This article will help you create a perfect camping gear list. I am highlighting the best camping essentials and adding some fun things to bring camping as well.
Are you planning a camping trip?
Well, beginner or experienced camper, I am pretty sure you are interested in taking a look at a camping checklist.
If you are a beginner, you may want to have a concrete idea of what to bring camping. If you have done this multiple times, I am sure you are looking to expand your camping arsenal (‘cause I am always buying camping accessories).
Now, scroll down and get ready to take a look at the ultimate camping list!!
Please note: This article contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link. Of course, this comes at no extra cost to you and helps me to keep offering solid information to readers.
Table of Contents
About This Camping Gear List
First of all, let me congratulate you on planning a camping trip. I am sure you are going to have a blast.
I want to share some thoughts because I believe there are a lot of misconceptions about camping.
I am the minimalism camping type. I like to keep things simple. Why? Because I have a full-time job, a business, several side hustles, and 10,000 more things going on. Therefore, when I camp (I camp a lot), I do not want to spend hours packing and unpacking. With the proper camping essentials list, we can load the car in about 10 minutes and pack our clothes in 5 minutes. Planning a camping trip does not have to be a hassle. I recommend keeping things simple when assembling your basic gear for camping.
Keeping the above paragraph in mind, I am going to start the article by providing you a camping list with the absolute musts. After the musts, I am going to provide a list of camping gear that will help you to make things more comfortable and/or tackle different settings.
You may see a lot of items in this article’s camping packing list but keep in mind you do not need to buy everything here to have a successful trip. When I was a camping novice, my list for camping was very short. I have been adding camping needs with time.
When it comes to a camping equipment list, functionality is the way to go. You are going to see a lot of functional articles on this list. I know we all want stuff that looks good but makes sure you spend your money on gear that is going to last for a long time (even if you need to spend a little bit more money).
Also, this article concentrates on essentials for camping in a tent. Since this is one of the more rustic or primitive forms of camping, this gear list for camping applies to other forms of camping such as car camping, RV camping, and van camping.
It is good to keep in mind that not all campsites are located in the middle of nowhere. In a lot of cases, you are not going to be completely off the grid. This is a positive since you can buy stuff on the way or while on site. This is particularly good when it comes to food. You can buy prepared food to take to your campsite and completely forget about packing cooking gear. It is up to you of course. But just a reminder that things can be simple.
Lastly, I want to encourage you to take action: book a campsite, pack some camping gear must haves, and get the experience. The road will teach you many lessons.
Essential Camping Gear List: The Must Haves
Let start by discussing the essential camping equipment. This is the stuff you need to have shelter, sleep well, be warm, keep food/beverages and hang around the campsite.
Remember I am assuming you need a tent camping checklist. However, the items discussed here are applicable to other forms of camping.
Ok friends, let’s get real. A basic camping list would not be complete without a tent.
This is your primary shelter. A good tent should be able to protect you from the elements (cold, sun, rain, wind) and last for a long time.
I have used the Kelty brand for years and cannot complain about anything. Their tents are lightweight, easy to set, and durable. Their tents have protected me from freezing temperatures and wind gusts.
Here is their 2 person model.
And, here is the 4 person model.
If you are looking for a more affordable option, the Coleman Sundome Tent is a great option.
If you are like me, you probably love to camp but want to still have a comfortable night’s sleep. In order to do that, you will need a nice air mattress.
EnerPlex has a wide selection to choose from. For example, you can choose the desired mattress thickness. Plus, I love these products because they come with a built-in pump. And, you do not have to worry since these mattresses are waterproof and puncture-resistant (and come with a carry bag).
EnerPlex has a cheaper model with an external pump.
Ok, air mattresses are super comfortable but I understand if you do not want one on your camping supplies list because of the weight (some can weigh about 20 pounds).
In that case, a sleeping pad may be a better solution. POWERLIX makes a super light, waterproof, and insulating pad that outdoors lovers rave for. When you see the storage size of this thing you will be left wondering how you can inflate that to become so comfortable. In addition, the price is way lower than that of a mattress.
