Top 10 Camping Essentials

A green tent pitched on the side of a moutain horizon facing out into a morning sunrise with white fluffy clouds on the horizon.

Are you looking to get away from the daily grind and the hustle and bustle of life? For some people, all it takes is a camping trip in the great outdoors to clear your mind, refresh your spirit, and unplug. The great thing about camping is that it’s an activity you can do alone or with your friends and family. 

Although camping is considered a simple pleasure, it requires some time to plan what to bring on your camping trip. There are some basic camping essentials that every beginner and experienced outdoorsman should be sure to pack to ensure a safe and fun camping experience.

What Do I Need to Bring Camping?

1. Maps

An atlas laying on a green mossy ground. There is a green and blue water bottle on the right hand side and a pine cone on the left hand side of the map.

It’s important to bring a map on your camping trip, especially if the area is new to you. If you’re going to a National Park, State Park, or campground, stop by the visitor’s center to ask for a map of the area with up-to-date information about the park and campsites. Having an accurate map will help you get to your destination without getting lost in the process. A compass is another great navigation tool.

2. Tent

A man laying inside of a tent that is facing the ocean. The tent is slightly open and you can only see the toes of the man laying down. There is also a camping bag at the opening of the tent.

Tents come in a variety of sizes, from 2-person tents to 12-person tents. You want to make sure you choose a tent that will comfortably fit the number of people who plan to stay inside the tent, and any extra gear or furry friends. Your tent is meant to keep you dry from the elements, protected from bugs, and provide privacy. The most popular key features on a tent include a rainfly and ample mesh for air flow. You may also consider bringing a tarp for extra protection for the bottom of your tent or extra shelter.

3. Sleeping Bags

Picking a sleeping bag for camping is all about comfort. Just like tents, there’s a variety of sleeping bags to choose from. Think about what the temperature will be like and what season you plan to do most of your camping. Regular sleeping bags are good for spring, summer, and fall and give you plenty of room to move around in. If you’re not a fan of the idea of sleeping on the ground, consider purchasing a sleeping pad or bringing an air mattress.

4. Light

Fatehr and son sitting in front of a blazing camp fire holding a cup of hot chocolate camping in the woods.

Most campsites don’t provide lighting, so it’s up to you to bring your own. Starting a campfire is a great way to light up your surroundings. And let’s face it- is it really camping if you don’t have a campfire? Flashlights, headlamps, and lanterns are other great sources for light while camping!

5. Fire Starter

A close up view of two people holding pocket knives making kindling from logs over an unlit fire pit.

Keep matches, tinder, lint, and a lighter in a dry, waterproof container. Having a fire-starter will help you start a fire more quickly to stay warm, cook food, or light up camp! Before you head out for camping, learn how to build a campfire the quickest and easiest way.  Also, check fire regulations before building your fire.

6. Cooler

A family at a campground smiling having a good time. The mother is squatting down in front of a 40 gallon blue cooler. She is pulling out a orange soda in a glass bottle while the father and kids are in the background hanging out in camping chairs.

You most likely worked up an appetite setting up camp or adventuring all day. Having a good cooler to store your perishable food and keep beverages cool is a must while camping. Since eggs are delicate and not easy to travel with, try cracking them into a plastic milk jug and storing it in your cooler, instead of trying to take along the egg carton.  You can also bring non-perishable food like trail mix, canned foods, jerky, and fruits and vegetables to keep your body fueled.

7. Pots, Pans, Plates

3 cast iron pots and pans sitting on a grate over a campfire. The fire is a blaze and there is wood sticking out of the firepit below the grate.

If you plan to cook up some delicious meals, you’ll want to bring anything necessary for prepping the food you’ve packed. Some campsites will have a cooking grate for cooking over the campfire, but it’s safe to bring pots or pans and utensils along too.

8. First-Aid Kit

A man wearing a red shirt and gray hiking short, while carring a backpack is hiking up a grassy hillside. There is a rock formation in the back ground and the sky is blue.

Your local pharmacy most likely sells pre-assembled first-aid kits with everything you would need for a camping trip. Your first-aid kit should include Band-Aids of all different sizes, gauze pads, tape, disinfectant ointment, and common over the counter pain medicine. It’s always good to be prepared, even if it’s just for a blister or bee sting!

9. Toiletries

A black and white sign with an outline of a man and woman with an arrow pointing to the toilets

Even when you’re roughing it, you’ll want to keep yourself clean. Campground bathrooms don’t always stay stocked, so it’s a good idea to bring your own hygiene items. Pack toilet paper, biodegradable soap, and, of course, your toothbrush and toothpaste. Wipes are perfect for camping too!

10. Seating

a woman relaxing inside of a red and gray hammock. The hammock is hung in the woods between two trees. There is a rock formation in from of the hammock.

Gather around the fire or play a game of cards around the picnic table! This is much more comfortable if you bring chairs to sit on. Folding chairs are usually the easiest to pack and lightweight to move around. A hammock is another cozy option for campsite lounging.

Now grab a friend and get outside!

A young smiling boy is laying half way in and half way outside of a green camping tent.

Camping is a great way to enjoy all that nature has to offer! Preparing yourself with the right gear makes camping easier and stress-free. By bringing these top ten camping essentials, you can focus more on the sweet sound of the tent being unzipped on a dewy morning, the crackling of a campfire, and freedom of wide open spaces, instead of stressing about not having what you need during your camping trip. 

Don't forget to stop by your local Do it Best store, or shop online with free ship-to-store, and stock up on camping gear before you set out on your next adventure!