Whether you're heading for a quick weekend getaway or an extended vacation in the woods, the equipment shown below is what we bring on every trip to create a comfortable base camp in the countryside. We've also included a handful of optional items that may or may not be worth packing, depending on the services (if any) available at your campsite. And, where appropriate, we include links to our team summaries, where we break down our top picks for each category. Most of the items in the checklist above are obvious camping essentials that you probably won't leave behind, but forgetting your wallet or mobile phone can be as difficult as leaving your tent at home.
In that sense, these are some of the smaller personal items you'll want to consider before going out. Some of them (such as camping games) are certainly not necessary, but they can help make your trip more enjoyable. Group size is another important factor to weigh when packing. For example, smaller groups may have no problem cooking on a standard two-burner stove, but larger groups may opt for a larger standalone unit (or even a portable grill), opt for a three-burner design, or carry more than one stove.
If you're going to camp at the base for a while, you might also consider installing a shade structure and a folding table for hanging out and cooking, or designing a drying rack to dry wet equipment. Portable fire pits have also become increasingly popular recently, and we love the Solo Stove offerings for their accuracy and smoke-free nature. The first thing on our camping checklist is a tent with a fly. Unless you're going to a camping spot with pre-installed cabins or tents, you'll need a tent or an outdoor shelter.
A tent protects you from the natural elements and ensures that you have a safe space to sleep once night comes. To help you out, I've put together the best essentials for tent camping, cabin camping, and RV camping so you can check off the items on your list and start your adventure with confidence. Tent camping is the “toughest” way of camping and requires efficient and well-thought-out packaging. This is especially true if you're backpacking and need to take your gear with you.
The right supplies will ensure a comfortable and safe adventure. If your tent is your home while you're camping, then your sleeping bag is your bed. Be sure to add a sleeping bag to your camping luggage list, as a variety of blankets won't reduce it in the cold. A fire starter is an absolute necessity for camping, especially in a tent.
The fire will allow you to stay warm, cook food and even call for help in case of emergency. Remember that a fire starter is not the wood itself, so you'll have to bring firewood, buy wood on site, or collect firewood where allowed. Many campgrounds don't allow you to bring your own firewood, so always check beforehand. I personally bring several types of fire lighters, including a Bic lighter, fireproof matches and a small peder kit.
It may seem far-fetched, but since I always keep them in my hiking backpack anyway, and because they're lightweight, it doesn't bother me in terms of weight or backpack comfort. A pocket knife or a multi-tool, such as a Swiss knife, will always come in handy when you're camping. They can be used for just about anything, including repairing tents, opening food supplies, and collecting firewood. While you can live on a mix of nuts, canned beans, and a variety of prepackaged snacks, camping in a tent is much more enjoyable with good food.
Bring a kitchen set designed for camping in tents so you can enjoy hot meals by the fireplace that provide more sustenance than a pack of Pringles. It goes without saying that a well-stocked first aid kit is essential for camping in a tent or any camping trip. There are prepackaged first aid kits in stores like REI that include clotting medications (to promote blood clotting), antiseptic ointments, anti-inflammatory pills, and more. It's always best to be prepared in case of an emergency.
Water bottles are essential to carry on your camping trip, whether your campsite has running water or not. If you're camping in a place that doesn't have running water, you'll want to fill your water bottle with the larger water containers you carry with you. It's safe to say that if you're going on a camping trip in a tent, you'll probably do some hiking as well. Bring a hiking backpack that has been professionally fitted to your torso and waist.
This will ensure that it is comfortable to wear and use. It also works double duty by storing some of your other essential camping supplies. If you're planning a cabin camping trip, chances are you're looking for levels of comfort that fall between camping in tents and glamping. It's one of my favorite ways to camp when I'm looking for the benefit that only four walls (and a heater) can offer.
Because camping in cabins is more comfortable than camping in tents, you'll want to bring some additional supplies to get the most out of your trip. Even if your cabin has interior lighting, it's a good idea to carry flashlights and flashlights while traveling. They will provide you with lighting on the picnic table by the fireplace and on the way to the nearest bathroom if you need to leave the cabin for that, wood and fire lighters are not as essential for cabin camping trips as they are for camping trips in tents, since cabins naturally provide insulation and shelter from the elements. However, it is very useful to carry them with you to keep warm at dusk and to cook.
The “leave no trace” rule applies to both camping cabins and tents. Bring trash bags, zippers, and a cooler to ensure that all your belongings remain inside and are properly disposed of before leaving the campsite. A fire extinguisher is a must for kitchen fires and electrical fires, so bring a miniature one designed to fit under the kitchen sink when you embark on your adventure. I also recommend more intensive items such as splints, saline solution and thermometers, all items you could leave behind if you were camping in tents or camping in cabins.
What they don't provide are clean sheets, so bring your own sheets, pillows, duvets and blankets. Yes, tents are necessary when you're considering what to bring to the campsite, however, you don't need a new tent every time, as long as the tent you have is made for the weather conditions you'll face. In addition to wearing your favorite pajamas and loungewear to relax inside the vehicle, you should also wear hiking clothing (including good base layers, outer capes and socks), swimwear for any campsite pools or designated swimming areas nearby, and even more elegant clothing for taking pictures while you are Sightseeing. Regardless of where you camp, it's good to have mosquito repellents when you're thinking about what to bring to the campsite.
However, if you bring the wrong things or simply too many things, this will significantly hinder your night outdoors and you may find yourself without the needs you should have planned. If your cabin has outlets, you'll want to carry chargers for your cell phone, tablet, or laptop (if you bring them and there's WiFi or if you use an access point). Soap, toothbrush and toothpaste are essential items you don't want to forget, and I like to use dry shampoo instead of liquid shampoo and conditioner to quickly refresh my hair. In addition to a first aid kit, you should also carry a tool kit with you during a motorhome camping trip.
You never know what might happen when you drive your RV to your campsite, so carry a tire pressure gauge to keep an eye on your tires. . .