Another item that you need to add to your checklist for camping in a tent is a sleeping bag. Along with the tent, this is the item that should provide protection from the elements (especially cold temperatures).
I recommend getting a cold weather or zero-degree sleeping bag. It works well in all conditions (in summer, you may not need it).
I love, love my Coleman Mummy Sleeping Bag. It has worked in the craziest situation (because California has freezing temps too, people).
The Rioyalo Bag is a lifesaver as well.
Blankets and Sheets
Even with a good sleeping bag, I always pack blankets for camping trips. They can be used over a mattress to provide insulation, they can add extra warmth or you can wrap in them when next to the campfire.
Utopia’s Sherpa Blanket is a dream.
In addition, I keep 2 or 3 thin sheets on my camping bedding box because, again, I want to be ready for all situations. In hot weather conditions, I may ditch the sleeping bag and blanket and depend on a thin cover.
Pillows were one of my pain points for many years. When camping, I used to forget packing one or had bad ones that left me with neck pain for half a day. Things changed when I invested in the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow. It is 4 inches thick and compresses when not in use. I prefer this over an inflatable pillow.
Even though most campsites come with a table and benches, a portable chair is a must in any camping items list. They can be taken anywhere and placed in front of a campfire, under a tree, or next to the river.
I am going to keep things classic here by recommending the Coleman Camping Chair. This chair has a cushioned seat, cup holder, side pocket, and a built-in cooler (holds 4 cans). It comes in 3 colors. These chairs have incredible weight capacity and last for a long time.
Ultralight Portable Chair
If you want to take a different approach when it comes to chairs, take a look at MOON LENCE’s Ultralight Portable Chair.
This is a heavy-duty chair that weighs about 2 pounds. The interesting thing is that it can be folded and stored in a pouch that can be easily placed in a daypack, backpack, or even a large purse. This is a great gift for those who want to pack light or save space. And, it can be used for events, parties, hiking, or backpacking.
Without a doubt, any camper needs a lantern. But, not any lantern. A lantern designed to survive the elements. That is why Vont’s LED Camping Lantern is such an incredible option. This lantern has been manufactured with military-grade materials. This makes it water-resistant and shockproof. The lantern is collapsible. When collapsed, it is as big as a cell phone. And, let me not forget to mention that it provides 360 degrees brightness for 90 hours (with the same batteries). It comes in packages of 2 or 4.
Solar Camping Lantern
When you are on the go, finding a way to power your electronics is a top priority. Batteries can be a hit or miss (and you always need backup). That is why a solar lantern is one of the best gifts for campers.
My top pick here is the LuminAID Nova Solar Camping Lantern. This super bright, collapsible solar lantern (packs flat) has many amazing features. First, the lantern is completely waterproof. You can even submerge it in water and it will not get damaged. In addition, it is built to resist other outdoor elements such as dust, sand, and dirt.
On a high setting (75 lumens), the battery lasts 5 to 6 hours. You can lower the brightness to make the battery last longer. The lantern can be also be charged using a USB cable.
A flashlight should be another welcome addition to your camping accessories list because it is a tool that can be used in many situations. In addition, since they use small batteries, you do not have to constantly be worried about the charge running out.
GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight has been designed to work in extreme outdoor conditions. It can survive drops, wet conditions, extreme pressure, and freezing temperatures. Another amazing feature is that it has a brightness of 1000 lumens. This is exceptional since most camping lanterns operate within the 300-400 lumens range. The best thing is that this product comes in packages of two.
Another great addition to any camping arsenal is a headlight. It allows owners to be completely hands-free and it takes minimal storage space. Foxelli manufactures a highly-rated headlamp that is bright, waterproof, light, and energy-efficient.
I do not know if there is something more comforting than enjoying a hot drink on camping mornings. To keep beverages warm, you will need the Stanley Classic Vacuum Bottle. It keeps liquids warm or cold for 24 hours. I know this sounds insane but it works! Plus, this is a leakproof bottle with a lifetime warranty.
You can fill the bottle before leaving home or refill it with coffee bought at stores, gas stations, or restaurants.
