There’s no better way to explore the great outdoors than with a good old-fashioned camping trip. In this article, I’m going to walk you through my ultimate camping packing list to make sure you have the best time possible.
Whether you’re sleeping in a national park, on the beach or in your own backyard, camping is a great way to immerse yourself in nature, get rid of distractions and disconnect for a period of time.
Living a rugged life can be oddly refreshing, but it’s important to be sure you pack the proper supplies before going off the grid.
Follow this packing list and you’re sure to have everything you need for a stress-free camping trip.
5 Things to Consider When Packing for a Camping Trip
There are several considerations to keep in mind when packing for a camping trip.
The first thing to think about is the location of your campsite. Are you driving to the site? Can you park at the site? Are you going to have to hike into back country?
All of this will help you decide what to pack. If you’re going to have to hike to the site, you’re definitely going to want to keep it light, whereas if you can park right next to your tent, you can pack more.
While you have the world at your fingertips in the great outdoors, you need to make sure you’re staying at a regulated campsite — otherwise you may run into some trouble such as unsafe conditions or illegal camping. The last thing you want to do is disrupt a natural place!
Type of Campsite
Another thing to consider is the type of campsite you’ll be staying at. Campsites can range from the bare minimum to rather luxurious (glamping, if you will), all which will be reflected in the price you pay for your reservation.
It’s good to pick a campsite that has a picnic table, a fire pit, and a parking spot as this makes for the most convenient outdoor experience. I also recommend looking for campsites with running water and bathroom facilities, which you’ll definitely want to take advantage of on longer excursions.
Also think about the weather where you’ll be camping.
If it’s hot, you can skip the layers and pack light, but if you’re camping in autumn or early spring, you’ll want to bring some more clothing and blankets for the tent. Winter camping means heavy jackets, but also additional gear like crampons, snowshoes, and more.
Think carefully about the climate and pack accordingly.
The length of your trip also influences what you should pack.
If you’re just going for a quick weekend wilderness getaway, you can survive with a few outfits and just the essentials. But if you’re going to be gone for a little while, you want to make sure that you’re adequately prepared with everything you need for a remote area or lengthy stay, including food!
A last consideration is your camping itinerary. Will you be doing a lot of hiking? Is there a lake nearby for kayaking or swimming? Or are you planning on just chilling around the fire, playing games and having sing-alongs?
The activities you’re planning will also help you decide what to pack for your trip.
On a hikin- intensive trip, be sure to pack a proper pair of boots and possibly hiking poles. For a lake trip, you’ll definitely want a bathing suit.
For a more laid-back camping experience, grab a guitar and some board games. It’s definitely a good idea to check the area surrounding your campsite to know what your options are, help you plan a great trip, and pack accordingly.
Camping Packing List
Being in the wilderness often means limited cellphone reception. Be sure to bring proper navigation tools like a compass to make sure you know where you are and how to get back to your campsite if you get lost!
Map of the Area
Along the same lines as navigation tools, it’s a good idea to have a map of the area. Mark your campsite on the map, and with the help of your compass, you should always be able to find your way home again.
A field guide is a great tool for keeping you safe and informed while camping. There are tons of different fields guides with subjects like plants, animals, stars, and more.
Choose relevant field guides and take them along with you so that you can easily identify whatever you come across in the woods.
This is an important item when in the wilderness because it ensures you’ll never go thirsty.
A Life Straw filters water, making it suitable for drinking. Drink out of streams, rivers and other natural water sources with this straw. Plus it’s lightweight and convenient to pack. What’s not to love!
An alternative to a Life Straw is iodine tablets which you can drop into your water to purify it as well.
Whichever your preference, make sure you have something to ensure your water is safe to drink!
Essentials for Setting Up Your Campsite
A complete campsite is essential to the success of any camping trip. Pack everything on this list and you’ll have a comfortable campsite that’s prepared for anything.
