As exciting as spending time in the wilderness and sleeping under starry night skies sounds, camping is a serious deal. It requires a lot of planning, decision-making, and packing. For beginners, deciding which camping supplies are necessary can be overwhelming. Overpacking can be an added burden, while underpacking can be a nightmare! I recommend you use a packing app to keep your checklist in order.
But if you're new to camping and need a hand in figuring out what to take on the trip, this guide is for you! It's best to start with the bare minimum and add more gear to the list considering your specific situation.
I cover the must-haves for any camping trip and explain how each item adds to a safe and fun experience outdoors. I also provide recommendations from Amazon for you. It's convenient to find what you need in one spot since the site carries many top camping brands!
What Gear do I Need for Camping?
The answer to this depends on several factors, such as the season, duration of the trip, terrain conditions, and the amenities available at the campsite. Another factor to consider is what type of camping you are doing. Is it backpacking, car camping, or an RV trip?
My camping gear list rounds up the necessary items for a reasonably equipped campground trip. However, you might have to add more items depending on the nature of your camping adventure. Now, let's look at what you need for this fun nomadic-style camping experience!
Must-Have Camping Gear
Unless you are going RV camping, the quintessential item for any camping trip is a tent to provide shelter. Without it, you may have to endure an uncomfortable time outdoors with unexpected weather changes. Invest in a durable, spacious, lightweight tent with a rainfly or waterproof coating. If you are a beginner, go for a pop-up or instant tent that requires minimal effort to set up. The 2-person tent by Wakeman Outdoors is a reasonably-priced option that can be set up in under 10 minutes!
Sleeping Bag and Pad
A good sleeping bag keeps you warm and cozy by trapping air to help you sleep comfortably at night. It also prevents you from being attacked by pesky insects at night! When you purchase one, consider the fit, temperature rating, fill material, and weight. Kelty Cosmic 20 Down Fill Sleeping Bag has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, ideal for backpackers and car campers.
The bottom of the sleeping bag will not provide insulation when it's compressed with your body weight, so a sleeping pad is equally important. This is especially true if you are camping in cold weather or during the winter. A sleeping pad is a mat placed below the bag to offer padding and insulation. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Sleeping Pad is renowned for its packability.
Some campers forgo the pillow, but I think it's necessary for a comfortable sleep. It prevents you from waking up with neck pain. The Hikenture Inflatable Camping Pillow is small enough to fit into your pocket when packed!
While a flashlight or lantern could do the trick, a headlight is more convenient because it leaves your hands free to do other things! Headlamps can help you with navigation when you hike to the campsite after sunset. Even if it's a simple overnight trip, they are essential to see your surroundings clearly and safeguard yourself from potential dangers. The CATO Lightweight Headlamp is a handy choice as it lets you switch between floodlight and spotlight, depending on your requirements.
Water Bottle and Filter
Keeping yourself hydrated during outdoor expeditions is vitally important. However, you don't want to ruin your camping experience by getting sick from drinking contaminated water! So, make sure to always carry clean drinking water with you. Invest in a quality water bottle like a Hydro Flask that will keep water refreshingly cold the whole day.
If you are on a multi-day camping trip, carrying a water filter with you is a good idea. The famous LifeStraw Personal Water Filter has proven to be one of the best camping gear for hardcore adventurers. Once you run out of drinking water, you can use the filter to purify water collected from any source, such as a river. How cool is that?
The clothes you pack will depend on the duration of your stay and the weather conditions at the campsite. The basics include t-shirts, pants, jeans, a jacket, moisture-wicking underwear, socks, a hat, and possibly gloves. Opt for light and loose clothes for warm weather and long-sleeved and thick clothes for cold weather. Learning the basics of layering clothes can help you stay comfortable and energized. Remember to bring a good pair of hiking shoes!
When you pack clothes, include a towel, preferably of microfiber material. A lightweight, super-absorbent, quick-drying towel is perfect, even for backpackers. It can also be used for wiping down tent surfaces or anything else. Consider this microfiber towel buying guide if you need help picking a durable and stylish one for your next camping trip!
Camping Stove and Cooking Items
Food is a key factor to plan for on any trip! You won't have the convenience of your home kitchen items when out in nature. There may be few restaurant options nearby, so plan accordingly. You'll want to decide on your meals in advance and how you will cook them.
A camping stove is useful and convenient, especially during damp and rainy weather. You may be able to get away without one if you are taking cooked food or plan to cook entirely using a campfire. Some campgrounds also have public stoves, so be sure to check the options available ahead of time. If you are considering buying a camp stove, look for one that's lightweight, portable, and easy to set up. The Coleman Gas Camping Stove with wind-blocking panels is a reliable option for most camping conditions!
Don't forget your cooking and serving dishes! You will likely need a cooking pot, frying pan, sharp knife, cutting board, plates, and cups. Utensils such as forks, spoons, and tongs will also be needed. Create a meal prep plan beforehand, so you know what camping accessories and cooking items to take along. The MalloMe Camping Cookware Set is a great place to start! It's affordable, compact, and especially useful for backpacking or if you are short on space.
This one can easily get overlooked or forgotten in the rush of packing, but bringing it along will help give you peace of mind! Camping involves unexpected accidents like burns, cuts, scrapes, and bruises. While it may not seem like a big deal, treating even minor wounds immediately is important to prevent infections. You should also be prepared to treat more significant injuries until you can access medical help. A first-aid kit will have all the items needed to treat minor injuries and allergies that can affect you during the camping trip.
A multi-tool is one of the nifty camping accessories available because it can be used for different purposes, from cutting rope to opening cans. The Victorinox Swiss Army Multi-Tool is a beloved tool owned by campers and hikers alike.
Plan Your Best Camping Trip Ever!
Whether you're heading out alone or with your friends, being prepared can help you plan an unforgettable camping trip!