Whether you're heading for a quick weekend getaway or an extended vacation in the woods, the equipment 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've included links to our team summaries where we break down our top picks for each category. Most of the items in the checklist above are 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 consider 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 rain fly. Unless you're going to a camping spot with pre-installed cabins or tents, you'll need a tent or outdoor shelter.
A tent protects you from the natural elements and ensures that you have a safe space to sleep once night comes. Regardless of where you camp, it's good to have mosquito repellents when you're thinking about what to bring to the campsite. 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. 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.