An insulated tumbler is another must since it allows easy access to drinks (it can be placed on a camping chair/car cup holder). The Thermos Vacuum Insulated Travel Tumbler is the way to go. It keeps drinks hot for 8 hours and cold for 12 hours. Its stainless steel construction makes it basically indestructible. This is truly a wonderful camping must have. I actually received this as a gift!
The YETI Rambler Mug is another option to keep beverages warm or cold. The advantage of a mug is that it can hold food because of its wide mouth (it is easier to wash too). Therefore, it is an efficient way to keep meals warm as well. And, it comes in such cute colors!
Do not forget to add several gallons of water to your camping supplies checklist. This should be in addition to any individual beverages you carry on a cooler. You will need more water if you are thinking of cooking.
For keeping beverages icy cold for up to 24 hours, it is hard to beat the stainless steel, wide-mouth bottles from Hydro Flask. These come in a wide array of colors. The cool thing is that the coating is designed to last and to be slip-proof. They come in four sizes (20, 32, 40, and 60 ounces).
A portable cooler is one of the most important camping accessories. At least, for tent and car campers. It is great to have cool beverages at hand while driving to a campsite or while on the campsite.
The CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag is better than most coolers because it collapses flat for storage. Plus, it can hold 30 cans without letting a single drop out.
Quick Drying Towel
Towels are another thing I used to forget to pack when going on a camping trip. After way too many times using a shirt in lieu, I finally added the proper towel to my camping packing checklist.
The OlimpiaFit Microfiber Towels come in 3 size packs (include a big-sized towel, medium-sized towel, and washcloth). The towel material is soft, quick-drying, and antibacterial. So, yes, you can say bye to bad odors. What is more, the towels can be condensed into a thin roll and stored in an included mesh pouch.
Anybody who is used to enjoying the outdoors knows how difficult it is to maintain a phone charged. More if you are using it to take pictures, post on social media, navigate, make calls, and many other things.
A power bank, like the Anker Portable Charger, is what has worked the best when it comes to keeping phones alive. This device can charge a phone 5 times. That is a game-changer when you do not have access to a power outlet in a day or two. And, carrying the charger is like carrying another phone (it is that small).
Remember to pack the cables needed to charge all your electronics.
I am considering a campfire an essential because it is such an integral part of the camping experience (even if you are not cooking). So, make sure to grab a firewood bundle or two before heading to the campsite.
A lot of sites sell firewood but it can often be found at a better price at supermarkets and/or gas stations. Also, campsites may only sell firewood at determined hours. It is better to be prepared.
Long matches are the way to go when trying to light a fire. There is no need to burn your fingers.
Even if you are not planning to cook while camping, I recommend having snacks with you. You can pack snacks such as jerky, granola bars, trail mix, nuts, crackers, cookies, popcorn, and instant soup.
Emergency Survival Kit
Another item to add to your essential camping gear list is an emergency survival kit. For example, AOKIWO manufactures a 126 piece set. The amount of stuff included in this kit is mind-blowing. It has the stuff you know you need and stuff you do not think you need. In short, your camping friend will be well prepared to tackle any type of situation.
I will end this section by adding toilet paper to the camping gear essentials. Believe me, you want to take toilet paper on any trip. Paper towels and napkins are great additions as well.
Camping Gear List: Other Useful Items
Now that we are done with the must haves, here are some useful items to add to your camping trip checklist.
As mentioned, campsites usually come with a table but consider investing in a foldable table if you believe you need additional space (or want to be able to move the table freely).
Coleman sells a super stable option.
Trekology sells a smaller, more affordable table.
Personal Water Filter
Even the most prepared camper may come in contact with questionable water sources. That is why the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter may be an intelligent addition to any camping kit list. This small but powerful object eliminates 99.9% of bacteria, parasites, and microplastics from up to 1,000 gallons of water. It helps to reduce the muddy appearance of contaminated water as well.
But, coffee first. Right?
If you cannot function without coffee, the Stanley Adventure All-in-One needs to be added to your camping must have list ASAP.
This 32 ounces vessel can be used for boiling water, brewing coffee/tea, or cooking. Besides, it serves 4 and comes with a lifetime warranty.
