When experiencing the great outdoors, your focus may be on getting in touch with nature and “roughing it” for the week. But even so, there are some essentials that you will want to take with you if you want to be able to sleep and stay somewhat comfortable during your time.
To narrow down to the essentials, it’s important to consider what your camping space will consist of. Most campgrounds do have a picnic table, so additional seating is optional depending on how you prefer your setup. They will also likely have bathrooms and running water. Aside from that, a place to park and plop your tent is about the extent of the amenities at many campgrounds.
Let’s take a look at our list. We’ve visited and spent the night in a lot of campgrounds during our time in the business – this is our essential list from what we’ve learned.
The 10 Essential Items To Bring Along When Camping
- Tent. This is truly the quintessential camping component. Without a tent, you are spending the night truly under the stars, or in your car. For various reasons (animals, weather, comfort), we don’t recommend either. In addition to the tent itself, make SURE that you have the stakes along. Forget these and you’ll be hunting through the woods for sticks – or ending up in the car anyway.
- Sleeping Bag. The sleeping bag was designed for camping. It traps your heat in perfectly and stays on you all night when you lack an actual bed. This helps you stay warm and get a good night’s sleep. Another essential to go along with the sleeping bag itself is a sleeping pad of some kind. The bag alone on top of the tent nylon isn’t going to be very comfortable, and you’ll feel any aberration in the ground. Rocks…ouch. A pillow is also welcomed on this list and something that will help you get some shut-eye.
- Fire Starter and Kindling. Most campgrounds will have a fire ring of some sort. And you can either bring firewood, buy it, or forage through the woods to find some. But you aren’t getting far if you can’t actually start the fire. Newspaper, cardboard, dry bark, or something that easily catches on fire will be essential to getting the actual wood burning. And you need to ignite it with matches, a lighter, flint, or whatever you prefer. Rubbing two sticks together is a romantic version of starting a fire, but if you’ve ever tried it, you know it’s extremely difficult.
- Flashlight or Lantern. This one is easy to overlook…until it gets dark out. When you are away from the city lights, it gets very dark. Having a flashlight or lantern set up will be needed if you plan to be able to see where you are going or do anything after dark – including going to the bathroom. A lantern perched on the picnic table is ideal, partnered with a flashlight that you can keep on your person.
- Food and Water. Whether you plan to toast something over the fire or brought pre-packaged food, you’ll need to eat (and drink). Some campgrounds can be quite a ways away from any regular restaurants. The lodge likely has some food and drink, but it can be fun to bring your own meals and snacks along. And if you are in a very rustic area, having a source of food can actually keep you from going hungry for the evening.
- Pocket Knife. There’s something about camping that makes it seem more official when you have a multipurpose tool along with you like a pocketknife. You can slice your food, cut or sharpen sticks and have the last source of protection from animals all in one easy-carried pocket tool.
- Rain Gear Clothes and Tarp. You hate to think about it, but rain is a possibility when camping. If it does happen, you’ll be glad you have rain gear for yourself, and a tarp that you can lay out or put over your tent. Keeping yourself and your gear dry is key to enjoying your time in the wilderness.
- Rope. This can be used for a multitude of things, from anchoring your tent, creating a clothesline, tying something down, and may other applications. And if the aforementioned rain does happen, the clothesline will be key to dry anything out that may have gotten wet (even though you tried to keep it dry).
- First Aid Kit. While it is unlikely that you’ll face a full survival situation at a traditional campground, it never hurts to be prepared. You can easily cut your finger or suffer a minor injury that requires some attention from the first-aid kit.
- Toilet Paper. This one is the least exciting member of the list – but may be the one you are most thankful for. Going to the public restroom – or the woods – in the night and not having any toilet paper is a less than ideal situation. There may not be a square to spare. Bring your own just in case.
That’s our list of essential items to bring with you when camping. Your phone and GPS is definitely something that everyone likely has already and can come in extremely handy. Having a campground with strong Wi-Fi service may be on your list of needs when looking for somewhere to stay.