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- What To Pack For A Camping Trip (ESSENTIALS ONLY!)

Updated: Dec 4, 2022

Easy pop-up dome tent

Ok! So, you're finally ready to go primative camping and you don't know what to pack? First, Congratulations! You're joining a really large club of nature enthusiests and once you get the hang of it, travel will become a lot less expensive for you, especially if you're willing to pop a tent instead of snag a motel on your road trip adventures.

Assuming you're a beginner, this blog post will tell you everything you need to bring with you on your camping adventure, essentials only! So print out this list and check off each item as you pack, and you'll be ready for anything that comes your way. Happy camping!


The best way to experience the great outdoors is in a tent. Of course you could sleep under the stars on a pretty night, but I'm willing to believe bugs aren't your favorite form of entertainment... with exception of fire flys...but I digress. Tents will shelter you from creepy crawlers as well as the elements. But, which one to buy? This depends on a couple of factors. How many people will be sleeping in the tent with you? How large are these people? What kind of bedding will you use?

The first time you start shopping for tents, the first thing you will notice is how many people fit into the tent according to size. My suggestion is to look at the tents sized for twice as many people as you will be sharing your tent with. If you need a tent for only yourself, chose a tent for two people. If you need a tent for you and a friend, choose a tent for four people. If you need a tent for five people, choose a tent built for (10) people. You get the general idea. The claim for how many people can fit into a tent rarely calculates bedding or luggage.

Your blow-up mattress and clothing are going to require extra space. And, an over- packed tent is no bueno.

Next, consider costs. The fancier the tent, the higher the price tag. But, before you run out and buy the very cool Family Cabin Tent with multiple rooms and front porch awning , consider what you actually need. Are you going to be camping all of the time? Is this a once in a lifetime thing? Is this a once a year thing? Or are you packing up the car and heading out on a month long adventure? My guess is that you haven't figured that out yet.

The truth is, you don't need all of the bells and whistles. What you really need is a tent that can withstand the weather and that can pop-up and disassemble rather easily. That's it.

There are a ton of inexpensive tents out there that will suite your needs. Coleman is a trusted brand that will keep you happy and won't break the bank. Check out their basic dome tent.

2) Bedding

Inflatable sleeping mat. Easy to carry

Let's not beat around the bush. The bedding you choose will determine your comfort (therefore your happiness) for the duration of your trip. There are several options for you to choose from. If you plan to hike to your camp location, you're going to be packing your equipment in, which means it needs to be light. In this case, you will be carrying a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad. Luckily, these are no longer built like the mats you slept on in kindergarten. Today's sleeping pads are lightweight, inflatable, and offer a little insulation from the ground to reduce those aches and pains we know all too well.

Foldable Cot for camping in a tent

If you're driving to your camping location, you have the option for an airbed or, if you have the trunk space, a folding cot.

Pro-tip: Dont share your bedding. Sleeping outside with someone can be incredibly romantic... for about five minutes. If this is your first camping trip, the odds of you sleeping well the first night are going to be reduced simply because you're sleeping in an unknown environment. You're going to hear sounds that alert you. You may even be too hot or too cold. Regardless, you're going to be fidgety and so will everyone else in your tent. Airbeds and cots will move when you move. For a better restful sleep, it's best if you're in them alone.

3) Sleeping Bags

Unless you're buying your first sleeping bag for a backyard slumber party, it is important to consider a number of factors that will contribute to your level of comfort. These factors will vary depending on what season and where the buyer plans their next outdoor adventure to take place; there are some key metrics that should always be considered before making any purchases:

Cotton Sleeping bag. Purchase for warm weather camping

What will the weather be like?

For warm weather camping, you should choose a cotton or flannel lined sleeping bag. These materials will trap perspiration inside the sleeping bag, therefore cooling the individual as they sleep.

Most of these sleeping bags are rated for 55 -77 degree weather.

If you plan to camp in the Summer, I'd recommend bringing a flat sheet in case the sleeping bag is too warm.

During the winter months, you will need to consider sleeping bags with more extreme ratings.

These bags are made with synthetic materials on the outside and can be insulated with materials such as polyester fibers or goose down, depending on what they are rated for. It's important to mention that when it comes to winter camping, your sleeping bag can actually mean the difference between life and death.

