Table of Contents
Unless you’re venturing into the wilderness with a bow and arrow, a pack of matches, and a rope, you’re going to need a few things.
Camping has evolved a lot from the days of classic tents, PVC folding chairs, and beans over the fire. It doesn’t matter if you’re going backpacking in the Adirondacks or are car-camping in Yellowstone. Here is an essential camping list we swear by.
From shelter and warmth to food, water, toiletries, bear spray (yes, bear spray), even games, and stuff for your pup, we guarantee even the most experienced outdoorsman will find something on this list that enhances their adventure-seeking.
Coleman 8-Person Instant Tent
This 14-feet-by-10-feet tent is baller AF. You can sleep eight people (apparently), and there is even a room divider. We’d probably stick to a family of five or even go all out on a couple’s week in the wilderness (plus an air mattress).
This tent is only suitable for campsites you can drive directly up to due to size and weight. But you can stand in it.
More: Best Hiking Backpacks
Ozark Trail 4-Person Dome Tent with Vestibule
- Sleeps 4
- Full coverage fly provides maximum weather protection
- Unique European design with extra large vestibule for gear storage
- Zip open fly for cross ventilation
If you’re looking for a more traditional dome tent for light-use, this 8-feet-by-8-feet tent with a full-coverage fly sleeps four people. But the best part is the European-style vestibule that can store all your gear and clothes, allowing you to maximize sleeping space.
More: The Best Headlamps
Marmot Limelight 3-Person 3-Season Tent
- Compact three-person igloo tent, two D-Shaped entrances with two spacious apses for equipment; self-supporting inner tent with upper No-See-Um mesh to protect from vermin and for ventilation
- Well thought-out, spacious hiking tent thanks to a specially pre-bent pole in the lower third, providing for Nearly vertical Walls for more space and a lot of headroom
- Highly water-repellent outdoor tent (1, 500 water column) with completely band-welded seams and raised floor tray; UV-resistant; extremely wind-resistant with the right tension
- Very light and rugged 3/DAC Press-Fit 9 mm/ Velocity aluminium 8.5 mm pole with colour-coding for simply pitching of this trekking tent, spacious entrances, various inside pockets
- Backpacking tent, inside measurements 229 x 170 x 122 cm, Outside 229 x 326 x 122 cm (L x W x H); pack size: 56 x 20 cm; Weight: 2.98 kg; Includes carrying bag, guy wires and tent pegs, ground sheet
This roomy tent is perfect for three seasons … and three people (or two people and two dogs)!
There are two doors for easy in-and-out, taped seams to keep the elements out if the forecast calls for rain, and a mesh canopy for stargazing. Weighing in at only 6 pounds, it’s perfect for backpacking.
More: Best Binoculars
Gear Aid Tenacious Tape
- Fix rips and holes fast with an ultra-strong, peel-and-stick repair tape that requires no heat or sewing, ideal for use on tents, tarps, jackets, vinyl furniture, and other synthetic materials
- Apply Tenacious Tape to almost anything with its aggressive adhesive that bonds permanently to nylon, mesh, vinyl, rubber and plastic; not recommended for seams, denim, cotton, or natural fabrics
- Make a washable repair sealed with this repair tape featuring a waterproof coating that won’t peel off over time; available in 3”x20” strip
- Use the nylon fabric (black, red, yellow, OD green and coyote), ripstop fabric (sage green and off-white), and clear vinyl for a nearly invisible repair
- Packaging may vary
Other amazing invention we didn’t know existed until we needed them desperately. Gear Aid makes super-strong, waterproof adhesive repair tape for backpacks, tents, tarps, ski gear, and so much more. Carry with your tent at all times.
More: Best Camping Stoves
Coleman Comfort Control Sleeping Bag
Going from a toasty campfire to your tent can throw off your body temperate quick. Get warm in this bag, which keeps you warm in temperatures as low as 30 degrees while giving you the ability to peel off layers as the night goes on.
Never spend another night tossing and turning in your tent.
