Top 17 Camping Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring (2017 Update)

Updated on August 6, 2018 by Asher Fergusson

There’s no doubt about it, camping can be loads of fun, but the logistics are bound to overwhelm you. From organizing your gear to selecting your campfire menu, we’ve got your go-to packing list covered. To help you get out there, I’ve put together a checklist that will totally prepare you for what’s ahead!

What to bring Camping:

1) Weather-ready clothing – Stay warm in cold weather, and cool on sunny days by wearing moisture-wicking or dri fit clothing. Dressing in layers (and staying dry!) is key to a comfortable camping experience.
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2) Sleeping bag – Sleeping under the stars will be a lot more comfortable if you’re in a waterproof, season-appropriate sleeping bag. This one is lightweight, durable and easy to clean.
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3) Tent – Choosing the right tent is important. A good tent is totally weatherproof and easy to set up. The size and type of tent you choose will depend upon your group size and space needs, but this is a reliable and well-ventilated model.
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4) Solar lantern – This is especially important during fire bans, when the only things lighting your way are the moon and stars. A solar lantern is great because it requires no battery changing or electrical source. This inflatable one is my favorite – easy to pack and super bright.
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5) Hammock – There’s nothing like relaxing in a hammock under a shady tree at the end of a long hike. This hammock is portable, lightweight, easily cleaned, and quick-drying.
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6) Water bottle – It’s so important to bring a reusable water bottle when camping. You can refill it at your campground’s water spigots, or bring extra gallons of water if necessary. This water bottle is my favorite because of its sip-friendly spout and spill proof locking mechanism.
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7) Trail snacks – Keep up your energy with yummy snacks on the trail. This mix of peanuts, yogurt chips, raisins, dried cranberries, almonds, cashews, and dates will make you a happy camper!
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8) Dinner/ breakfast supplies – The trickiest part of camping is deciding what to eat. If you’re bringing a gas stove (or if there is a fire pit on site), bring hot dogs, burgers, or anything else you might like to grill for dinner. For breakfast, bacon and eggs or yogurt with granola are some good
combinations. Make sure you bring tongs and a spatula, and pack perishables in a cooler filled with ice.
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9) Camping stove – Bringing a camping stove is a convenient way to cook meals, especially if there’s no grill at your campsite. This one is lightweight, easy to set up, and made of super high quality materials.
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10) Solar charger – Needless to say, you won’t find many power outlets in the great outdoors. A solar charger with a USB hookup can charge your phone, camera, kindle, or any other device just through the power of the sun! This waterproof one clips onto your backpack so you can let it absorb sunlight while hiking.
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11) Portable speaker – Whether you’re camping solo, or with a big group, playing music will set the mood for a good time. This one will let you play music from sunrise to sunset after one three-hour charge! Perfect for the outdoors.
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12) First Aid Kit – A lot can go wrong on a camping trip. Be prepared for blisters, splinters, cuts, and other blunders with a well-stocked first aid kit. Keep this one in your daypack so that you can whip it out in case of emergency.
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13) Bug spray – Don’t let bugs ruin your fun. Keep away those mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, gnats, and chiggers with long-lasting bug spray. This one provides up to 8 hours of protection against mosquitoes!
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14) Wool socks – For maximum cushion and temperature control, always hike in wool socks. They’ll keep you comfortable on the trail, and warm at night in your tent.
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15) Hiking boots – A good pair of shoes is absolutely necessary on camping or backpacking trips if you’re planning on going for a hike. Never order shoes online unless you’ve tried them on in a store first. REI is a great place to look for the perfect pair with expert assistance. These are my
personal favorite hiking boots, and have taken me all around the world!
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16) Swimsuit – On camping trips, it’s a good idea to come equipped with a swimsuit for those lake dips or outdoor showers. This one is cute, comfortable and stays put!
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17) Hydration Daypack – It’s important to stay organized with a solid daypack that won’t hurt your back. Camelbak makes well-designed, technically aesthetic daypacks that great for a full day out on the trail. It’ll also keep you hydrated!
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Other packing list items for camping:

What to wear Camping:

Before you start packing, definitely do a little research on the area you are going to in case the location is prone to rain or snow. Weather can be totally unpredictable, even in the summer, so layering is vital to being comfortable in the outdoors. At any moment the temperature can go from cold, to warm, to burning, to freezing. Layer up in moisture-wicking (no cotton!) tank tops, shorts or leggings, thermals, and jackets. Because you’ll most likely be living out of a backpack or duffel bag, you will probably want to pack as light as possible. Try to pack only items that can be mixed and matched, and keep your supply down to one item per clothing category (for example, one tank top, one short sleeve shirt, one pant, etc). As far as footwear, sandals are great for letting your feet breathe on hot days when you’re lounging around. Wool socks are good for keeping your feet warm and comfortable. On hikes wear hiking boots or sturdy athletic shoes with traction.

What NOT to take Camping

1) 🚫 Jeans -Don’t encumber yourself with stiff, inhibiting jeans. Denim and camping don’t mix well, especially since wet jeans are the worst!

2) 🚫 Jewelry/ Nice clothing -There’s no need to impress… Nobody’s going for style points on a camping trip.

3) 🚫 Unnecessary electronics -You definitely will not need your computer, x box or ipad while you’re trying to soak in the outdoors.

4) 🚫 Perfumes -Do your part to keep bears and other wildlife away from humans (to protect yourself and the animals) and don’t bring anything too smelly!

5) 🚫 Valuables – Unless you’re at a busy national park during peak season, you don’t need to worry about thieves. You do, however, need to worry about the elements ruining anything too valuable.

6) 🚫 Your whole kitchen – Keep your menu simple and stress-free.

7) 🚫 White clothing – If you wear white pants or a white shirt camping, you’re just begging to fall in the mud or get accidentally squirted with hot dog condiments.

FAQs about camping:

1) How can I find out if there will be potable water at my campsite?

Always check the website of the park that you’ll be camping at. Most, but not all, campgrounds have a water source like a spigot that can be used to fill up your water bottles. Look online or call the park ranger service to check for specifics about your campground.

2) How do you deal with inclement weather?

As stated before, always dress in layers. Make sure you bring a rain jacket or poncho, your tent’s rain fly, and some in-tent games to stay entertained during a freak rainstorm!

3) Can I expect to shower while camping?

Some campgrounds have showers. They might be relatively nice indoor hot-water showers, or they could be an exposed water spigot outside. Look online or call the park ranger service to check for specifics about your campground.

4) Do all campgrounds allow campfires?

No. During dry season, many campgrounds will have a fire ban. Make sure you check online or call your local park ranger service to find out. If you cannot make a campfire, make sure you bring a gas stove to cook with!

5) How can I cook while camping?

Many fire pits come with an iron grill that goes on top to cook with. You can use this with or without tin foil, pots and pans to cook on. It’s also a good idea to bring a camping stove (see list above).

6) How do I find a campground near me?

You can find a campground through this website. You can also search for specific dates and group sizes!

7) What sorts of activities can I do while camping?

Depending on where will be, you can likely hike, swim, fish, slackline, do yoga, cook, read, and just plain relax! It’s all up to you.

8) How do I choose the right gear for my camping trip?

Stores like REI have professionals who can help you find just the right gear. If you’re shopping online, make sure you read lots of reviews (and double-check dimensions) before ordering anything.

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