25 Best Camping Essentials To Bring On Your Next Trip [2021]

Camping Essentials

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A good old fashioned camping trip is an awesome way to get back to nature and take time away from modern-day living stresses. Sleeping underneath the stars and enjoying the very best scenery Mother Nature has to offer is made even more fun with the right equipment.

If you are thinking of heading on out into the wilderness, make sure you are best prepared for the ultimate outdoor experience by stocking up before you go. With the right tent, sleeping bag, camping stove, and other accessories, you can soon be bonding around the campfire like a pro.

Setting Up

Tent

As probably one of the most important items you will need on a camping trip, your camping tent provides a portable home from home for nights sleeping beneath the stars. With the ability to protect you from the wind and rain, while offering just the right amount of privacy and cozy space in which to lay your head, your tent is where your adventure really begins.

With so many different designs and sizes to choose from, your canvas castle can be as basic or as brilliant as you need it to be.

Hot Tip: Don’t forget to also invest in a footprint that offers a dry place to pitch your tent while adding extra comfort and protection from the cold hard floors and stakes to keep your alfresco abode firmly in place in the weather.

Multi-Tool

These handy little multi-tools are packed with everything you might need on your trip, all neatly packaged in a compact and foldable tool that is small enough to fit in your pocket. Including tools such as a knife, small saw, screwdriver, bottle or can opener, scissors, cutlery, and even pliers, these types of tools can be an absolute lifesaver out on the road.

While the Swiss Army Knife from Victorinox is one of the most famous multi-tools out there, you can pick up lots of other types of multi-tools that have been designed especially for camping trips.

Mallet or Hammer

If you have ever had to bang a stake into the hard, cold ground, you will appreciate just how important a mallet or hammer can be.

You may feel like going old school and simply using the nearest rock you can find, but after a few minutes and a lot of elbow grease, you’ll soon discover why a hammer or mallet is a much better option. Whether you choose to use a rubber mallet or a small camping hammer, both can be incredibly useful pieces of gear to have with you.

Traditional-style mallets can be a little on the heavy and bulky side, but there are plenty of specially-designed lightweight camping hammers and mallets available, many of which can be hung from your kit back or even folded up small.

Headlamps and Flash Lights

Whether you are camping in the backcountry or living it up at a festival or other outdoor event, one thing you will definitely have to contend with darkness. As night falls, your camping spot can become very dark and full of potential hazards if you cannot illuminate it.

Headlights are a popular choice for more active adventurers as they tie around your forehead, leaving both hands free for cooking, climbing, and even setting up camp after nightfall. On the other hand, flashlights will spread light over a larger area and can be maneuvered by hand to light up different areas.

There are many great camping lights to choose from, but whichever one you opt for, be sure that you take spare batteries or an additional power source with you.

Lantern

For a more constant source of light, a lantern can be placed in a single spot and light up your tent’s internal or external areas. Whether you choose to take an LED camping lantern, a wind-up lantern, or a hanging lantern for your tent, these traditional-style light sources are a must-have for every kind of camper.

Often featuring rechargeable batteries, ensuring that you have enough power to recharge or additional batteries is a must for keeping the darkest of nights at bay, and you can even opt for a solar-charged lantern if you are heading somewhere with guaranteed daytime sun.

Camping Chairs and Table

Having got your tent and sleeping arrangements all in order, you will want to start thinking about how best to enjoy the time spent soaking up your surroundings.

A camping chair is a firm favorite with every kind of outdoor adventurer, and there are many types to choose from, including uprights, fold-aways, blow-up chairs, loungers, and even hammocks. However, when it comes to alfresco dining, you may want to invest in a camping table to increase your comfort.

Designed to fold flat for easy transportation, these tables can be large enough to seat the whole family, or compact enough for dining for 1. Made from plastic or metal, camping tables are quick and easy to put up and won’t take up too much room in your trunk.

