Top 20 Camping Gear Essentials You Must Carry During Outdoor Camping!

Are you planning on a camping trip this weekend? Perhaps, you are going on a long road trip. When that is the case, you need to ensure that you take the right items along with you. Packing the right stuff, which you will need for your trip, can make the difference.

We will not lie to you. A few years ago, we were travelling to a camping site. This was when we realized that I had forgotten to pack the sleeping bags. When my partner asked me about it, apparently, I went into defensive mode and lied. Sadly, the trip was not how we wanted it to go.

You cannot go on a camping trip without sleeping bags. We had not taken the most critical camping gear essentials item. We ended up purchasing alternatives. From that day on, we realized the importance of having a list of camping items.

Today, I am going to share a list of camping gear essentials with you. That will ensure you do not have to meet with a similar situation. The list is ideal for both first-time campers as well as experienced campers.

You never know, what you might have missed in your list. The thing about the word “camping,” is that it can make even adults and kids. The fun, excitement, adventures, and thrills, take us off guard. When that happens, we forget to pack even the essentials.

Note: We recommend getting your camping gear from REI? Why might you ask?

  • They provide you with quality products, excellent reviews as well as advice on camping gear. The community consists of people who are lovers of camping. You are definite to find what you are looking for.
  • Their customer service is prompt, and the return policy options are too good to ignore.
  • Members have several benefits like 10% off on products and free cost of membership.
  • You can find used items, which come ridiculously priced on their site. This is something you do not want to miss out, especially if you are planning to make several purchases.

List of Top 20 Camping Gear Essentials

1. Shelter (Tent/RV)

Shelter Tent or RV

A tent is highly recommended for camping, unless you are someone who loves to see the stars twinkling above you, at night. However, if you plan to sleep your van or RV, then they are not required. Tents come in different shapes, colors, and sizes. You can get them in red, blue, orange, green, and other bright colors.

It is always nice to go in for bright colors so that it comes handy during emergencies like storms or heavy rains. Depending on your requirements, you will want to make a choice. You can also consider a hammock if the weather in the camping site is sunny or dry. It is light and portable. For cold or extreme weather conditions, a good weather tent is advisable. It protects you from the winds and rains. A good branded shelter item from a popular online or traditional store should suffice your requirements.

2. Water

survival water filter

You need to have water taken with you. Have you thought about your camping water plan? Does your campsite have a public water pump? Is there a creek or lake nearby? Unless there are these options, you will need to think of alternatives.

Campers like me have found life hard without water. It is not something you would enjoy. You need water for cooking, toilet purposes, bathing, and so on. It is always nice to plan for water because it is one thing, you cannot survive without, be it hot or cold weather.

You will have to calculate the water requirements by deciding on the number of days camping with the number of people traveling along. The more the people, the more the consumption. I recommend you have water containers or water bricks for this purpose.

Each of them can hold at least 4 gallons of water. They are easy to carry around and durable. Unless you are confident that the camping site has excellent water service facilities, you should consider having a survival water filter.

3. High-quality Survival Knife

Camping Survival Knives

Experienced campers would know the importance of having a good quality knife with you when camping. Many times, you will find yourself having to cut a rope, cut open an item, slice open a food product, and so on. The benefits of having a knife with you are immense.

You do not know when you will need one. As a camper, you ought to think like a survivalist. You never know what kind of emergencies or dangers you can face, when camping. This reminds me of a small incident I read somewhere; a family was camping in the woods. As night approached, they needed some fire sticks for lighting fire.

The young boy in the family owned a Swiss knife. He had simply brought along, much to the delight of his family. They managed to cut small sticks and light a fire, which was good enough for them.

I would recommend you use a Swiss knife during camping. It is lightweight, compact, and comes with all the accessories needed for an emergency.

4. Basic Medical Supplies

Survival Medical Kit

When camping, access to stores and medical shops is very limited. Hence, you should take along the necessary medical supplies such as bandages, painkillers, and gauze. If you depend on medication for health conditions, then be sure to pack them. You can have a medical kit and make sure that all the supplies are in there.

The individual must make sure that they have all the medications taken regularly. Patients with heart ailments, blood pressure, diabetes, and others, must have immediate access to medications. Individuals with medical conditions like wheezing ought to have the medicines and kit ready at all times.

Here is a small piece of advice for those who are sick or elderly. Before camping, get the green signal from your physicist. It is also a good idea, to inform him/her about your plans, just in case.

5. Sleeping Bag or Blankets

Sleeping Bag

Sleeping bags and blankets are the ideal companions for tents. If you have a shelter, then you should have a sleeping bag to go with it. Some campers feel they do not need them during warm weather. Take it from me I had a horrendous experience once, without a sleeping bag.