More: Best Hiking Boots
TETON Sports 101R Celsius XXL -18C/0F Sleeping Bag
- SLEEP COMFORTABLY: You'll forget you're camping with these comfortable sleeping bags! With a soft poly-flannel lining and plenty of room to spread out. The half-circle mummy-style hood keeps you warm and your pillow clean, unzips on each side
- STAY WARM: Rain or shine, you'll be warm and rested in this sleeping bag. Innovative fiber fill; double-layer construction and draft tubes work together to keep the cold out and the warmth in. Stay cozy on all your outdoor adventures
- EASY TO PACK: TETON provides a durable compression sack for stuffing your sleeping bag into. Starting at the bottom, stuff the bag in, then tighten the heavy-duty straps for ultimate compressibility. No more rolling up your sleeping bag
- TIPS TO STAY WARM Fluff your sleeping bag and use an insulated camp pad to sleep warmer; You'll sleep warmer if you use a camp pad, wear a hat, stay hydrated, and wear socks, Hang loops for long-term storage to maintain maximum loft
- TETON SPORTS PROMISE: Reach out to our AMAZING product support team if you have any questions or concerns; YOU CAN COUNT ON US to get you taken care of and back OUTDOORS
If you’re looking for a synthetic bag you can toss in the washer after a weekend backpacking trip, this polyester mummy-shaped bag with Tri-Fusion insulation is your best bet. Our favorite part?
TETON Sports gives a durable compression sack along with every sleeping bag for stuffing your sleeping bag into. It has heavy-duty straps for ultimate compressibility.
More: Best Coolers
Hyke & Byke Eolus 0 Degree F 800 Fill Power Hydrophobic Goose Down Sleeping Bag with ClusterLoft Base
- 0 Degree Sleeping Bag: Perfect cold weather sleeping bag features WR 800 fill power goose down insulation with a revolutionary microscopic ClusterLoft base to keep you warm from 0 - 30 F
- Hiking Gear: Designed for thru-hiking, backpacking and camping, this ultralight sleeping bag boasts superior weight-to-warmth ratio at only 3.10 lbs for Regular; Sleeping bag stuff sack included
- Hydrophobic Water Repellent: DWR-Coated camping sleeping bags for adults feature 400T 20 D ripstop nylon fabric liner, 2 large YKK zippers with anti-snag sliders, velcro, drawstring & vertical baffles
- Save Space & Weight: Don't sacrifice comfort! The regular mummy sleeping bag will fit a 6ft person; Warm but ultralight, 4 season winter sleeping bag
- Hyke & Byke Sleeping Bags: USA-based brand offers premium quality camping gear collection of adult & kids sleeping bags, camping tents & sleeping pods for all your adventures in the great outdoors
Whether you’re heading out on a backpacking or kayaking trip, you can be sure to expect moisture. Made with Down Tek, the feathers in this 3.7-pound bag absorb 33 percent less moisture and dry 66 percent faster than standard down.
With the ability to withstand temperatures as low as 0 degrees, you’ll be toasty warm in every climate at every altitude in this sleeping bag.
More: Zippo Hand Warmer Review
Therm-a-Rest ProLite Sleeping Pad
- Perfect for three-season camping or backpacking, the ProLite Plus self-inflating sleeping pad offers dependable, lightweight comfort
- Equipped with a dependable and rugged WingLock valve, the pad inflates 3 times faster than a standard valve and features lightning-fast deflation
- 3.2 R-value means the ProLite delivers added warmth and comfort during three-season camping and backpacking
- At 1.5-inches thick, this camping mattress with expanding self-inflating foam delivers convenience and comfort and is an ultra-compact expedition sleeping solution
- For best performance, inflate your self-inflating pad with air by breath and leave the mattress fully inflated for 2-4 hours before your first use
When you’re backpacking, it’s all about weight and size. You don’t have to sacrifice comfort at all. Sleeping on the ground is terrible no matter what way you look at it.
This sweet sleeping pad is super small when stuffed in its sack and weighs in at just over a pound (for the regular-sized option).
Intex Prestige Downy Airbed Kit with Hand Held Battery Pump
- Twin-sized inflatable mattress perfect for the rugged outdoors, but also handy around the house
- Soft flocked top provides a luxurious sleeping surface. Age Grading: Adult
- Hand-Held Battery Pump – Operates on 6 “C” Cell Batteries (not included)
- 300-pound weight capacity; 3-in-1 valve with extra-wide opening
- Measures 39 by 8.75 by 75 inches (WxHxD); folds compactly for storage
The secret to a good air mattress while camping outdoors is recognizing that you probably won’t have electricity before you get to the campsite. This twin airbed comes with a handheld pump — just don’t forget six C batteries.
TETON Sports Camp Pillow w/ Pillow Case
- SMALL PILLOW THAT’S BIG ON COMFORT: Extra soft travel pillow is the perfect support when it’s time to relax; Just right for camping, backpacking and road tripping
- WASHABLE: Designed to be taken anywhere; This travel pillow and pillowcase can be washed together or separately
- NO INFLATING NECESSARY: Pillow lofts up on its own; Whether you’re sleeping under the stars, driving cross-country or on an airplane, you’ll rest easy
- MATCHING CAMPING GEAR: Each pillow matches the lining of one or more TETON Sports Sleeping Bags and packs down tight
- TETON SPORTS PROMISE: Reach out to our AMAZING product support team if you have any questions or concerns; YOU CAN COUNT ON US to get you taken care of and back OUTDOORS with TETON Sports
Some car-campers prefer to bring a bed pillow with them. We prefer not to have our bed smell like a campfire for a week after a trip. This 8-inch-by-12-inch pillow with SuperLoft Elite fill is perfect for car-camping and comes with a lifetime warranty.
