmare.

You may end up with frostbite, blisters or a backache.  Therefore before you head out, you need to be prepared and with the necessary gear. This checklist will help you know what to bring camping.

Most times, camping means spending a good time with family and friends plus relaxation. You go out in the woods to breathe some fresh air and to enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer. If you enjoy exploring nature regardless of the situation, you need to know what you’ll need on your trip.

You don’t have to take chances which may lead you in uncompromising situations. There are mistakes you should avoid if you are to make your trip enjoyable.

The Pitfalls Every Camper Should Avoid for A Memorable Camping Experience

Depending on where you’re going, put these in mind to ensure you make the most out of your camping expedition.

-Not understanding where you’re going

See also: Best Camping in Alabama: Making the Best of the Southern Wilderness

Going camping is meant to be a fun-filled moment. However, if you don’t prepare well, it will not be that way. You have to know important details of your camping destination. It’s crucial to find out the place where you’re going, its condition, weather patterns, and toilet, water or campsites.

-Forgetting to practice using equipment before departure

Don’t make a mistake of not putting up the tent a few times in your backward or learning how the new stove works. To avoid disappointment in the far woods, it’s crucial that you try out our camping gear while still at home. Do read our list of the top camping gadgets for more options.

Packing camping gear

Make sure that everything works and is kept well. Avoid relying on instructions which can easily get lost at crucial moments when you need them most. Learning how something works on site is not a splendid idea. It makes you look like a beginner camper.

-Putting much trust in the campfire

You need to learn the basic ideas for preparing a meal over an open fire. It can take a while to build a camp fire. Ample time is required to light the coals sufficiently as they need to be scorching. If you’re pressed for time, then having another alternative is advised.

Also, in certain seasons lighting campfires is not allowed. Confirm this in advance for the trip depending on the rules at the camping ground.

One alternative is to use a barbecue. You can use this if you cannot use a camp fire. It’s the perfect backup if campfires are restricted on the camp site. If you go ahead and use a campfire, basic ideas on how to put it out are vital.

-Buy quality not cheap

When going camping, there is a variety of equipment one can purchase with different price tags. Every one of us would quickly go for the cheapest if given a chance. It is not always good in the long run. You can save a few bucks but be forced to pay more handsomely when the gadget breaks down after a few uses.

You will be in a cycle of upgrading or replacing inferior equipment more often. Ensure that you buy well-known brands that come with a guarantee and after sales service. The extra money used to purchase good quality equipment could help you much more down the track.

-Spending much on camping equipment

Following the last tip doesn’t mean that you go berserk and buy all kinds of stuff. You should always buy only the stuff that you can put to good use. It’s a waste of money to leave behind gear when going for a camping adventure. Your store will accumulate lots of expensive unused equipment. Some equipment is mandatory for different kinds of trips and not necessary every time.

As tempting as it seems, stay away from making purchases of every latest camping gear if your old one can still perform a perfect job. Take time to buy necessary equipment of high quality but not expensive items. You need to customize your camping checklist from the information available. If you have friends who love camping, you can use some of their equipment.

-Exposing yourself to shivering in the tent at night

Avoid making your night out camping miserable. Make the right choice when choosing beddings. It’s a huge mistake exposing yourself to cold conditions at night and should be avoided. Before the journey, getting information on the weather conditions at the campsite is of great importance. You will need this to make the correct choice when buying appropriate gear for the trip. See our tips on how to choose the best portable camping heater to keep you warm and toasty.

Camping bags

Salespeople sometimes sell stuff just to get rid of old stock which in most times is not the right thing for the client. You need to be aware of this. Going to the store with a little bit of knowledge about what you want will be of great help. It’ll assist in avoiding purchasing inappropriate sleeping equipment which will not work for you.

-Reaching the campsite late

It’s stressful reaching the camping ground late. You’ll be in a panic looking for space and if you manage to find one, preparing food for everyone will be a hustle. Imagine on reaching the site, and the kids run off into the wilderness thrilled at being released from the confines of the car. And if you didn’t do a background check, you might not know where the toilet is.

There’s a likelihood of finding your camping spot taken by someone else. On reaching late, the only option you will be left with in most cases is to head off in the dark to look for another camp with vacant spots. If you arrive on time, it’s always easier to find another site if your preferred spot is taken.

-Not appreciating the importance of good lighting

Don’t assume that the campfire and the moon will provide enough light. Always ensure you carry headlamps to help you see around easily. You should avoid tripping over branches, roots or rocks in a bad light. It’s not fun at all.  You have come to have a fun filled moment not to get injuries.

