While packing for a camping trip may seem straightforward and self-explanatory, we may not always realize what we need until we are forced to live without it. For this reason, we’ve created the happy camper packing guide! Although it is very possible to have an amazing trip without some of this gear, a lot of these items are essential. We hope this list helps prepare you and your loved ones for a night under the stars that you’ll never forget!
Although it may seem obvious, picking the right tent is non-negotiable for a successful camping trip. What some beginner campers don’t always realize, is that there is a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to choosing the right tent for your personal camping needs. For example, someone that is planning a backpacking trip through unpredictable landscapes and climates will need a different tent than someone that is planning car camping trips in the summer heat. In both of these cases, each camper would need to choose a tent whose size and material would be compatible with their own needs. For instance, the backpacker would need to choose a small, lightweight tent with a removable insulated cover. The car camper, on the other hand, would be able to pick a larger and thinner tent, and wouldn’t need to prioritize insulation as much.
Picking the right sleeping bag also aligns with this idea, and depends on the climate of your campsites. For example, while some car campers opt for a plain sheet, others may need an insulated mummy sleeping bag to optimize heat retention.
Bringing an extra tarp to place under the tent is also a great way to stay warm at night, and reduce your exposure to moisture. This is especially helpful when pitching a tent after rainfall. A sleeping pad is also highly encouraged, as this keeps campers comfortable, warm and elevated off the damp ground. These pads are lightweight and compact, making them accessible for backpackers as well.
Outdoor Essentials & Safety
These next items are ones that may not always seem the most necessary, but make the world of difference during any camping trip. This first one, however, is non-negotiable: a first aid kit. In case of an emergency, or in day-to-day life, it is really important to have access to disinfectants, bandages, antibiotic ointment, tick tweezers, flare gun, gauze and gloves. Having access to extra rope and cords is also great for making clothes lines or hanging food at night. Nylon paracord ropes are great for this too.
A rain jacket, rain boots and extra tarps are also incredibly useful when facing rainy weather. Tarps can be hung to provide additional shelter or keep surfaces dry. Duct tape is also great to fix small tears in gear, and to cover blisters before going on a hike! Packing a pocket knife, multi-tool, flashlight, chemical-free sunscreen, soaps and toothpaste is also helpful.
Practical Outdoor Gear
The next few items on the checklist are fairly unique to camping and should also be prioritized when packing a bag. The first two on the list are waterproof matches and a fire starter kit. While bringing a lighter can help when it comes to building a fire, lighters can get ruined and stop working. Waterproof matches, on the other hand, are plentiful, water-resistant and dependable. Using a fire starter kit can also speed up the process of building a fire. Bringing a small waterproof bag is also a great way to preserve valuables while hiking or camping in the rain. It is also good to store valuables in this bag if you plan to portage. A waterproof backpack covering can also help protect your gear and keep everything dry. Purchasing water purifying tablets, a water purifying filter, collapsible cookware and a camp stove is also recommended. Lastly, packing a non-toxic bug spray and a portable Thermacell repeller will help keep unwanted pests away.
These last few items may not be necessary but they will help you feel comfortable and cozy in the wilderness: a hammock, a sun/bug shelter, collapsible camping chairs, lanterns and string lights.
While this checklist can help with your camping preparation, remember to do your own research about the gear that you purchase to ensure that you buy what is best for your trip and needs!
By: Briahna McTigue