Buying Guide – Best Camping Gear
If you’ve never been on a camping trip, you’ll likely be trying to figure out what the best camping gear is and how to choose it.
You’ll probably have a checklist of items you need to pack before you leave, and you’ll want to know which items are the most important, but how do you do that when you’re not an expert? You can’t just check the price at one store, but rather you have to research what’s important and then determine if the price is right for you. Here are some tips to help you plan your next camping trip and get the camping gear you need for the best trip possible.
The first thing you need to consider when you are looking at the best camping gear is your tent. That’s because, after all, it’s where you will sleep and also where you will spend much of your time reading, playing games, etc., so you have to have a decent one. Here are some things to consider when purchasing a tent:
Tents come in many different shapes and sizes. They range from an average family size up to massive structures that can sleep 12 or more campers. When choosing your sleeping space, make sure you know how big of an area each camper needs. Talk to them about their sleeping habits (do they like lots of room or do they like feeling snug?) before purchasing a tent.
The lower the tent is to the ground, the less room there will be for activities inside of it. If you’re a tall camper or plan on having extra guests, going with a higher tent may be your best option. However, a lower one could work too. It all depends on what you want from your camping trip and how many people will be there as this will determine which size and height of tents are available to you as an option.
Type of Tent Material
There are several different options when it comes to materials that make up a tent: polyester/nylon, cotton canvas, silicone treated nylon, etc., but only you can decide which one is best for you. Cotton tents are known to be heavier but are much more durable in inclement weather, where polyester/nylon ones are lighter and easier to transport but are much less durable in wet or cold conditions. Look at the different types of material before choosing your tent so that the choice will be the right fit for your camping trip.
While a tent will keep you warm and off the ground, there is still a possibility you could become chilled while sleeping in an open-air camping environment. That’s where your sleeping bag comes in, but not all of them are made equal, so be sure to choose correctly for your next trip: Size/Fit
First, consider how many people will be using this single sleeping bag at the same time. If you plan on huddling with family or friends, it may be wise to purchase one large enough for everyone to fit inside without touching each other. It also may be important if someone is wide awake and wants to stay up late. They don’t have to worry about disturbing others by moving around.
Types of Sleeping Bags
There are a couple of different types of sleeping bags: rectangular and mummy. The type you choose will depend on how hot the weather is in the area where you’ll be camping. Rectangular ones have plenty of room to move around when placed inside, so if it gets chilly during your slumber, these may not be the best option. On the other hand, mummy bags take up much less space so they can provide extra warmth in cooler climates. You just have to remember that you won’t be able to move around as easily.
Camping Stove/Kitchen Gear
What’s a camping trip without some hot dogs on the grill? Nope, that’s not right. Those are for baseball games! It is important to have the right kitchen gear when you go camping so your campfire or stove can make you delicious meals.
There are many different types of stoves available, but only certain ones should be considered for backpacking trips. If you are planning on cooking anything other than quick-to-make foods (i.e., boiling water), then avoid small backpacking stoves because they don’t have enough power to do much more than boil liquids. Instead, look into gas stove options that provide more power along with multiple burners if you have guests.
Camping Kitchen Gear
There are many different types of kitchen gear to choose from when you’re out on an adventure, but here are some things that should be considered before the trip.
There are many different types of cookware so take inventory before you leave. If you’re car camping, it might not be necessary to bring all your pots and pans. Still, if multiple people are at your party or you tend to eat more than just hot dogs, it may be best to pack items like steak knives, spatulas, spoons, etc. It also never hurts to have an extra bowl for salads, snacks, or miscellaneous items that don’t fit into other categories (including that sugary cereal you like).
Everyone needs water while they travel–it is essential to our survival after all–but having the right cup makes a big difference for outdoor adventures. It is best to purchase a double-walled, stainless steel water bottle that can keep your liquids hot or cold for hours at a time.
If you plan on spending a lot of time in the wilderness, a water filter may be a good idea for your next excursion. This way, you don’t have to bring gallons and gallons of water with you but can simply refill your bottle when needed.