-Not handling your food and garbage well

Being in the outdoors, you will have a lot of nocturnal visitors. Foxes and possums have a tendency of coming to rummage through garbage while you sleep. Always keep your food locked safely away from these visitors. And dispose of garbage well for proper hygiene.

-Hoping to enjoy all the amenities of your home in the woods

This is an outdoors trip for goodness sake. You don’t have to think that you are still going to enjoy all the comforts your home offers. You’re out in the woods where there’s no TV, telephone, hot water or comfy beds. You will have to learn to sleep in close quarters with family members.

Bringing your camping gear

The kids are going to get filthy and your nails too, plus mosquitoes will have a field day with you if you didn’t carry an insect repellent. It’s a whole new life experience away from the suburbia. You just have to laugh at the mistakes.

Putting the above tips in mind, then you will have nothing but to make up your mind and venture into the wild for a thrilling experience.  The following checklist is developed to show you what kind of equipment you will require if you need to enjoy your trip.

From these, you will need to make your personalized list which you will keep referring to before your journey. To make it easy, we have to separate them into categories.

Requirements for Your Camping Site

The campsite you choose can be whatever you want to make it. You can indeed create a perfect home away from home.

Alternatively, you may decide just to take the essential items like bin bags. Please endeavor to leave your camp space as clean as you found it.

  • Bin Bags: for collecting your garbage to leave the space sparkling clean.
  • Wind-breaks: they’re ideal for creating privacy at the campsite. And of course helping to keep the wind at bay.
  • Furniture: you can come with camping chairs and tables.
  • Headtorch: this is essential for finding your way in the dark. You can also use this as a signaling tool in case of an emergency.
  • String or Cord: it’s used when binding, or for making an onsite washing line.
  • Portable Toilet: you can use this when you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. And also much more helpful if you camped with young children.

Shelter and Bedding at Night

Camping requires setting up a home away from your home.

Shelter and Bedding at Night

You will need to get shelter and bedding to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

  • Tent: It keeps you safe from wild animals and natural elements as well as offering you shelter. These come in different shapes and sizes. Dome tents are the most popular.
    They provide the better interior space with the least amount of material. This saves weight if you’re going backpacking. When purchasing or renting a tent, bear in mind that a two person tent means there is room for two people to sleep inside.
    A suitable shelter needs to be easy to set up with no holes and all zippers working well. It should also be simple to handle, provides comfort, of the right fabric and be with ample space for you and your family or friends.
  • Hammocks: You need to be sure that there are trees around for hanging it. Also, some parks do not let you tie ropes to trees. Make sure to check park regulations before coming with your hammock.
  • Sleeping pad: Just as you unroll your sleeping bag, you’ll need to lay down a ground pad. This is to provide some cushion beneath your body. It will help increase your level of comfort.
    And more importantly, it keeps moisture from accumulating in your body. It will make your body lose heat and which will result in coldness. Foam pads are more affordable however much they’re bulky and terribly cushioned.
    Air mattresses are more comfortable. However, they usually require an air compressor to inflate. There’re pads that are hybrid foam and air, and they offer the best of both worlds.
  • Sleeping bag: The purpose of this is to you cozy and warm during the night. Sleeping bags have various shapes, thicknesses, sizes, and materials. Get a sleeping bag which is suitable for your personal comfort needs and size.
    Make sure it matches the temperature and weather conditions in your location and time of year. An option you can use instead of a sleeping bag is 2-3 blankets.
  • Pillows: They can be a bulky luxury item to some even when you’re car camping. You can save space by bringing a pillowcase. You fill it with some of your extra clothes, and you’ll be good to go. Here’s our review of the top camping pillows to give you more choices for a good night’s sleep.
  • Rain or sun shelter: if you’re car camping, bring a pop-up tent or dining fly. This can protect your dining area from sun and rain. And some models come with screened walls for protection against insects.
    Most front-country camping grounds restrict tying ropes to trees. However, if you can, you use a rope and tarp which will help you create a rain shelter or windscreen.

To enjoy a great night, change into dry clothes. You’ll be much comfier! When it gets so cold outside, you need to put your head into your sleeping bag. You can even check our article review of the best camping cot for more options.

This will help you stay warm. It’s comforting for a short period, but breathing inside your sleeping bag will introduce a lot of moisture. After an extended period, you will become colder. Good bedding and shelter are ideal for your home away from home expedition.

What to Eat While on The Trip

Planning your meals is an important aspect while you’re camping. You’ll need to ensure you brought enough food.