It suddenly got cold in the night, and I had to cove myself with several layers of warm clothing. It is not a fun experience. If you feel too hot under your blanket, just put it aside. Invest in a good emergency survival blanket.

6. Warm, Rainproof Clothes

Rainproof Clothes camping

Coats, which are lightweight and waterproof, will help you when out camping. Remember, these are outdoor camping gear. While a heavy jacket can help during winter or rains, it can be uncomfortable to wear on a sunny day.

If you are on a rainforest camping vacation, then a good quality raincoat and clothing is highly recommended. You do not want all your clothes to get wet. Coats, which come with cinched hoods and zips on the armpits, are what you are looking for. Unless you are comfortable wearing the rainproof jackets, you will have a sober face.

7. Insect Repellents

Insect Repellents

Surprised? Well, an insect repellent is an item, which might not seem significant at first. However, when you are lying down to sleep in the open, you will realize the importance. Camps, whether based in the rainforest or the desert, come with their share of insects and bugs to deal with.

Those of you, who have allergies to sprays, might want to choose one that you are comfortable. There are creams applied to adults. For kids, there are oils and lotions applied to the clothing. The need to spray directly on your skin is not required. You can spray outside the tent and then use likewise.

8. Camping Chairs

Camping Chairs

You do not want to sit on the ground unless you are in a dry area with large rocks or benches around. Usually, I do not take chairs when on a trip, but when camping, it is the must. Yes, they are heavy and uncomfortable to carry around.

In that case, you can consider using lightweight chairs, designed for the very purpose. They are cheap and portable. Most of them are good and durable. There is no specific brand I can recommend.

9. Plenty of Firewood

firewood camping

You may be thinking, why it is not higher on this list. Though it is a staple when camping, the necessity of having it along with you makes the decision. Some campsites do not permit fire; hence, you might want to purchase it locally.

The need to panic for this particular item is not at all required. That is because you can always find them, available in plenty in campsites or local stores. However, you should verify with the campsite before buying firewood.

10. Containers, which are Airtight

camping storage unit

Why choose containers that are airtight? When you are outdoors, you should not eat alone. You have wild animals for company. We once found out that leaving food in the open could only invite trouble. Luckily, nothing serious happened. You should go in for bear food vaults.

You can find guest around your campsite like racoons, bears, and birds, looking for a bite to eat. With food vaults, your precious cargo are protected from these wild animals.

11. Sunscreen Lotion

Sunscreen Lotion

I have never met a camper who spends his/her whole day inside the camp van or tent. I am sure you do not belong to that category either. Hence sunscreen lotion is a must. They protect you from the harsh rays of the sun, especially during the afternoons, when it can get immensely hot.

Camping provides you with immense outdoor activities like fishing, trekking, cycling around nearby. My all-time favorite, grilling is also on that list of dos.

12. A Good-quality Cooler

 camping Cooler

I do not mean necessarily a water cooler, but containers, which help in keeping food items fresh for a few days. There was a time that once we forgot to take the cooler with us for an outdoor picnic. It was a disaster because the women folk had prepared delicious food items, which unfortunately did not enter our stomachs.

The cooler not only keep your food items fresh but also protects it from all kinds of animals. Apart from that, a quality cooler like K2 cooler comes in handy as a backup chair.

13. Air Mattress

Air Mattress

As you might have experienced at least once in your lifetime, sleeping on the floor is not fun. Your whole body hurts the next day, rendering you weak. Consider doing the same, on wet ground in your campsite.

Not very inviting, is it? This is why; you must have a good quality air mattress, to help you sleep well. The need to make a significant investment is not required, but something, which covers your whole body, with ease. Of course, you do not want to forget your pillows for neck support.

14. Survival Gear

Survival Gear

The need to equip oneself with the essential tools or gear when outdoors is vital. Every year we hear about unfortunate incidents. You can avoid them if the right tools are taken along while camping outdoors.

Below is a list of tools that can help you in surviving situations in case of an emergency:

  • A good quality compass
  • A map of the camping area and surroundings
  • A loud and audible whistle
  • A multi-tool for survival
  • High-frequency radio and strong shovel
  • Mirror for signaling

You can add survival tools to the list if you feel that something is amiss. The above mentioned are some basic, but essential gear required in case of emergencies.

15. A Good Quality Campsite Lantern

Campsite Lantern

It gets dark when outdoors. Most of the campsites usually are not equipped with proper lighting facilities. It’s just the odd one here or there. Hence, to be on the safe side, the LED lantern is advisable. They are lightweight, affordable, and provide you with adequate lighting.