Sleeping

Sleeping Bags

These cozy, compact bags of loveliness will provide you with an awesome night’s sleep out in the open. Padded, ventilated, and designed to suit almost year-round conditions, the right sleeping bag will be able to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, while ensuring that you remain snug as a bug all night long.

With a plethora of bags offering such features as 2-way zips, cinch-able hoods, draft collars, and moisture-resistant and breathable fabrics, as well as a huge range of styles and sizes to choose from, your next sleeping bag could be the best thing you have ever slept in.

Sleeping Pads

These full body-size cushions are guaranteed to help you sleep better, no matter where you are. Designed not just to offer extra padding, a good sleeping pad will also help keep you warm and increase ventilation.

Inflatable air pads are perfect for backpacking. Self-inflating sleep pads use their open-cell foam insulation to offer incredible comfort at the touch of a button. Closed-cell foam pads come without the worry of punctures or air leaks and give you a better night’s sleep.

Although carrying a sleeping pad with you can increase the amount of gear you have to carry, you will be grateful for those few extra pounds when you are tucked up warm and cozy.

Sleeping Bag Liner

A liner for your sleeping bag adds additional comfort and warmth in much the same way your bedsheets do. Not only will a liner help to increase the quality of your slumber, but it also plays an important part in the yucky business of keeping your sleeping bag clean.

Sweat, oil, and even flaky skin can all build up after a couple of nights in the open, and your liner serves the important purpose of protecting your bag from unwanted odors, as you can change your liner as often as you need to help protect the life of your sleeping bag for longer.

Camping Pillow

Lying flat out can be uncomfortable, and a camping pillow will offer the home comforts of an elevated head and neck position, even on the go. The perfect camping pillow needs to be large enough to cope with your changing position during the night, while still being compact and compressible enough to make it easy to carry with you.

Choose from a self-inflating pillow, a compressible pillow, or even a memory foam pillow for the perfect night’s sleep.

Hot Tip: For maximum comfort and hygiene, opt for a pillow with a removable cover to help prevent moisture build-up and allow for easy cleaning between uses.

Hammock

Swinging between the boughs of 2 trees is one of the very best ways to feel at one with the world. Timeless and traditional, modern-day hammocks offer all the comfort and convenience of a traditional sleep swing with the increased practicality of soft cotton or water-resistant synthetic material.

Enjoy the cozy hug of a hammock on your own, or invest in a double sling to snuggle up with someone you love.

With easy to use yet super-secure suspension systems, hooks, and carabiners, your hammock can be set up in an instant. For those that like to travel really light, you can even find hammocks with protective tarps that can be used in place of a tent for more extreme outdoor adventures.

Keeping Comfortable

Camping Towel

Soft to the touch, highly absorbent, and super-fast drying, camping towels are designed to offer all the qualities of a regular towel in a much more portable package.

Usually made from microfiber, these small-size towels can absorb their weight in water many times, much of which can be wrung out to rapidly increase drying time.

Nobody wants wet, smelly towels in their tents – so these quick-drying alternatives are a really good buy. If you are looking for a towel that doubles up as a blanket, you can buy an extra-large microfiber towel,perfect for trips to the beach, the pool, or simply laying back and enjoying the sun.

Camping Fan

As the mercury rises, it can feel pretty hot and airless inside your tent, and even those that offer lots of ventilation can still feel a little uncomfortable in very hot weather. To help combat that oppressive feeling, invest in a camping fan to cool things down a bit.

Designed specifically for use in small spaces, these fans can clip to the doorway or windows of your tent, while larger ones are usually freestanding, and many have lights, too, offering a little extra illumination.

Choose from battery-powered fans or rechargeable fans that use power cartridges, or even USB cables for some smaller ones, and you’ll be enjoying displaced cool air in no time at all.

Camping Shower

Camping can be a dirty business, and if you are out in the wild, you won’t have access to shower blocks or washing facilities. Camping showers aren’t necessarily essential, but they are a nice luxury to have if you like to feel super clean.

Using a propane gas tank, a water pump, and a heat exchanger, top of the range portable showers allow you to clean up in your own personal pop-up style cubicle.

