5 Essentials to Pack for Camping

Camping can be a great way to see the world in its natural glory, but it’s all too easy to get beaten by Mother Nature as well. It’s important to do your research, pack properly, and be prepared before camping.

With that in mind, here are a few essentials you should definitely pack on your next camping trip!

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1. Clothing

When it comes to camping, clothing is really important. You won’t have access to your closet at home so you’ll need to be prepared with the right clothes. You should aim to pack the following essentials:

  • Breathable waterproof jacket and pants
  • Lightweight hat (I really like this one from Amazon)
  • Bamboo or wool socks
  • Hiking boots
  • A few long and short-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Water boots or shoes (I love Keen sandals)
  • Swimsuit
  • Camp shoes (flip-flops or comfortable shoes to slip on and wear at your campsite)

Moisture-wicking fabrics are best for outdoor exploration. It’s important to keep your skin dry, but also protected from the sun. So if you’re hiking in warm climates, be sure to pack sunglasses and sunscreen as well. Avoid trying to pack too many clothes to accommodate every possible weather scenario. Packing layers of clothing is the best option.

camping, pack list

2. Flashlight

So many people head off on a camping trip with the flimsiest of lights, whether they be headlamps, lanterns, or flashlights. You do get what you pay for so you shouldn’t skimp on lighting when you’re living outdoors. That’s why you should splurge on one of the best EDC flashlights or a quality headlamp like Black Diamond. Be sure to carry it with you if you’re going to be away from camp when it gets dark.

3. Cooking Essentials

Unless you plan on eating nothing but chips and cans of cold beans on your trip, you should pack a camping stove and fuel. As long as you’re not backpacking and carrying everything on your back, you’ll also want to bring a few pots, pans, and utensils (making sure there’s enough for everyone), a water filter and water bottles, and of course, the food of your choice. I usually carry dehydrated meals, as they are easy to pack, usually make multiple servings, and they’re pretty filling.

Don’t forget to bring a dish tub, soap, and towel for washing your cookware, as well as trash bags to collect your trash (you may also need a bear canister depending on your location).

camp food

4. Toiletries

While some people like to experience camping “au naturel,” most people who plan to have a pleasant camping trip bring at least some toiletries to stay clean. Here are a few of the basics:

  • Toilet paper (depending on where you are camping, most car campsites have bathrooms)
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid kit
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Prescription medications
  • Hairbrush or comb

If you want to make packing a little easier, you can buy camping toiletry kits that contain most of the essentials in a convenient travel size.

5. Navigational Tools

Whether you favor the old school map and compass option or an ultra-modern GPS system, you’re not going to want to go hiking and camping without something to guide you. It’s surprisingly easy to get lost even if you don’t stray far from the trails and campsites, so be sure to pack some form of navigation. Be sure you don’t rely on maps on your smart phone either. You can’t guarantee you’ll have coverage or that your phone will have enough battery to work.


Some additional camping items that are helpful to pack include:

  • Knife
  • Duct tape
  • Rope, cord, and/or wire
  • Fire starter, including matches
  • Water treatment (like a Lifestraw)
  • Extra food

Now that you know the most important items to pack, you’re sure to have an amazing time on your next camping trip. Enjoy the outdoors!

Happy Travels!


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