Essential Camping Supplies Checklist
Planning a weekend in the mountains, or a few days in the woods? You might start wondering if there’s anything you’ve missed when you’re going over your camping supplies list. Here are some basic camping must-haves!
Camping Supplies – Accessories:
Backpack – A sturdy backpack is important, make sure it’s big enough to hold everything you will need and comfortable enough to wear for long lengths of time. Ensure there is enough room for all your camping supplies you need to be carrying with you. A good idea is to start with the rest of your camping supplies, and then find the right backpack that suits your needs – instead of starting with the backpack and then trying to fit your camping supplies into the pack.
Day pack for shorter afternoon hikes – A smaller day pack will be essential for shorter hiking trips you will want to make after your camp site is already set up. Make sure it’s small and comfortable and can carry camping
supplies you will need for the duration of a leisurely hike, such as water, sunscreen, and a healthy snack.
Hiking boots – Comfortable well-fitting hiking boots will be important camping supplies for any amount of time you spend in them, whether it’s long hikes up the mountain or just wearing them around the camp site. Make sure your boots are the proper size, and take some time breaking them in a little before wearing them on your first big hike. You don’t want to have to use up your entire camping supplies worth of bandages on your feet after your first day!
Pack cover – Keep your camping supplies safe and dry inside your backpack by remembering to bring a nylon pack cover. Pack covers should fit your pack well, and keep the rain off.
Camping Supplies – Clothing:
Sunglasses – Necessary for any amount of time spent in the sun, and often one of the more overlooked camping supplies on the list, you’ll want to make sure you have at least one pair to protect your eyes. A backup pair is never a bad idea, since sunglasses can be easily broken, lost or dropped into water.
Wide-brimmed rain or sun hat – For added protection against the weather, add these to your camping supplies list! Rain and sun hats shield you from the elements and keep you shaded and dry.
Fleece or wool gloves or mittens – Depending on the season and the altitude, a light pair of gloves or mittens could end up saving your hands from becoming icicles. These are ideal for a camping supplies list for autumn, winter, or at higher altitudes.
Fleece jacket or wool sweater – Always include a light jacket or sweater in with your camping supplies, even if you think the weather will be too warm to need it. Nights can get cooler than you might realize, winds can pick up – especially out on water. Mountain camping can be unpredictable when it comes to temperature.
Fleece or wool vest – Like a jacket or sweater, a vest can be a camping supplies lifesaver once the temperature dips. It’s also great to have along on hikes so you can dress in layers and remove a layer if you’re finding yourself too warm.
Hiking socks – Absorbent, breathable, protective hiking socks should be near the top of your camping supplies clothing list if you plan on doing any walking or hiking during your camping holiday. Quality material will ensure your feet stay drier and warmer longer, and prevent chaffing – especially if your hiking boots are newer and not yet completely broken in.
Long-sleeved shirts – Longer sleeved shirts not only provide extra warmth when necessary, they’re cooler than wearing a sweater and they provide protection against biting flies and mosquitos. Make sure to include them on your camping supplies list, as they are also great for protecting your skin against too much sun exposure.
Rainwear – Bring at least a light poncho, even if the forecast doesn’t call for rain. Thin lightweight ponchos can be purchased fairly inexpensively and could quickly become one of your most valued camping supplies as soon as those first few raindrops start to fall and there’s still work to be done around the campsite! A garbage bag works in a pinch but definitely isn’t as durable as an actual rain poncho. A pair of rain boots could also come in handy keeping your feet dry if you have the room to spare.
Warm hat (fleece or wool) – Like the gloves or mittens, a warm hat might be necessary to add to your camping supplies clothing bag if the season is a particularly cool one, or if you’re camping at higher altitudes.
Warm pants (fleece or wool) – Another item for your camping supplies clothing bag during cooler seasons or higher altitudes, an exceptionally warm pair of pants will be camping essentials if the weather dips.
Camping Supplies – Equipment and Gear:
Axe – An axe is one of the most essential camping supplies, it can be handy for chopping wood, cutting back branches, making kindling, chopping meat (especially with bones) and hammering pegs or other objects. It’s a versatile tool that every camp should have at least one of.
Batteries – Many modern camping supplies run on batteries, such as smaller electronics and cameras, fans, flashlights, cameras, and insect zappers. Depending on the amount of electronic gear you’re bringing along, it’s wise to make sure you have a supply of extra batteries too.