For quick wash downs, dirty dogs, and muddy boots, more basic models will take water from a bucket and heat it in the sun to provide a decent spray that is activated using a hand or foot pump.

Camping Shovel

While a regular shovel is always useful for digging a fire pit or flattening the uneven ground underneath your tent, a camping shovel can come with lots of extra bits of kit to use as an ax, a saw, an ice pick, a hammer, and even a bottle opener.

Made from super lightweight but incredibly durable materials, camping shovels are more of a multi-purpose tool that can be particularly useful in harsh conditions, especially snow and ice.

If you are really tight on carrying space, you could even opt for a camping shovel that is much more compact, but still incredibly useful.

First Aid Kit

Accidents can happen, and if you are miles from anywhere, even the smallest cut, bump, or bruise should be taken care of as quickly as possible. Your camping first aid kit can be as comprehensive as you want it to be, but as a basic guide, be sure to always carry:

  • Antihistamines
  • Antiseptic wipes or creams
  • Bandages
  • Eye dressing or pads
  • Disposable gloves
  • Distilled water
  • Gauze and tape
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Pain relief
  • Scissors
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers

Hot Tip: You can buy first aid kits already made up, or opt to pack your own from home.

Insect Repellent

Tiny biting bugs and beasts can be annoying at the best of times, but a bite or a sting can potentially make you very sick in some locations.

Win the war against unwanted visitors by investing in a good insect repellent that has been designed to suit your needs. You can use either DEET-based products or natural insect repellent alternatives.

Of course, keeping your campfire burning is one of the most effective ways to repel bugs, and you can burn sage or citronella leaves for an extra layer of protection. There are also coils, candles, and oils that you can buy to make your camp unattractive to tiny, biting predators.

Power Bank

For many, the lure of going off-grid and reconnecting completely with nature is very compelling. But in reality, having a working cell phone offers an extra layer of security should something go wrong, and access to power is very useful if you want to charge your camera, laptop, or any other devices that can help to enhance your overall experience.

Portable power banks can be slim enough to fit into your pocket and offer extra charge for your cell, or you could invest in a much more expensive and complex arrangement that offers higher-capacity power to charge all your electronics while you are away.

Hot Tip: If you’re planning on doing some hiking, don’t forget these essentials.

Eating and Drinking

Camping Cookware

Just because you are camping, it shouldn’t mean that your culinary skills have to suffer. While you may not be up for cooking 5-star cuisine, you can still make delicious hearty food in the great outdoors, provided that you have the right equipment to hand.

If you are planning to dine alfresco, you should at the very least bring a couple of cooking pots and lids, a frying pan, pot holders and a pot lifter, cooking utensils (including a large spoon), a spatula, a sharp knife, tongs, a bottle opener, a can opener, a corkscrew, and a cutting board.

Of course, you can add much more to this list, depending on what you intend to be cooking and how many people you’re cooking for.

Water Bottle

Traditionally, stainless steel flasks and canteens have always been popular with campers as they are incredibly durable and won’t absorb flavors, making them perfect for everything from water to soup.

Modern generations of stainless steel bottles are slimmer, sleeker, and lighter than ever before and can easily be used in conjunction with neoprene holders and grips to make them easy to carry on the go.

Suppose you are trekking far from the car. In that case, you may want to consider looking at a hydration bladder that can fit in your backpack or collapsible water bottles instead, and if you opt for the convenience of a reusable plastic sports-style bottle, always chose a BPA-free model that is better for your health.

Flasks

Flasks are awesome pieces of gear, and once you find the right one, it will soon become one of your most-used travel essentials. If you want steaming hot coffee on the go, nourishing soup to fuel you up, or a lovely cup of hot tea, a flask will keep your liquids hotter for longer.

Their unique double-walled construction and sealed stopper design cleverly prevents the heat from escaping, and even though they may be a bit on the bulky side to carry, they are a must-have for chilly days and longer stays.