Cold Weather Sleeping Bag. Rated for 20 degrees

For this reason, it's best to ere on the side of caution and purchase a sleeping bag that is rated for weather that will be colder than what you plan to camp in. For example, if you plan to camp in 32 degree weather, get yourself a sleeping bag that is rated for 20 degree weather.

Size and Shape?

Should you go for the rectangular shape or the mummy bag? This is a matter of personal preference. The rectangular shaped bags are roomier. So, they are best for larger people or for those people who don't enjoy a ton of restriction while they sleep. The mummuy bag, on the other hand, is great for hikers. They are smaller than the other bags which means they pack easier. And, because they are form fitting, they are inherently warmer.

#4) Table and Chairs

Most primitive camping areas are not going to provide you with a picnic table. Assuming you will be eating at some point and sitting around a campfire telling ghost stories, you're goin to need a table and chairs.

It's recommended that you pass on the soft top "Camping Table and Chair Kits" and go straight for the hard top, foldable table as pictured here.

The table is going to be very useful when it comes time for food preperation, but make sure not leave your food out. Even the least clever ant can find their way into a tied up bread bag and you don't want to invite bears or racoons around during dessert!


Store your food inside of your vehicle or in a storage locker when not in use. The food you have stored in an ice chest will be fine to be left outside. Make sure that the lid is always firmly fastened. Our woodland friends are curious but will easily give up if something is difficult to access.

Foldable Chair

Camp chairs are one of those items you don't think about until it's too late.

Makes sense, right?

But, you don't want to go camping without one. They are definately a luxury you didn't know that you will need.

You don't need anything fancy. A simple foldable chair that has a cup holder and you're good to go.

The best thing about a camp chair is that you can leave it whereever you left it the night before and it will be there waiting for the next card game, dinner, or dance around the fire.

5) Cooking Equipment

As much as I love eating Frosted Flakes with ice cold milk around a crackling fire on a cold morning in the woods, there's nothing quite like bacon and pancakes made on a openfire griddle.

If you have never used one of these griddles before, they are very easy to operate.

Simply build a fire and burn it down until it's mostly low flames and hot coals. Place the griddle over top and you have an easy to use stove top and grill.

You can cook directly on the surface or bring pots to cook with on the grill side.

These open fire griddles are perfect for camping or if you ever lose electricity at your house. I know that where I'm from, they always come in handy for Hurricane season.

Propane powered cooking stove

If cooking on an open flame scares you a bit, you can always choose a propane powered cooking stove as an alternative.

These burners are excellent for outdoor cooking. Because they are propane powered, you will be able to adjust your flame however you like.

The two drawbacks to this alternative is that you will need to pack along pots and pans AND you will need to buy propane seperately. The unfortunate mistake people make is forgetting to turn off the propane when they are finished with the burner. They run out of propane and quickly realize that they have no other way of getting anymore.

If you choose to purchase a camp stove, always pack more propane than you think you will need. Propane is available any place that sells camping equipment.

6) Fire Starter

On our most recent camping trip, it had been raining in the area for a few days. There was no way we were going to walk out into the forest and locate dry wood. For this reason alone, we followed up with someone who was willing to sell us a cord from their dry storage.

The gentleman delivered the wood to us via golf cart and left behind his own mixture of diesal and other flammables to get our fire started. We really just wanted a hot fire for the night, It wasn't our intention to burn the forest down around us, so we set the gogo juice to the side and built a proper Teepee fire.

There are different ways to build fires to achieve different goals. Some fires are specifically for heat, some are for cooking. If you want to learn how to build the right fire for your needs, check out How To Build The Perfet Campfire.

Colored flames in rainbow colors

If you run into the problem of wet wood or too much wind, it's perfectly fine to bring some help along. Fire starters can speed along the process of getting your fire lit and helping it stay lit long before the wind dies down.

And if you want to create an even more exciting fire display, add some special effects!

There are colored powders that will make the flames turn into a magical rainbow!!

7) Essential Tools

-Pocket Knife





-Matches (waterproof case)


-Ziplock Bags


-Water (one gallon per person per day)

-Trash bags (Don't burn it, pack it out)

Camping is a great way to get outside and enjoy nature. Whether you’re an experienced camper or this is your first time hitting the trail, it’s important to pack the right gear.

Make sure you bring everything on our camping checklist – from tents to sleeping bags (and don't forget food and water) – and you’ll be ready for anything that comes your way.

Are there any essential items we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Happy Camping!

~Tiffany... with tim

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