The Ultimate Camping Gear Checklist

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The Ultimate Camping Gear Checklist


Want to know what to bring to your camping trip? Before you break the bank and stock up on every item of gear sold in your local camping store, stop and think about what you'll REALLY need. You may just find the list of camping gear isn’t as long as you'd think.

SHELTER AND WARMTH – ALWAYS think about your shelter and warmth first! Your overnight camping trip may become absolutely miserable if you spend the night shivering.

You will need:

  • A tent (sized to the number of people camping with you)
  • Sleeping bags (one per person)
  • Sleeping pads/mattresses (one per person/pair)

Make sure to check over the tent and be certain all the various elements (tent poles, rain flaps, stakes, etc.) are present before you head out on your trip.

WATER – Without water, you're in serious trouble! You may not always be camping in locations where there is running water available, so you may have to gather your own. To ensure you never run out of water, make sure to bring:

  • Bottled water (at least 1 liter per person per day)
  • Water purification tablets
  • A camping kettle/pot to boil water
  • A Lifestraw (for hiking trips)
  • Water canteens

With these items, you'll always have potable water to drink while on your camping trip.

FOOD – ALWAYS think about what you're going to eat on your camping trip! If you're not prepared, you could spend hours every day foraging for barely enough to stay alive. By bringing an ample supply of foodstuffs, you'll be able to eat well and enjoy your camping trip.

You will need:

  • A  grill (gas or charcoal will do) or camping stove
  • Fire-starter fluid, matches, and fuel
  • Cooking utensils (cutting board, knife, tongs, spatula)
  • Pot or cast iron frying pan (to make cooking easier)
  • Airtight cooler for perishable food items
  • Long-lasting foodstuffs: eggs, pasta, canned foods, smoked sausages, bread, fruits and veggies, hard cheese, dried or pre-cooked meats.
  • A special bag for garbage you can hang high in a tree to keep out of reach of scavengers
  • Bowls, cups, and utensils to eat with
  • Items for cleaning: scrub brush, washcloth, trash bags

Bringing all your own food-prep gear will make it much easier for you to have good meals while camping, freeing up more time to focus on your hiking, relaxing, and recreation.

CLOTHING – The clothing you wear on your camping trip will be different from hiking outfits, but there are  a few items of clothing you'll need for both:

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Durable pants (preferably cargo pants with extra pockets)
  • Warm sweaters and jackets in case the weather turns cold
  • Undershirts (added layers increase warmth)
  • Long-sleeved shirts (to ward off bugs)
  • Hats and gloves in case of heavy chill

With these clothing items, you'll be prepared to face even the chilliest weather.

Note: For hot weather, pack lighter, thinner clothing.

OTHER EQUIPMENT – There are a few other items that you MUST have with you, but which don't fall under any of the truly "essential" categories. These items will, however, keep you safe and make camping much more enjoyable:

  • Lighting, not just headlamps and flashlights, but at least one or two powerful portable lanterns;
  • First aid kit, just in case of injuries or medical emergencies - DEFINITELY include activated charcoal tablets and ipecac in case of poison ingestion;
  • Paper maps, in case you decide to go hiking and your phone/GPS devices run out of battery; 
  • Sunscreen to protect you from sunburn;
  • Bug spray, to keep away those pesky mosquitoes and other bugs;
  • Duct tape, for any emergency repairs to the tent or other equipment
  • Comfort items: pillow, solar charger, generator, camping chairs; and
  • Hatchet for chopping firewood.

RECREATION – Of course, don't forget all the gear you'll need for your recreational activities, including:

  • Fishing poles, bait, and tackle
  • Canoe or inflatable boat
  • Hiking gear
  • Binoculars for bird-watching
  • Camera
  • Toys and bicycles
  • Pet food and supplies
  • Toiletries 

If you're planning on enjoying the great outdoors, be certain to bring the required gear.