The first thing you’re going to want to remember to pack is your tent. Don’t forget to check for stakes and it’s always a good idea to bring extras just in case.
There are so many tents on the market, it’s important to choose one that’s not only right for your trip, but one that you’ll use again. I suggest investing in a high quality, durable tent that’s spacious and easy to set up.
Read More: Best Backpacking Tents
Along with your tent, bring along a rain fly in case of showers. When set up properly, the rain fly will protect your tent from getting wet, and keep you nice and dry.
Don’t let dirt or wet soil seep into the tent through the bottom. Before setting up your tent, lay out a ground tarp to pitch your tent on top of.
Just make sure to pick one that is slightly larger than the base of your tent!
Stay nice and cozy on a camping trip in your sleeping bag. I always go for a sleeping bag that has a stuff sack to keep it compressed when not in use. This makes it easier to pack and saves tons of room!
Read More: Ultimate Guide to Lightweight Sleeping Bags and Best Bivy Sacks.
The worst part about camping is feeling every rock and twig underneath your sleeping bag when you lie down. Bring a sleeping pad for an extra barrier between you and the ground.
Pack a pillow to sleep comfortably on your outdoor expedition. With so many camping pillows to choose from, you could go for an inflatable pillow or one that’s travel-sized, depending on your preference.
Headlamp / Flashlight
Be able to see what you’re doing in the great outdoors after the sun goes down with a flashlight or headlamp.
I personally recommend taking the headlamp route because it allows you to light up your campsite while keeping your hands free. If you’re taking a longer trip, be sure to pack spare batteries!
In addition to a headlamp or flashlight, consider bringing along a battery-powered lantern as well. It will come in useful while you’re cooking or hanging out in the tent at nighttime.
But if you don’t feel like taking a lantern, a good camping hack is to wrap your headlamp around a Nalgene. It will light up the water bottle, creating a makeshift lantern.
You may not want to spend your entire camping trip sitting on the ground, so bring along a couple of chairs to make for a comfortable trip.
If you have the space, go for a folding chair, but if you’re looking for something smaller, these chairs are a camping classic.
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Campsite Kitchen Packing List
Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice good food! Camp food is some of my favorite because you can make just about anything and it will taste twice as delicious after a long day.
For short trips, I recommend prepping food before you go and storing it in plastic bags or Tupperware inside your cooler. When you’re ready to eat, just throw it on the camp stove and you’ll have a delicious meal before you know it.
Follow this campsite kitchen packing list to make sure you have everything you need to be well fed on your camping trip.
Keep your food fresh and cool in a cooler. Grab one of these collapsible coolers so you can fold it up once you’ve used everything inside.
Cook gourmet meals on a camp stove while out in the wild! You can make just about anything on one of these. Just don’t forget the propane!
Pot and Pan
You’re going to need something to cook in, so bring along a pot and pan that you don’t mind getting dirty.
Pack cooking utensils to flip, fry and serve whatever campsite delicacies you’re cooking up. Some essentials are a spatula, tongs, serving spoon, sharp knife, and scissors.
You can just grab a complete set to make sure you have everything you need to cook tasty meals while outdoors.
A cutting board is the main item to create your campsite cook station. You don’t want to get stuck cutting your food on a wooden picnic bench, do you?
Camping Tableware Set
One of these sets is your best bet for enjoying your campsite meals. They come with plates, bowls, silverware and cups, allowing you to cut down on the single-use plastics this trip while still enjoying tasty camp food. If you want tips on how to choose the best camping mess kits, check out this article.
Biodegradable Soap & Sponge
Keep your tableware set nice and clean with a soap that doesn’t harm your surrounding environment. Biodegradable soap will keep your dishes sparkling and return to the natural environment after use.
One of the main camping principals is to leave no trace, no matter where you go. Bring enough trash bags to last your entire trip, and take them out of the campsite when you leave.