When it comes to kindling your fire or starting your stove, there are lots of options available. So, consider what type of fuel you’ll be using if you need a lighter or waterproof match for rainy conditions.
If you plan to visit an area where bears reside, you’ll need to pack bear spray. This can be purchased at any camping or outdoor store for little cost.
The weather is great, the scenery is beautiful, and all of your friends are having fun—until bugs start swarming around your face and the only way to get away from them is by running into the woods. Prevent this from happening in advance by purchasing bug repellent before you go camping, so no unwanted visitors are poking at arms during dinner time!
First Aid Kit
Accidents happen, but having a well-stocked first aid kit can make them hurt less. With bandages of all shapes and sizes, gauze pads, hydrogen peroxide (to clean wounds), tweezers (the ones with sharp ends), and other necessities, this kit should be able to fix most situations that may arise while camping (except for broken bones).
Playing games is a great way to pass the time, but it also helps contribute to weight and bulk since you can’t bring everything but the kitchen sink on the journey! Just like cooking gear, each person should consider their own entertainment before they go. If hiking or similar activities are your things, then maybe your phone will suffice as a game system. However, for those who plan to stay by the campfire, the entire weekend definitely needs board games or cards to keep everyone entertained. See our list of ideas here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should you not forget when camping?
You should never forget the essentials, such as proper clothing and copies of important documents. It is also a good idea to have a first aid kit handy just in case any injuries occur before you get back home.
What do I need for a beginner camping trip?
Since this is your first time trying out camping, you will need a few essentials to make sure you get. A tent, sleeping bag (preferably one that can be zipped up all the way around), and ground pads or mattresses make for ideal sleeping accommodations. Other necessities include cooking gear and water bottles (or filtration devices if necessary).
What happens if I break something while camping?
First, don’t panic; start thinking about what caused the accident and how it might have been prevented. If there was nothing nearby clearly at fault, then you probably just got unlucky and should take precautions, so nothing else like it occurs during your trip.
What should I pack in case of an accident?
If you are camping close to home, then your medical kit doesn’t need to be categorized by necessity since you can get help if something goes wrong. Even for day trips, it is important to have a well-stocked medical kit that includes bandages, antibiotic ointment, gauze pads, hydrogen peroxide (if you don’t have two of these items, one will work in the case of a deep cut), tweezers, and other necessities. If there isn’t someone who has extensive medical knowledge on the trip, get lifeguard certified, so at least multiple people are knowledgeable!
What do I need for cooking?
When camping out, everything needs to fit into small containers, such as pots and pans. You’ll want a cutting board (which can also serve as a plate for food) and knives for starters. Depending on how many people are camping with, you will determine the size of the cooking gear you need; however, most pots and pans fit into each other, so they don’t take up much space.
What should I bring if it is cold out?
In case of chilly weather, it is important to have extra warm clothing that is easy to pack or tie onto your pack. In addition, gloves may be necessary depending on where you hike in case it becomes too rough outside. If you plan on staying put next to a fire, then maybe just a hat would suffice!
What should I bring to keep myself entertained?
When camping, activities need to be outdoorsy and easy. If you plan on staying in the tent all day, then bringing books or a Nintendo DS work; however, if you want something more interactive than cards or board games would be the way to go because they can double as plates when it is time for dinner! Also, many people like listening to music while hiking, so maybe an iPod with speakers isn’t such a bad idea after all.
What food should I bring?
There are many options for food while camping. Some people like to eat sandwiches or pasta salads, others opt for hot dogs or hamburgers, and others go all out with steak and potatoes! If you are the type of person, who needs beans every night, consider investing in freeze-dried food since it is lighter weight than canned foods. Finally, if eating at a campfire, then just about anything goes; however, cooking over an open flame can be dangerous, so it might be best to avoid anything that requires cooking!
What are some common camping mistakes?
Some common mistakes that people make when they are just starting to camp include bringing the wrong equipment, not thinking ahead of time about where you’re going to set up camp (for example, what is your elevation like?), and not planning for bad weather since it can be hard to pack everything up in order to leave.
What if I don’t have any of this stuff?
Camping doesn’t always need all of these essential things; however, they do help tremendously. If you can’t get access to all of these supplies, then maybe try borrowing or renting!
Camping is a lot of fun for families and friends. It can also be a great way to get exercise and learn about the great outdoors. But, if you don’t bring the right camping essentials along with you, your camping trip will go south very quickly. That’s why it’s so important to take your equipment with you and make sure that you have all of the items you need before you leave. With camping essentials like a tent, sleeping bag, food and water, and a great outdoor adventure, you’ll be glad that you packed what you needed and took advantage of the sale on camping gear in the wintertime.