Travel Cooler

Travel coolers are a popular choice with campers, day-trippers, festival-goers, and anyone looking to enjoy a few cold drinks on the go. There is a portable cooler to suit every occasion, from supersized 120-quart hardside coolers for all the family to 6-can soft coolers.

Coolers perform best when they are well-chilled and filled with ice before you put your food and drinks into them, and the lid should be kept firmly on and closed as quickly as possible when opened.

Bottom Line: Most coolers aren’t really portable enough to carry with you on long hikes, but if you are camping within easy reach of your vehicle, it is definitely worth slipping 1 into to trunk if you can.

Camping Stove or Grill

Your camping stove or grill will be one of the most important pieces of gear you take with you. Lightweight and compact enough to carry in your rucksack, a good camping stove or grill will be able to heat, toast, or boil your food, ensuring that you are totally self-sufficient out in the wild.

Camping stoves are heated using liquid fuel and usually run off of propane, butane, or a mixture of the 2, but there is a difference in the way they perform that might help you choose which works best for you. Grills are generally used to put the food directly onto the grates, while stoves cook the food you put into pots, pans, or griddles.

Portable Coffee Maker

If you can’t live without your morning coffee, a portable coffee maker will quickly become one of your most important camping kit items. Cowboy coffee that involves simply boiling up water and beans is definitely not for everyone, but clever little cups that heat and brew on the go will give you superb-tasting coffee to enjoy in the great outdoors.

You can choose from a drip or pour-over coffee cups that comes complete with clever heating elements to give you boiling hot coffee in a matter of minutes, or take the more traditional approach with a camping percolator that heats up on your stove.

For solo expeditions, a 1 to 2 cup capacity will be enough, but for family groups, look for a 6-cup option (or similar) to save on washing up between cups.

Exploring

Backpacks and Waist Packs

You may have all of your belongings stashed on your back when you are hiking, but if you are planning on making a base for a few days, you may want something a little lighter for more local expeditions.

Daypacks and small backpacks are all excellent additions to your camping kit and are easy to use for days out, bike rides, hiking, fishing, and even trips to the beach. Waist packs are also very useful if you want to keep your hands free when exercising and perfect for keeping your valuables tucked away out of sight.

Final Thoughts

Packing the right kit can enhance your camping experience immeasurably. The perfect tent will keep you protected when the weather turns as well as offer you a cozy space for outdoor sleeping. The right type of lights, cooking equipment, sleeping bags, and even power banks and insect repellents can turn a damp camping trip into the ultimate outdoor adventure.


Frequently asked questions

What do you need when camping?

Some camping essentials include, but not limited to:

  • Tent
  • Multi-tool and a mallet or shovel
  • Sleeping bag
  • First aid kit
  • Lighting
  • Appropriate clothing and footwear
  • Food, cooking utensils, and a means to cook
  • Power bank
  • Water bottle

What is the best food for camping?

For short camping trips, a cooler can keep your food fresh, though longer trips will require some more thought. You will want to take quick and easy to prepare food with you such as dehydrated food, trail mix, jerky, instant coffee, and simple things to put in sandwiches.

What shoes do you wear camping?

For camping, you will want to wear shoes that can handle whatever the weather or terrain throws at you. Around the campsite, once you’re all set up, you can wear something comfortable like sandals, but for breaking down the camp, fetching firewood, or other activities, you will want to have a good pair of hiking shoes or boots.

What should you not bring camping?

While it might be tempting to bring everything you normally would on vacation, packing for camping requires a bit more thought. Things you should not bring camping are electronics you won’t be able to charge, anything that can break easily, heavy or bulky items, or extra toiletries.

Amar Hussain

About Amar Hussain

Amar was born and raised in England, UK, embarked on an 11 country round the world gap year after graduation and then became well and truly hooked. The first gap year inspired a second which ended up being a 23 country down-the-world trip from Canada to Antarctica. Since then Amar has endeavored to turn his gap year into a ‘gap life’ and has spent the last 10 years traveling the 7 continents.

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