When you’re camping in the wilderness, you can’t pop into your local convenience store and purchase the things you forgot. For that reason, it’s important to plan well for any camping adventure.
The essential items on your list will depend on the time of year, the weather conditions, where you are camping, how you are getting there, and what you are going to do while camping. For example, if you’re hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and camping in remote locations along the way, you can only take what you can carry. However, if you are driving to Lake Ontario with the intention of camping on the lakeshore and using the campsite as a base for hiking and kayaking adventures, your vehicle enables you to carry much more.
Before packing, you should make a list of all the things you need to take on your camping adventure. A list will help you to organize your thoughts so that you don’t forget anything important. You must take everything that’s essential to ensure you stay safe and enjoy your camping adventure.
When making your list, consider the following 5 categories:
- Vital items
- Other equipment
For some campers, this category may mean the difference between life and death. For example, if you suffer from a serious medical condition, you must remember to pack your medication.
On any camping adventure, ensuring your safety and that of your family is paramount. So, if you are planning camping adventures in remote wilderness areas where you will be hiking along isolated trails, you may need to take specialized equipment to ensure your safety.
Anyone who suffers from an allergy that may result in an anaphylactic shock should take an EpiPen on their camping adventure. They are compact, easy to use, and may save your life.
If you get into trouble while camping along the Appalachian Trail, a locator beacon could save your life. It is a simple electronic device that can tell search and rescue agencies exactly where you are in the event of a major problem.
First Aid Kit
For less serious injuries and your kids’ boo-boos, a compact First Aid Kit is a great addition to your camping gear. Before camping in remote locations, consider taking a basic first aid course so that you know how to use all the items inside the kit.
Unless you’re RVing, your tent will be your most important piece of equipment. Because of the recent increasing popularity of outdoor festivals and outdoor pursuits, there is now a wide range of tent styles to choose from. The tent you choose depends upon the kind of camping adventure you plan.
If you only want to camp at summer music festivals, these cheap and cheerful tents are for you. They’re usually designed for one or two people, are lightweight, and are easy to assemble. However, they’re not designed to survive winter storms or high winds. Common styles include dome tents, pop-up tents, and for families or friends camping together, the viz-à-viz. Festival tents are affordable but only designed to be pitched once during your adventure and then used for a period of time without being moved.
These are higher-quality tents that will withstand harsh weather conditions along the PCT or backcountry hiking adventures. They are compact, lightweight, and easily assembled. Some are better quality dome tents while others are geodesic technical tents that are more complex and difficult to assemble but offer a greater level of protection against extreme weather. A key feature of backpacker tents is that they are designed to be frequently pitched because hikers want to camp in a different location every night.
Larger family groups may want to invest in huge family tents that feature multiple rooms, windows, and high headroom. These tents are not suitable to be carried while hiking and are often complex to erect. You will need a vehicle to take them to the campsite. But they make a comfortable base for hiking adventures if you choose a central campsite in a national park. Family tents are often large viz-à-viz style tents, modern inflatable tents, or interesting unique designs, like tipis.
Other Camping Equipment
Depending upon what kind of camping adventure you plan, you’ll need other pieces of equipment.
If you plan to hike during your camping adventure, you’ll need a backpack suitable for carrying what you need. If you’re going on a backcountry hiking adventure and carrying your tent, you’ll need a larger internal or external-frame backpack with D-rings to attach your tent, bedroll, and sleeping bag. If your campsite is a base for hiking adventures and you don’t need to carry all your equipment, a small backpack to hold a packed lunch and water for hydration will be sufficient.
For many campers, this is the most important piece of equipment. A good-quality sleeping bag can make the difference between two weeks of cold and miserable, sleepless nights or two weeks of camping bliss.
Some people only camp in summer, but with the right sleeping bag, you can camp year-round, even in the high-altitude wilderness. The temperature ratings on winter sleeping bags go from 00F to 350F, and you should choose the sleeping bag most suitable for the weather conditions and time of year where you are planning to camp. It’s usually better to purchase a sleeping bag that’s too hot than too cold. You can always sleep on top of your bag if it becomes uncomfortably hot, but it’s difficult to make it warmer if it’s too cold.
If you plan to take lots of electronic devices on your camping adventure, and the campsite doesn’t offer electric hook-ups, you’ll need a portable charger. You can also purchase solar panels designed to be used in conjunction with your portable charger to ensure you can charge your tablet anywhere.
On any camping adventure, a flashlight or camping lantern is an essential piece of equipment. If you need to relieve yourself in the middle of the night, you’ll be glad you packed a torch.
You need clothes for any vacation, and for camping you will require suitable casual clothing.
A waterproof jacket is essential for surviving poor weather, and in winter it must be suitably insulated. These days, you can purchase jackets and vests that include electric or chemical heating devices to help you stay toasty warm in the coldest of conditions. You’ll certainly need layers if you’re planning to hike to higher elevations where the weather can be colder, wetter, and windier.
Sunglasses and a sunhat
On any summer camping adventure, you need to protect yourself from strong sunlight. Shades and a sunhat are ideal, especially if you have fair skin.
Some people are content to wear regular shoes on popular hiking trails, especially day trails at national monuments such as the short Tower Trail at the Devils Tower National Monument. However, that’s an easy way to cause yourself injury. When hiking, you should always wear suitable hiking shoes or hiking boots.
Your campsite may have a handy convenience store for all your toiletry needs. However, you should check on this before setting off on your camping adventure. If you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail, you’ll often be many miles from the nearest store. So, don’t forget the basics.
Sunblock is essential on sunny days or when white snow might reflect strong sunlight right back at you. Protect your skin.
When camping, bugs can be a problem. Ensure you are well equipped with bug spray to keep those crawly critters away. And in some wilderness areas, bears can be a problem. Avoid conflict where possible, but when you have no other choice, you’ll be glad you packed some bear spray.
Toothbrushes and other essentials
Unless you enjoy cleaning yourself off with leaves and poking your teeth with sticks, don’t forget the household essentials: toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and toilet paper. And, if you have kids, baby wipes and diapers.
Food and drinks
A big part of your camping adventure is the food you’re going to eat. On hunting or fishing camping adventures, you may be planning to eat from nature’s bounty. On family camping adventures, you may be planning a barbeque. But on longer hiking adventures, you may need to carry everything you plan to eat.
H2O is always the most important drink on a camping adventure. Not only is it essential for drinking, but you may also need it for cooking. When active, you need around 4 pints every day. A reusable water bottle is ideal for hiking. A water filter and purification tablets are essential for wilderness adventures.
If you’re planning lots of strenuous outdoor activities, energy bars and protein bars are a good idea. With kids along, you’ll need snacks for bribes!
On long, multiple-day hikes, you may need to carry all your food and the equipment to cook it. In this situation, dried foods are ideal because they are compact and lightweight. A pro tip is to remove dehydrated food from its original packaging and repack it in clear plastic bags. The manufacturers often use excessively bulky and heavy packaging to help sell their product, so you can make the food more compact and lightweight through repackaging.