Camping is a great way to spend your vacation time, in the great outdoors, enjoying the open air. It can be great fun to head outdoors, set up the tent, prepare your food on an open flame, and roast marshmallows over the fire at night.
However, all of this fun does require a bit of advanced planning, so if you’re planning to go on a camping trip this summer, read on to see the camping essentials you’ll need for your camping vacation.
I always recommend pulling out all your camping gear and having a look over everything before you pack it, just to be sure everything’s in order.
The last thing you want is to find the poles for the tent didn’t get packed! A few days before leaving, be sure to pull out all the gear and take an inventory. You can do that that with the help of our handy camping checklist.
» Don’t forget to check these things off your to-do list when preparing to go on vacation.
Camping Gear You Don’t Want to Forget
Whether you already have a few or all of these camping essentials, you’ll want to be sure not to forget to pack them. We’ve included links to our favorite camping gear below, so you can easily click through and purchase whatever you don’t already have.
Some gear will be too heavy or bulky to pack if you’re going on a back-country camping trip. In that case, you’ll want to streamline your packing as much as possible. However, most summer camping trips are done by car and you can pull your vehicle right up to your spot, so packing a few extra creature comforts won’t be a problem.
Having a tent is a must for anyone who isn’t an RV or camper owner. A tent provides a more authentic camping experience. You’re on the ground, kind of exposed to the elements, you can hear the noises of the wilderness. It’s a great way to feel more connected to nature while still having the comfort of being closed in.
A sleeping bag makes the camping experience much more comfortable. Make sure you purchase a sleeping bag that is built for the type of camping and season in which you’re going. There are summer- and winter-weight sleeping bags, and it’s important to get one that will keep you comfortable.
As much as I love sleeping bags, sometimes you aren’t in the mood for waking up with a bit of an achy back. Inflatable mattresses can compact down really small, making them good for packing. They’re also super comfortable, almost as comfy as a regular mattress, and are easy to blow up with the air pumps being provided for you. This makes for a much more luxurious camping experience, while still being convenient, inexpensive, and easy to set up.
CAMPING STOVE AND FUEL
A camping stove is a great way to bring a kitchen to the outdoors. These function exactly like normal stoves, with adjustable heat so that you can have precise control. They have wind blockers designed to keep your stove alive and work great for a more comfortable and familiar cooking experience.
Tableware brings a bit of home to the outdoors. While it would be more authentic to go caveman style: eat off of leaves and use bark as forks- I find that many people aren’t up for that kind of escapade. Instead you can bring your own utensils and plates to have a little of the civilized world in the great outdoors.
COOKING UTENSIL KIT
If you’re planning on cooking a lot on your camping trip you will have to think about all the utensils you’ll need to prep your food. But with a utensil kit you don’t have to think about it. All of the necessary cooking tools are at your disposal, and are packaged specifically for camping which means that they’re a breeze to pack.
Lanterns and flashlights are essential for camping. They lend light when there aren’t any lights around, as the wilderness is naturally quite dark. These lights are great for use when sitting around a late-night campfire, as they provide safety and help with visibility.
If you want the light from a flashlight but need to use both hands for a task headlamps are the way to go. These allow the use of both hands while also providing visibility in dark places. Headlamps are also great to use in some outdoor activities such as caving.
A comfy hammock can elevate your camping experience. When relaxing outdoors why use a chair when you can quickly set up a hammock and lounge there instead? In everyday life there’s rarely a place to hang a hammock, and this is your chance to relax comfortably suspended between the trees.
A collapsible sink is super handy to have while camping. It’s convenient and folds down really small so it can be easily stored in a car or camper. This item is super versatile as it can be used for a hand washing basin, something to wash dishes in, or even can serve as extra storage or a basket when not filled with water.
CAST IRON PAN
If you want to cook over a fire, a cast iron pan is a great way to go. While we all love the tried and true ‘wrap something in tin foil and put it in the fire’, it’s an unreliable way to cook something. Instead, upgrade to a classier outdoor cooking set up. Cast iron can withstand the heat of a fire. It’s great for cooking just about anything, from steak to breakfast hash.
FIRST AID KIT
Sometimes camping gets messy. Someone scrapes their knee or gets a cut that needs disinfecting. A good first aid kit comes in handy. This kit has everything you might need. It includes survival tools as well as medical supplies. It even has a first aid booklet in case you need to read up on a situation and how to deal with it. This kit will help you stay prepared for the worst of scenarios.
There is absolutely nothing better than sitting around a campfire. And if you’d like to save your pants from the dirt of a log, or there simply aren’t any logs where you’re camping, these chairs will help you stay comfortable.
PORTABLE LED TENT LIGHTS
There are endless uses for portable LED lights. These can be used in a tent for overhead lighting. You can set them around your campsite for extra visibility when it’s dark. If you’re up for a nighttime stroll or a round of caving these can be hooked to a backpack or belt loop instead of carrying a flashlight. LED lights emit really soft lighting that doesn’t hurt your eyes. Many have different settings of brightness so you can easily adjust the light according to your needs, making them the perfect addition to your camping equipment.
PORTABLE MOSQUITO REPELLER
Depending on the time of year and the place you’re going, there is always potential to get eaten alive by mosquitos while camping. We always take a portable repeller, or mosquito incense sticks that you can light and place around the camping site, to prevent the little buggers from ruining our vacation.
MARSHMELLOW ROASTING STICKS
These are an absolute must have when camping. Who doesn’t love roasted marshmallows? These roasting sticks make it super easy to get fantastic, evenly toasted, gooey, sugary deliciousness. All you have to do is spear a couple marshmallows on the end and hold them over the fire. No more using random sticks that have been who knows where. Instead use these roasting sticks that are easy to use, and reuse with quick cleaning.
These camping essentials will ensure you have everything you need to enjoy your camping vacation. Pitch the tent, roll out the sleeping bags, and get to enjoying your time in the outdoors, without worrying about a thing.
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Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.