These days, LED lanterns are cheap. When you do not want to be flipping around in the dark, then investing in one is a good idea.

16. Survival Hatchet and Axe

Survival Axe

While we did read about the survival knife and its benefits in camping, survival axe or hatchet is also an excellent tool to have. That is because it can do, what a knife cannot. You can split firewood and cut logs at immense speeds.

You certainly cannot do that using a knife. We would suggest the Estwing survival axe, which is a top-notch product. It is powerful, reasonably well, and durable.

17. Toiletries


You were undoubtedly not heading out to your campsite without toiletries. Campgrounds do have restrooms and toilets that come with the necessary facilities and amenities. Not to mention, you are going to use a public bathroom. Hygiene should be your primary concern.

When you plan to camp out in remote areas, then you should consider having a camping toilet that is portable. You will also want to carry with you essentials like toothpaste, soaps, and shampoo.

18. Fire Starters

Fire Starters

As you read above, I am a fan of barbeque and grilling. When allowed in campsites, you will be there. I experienced a harrowing time once when I forgot to pack the fire starter. You can imagine our embarrassment standing there with all the food supplies, ready to be cooked.

Thankfully, our neighbor kindly let us use his and our day saved. Fire starters start a fire, which means, any product from a reputed brand would get the job done.

19. Thick Socks

Thick Socks

It is safe to say that was not expecting this item to be on the list. If the campsite is a dry and humid place, then it is okay to use sandals or floaters. However, when you are planning to stay over at a wet and rainy area, then proper shoes along with thick socks are necessary.

It is advisable to use socks, which come along. They protect not only your feet but also your feet from insects, which are in plenty, when outdoors. Carrying a few pairs of fresh socks would be ideal. Once you are done with a pair for the day, put on a new pair the following day.

20. Camping Utensils

Having your food without a spoon or fork can be a nightmare. I found out the hard way, last time I went camping, without the utensils. As surprising it might sound, having few utensils can make all the difference when cooking as well as eating.

Some items to consider would be plates, forks, bowls, and knives. When cooking hot dogs or marshmallows, forks or knives can come in handy.

What about the Non-essentials?

Why non-essentials, you might ask? That is because some of them are worth taking. As we read before, you never know what item you are going to need when camping.

Few non-camping gear essentials include:

  • Dutch oven: It is not too heavy to carry. Campers have felt that it comes handy during all seasons. I benefitted from it the last time I went camping. Nothing is better than having warm food or drinks when outdoors. You never know whether the campsite has the fire to cook. You cannot use grills in some camping sites.
  • You can also consider taking a pair of sandals, just for the occasional walk nearby.
  • If you love reading books or novels, then why not pack a few into your bag. This is ideal for those of you, who like going on solo trips or when your mates are few. Never a dull moment, with highly recommended books.
  • If you love to play music, then a guitar would give you good company.
  • You can have plenty of fun with a Frisbee. You can play with it on open grounds. A Frisbee is suitable when you have taken along older adults who cannot walk long distances or perform strenuous physical activities.
  • Healthy snacks are necessary if you ask me. I have always found them to be lifesavers when there is nothing useful to eat. When you are camping, the often of having warm readymade food at the snap of your fingers is not there. Hence, items like apples, oranges, berries, and others give you a good choice.

Readers are welcome to add their non-essentials when camping.

Wrapping it up!

The manner in which you have prepared for your camping experience will decide on whether it would be a success or failure. The key ingredients would be taking along the right kind camping gear essentials of we read above. Instead of frustration and agony, you can have a pleasant experience with these items at hand. Make sure to take what you need depends on the kind of camping trip you plan on going. When headed to a rainforest for the weekend, do not forget your raincoat. It will do you good. However, the same item would do you no good in a desert.

The same when going on a desert camping, do not forget to carry a large cooler. You never know when you might run short in supply. You have backpacking, trails, deserts, car, fishing, and rainforest camping options. The camping lists are massive, like you may find out when going through them.

Stick on to the basics, and you will do just fine. Remember, the needs and requirements can vary from person to person. While some of you might focus on a few items alone, it is advisable to concentrate on all the necessary items. It is best that you make your list. Gear essentials like hygiene products and medications are essential. Usually, campers often neglect them, only to find themselves in need of them during medical emergencies.

Follow the rule of the thumb. Only take what you want and need. If your camping activity does not involve a lot of trekking or hiking, then you can make as much junk as you want. Enjoy your camping trip and remember to have loads of fun. Did we miss something? Do let us know in the comment section below.

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