What to Eat While on The Trip

It may be quite a distance to the grocery store, especially when you’re camping in the backcountry. Extra care has to be made to ensure that the foods you brought are not bulky. So these are some food ideas of what you should remember for your trip.

  • Food storage equipment. You don’t want some of your essential ingredients to roll under a car seat in the process of rummaging through your things. If you’re organized and you keep food in a container, it will help you out a lot.
    What’s more, having your stuff clean will prevent animals from getting into your food. If you’re camping in the backcountry, you might need to come with a cooler for storing items that need refrigeration.
    Further, you’ll need to have a container for your other food to keep things organized. Backcountry campers have to use a waterproof bag to hang their food.
    If your camp is in bear country, you need to use a food storage locker in the campground. You must check with your park for regulations regarding food storage.
  • Pack packaged foods.  These save space when packing. Items in plastic bags or boxes are easy to pack than jars and cans. That will save space and weight.
  • Pack dry foods like rice and pasta. These help you save space and weight. And they don’t go bad. Preparing these foods reduces odor which might come out when cooking. It’s an important consideration in areas with bears.

The camping you up to dictates what kind of food you bring with you.

What You Need for Preparing Food

Festival goers have to follow strict rules on what fuel they use to cook on site.

What You Need for Preparing Food

If you’re a family or group camper, you may have to take substantially more since you’re aiming to create meals while out camping. And with that comes all the necessary accessories.

  • Gas or Charcoal depending on whether you use stove or BBQ
  • Water container ideal for drinking water.
  • Stove or BBQ for cooking
  • Kettle for boiling water if you need a hot cup of coffee
  • Tableware plates, cups, and bowls.
  • Cool box or cool bag for food items which need to be refrigerated
  • Basin you can use this to wash the dishes. It also helps if you require carrying dirty dishes to the campsite wash area.
  • Low Wattage Appliances to work with your electric hook to provide extra comfort
  • Tin Opener for opening food cans.
  • Cutting board
  • Cutlery
  • Pots or Pans
  • Flipper or tongs
  • Bottle Opener
  • Cooking grate
  • Wet Wipes

Warm Clothes and Personal Items

You may think that camping is always a secure and safe way to relax in nature.  However, one may get injuries if not careful. Accidents do happen near frozen lakes, or you may need to save someone. You should carry extra warm and reliable clothes.

Synthetic clothes are preferred and make sure you wear these closest to your skin. This is because the material is breathable and dries quickly. It also keeps your skin well ventilated plus helping reduce sweating, because it evaporates.

Warm Clothes and Personal Items

Cotton or wool clothes keep you warm, but they take long to dry. Wool remains warm even if it’s wet. Always have two layers of extra garments – one synthetic and one cotton or wool layer. The jacket must always be the last top layer on your body.

  • Sleeping clothes never sleep in the same clothes you were wearing in the day.
  • An extra change of clothes including pants; short and long, shirts; long and short sleeves, underwear and a few pairs of socks.
  • A jacket for keeping you warm at night.
  • A hat for protecting your skin from the sun during the day.
  • A swimsuit if you’re camping on the side of a lake.
  • An extra pair of sturdy shoes these’re always a must-have.
  • Towels for drying yourself after a good swim.
  • Soap plus shampoo you need soap to clean your hands before and after eating.
  • Sunscreen for protecting exposed skin.
  • Feminine products
  • Toilet paper and other personal items
  • Toothbrush with toothpaste
  • Deodorant and a folding brush

Health and Safety Requirements

You must put health needs into consideration. Taking more personal medication than required is paramount.

Camping first aid

And putting that aside, you need to pack essentials for health and safety requirements.

  • Personal medications with extra
  • First Aid Kit
  • Anti-bacterial hand wash
  • Sun Cream
  • Extra Batteries
  • Insect Repellent
  • Pocket Knife

Going camping is a great fun and relaxing activity. You make new friends and get to see amazing natural views. Conform to camping regulations and always put out fires before you sleep. Keep insects away from your tent by keeping it closed all the time.

Respecting the rules plus having all the necessary equipment and nothing will stop you from enjoying your camping. What do you keep on your must have camping list? Are there things we haven’t included?


Bradley Page

Bradley Page

With several decades of experience as a backpacker and outdoor adventurer, Bradley is an open encyclopedia when it comes to gear, clothes, and other items that matter on the trail. He tested hundreds of shoes, pants, jackets, and backpacks in his long career and is always up to date with the new appearances in the niche. His experience makes him one of the authority figures in backpacking and he can help anyone to get prepared for a great adventure!