Essential Camping Packing List for the Great Outdoors
If you’re getting ready to enjoy the great outdoors by camping out, then you’ll want to make sure that you are properly packed for your trip. I don’t know about you, but too many times we arrived at the campsite to discover we forgot something vital like a lantern or stove. Or the espresso maker. (Just kidding. Mostly.*)
And the worst part is that if you’re camping, you are likely out in the middle of nowhere so it’s not like you can just run to the corner store to get what you need. This is one trip you’ve really got to prepare for.
So we’d like to share some ideas on items you may want to pack on your next camping trip so you don’t forget any essential items. Assuming you’ve read our more general vacation packing list, adding to that by reviewing this camping list can help ensure that you don’t forget any of the things you’re really counting on and have a more enjoyable vacation.
Essential Camping Equipment
- Tent – You will want to bring a nice tent appropriate for the number of people sleeping under the same “roof,” as it were. Brands that get consistently good customer reviews include Coleman and Wenzel.
- Stove – You can always cook or roast over the fire, but for simple pleasures like coffee and tea, you may want a stove to help you get fueled for those early morning hikes. For solo camping, this is a good and simple option. For two people or more, you might want to get a double-burner camping stove.
- Bed Rolls – These can make all the difference when camping as to whether or not you sleep. There are options ranging from an inexpensive foam roll mat, to inflatable mats, to more deluxe options — it really just depends on your preference.
- Sleeping Bags – Along with bed rolls, these are necessary to a sound sleep at night – make sure you get temperature-appropriate ones. If you’re going somewhere warm, you’ll only need a lightweight sleeping bag. But if you’re going anywhere with serious cold weather, please invest in a high end sturdy mummy bag to stay warm.
- A Good Travel First Aid Kit – Definitely a must-have. The one linked here has supplies for indigestion, fever, headache, cuts and scrapes.
- Insect Repellent – Mosquitoes and gnats can really take a bite out of your fun, so take citronella candles, spray/lotion, and even an itch stick if you can.
- Lanterns and Flashlights – Not being able to see your way to the bathroom at night might put you in harm’s way, and a flashlight is always handy in an emergency. They may look goofy, but a super handy option is a headlamp. (Let’s be honest – camping is no time to be proud.)
- Kindling/Starter Fluid – This makes anyone’s job at starting a fire that much easier.
- Matches/Lighter – You could always fall back on the old Boy Scout rub-two-sticks-together trick, but it’s better if you don’t have to. Bring at least two options and keep them in a sealed waterproof container.
- Camping Chairs – Easily the most comfortable way to sit around a campfire. If you don’t want anything fancy sometimes you can find good options at a thrift store. Or you can choose from various styles available online.
- Plastic Bags (quart and gallon zips, plus trash size) – Plastic bags are the perfect storage container for camping because they are inexpensive and compact. Here’s a list of things that can’t get into properly sealed plastic bags; water, ants, dirt, sand, spills. And here’s a list of things that can’t get out: leftover food, dirty laundry, trash, leaky containers. Additionally, in a downpour, trash bags can be used as emergency shelter for both you and your things.
- Paper Towels, Napkins, Paper Towels, Dish Towels, Wash Cloths – A must-have to clean up any spills, messes, dampness and keep everything tidy.
Camping Packing List Mandatory: Create the *Best Camping Kitchen Ever*
Make a list of every meal you intend to prepare on your trip, then use your imagination as if you were preparing each one in your own kitchen. Think not only of ingredients but any tools. Need a wine opener? Pack it! Like chili sauce on your eggs? Pack it! Next imagine setting the table for each meal. This will help you remember to bring only what you need, and nothing that you don’t. Here’s what your kit should contain:
- The Chuck Wagon (a place to keep ALL of your cooking & eating essentials) – One of your biggest luxuries on a camping trip is good food. It’s a great way to begin or end a fantastic day in the outdoors, and it’s the surest way to restore morale when the troops are cold and wet. Whether you stick with the classics like hotdogs and s’mores or go all out, you need to have all your cooking supplies in one place — A Master Cooking Kit. A laundry basket makes a great place to store cooking equipment because it’s light, has handles, and the contents can be seen from all sides. You might even need two!
- Cooking Hardware – pots, pans, cooking tools, (e.g. spatula, whisk, tongs, a can opener, wooden spoon, chef’s knife, mixing bowl, eating utensils). See stove recommendations above.
- Seasonings – salt & pepper, sauces you use (e.g. ketchup, mustard, chili sauce, soy sauce, etc.), and your favorite herbs.
- Commonly Forgotten Food – Here’s what most people forget that are really good items to have at your disposal – nut butters, preserves and spreads, instant mixes, (e.g. pancakes), butter or margarine, cooking oil or spray, instant coffee or beans (pre-ground!), creamer, sweeteners.
- Food Necessities – Plates, bowls, glasses, mugs, flatware.
OK – So we’ve got the essentials knocked out, now let’s talk about some other easy-to-forget items that can really enhance your camping experience. You may already have some of the things on this list at home, and if you can spare room for them they could really make your trip that much more comfortable.
Nice-to-have Camping Equipment
- Rain Gear – In case a storm hits or you are hiking through wet brush, things like ponchos, rain boots, and heavy-duty umbrellas are really a life saver.
- Hiking Boots – Tennis shoes don’t always do the trick, and your boots will be even better if they are waterproof.
- Binoculars – In the event you intend to go for some hikes, these are great to get a closer look at far off places and zoom in on any local critters. These ultra-compact, easy-to-carry Bushnells are our favorite.
- Camp Lighting – You can make finding your camp SO much easier by putting in a few small solar lamps near your tent and even by the water tap. Just make sure you can put them away in a thick bag so the light doesn’t disturb anyone when you are ready to retire.
- Games – Card and board games are fun for the whole family and can really help the kids keep busy at night.
- Tarps/Ground Cover – These are especially important to keep the inside of the tent clean, and can be used for shade cover in the hot summer.
- Extra Tent Stakes – It seems like a set of tent gear always loses stakes, so it’s a good idea to bring any extras you may have.
- Axe with a Hammer End – This will make a fire much easier to start, and help with securing the tent.
- Pillows – While in a pinch you can roll up a blanket, your favorite pillows can make your camp feel a little more like home.
- Rope/Line – This can be used to hang food in case of wild animals, as well as shade tarps, plus they come in handy for any McGyvering you might need to do.
- Broom and Dust Pan – Makes for easy cleaning of tarps and tents.
That’s it…between the master packing list and the items above, you should have a complete camping packing list and be a happy camper on your upcoming nature escape.
*The official term for a camping trip where you pack an espresso maker, heaters, and organic gourmet granola is “glamping.” 😉
p.s. If this list was useful, keep our beach packing list in mind next time you head oceanside.
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