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  • Writer's pictureTina

A General Guide To Camping Essentials

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

There are some essential camping gear items that you should have for camping trips.

These essentials are necessary for camping in an RV, or outside of a sheltered area like a cabin. Even if you opt for the traditional tent camping style, you still need to have some essentials with you to ensure you're safe and comfortable.

In this guide, I'm sharing all the items you should take with you when you go camping. Whether it's just for a couple of days, or the summer season, some items are absolute must-haves and some are non-essentials that make life easier.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. As a member of the Amazon Associates program, I earn a commission on qualifying purchases.

What do I have to take with me if I'm going camping?

Many items are considered essential but aren't really necessary.

But if like me, you like to take more stuff with you just in case, you should take most of them with you camping. They make camping more fun.

The type of camping and the terrain you choose to camp in will determine what gear you need. Some people enjoy camping with only a sleeping bag, a tent, or a tarp for rainy days.

But most campers sleep under the stars in their sleeping bags and cook on the fire while enjoying the simple beauty of nature.

Some people go a step further and camp with a tent or other fancy cooking gear, while others insist on having everything except a kitchen sink. A first aid kit is an absolute must. No matter what kind of camping you do, make sure you have one. If you plan on going into the woods, or where snakes are frequent, this should also include a snake bite kit.

Toilet paper and a small shovel are also good items to have.

If you go camping with an RV, you can opt to take more non-essentials which I list down below.

Best camping essentials listed

1. Tent

When it comes to tent size, it's best to opt for a 4 person one like the Extremus Mission Mountain Instant Pop-Up Camping Tent just because it offers more space, even if it's just the two of you in there. This kind of tent is easy to set up and it's quite durable so you won't feel rain and wind too much. It's also an affordable tent and honestly, if you're just going out for a regular camping trip, you don't need to invest in super pricey tents.

If you have kids, you can always opt for a large 8 person tent like the CAMPROS Tent-8-Person-Camping-Tents which is a nice waterproof and windproof large tent. It even has a separated room, so it's ideal if you want to have a little bit of privacy from others.

2. Sleeping Bag

If there's one thing I would splurge on, it's the sleeping bag. If you have back pain or difficulty sleeping, you need the most comfortable one out there.

It might be very cold or very hot, and you never know with the weather, so good insulation is a must!

For a sleeping bag, a very good option is The North Face Dolomite One Bag with 3 layers of insulated warmth and will keep you warm even during late fall and early winter when the temperatures dip below 0.

This bag has recycled synthetic insulation and it will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Overall, it does the job and it's much more comfortable than many of the cheaper options.

3. Portable grill

Nothing beats a portable grill for the road. You can use it to cook almost anything, including steak, chicken wings, ribs, hot dogs, burgers, and even popcorn. I think the best two options are:

The Coleman Roadtrip 285 portable and stand-up propane grill. You'll need to bring an extra propane tank with you but it's small. The advantage of this grill is that controlling the temp is as easy as selecting how hot you want the grill and then you place the food and leave it. It's much easier to use than a charcoal grill.

The second best and much cheaper option is a portable charcoal grill.

The basic BEAGAR foldable BBQ is a simple metal charcoal grill with folding legs. It's compact, lightweight, and easy to set up and use.

Not only is it very cheap, but you get that delicious smoky aroma you're probably looking for when cooking outdoors.

Simple food ideas include grilled corn, burgers, hot dogs

4. Dutch oven

Dutch ovens allow you to cook while camping, making your camping trip more enjoyable. These are so overlooked and underrated cooking pots when they are actually amazing for outdoor cooking or RV cooking.

You can use the dutch oven directly over the campfire. So, if you lack a stovetop, it's the best option. Imagine that you can make soup, stew, popcorn, cook meat, veggies, and even delicious desserts while camping.

One of the best camping dutch ovens is the Uno Casa Cast Iron Camping Dutch Oven which is made of cast iron and has legs so you can cook on the ground. As a bonus, you also get a cookbook and carrying case.

5. Fire-starting kits

You don't want to waste precious time struggling to light a fire. If it's windy, it can also be dangerous. Here are the two things you should take with you when going camping.