Cell phone – Although it might be tempting to leave the cell phone off your camping supplies list in order to get away from all the daily electronic gadgets, a cell phone can be a life saver. Getting away from it all is great, but it’s
always a good idea to bring along your cell phone if you can still get service where you’ll be camping in case you need to call for help in an emergency situation.
Collapsible water container – A good thing add to your camping supplies list, especially if you are planning on using a camping water filter to filter water to drink. A collapsible water container is also handy for collecting water from lakes for boiling, washing, or using as campfire safety measures as you’ll always need a container of water handy to put out your fire. Because they don’t take up much room when not in use, a collapsable water container is easy to pack and carry with you.
Compression sack – Compression bags are important camping supplies for when you need to save room. They’re great for compressing the size of a bulky rolled up sleeping bag into a much smaller and much more manageable size. They’re lightweight and easy to use and make lots more room for other essential gear!
Lantern – Gone are the days of the kerosene hurricane lamp, at least for most of today’s modern campers. High on your list if must-have camping supplies should be a reliable battery powered lantern that offers a bright light and an option to dim the light when you want to be able to manage the amount of brightness.
Matches/lighter – The kerosene lantern may not be on your list, but good old fashioned matches and a lighter are still considered essential camping supplies! Keep your matches in an airtight container to prevent them from accidentally getting wet.
Rainfly or Tent Tarp – You’ll need to include a tarp or a rainfly on your list of camping supplies if you plan on tenting it – any amount of rain will soak your tent through if you don’t have it properly protected from becoming soggy.
Rope – A length of rope has seemingly endless amount of possibilities, and is one of the most handy camping supplies you could have along with you. Fashion a clothes line to dry wet clothes and towels, secure a sack of food in a tree branch to prevent animals from ransacking your camp, keep your boat tied to shore, use it to haul objects, or create a shelter between trees with the help of a tarp. In emergencies it can be used as a tourniquet to stop serious bleeding or to fashion into an arm sling, and you can tie your camping supplies down so they don’t blow away.
Sleeping bag – A sleeping bag with enough warmth is important if you want to get a good night’s sleep. Sleeping bags are available in a variety of materials and degrees of warmth so choose yours appropriately. Another item to add to the camping supplies list would be a waterproof bag to store your sleeping bag inside of. This bag could even be a durable trash bag, if your camping excursion isn’t a long one. In the event of a longer camping period involving many tear downs and setups while hiking, a sturdy waterproof compression sack is vital.
Stove and fuel – A well made stove and the appropriate fuel will be important camping supplies to add to your list, unless you want to be cooking over an open campfire every day. Even for a short camping trip, the camp stove comes in handy to boil water easily.
Tent – When you’re sleeping under the stars you don’t literally have to be sleeping under the stars – a tent provides warmth, protection from bugs and shields against rain. It also doesn’t need to take up all your camping supplies space, there are many compact tent options available.
Camping Supplies – Food and Cooking Tools:
Aluminum foil – Whether you’re wrapping food in foil to cook in the campfire, covering leftovers, or fashioning a funnel, you’ll never run out of uses for aluminum foil when you add it to your camping supplies.
Cooking/eating utensils – Without overdoing it, you will need to have a few bare essential camping supplies in the cooking and eating department. A fork, spoon and knife for each camper which can be washed after each use, as well as whatever other cooking utensils deemed necessary based on the types of food you want to prepare. Try to bring utensils with multiple uses.
Drinking cups – Add sturdy and easily washable drinking cups to your camping supplies list, typically one per person.
Food – Perhaps one of the most important camping supplies on the list, you will need to bring food. Do not rely solely on catching fish and hunting and foraging for all of your food.
Paper towels – One of the more expendable camping supplies on the list but not without its perks – paper towels allow you to quickly clean up without resorting the the same rags between washing, and are great for starting the campfire after they’re used.
Plastic garbage bags – You will absolutely have to bring any trash back out of the campground with you, and plastic garbage bags are essential for holding it. These camping supplies are also great for makeshift ponchos if the rain catches you by surprise, as well as protecting other gear from getting wet.
Water filter/purifier – Water will also be at the top of your camping supplies list, and a handy portable camping water filter could save you in an emergency situation. Some campers rely solely on their camping water filter as their source of water, as it filters out harmful bacteria and protozoa from backcountry water sources.
Browse our Camping List and Tips category for more camping related ideas and information of your interest to guarantee yourself a smooth camping experience!