Sometimes when I go camping, I forget the silliest things. It’s easy to forget the essentials when you’re focused on getting things prepared for a fun outing. Here’s our list of the top 10 things to take camping. The items are broken into three nifty categories.
If these creature comforts aren’t on your list of the top 10 things to take camping, you’re doing it wrong.
Chairs (for car camping)
Camping chairs are pretty darn comfortable, and not all campsites have picnic tables or a place to sit. Sure sitting on a cooler is doable, but why not use that cooler as a footrest instead?
Waterproof outer layer
Often overlooked, the waterproof outer layer is usually lightweight and can be stuffed into your bag of clothes. Having rain gear with you (even a pancho) can turn an otherwise miserable camping trip into a good story.
Tip: Keep waterproof layers easily accessible so you can grab them quickly if it starts raining.
Bug spray / sunscreen
I can’t count the number of times I’ve forgotten one of these items. Sunscreen is essential even on a cloudy day, and bug spray… well who wants mosquito or other insect bites?
Tip: If you prefer not to use bug spray, or enjoy a more natural repellant, try a mosquito net jacket. We’ve worn them in the heat of summer and have been pleased with the breathability of the netting.
Don’t forget your toothbrush, contacts, etc. It’s a bummer to forget your toiletries at home when camping.
Safety items are often overlooked when preparing for casual camping trips. These are some of the most important items on our list of the top 10 things to take camping.
First aid kit
Few people throw first-aid kits in with their camping supplies, but they’re an essential part of any camping trip. From scratches to cuts to burns, there are many situations when first-aid supplies could be needed.
Tip: There are first-aid kits that are designed specifically for camping and outdoors activities. They’re great because they include things like antihistamine wipes and burn cream which can come in handy.
It used to be that survival radios were the goto for outdoor safety. While they’re still recommended, it’s good to carry a phone charger so that, in case of an emergency, you can call for help or navigate to a hospital.
Head lamp or other light source
Don’t try to tough it out without a light source while camping. It’s good to know where you’re walking, especially at night.
Tip: Have you ever been camping and noticed a metal pole with a hook at the end? While that pole can be, and often is used to hold trash bags, it’s actually a lantern pole designed to hold fuel-filled lanterns. It’s easy enough to throw a modern LED lantern on that pole at night to make things easy to see when walking around the campsite at night.
Tent + footprint
Tip: If you’re using a tent, a footprint isn’t essential. If you find yourself without a footprint when you get to camp, don’t stress. Most tent floors are designed with waterproofing in mind. The purpose of footprints is really to create an additional protective barrier between the ground and the tent (keeping the tent safe from punctures and rips).
Sleeping bag + pillow
Take a look at the weather forecast for the time you’ll be camping, and make sure your sleeping bag is rated for the lowest temperature in the forecast. If it will be colder than the bag’s temperature rating, grab a blanket and throw it in your kit (if you’re car camping). If backpacking, it’s advisable to purchase a sleeping bag with the proper temperature rating.
Did you know that a sleeping pad is designed for more than just comfort? While it’s true that sleeping pads provide a nice cushion, sleeping pads are also designed to elevate your body away from the ground and form a gap between you and the cold earth.
Tip: Even if your sleeping bag is rated for a particular air temperature, the ground can be colder than the sleeping bag rating. Using a sleeping pad will ensure your bag is as effective as possible, and you get a great night of sleep.
Bonus: Did you remember matches or a lighter?
We hope you like our list of the top 10 things to take camping (next check out our list of what NOT to bring camping). What’s on list of essentials? Leave it in the comments.