Things to Pack for a Camping Trip

Things to Pack for a Camping TripSpending days out in the open, serene outdoors is an experience to look forward to. On the other hand, packing for it is not. There are so many things to pack for camping, it can be easy to get flustered and forget something important. When packing, break your needs down into the basic systems: shelter, food, water, lighting, tools, etc. and pack all the items that you need within those systems.


Shelter obviously begins with your tent. Be sure that all tent pieces, including poles, fly and stakes, are packed with the main tent. Don't forget accessories, such as a mallet, ground sheet, sleeping pads and vestibule. Also include your sleeping bags and pillows in this category.

Food and Drinks

For the best results, pack two coolers: one for drinks and one for food. Use block ice rather than cubed to slow melting and provide longer cooling. Pack all perishables in the cooler and non-perishable foods in a separate bag or basket. Pack your second cooler with water and drinks. Be sure to have enough water. If you'll be camping in bear country, pack food in bear-proof containers.

Food Preparation

While remembering the food is great, it doesn't do you much good without preparation tools. These will vary depending upon what you're cooking and how you're cooking it. Be sure, though, to have all your cooking and serving needs covered. Bring a grill, if you intend to use your own with propane or charcoal, lighter fluid and a lighter. If you'll be making a campfire, bring firewood and tinder. Pack cooking utensils, such as skewers, hamburger patty cookers, pans, pots, etc. Then pack all your serving ware such as forks, knives, plates, cups, napkins and tongs. Don't forget condiments like salt and pepper, ketchup and mustard. Also remember trash bags to pack out all your garbage.


Be sure that everyone in your camping party has enough clothing for the duration of your trip. Check weather forecasts and pack clothes based on the coldest expected weather. Use a three-layer system for colder weather and be sure to have non-cotton base layers, heavier mid-layers and windproof outerwear. Pack rain gear as well. Proper footwear, such as waterproof hiking boots, is another necessity.


A variety of lighting will ensure that you're able to navigate the campsite and, when needed, perform tasks after dark. Consider a lantern for providing ambient light to a tent or campsite. Flashlights are good for walking in the dark at night and for focusing a beam of light in a given area. Headlamps provide a good lightweight option for hands-free lighting. There are variety of types of fuels and bulbs; however, LED (light-emitting diodes) lights can be particularly valuable to camping, given their efficient power usage, durability and long bulb lives.


Some tools that you'll want around the campsite include a saw, hatchet, multi-tool, duct tape, string or rope and zip ties, in addition to a mallet. While you're packing these tools, consider preparing a survival kit based on the Ten Essentials (linked in Resources), which will include other important provisions such as first aid kit, sun protection and navigation.


Shorter trips may negate the need for hygiene products, but longer camping trips require cleaning products. Bring dish detergent, camp sink, sponge and towels for washing dishes. Bring a camp shower, biodegradable soap and towels for showering. Bring general hygiene products, including toothbrush, deodorant, toothpaste, comb and toilet paper/shovel.


bug repellent

Pack a full first aid kit large enough for your party. Pack sunblock and other sun protection, such as sunglasses and hats. Pack insect repellent, citronella candles or other accessories to ward off insects at your campsite. Don't forget any medication that anyone in the party is taking.


Despite all the packing, camping is about having a good time. Don't forget to bring any campsite games like horseshoes or bocce ball. Remember to bring rainy-day preparations like board games, cards and reading material. Pack local guide books and maps to take advantage of all that the surrounding area offers. Also bring a backpack, hiking poles and other equipment for hiking and exploring. If you'll be swimming, don't forget extra towels and bathing suits. Don't forget a camera to capture your camping trip.


Bring everything that you need to set up your campsite. This includes tables and chairs, sun tent, hammock and shower enclosure. A clothesline with clothes pins could be another part of the campsite.



Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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