23 Things to Pack for a Camping Trip: the Essential Camping Packing List

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Going on a camping trip is an experience that everybody should have at some point in their lives. It gives you a chance to get away from the bustle of daily life and unwind while spending some time in nature.

It’s quiet and peaceful, it should help to reduce stress and you will probably have a better night’s sleep than normal due to less exposure to artificial light. It’s just an all-round beneficial experience.

That said, it’s also something that you need to be adequately prepared for. You’re going out into the middle of nowhere after all, and so there is a lot of stuff you need to bring with you to make sure that you’re safe and comfortable.

Let’s look at 23 essentials to pack for your camping trip:

1.    Tent

The first and most obvious thing that you need to take along with you is going to be your tent. This will basically be your home while you’re on your trip so it’s important you get a high quality one.

You should aim for one that folds up nice and small and that’s also super easy to put up. The amount of time it takes to hitch a tent puts a lot of people off-camping and a complicated one just isn’t necessary, especially if all you’re going to be doing is sleeping in it.

2.    Sleeping Bag

Again, this one is pretty self-explanatory, you need something to wrap yourself up in when it’s time to sleep. Be thorough in your selection here too. The kind you will probably need is a 3-season sleeping bag, but if you are camping in particularly cold weather you will have to seek out a 4-season one.

3.    Mattress Pad

If you want a little bit of extra comfort, a mattress pad would be an excellent addition to your pack. It might sound like something that takes up a lot of space, but it’s actually small enough to fit into your pocket because it’s inflatable and it rolls up nice and small.

4.    Water Filter

When you’re out hiking around in the sun, you have to stay hydrated, and bringing along enough bottles of water to accommodate that isn’t really feasible. So you should instead get yourself a portable water filter which will allow you to purify and drink water from streams and rivers.

5.    Swiss Army Knife

A swiss army knife has so many uses and it’s small enough to fit into your pocket. You’ll have a blade, a pliers, a wood saw, a fish scaler, a bottle opener and loads more. You never know what kind of situation you could get yourself into out in the wilderness that would be massively helped by this tool.

6.    Thermos

If you want to make coffee or tea, the possibility of it getting cold is always there when you’re outside. So to make sure that doesn’t happen, bring along a thermos to keep it warm. 

7.    Bug Spray

For the most part, bugs will probably leave you alone while you’re camping, but it’s better to try and keep them at bay anyway. Bug bites can be painful and irritating and can sometimes be dangerous too if you’re unlucky. A common bug spray should do the job, but there are many methods of repelling insects

8.    Headlamp

I would advise not doing too much wandering around in the woods at night, especially if you’re by yourself, but you should bring a headlamp anyway in case you need to find something in your camp while it’s dark or in the case of an emergency.

9.    Lightweight Stove

Some way to cook food is essential if you actually want to eat somewhat healthily while you’re camping, and the stove you bring can be one of the bulkiest and most invasive items to pack. Try and get a lightweight stove. It may be a bit slower but it won’t be as heavy which will be an advantage.

10.  Cooking Pot

Don’t just bring some of your kitchen pots and pans, get cookware that is specifically designed for camping. They’ll be smaller and lighter.

11.  Cooking Utensils

Again, bringing spatulas, tongs and cutlery from your kitchen isn’t such a good idea, buy a set of small cooking utensils that will be easy to carry and easy to use.

12.  Carry Cooler

A great way to keep sandwiches or drinks cold is to have a cooler. It can basically act as a mini-fridge and you can stick some ice inside to make sure that all of your food is kept nice and fresh even if it’s warm outside.

13.  Compact Chair

Some people don’t like bringing chairs along with them when they go camping and that’s totally understandable. They prefer just finding a log or a rock to sit on, so that they can feel even more at one with nature. 

If that’s not appealing to you, then a compact chair which you can fold up and stick in your pack is your best bet.

14.  Quick-Drying Towel

If you’re only going on a trip for a couple of days, you might not need to worry about washing yourself, but if it’s longer you should definitely make that a priority. These days you can get quick-drying microfiber towels so you don’t have to wait around too much after washing before going on the move again.

15.  Fuel

This is another thing which is going to take up a fair bit of space in your pack anyway, but is essential for the cooking aspect. I would go for white gas if you can find a canister of it. It’s the cleanest and most efficient camping fuel you can get. 

16.  Waterproof Clothes

Even if it’s the middle of the summer and the forecast for your trip is good, you can never really rely on the weather. If you get caught in the rain when you’re so far from civilization you could end up getting sick, and that could be disastrous. So a raincoat, waterproof trousers and waterproof footwear are all important.

17.  Portable Charger

With that in mind, you could end up getting stuck in some kind of emergency so it’s important that your phone is always charged. In 2021, we have wireless charging devices that use a technology known as Qi. If you can get one that your phone is compatible with, it would be a big help to you.

18.  Spare Batteries

This only applies if you actually have anything that requires batteries and isn’t rechargeable, which you would have had for sure ten years ago, but may not have now. Still, things like stoves and headlamps are often still operated this way so if yours are, be sure to bring some spares.

19.  Sunscreen

Even if you are not someone who burns easily, UV rays can still do damage to your skin with long-term exposure. Always wear sunscreen if you are spending long periods of time outside in the summer.

20.  Lighter

If you want to try and start your campfires just using just your hands and whatever you can find in the wild, go for it. It’s incredibly satisfying, but you should bring a lighter with you too just in case you can’t get a flame going. Better safe than sorry. 

21.  Toiletries

Again, you don’t necessarily have to wash that much if you’re only going for a short trip, but I would bring along a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and hand soap at the very least.

22.  First Aid Kit

Quite possibly the most essential thing to bring along is your first aid kit. You never know what could go wrong out in the wild. You could trip and sprain something, you could get a bad cut, you could get bitten by a snake or a small animal, there’s any number of potential affiliations.

Professional medical attention is not going to be an immediate possibility out there, so you need to do whatever you can to mitigate the effects of an injury yourself. There are a lot of important components and it might be heavier than you would like once you’ve gathered everything, but your safety has to be a priority.

23.  Permits

This is just something to keep an eye on. The likelihood is that you will be well within your rights to camp anywhere you want in the wilderness, but some areas, especially national parks, may require special permission. So just do some research about the route before you get started.

So as you can see, there is a lot of stuff to remember, but you will also be surprised at how much you can fit easily into your pack. All of this stuff is important if you want your trip to run as smoothly and as safely as possible.

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