Resealable Storage Bags
Store your extra food or supplies in these handy, sealable storage bags to use at a later point. Plus, it helps cut down on single-use plastic and keeps things nice and compact.
Corkscrew] / ]Bottle Opener
If you plan on popping some bottles or crushing some beers on your camping trip, bring the proper openers along with you. Always remember to drink responsibly and toss your bottle caps!
In my opinion, the best part about camping are the s’mores. Bring skewers to roast your marshmallows to make the perfect graham cracker and chocolate sandwich. They can also be used for hot dogs!
Not only is foil useful for storing things, but it’s a great supply for campsite cooking.
Wrap an ear of corn in some foil with olive oil or butter and salt, and then toss it into the campfire. Rotate it occasionally and after 10 minutes you’ll have some of the best roasted corn ever!
Lighte / Waterproof Matches
Bruce Springsteen put it best when he said “can’t start a fire without a spark.” Get your campfire started with a lighter or waterproof matches.
You also can’t start a fire without firewood. Many campsites have firewood for sale but if not, grab a bundle or two somewhere nearby on your way. You should also grab some newspaper and kindling.
Camping Clothing Packing List
There are a few pieces of clothing that should be packed for any camping trip. While this list isn’t all encompassing, these are the essential articles of clothing you should take along with you.
Dri-fit clothing is prime for camping, especially in warmer months. It wicks away most sweat and water instead of absorbing it, keeping you comfortable even in the hottest weather.
Besides dri-fit shirts, I’d recommend bringing along dri-fit underwear as well.
Hiking pants are a great camping accessory because they’re a two-for-one.
Don’t choose between pants and shorts and bring both with this one pair of pants. Zipping off at the knee, hiking pants give you protection when you want it and freedom when it’s getting too warm.
Long Sleeve / Flannel Shirt
Nights in the woods tend to get pretty chilly. Have a long-sleeve shirt or flannel to throw on to keep you comfortable in cooler weather.
When a long-sleeve isn’t enough, a sweatshirt is ideal to keep you warm.
Nights in tents can get pretty cold, so you may want a sweatshirt to wear in your sleeping bag. A sweatshirt can also double as a pillow.
Even if rain isn’t in the forecast, Mother Nature tends to be unpredictable. Be prepared for anything with a lightweight raincoat that you can throw on when showers start.
If you stumble upon a slow-moving stream or lake while exploring your surroundings, you’ll be glad you packed a bathing suit so that you can take a refreshing swim. Plus, some campsites even have a designated swimming area!
Flip flops or other slip-on shoes are essential for a camping trip because you’ll want something to easily put on and take off around camp.
If you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, the last thing you’re going to want to do is lace up hiking boots!
Hiking Boots / Sneakers
There’s so much to see in our natural world and the best part about camping is it puts you right in the thick of it.
Be sure to pack a pair of proper hiking boots or sneakers to make the most of your exploring. The key is that they’re protective and comfortable to walk in. Bonus points if they’re lightweight!
Wool socks are an essential camping item. They’ll keep your feet comfortable in your hiking boots and warm at night in the tent.
I recommend going with a pair of SmartWool socks. They’re itch-free, odor-resistant, and offer maximum comfort.
For long days in the sun, you’re going to want to keep your head protected with a hat. In my opinion, waterproof sun hats with a neck strap are best for camping activities.
Essential Personal Items for Camping
Besides clothing, you’re going to want an assortment of personal items to stay fresh and comfortable throughout your trip.
Stay hydrated along the way with a dependable water bottle.
Choose a collapsible one to save space when not in use, or go for an insulated one to keep your water cold all day long.
Keep big jugs of water at the campsite to refill bottles as needed!
Read More: Epic List of Travel Water Bottles
Depending on how long you’re camping and what kind of campsite you’re staying at, you’re going to want to bring select toiletries.
If you’re on a shorter trip, just bring the essentials like toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, and a hairbrush. If you’re spending more time out in the woods, your site might have shower facilities. Pack shampoo, conditioner, and soap to stay fresh.