The Down Under Outdoors Extra Thick Quilted Fleece Camping Blanket is one of the warmer blankets for camping and has other desirable features. This blanket keeps campers warm since it is quilted in a way where the layers cannot slide.
And, even though this is a quilted blanket, it is not bulky. It can be easily folded and stored on the included pouch. What is more, this is a waterproof product. There are no worries if it is used near a beach, lake, or river.
Multi-Tool Pocket Knife
Classics are classics for a reason. The Victorinox Swiss Army Multi-Tool weighs 2 ounces and has 12 functions including a can opener and screwdriver. And, did I mention it looks sleek and has a lifetime warranty?
A hammer can be extremely useful during camping trips. But, instead of getting a basic hammer, what about a tool that can be used as a hammer, ax, cable cutter, pliers, knife, screwdriver, and more? Now, that sounds cool!
Check out the RoverTac Multitool. It is heavy duty and light at the same time.
Instead of relying on cheap lighters, what about getting a lighter specially designed for the outdoors? The Icfun Lighter is flameless, windproof, and waterproof. It works with a rechargeable battery. Therefore, running out of gas is not a problem.
Military Grade Wool Blanket
Wool is a natural material that has protected humans for hundreds of years. So, it makes sense to consider the Arcturus Wool Blanket for camping. This blanket is thick, military-grade, and built to last decades with the proper care. Wool is not waterproof but will keep a person warm even when wet. In addition, wool is a fire retardant material. This important benefit is achieved in a safe way (without the need for chemicals).
Camping Gear List: Clothing and Accessories
You will need to add some clothing to your camping need list. Right? (I hope the answer is yes). Below, take a look at what you should consider packing.
We all need to pack out belongings for a camping trip. A few years ago, I bought the Hynes Eagle Backpack for a trip to Europe and kept using it for weekend trips. I cannot recommend this bag enough.
It is a backpack that opens like a suitcase. It has enough space for clothes, shoes, toiletries, and other camping gear. I usually leave it in the car and easily open it to take out what I need.
Once again, do not go wild packing for a camping trip. I recommend limiting your packing to 3 to 4 shirts, 3 to 4 bottoms, and enough clean underwear. Of course, you will include a mix of short/long sleeves and pants. If the camping trip is shorter, pack less. A good idea is to pack clothes that you do not mind getting dirty or ruined (have you sat over tree sap?)
If you are thinking about hiking or other outdoor activities, bring the right gear.
If camping when the weather is cold, consider packing a long-sleeved sweater and cozy pants. These should help you to be warm when hanging around or when sleeping.
I consider hiking shoes a huge entry on a camping necessities list. I did not include them on the “must-have” list because not all campers intend to hike.
But, believe me, you need appropriate hiking shoes if tackling trails with rocky and uneven terrain. I learned this the hard way after getting hurt on a hiking day trip.
Things have been smoothed since I acquired a pair of Saucony. The grip on these is fantastic and my feet do not hurt at all!
It is a good idea to pack tennis shoes for less strenuous activities.
Wool socks, like the ones from EnerWear, provide warmth when worn by themselves or when worn with shoes. But, that is not all. These socks are designed for hiking since they come with ankle and heel support and odor control/breathable technology. The length of these is ideal to wear with different types of shoes.
I always pack flip-flops when going on camping trips. It is comfortable to walk around in them and I keep them while using the public showers. Teva has some of the most comfortable flip-flops on the market.
I bought a Columbia Insulated Jacket for a trip to New York and thought it was going to be an item used once in a blue moon. I was wrong since I have been taking it on mountain and winter camping trips. It works wonders!
Amazon Essentials has an affordable jacket that meets the brief as well.
A sun hat is needed to protect your scalp, face, and neck from the sun.
We girls need a cap to cover our messy hair while camping. Better if we get a funny cap!
- Dental floss
- Shampoo and Conditioner
- Face Cream or Moisturizer
Camping Gear List: Camping Gear Cooking
If you want to cook while camping, you will need to add even more items to your camping gear checklist. Remember to keep things simple.
On camping trips, we usually cook on the grill that is part of the site’s fire ring.
