Whether you're out for just a night or a whole week, a good camping trip hinges on having the right gear.

Nothing ruins a camping trip faster than suddenly realizing that you’ve left the tent at home. Or the sleeping bags, or the food, or the firewood. You get the picture.

If you want to have a fun and comfortable trip into the great outdoors, you need to pack a few essentials.

These are the items that you’ll want to take along on every camping trip, no matter the season or destination. You’ll get plenty of use out of them in the years to come!

  

Lighting

I’m going to start with the most frequently forgotten category. It’s easy to remember to pack big things like the tent or the cooler full of food, but lighting can often pass under the radar.

Once the sun goes down, though, you’ll be wishing you had remembered it!

It’s important for every member of your group to have a personal lighting solution, whether that’s a flashlight, a headlamp, or something else. This is what they’ll keep on them around the fire, in the tent, and on middle of the night trips to the bathroom. It’s pretty essential.

You also may want to consider some sort of site lighting that will illuminate your campsite during cooking, eating, playing games, or just hanging out. A good old fashioned lantern can do the trick if it’s bright enough. MPOWERD also makes lots of fun, new-fangled lanterns and string lights that are solar powered and feature-rich. Check them out if you’re tired of constantly replacing the batteries in your old lantern!

 

Sleeping

In order to pitch a tent in the wilderness you have to have, well, a tent to pitch. Cotopaxi has a nice two person tent that has two doors so you don’t have to crawl over anyone to get in and out. But a tent’s not the only thing you’ll need.

A good night’s sleep is critical if you want to actually enjoy the days you spend camping and have enough energy to go hiking, play sports, swim, fish, or do anything besides lay in your tent during the heat of the day and curse your own lack of preparation.

Let’s start from the ground up.

You’re probably going to want some sort of cushion to sleep on inside your tent. Whether that’s an air mattress or a more svelte sleeping pad is up to you. It may come down to how much room you have left in the car!

You can certainly just lay your sleeping bag down on the tent floor if you want to rough it, but keep in mind that this will not only be lumpy and potentially uncomfortable, but it will cause you to lose a lot more heat through the ground, so keep that in mind when you’re choosing a sleeping bag.

Which brings me to my next point!

Just like at home, you’re going to want some sort of cover over you while you sleep. A sleeping bag is the most popular choice among campers, and Patagonia has some nice ones that will keep you warm all the way down to 19 degrees! If you’d rather use what you have, you can also get away with a couple of blankets from home.

Make sure you look at the weather forecast and take note of the nighttime temperatures. Compare that with the temperature rating of your sleeping bag, keeping in mind that the minimum temperature listed usually ensures survival, not comfort. Pack an extra blanket or two and you’ll thank yourself when your teeth are chattering at 3am.

 

Eating

Depending on how you plan to cook your meals, what you need to pack can vary wildly. If you intend to cook over the campfire mostly, you’ll need to bring along things like firestarters, lighters, and firewood, as well as a backup plan in case you get rained out! Please don’t transport firewood long distances, though. It’s best to source it within 50 miles of your camp location to avoid spreading harmful pests and diseases.

You have other cooking options, like camp stoves that run on alcohol, propane, or other fuel types. These are great for cooking quickly, which is a definite perk if you’re camping with kids (or adults) who tend to get a bit hangry.

If you’re packing fresh food, you’ll need a good quality cooler to keep things cold. I recommend having one cooler for meal supplies and one for things like snacks and drinks. This keeps the main cooler from being opened as frequently, which keeps things cooler longer.

       
 

Kayla Robbins
DoneGood Contributor

A freelance writer working with bighearted businesses who want to better our world.

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