My biggest camping tip is to bring along this all-in-one soap that doesn’t harm the environment. I lather myself up and then jump in a lake and come out fresh and clean! You can even brush your teeth with it.
On the off chance that your campsite doesn’t have shower facilities, bring wet wipes to keep yourself fresh. Just give yourself a quick swipe with one of these and you’ll be feeling good as new!
First Aid Kit
Be prepared for anything with a travel first aid kit complete with everything you may need for a scraped knee or a true emergency.
Stay protected from harmful UV rays with a high SPF sunscreen!
On the sun protection note, bring sunglasses for your daytime adventures. We love SunGod’s sunglasses because they’re fully customizable, affordable, and they ship worldwide!
In my humble opinion, bug bites are the worst part about camping. Bring along a strong bugspray to keep them away from you.
If you’re looking to ward them off even more, grab one of these bug repellant candles for the campsite.
Keep chapped lips at bay with a powerful lip balm.
One of my favorite parts about camping is taking some quiet time in nature. Pack a journal to keep track of your thoughts, feelings, and things you see along the way.
Pro tip: store your journal in a ziplock bag to protect it from the elements.
Capture unforgettable memories with a camera.
I always bring along my GoPro on camping trips because it’s waterproof, shockproof and durable. It’s great for capturing outdoor scenes and making adventure videos!
Keep your electronics charged with a strong power bank.
If you’re worried about running out of battery, opt for a solar-powered power bank that generates charge from the sun!
Unplug from distractions and catch up on reading during your camping trip. Instead of books, consider bringing a Kindle to save space. Plus, you’ll have thousands of titles at your fingertips!
Camping Packing List Extras
These items aren’t entirely essential, but highly recommended to pack for your trip.
Not only will they add a layer of fun to your outdoor adventure, but they’ll make your campsite feel like home and keep you ready to tackle any obstacle you may face along the way.
Tie up a hammock between two trees and relax at the campsite. Travel hammocks are perfect for camping and create the ideal chill out space. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even sleep in one!
I recommend grabbing a set of tree straps, if your hammock doesn’t come with them, to make set-up a piece of cake.
Swiss Army Knife
This little tool is bound to come in handy at one point or another. Filled with a variety of different instruments in a compact space, you should be able to solve most problems with a trusty Swiss Army Knife.
Duct tape will also be extremely useful at some point on your trip. Whether you need to patch up a hole in your tent or keep a container closed, heavy duty duct tape will be there for you.
If your camping trip has tons of hiking in store, you may want to bring hiking poles for the more intense parts of your trip. Pick a pair of collapsible ones for easy storage when not in use.
Observe the surrounding wildlife without disturbing it with a pair of binoculars.
You’re definitely going to want a couple heavy duty carabiners for your camping trip. Use them to hold bags shut, hang a water bottle off your backpack or keep keys on your person.
Cards / Camp Games
Stay entertained with a deck of cards or travel games. There’s nothing like a little after-dinner poker to round out the night!
A blanket is a nice thing to have on a camping trip, no matter where you are. You can keep it in the tent for an extra layer over your sleeping bag or use it as a picnic blanket on a day trip.
I always bring along a blanket with a waterproof side that folds up to be quite small.
Good for swimming and post campsite shower, bring along a towel that dries quickly.
Be sure to bring extra rolls of eco-friendly toilet paper. Some campsites may not provide it for guests, so it’s a good idea to come prepared.
There you have it: a complete camping packing list with everything you need for a successful trip.
Before you take off on your adventure, be sure to let someone know where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone for. You should also compile a list of emergency numbers both at home and the area you’re staying in.
Stay safe and happy camping!
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Check out our other camping articles
- Camping 101: Everything You Need to Know About Camping in the UK
- Doi Pui National Park: A Weekend Camping Trip From Chiang Mai
- Everything You Need to Know About Camping in Doi Inthanon National Park
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