If you want to have more cooking freedom, the Coleman Gas Camping Stove is a hard-to-beat classic.
Now, if you want to turn into a camping cook pro, get a Dutch Oven. It will allow you to prepare more complex meals and even bake.
Hard, Big Cooler
If you are cooking on a camping trip, a portable cooler will not hit the mark. You need something bigger and more stable like the Coleman 48-Quart Performance Cooler. We tend to take portable and big coolers on camping trips.
For all the chefs out there (or wanna-be chefs), a grilling set will work wonders. ROMANTICIST sells a 20 piece, professional set including a spatula, thongs, brush, kabob skewers, corn holders, and more. Everything can be stored in a compact included case.
You can pack eating utensils or buy a set including a plate, owls, mug, spoon, and fork. UCO sells a really cool one.
Soap and Sponge
Because somebody needs to wash the dishes. Hope it is not you!
Cool or Fun Camping Gear List
This is the section where I discuss nice to have camping gear.
Insulated Wine Tumblers
Here in California, most times, there is a winery (or shop carrying a wide wine variety) located close to campgrounds. Yes, we drink on mugs or red plastic cups but a wine tumbler is a more stylish option.
SUNWILL Insulated Wine Tumblers are beautifully built (the color choices are insane), maintain the temperature of a beverage, and come with a lid to prevent spills.
The Oceas Sherpa Camping Blanket has a layer of sherpa, a type of fleece created to resemble sheep’s wool. This type of material is associated with indoor use. However, the Oceas Blanket has a waterproof bottom that makes it a perfect camping throw blanket, campfire blanket, or sleeping blanket. Having a blanket like this outdoors feels like pure luxury!
A company called Radiate manufactures a portable campfire that provides 3 to 5 hours of fire without wood or embers. Think about the product as a circular can (similar to the blue ones where Danish butter cookies come) filled with recycled soy wax and paper. This is a single-use or reusable product that only weighs 4 pounds.
Hanging Solar Camping Lights
I have to confess that I feel envious when I see campsites decorated with string lights. They look so cool!
To achieve this awesome look, I recommend the Brightown Outdoor Solar String Light. These are bright, efficient, lasting (8-10 hours), waterproof and beautiful. They come in 7 different colors, so you will be able to mix and match. The other nice feature is that these lights have 8 lighting modes. Oh, and in each order comes with two strings of light.
A sofa hammock may be a nice gift for those who want to hang around a campsite in comfort while keeping things simple.
If you do not know what I am talking about, just take a look at the Tekapo Inflatable Lounger Air Sofa. This cool designed portable coach does not require a pump to inflate. It has been created with an ingenious way to easily inflate and deflate it. It fits two people sitting and one lying down.
Of course, I have to include a hammock on the fun list. I mean, oftentimes, a hammock is a synonym of paradise.
Wise Owl’s Hammock is manufactured with the same material used in parachutes. So, you know this is an item that is going to last ages (and withstands 500 pounds). In addition, the hammock has been designed for easy setup. No ropes or knots are needed. The item packs small and it is easy to carry.
Serapes, also known as Baja blankets or Mexican blankets, are pretty popular in Southern California. The style and material of these blankets are used in jackets, sweatshirts, bags, and backpacks too.
Blankets like the ones manufactured by Benevolence LA are woven on wooden looms by artisans. They are extremely warm and are often used to cover beds (or to accent other rooms on a house or as beach throw blankets). They add a pop of color to any camping trip.
Hilarious Card Game
So, when it comes to having fun while on the campsite, I can recommend a card game your friends are going to love. Judging from the name, These Cards Will Get You Drunk, you know this is not your typical game.
This popular set comes with 100 cards that pose challenges or instructions to players. And, guess what happens if a challenge is not fulfilled. Yep, somebody has to drink (shot or sip). This game may take you into the wee hours.
The Tapirus Roasting Sticks are great for cooking on the fire marshmallows, hot dogs, vegetables, and other items. These sticks are unique since they can be extended for use and collapsed for storage. As with other items on this list, it is all about being as compact as possible.
What other things would you include on a camping gear list?
Pin for later!