6. First aid kit

Even on a short hike, even if you are only going for a short trip, there is always the possibility of getting hurt. A good first aid kit for hiking and camping can ease discomfort or prevent minor injuries from becoming more serious. Parasites and injuries can occur anywhere in the wild.

The Atlas Survival Emergency Trauma Kit is a must-have in your car. Make sure to add some insect repellent in there too as you know how annoying mosquitoes and ticks can be!

7. Flashlights and lighting equipment

A good flashlight like the ThruNite TC15 is the kind of flashlight you need.

These are the things you should consider when looking for a camping flashlight.

Brightness levels

Look at the brightness levels for the flashlights that you are interested in. Take a look at how many lumens the lowest mode emits. The brighter the flashlight, the better. Next, look at the brightness levels and make sure you are considering what you will be using them for. Although flashlight product pages tout maximum lumen outputs, you don't need maximum brightness while camping when doing basic tasks, even at night. These are too bright to be used for basic camping.

However, a bright high mode can be used to signal an emergency situation. Consider where you will be traveling and whether you require something brighter.

Run time

is the last thing campers should consider. Manufacturers list run time on their product pages (but be aware, they're likely incorrect so don't focus on that too much. You should carefully review the time it takes for each mode to ensure that it is appropriate for your needs.

A shorter run time is better for those who only use their flashlight for a few minutes or minutes. For those who plan to use their flashlight for extended periods of time, such as nighttime reading or hiking, a flashlight with a longer life span is a better choice.

The brightness level is the main factor that affects run time. The shorter the runtime, the brighter the beam. Another benefit to choosing a flashlight that has a dim setting is the longer run time.

You might also want to get a solar-powered lantern set like the Etekcity Lantern Camping Lantern Battery Powered Lights which cost less than $15 but you don't need to use a USB charger or power outlet in your RV.

8. Folding camping chairs

You need a comfortable seat to relax in, whether you are sitting around a campfire at a campground, or just circling the campsite. However, not all camping chairs are the same.

If you're backpacking, weight is the main factor to consider since you need the lightest chair. But, packability, compactness, and weight aren't as important when you go camping in a car.

Comfort is paramount if you have car space and can carry your camping chair around. You can choose a lightweight, portable chair that is easy to carry and light enough to transport to festivals or to the beach.

A budget-friendly camping chair like the Coleman Camp Chair is a great option because it's very lightweight and completely foldable. It also has a built-in 4 can cooler so you can sip your favorite drink while watching the campfire. The material is easy to clean and holds up well in any weather.

9. Table

The best camping tables are light, fold flat, and very thin. However, they are strong enough to withstand heavy cooking equipment, cutlery, plates, drinks, and the weight of your elbows.

The Coleman Outdoor Folding Table is a small and compact aluminum table. It has a sturdy steel frame and weighs less than 9 lbs. It's suitable for about 4 people. You can eat, drink, and play games at this table.

10. Camping cot

Also known as a camping bed, a cot is not really a necessity but if you want to enjoy the splendor of nature while laying in a comfy bed, you should get one.

You can use the cot inside the tent and place the sleeping bag on top, or buy a mattress to make it ultra-comfy.

I like to use the cot outside and just observe nature and listen to birds.

Check out the Coleman Trailhead II Cot which is foldable and lightweight.

11. Coffee mug & camping cookware

For those of you who love coffee or tea, you might want to get a special camping mug that is specially insulated to keep drinks hot or cold for many hours. I recommend the JTSC Camping Coffee Mug with a vacuum-lock lid.

For a complete tableware set, you should get stainless steel because it's easy to clean with water. Something like the Wealers Unique Complete Messware Kit Polished Stainless Steel Dishes Set has everything you need from cups and plates to cutlery.

12. Cooler

When it's really hot and muggy out, you definitely need some ice for your drinks. For that, you need the type of cooler that can keep ice at the ideal temperature for at least 48-hours.

I wouldn't waste money on a cheap cooler because the ice will just melt. The Igloo BMX 52 is one of the best products in this category and it won't let you down.

The bottom line

It turns out that you don't need to spend a lot on camping gear.

After reading what camping experts have to say, I'm hoping I can help you plan your perfect outdoor trip. I've shared my top picks for the essential camping gear you need, as well as some other useful items. Although the quality and price of camping gear can vary depending on your level of expertise, this list is recommended for beginners.

The decision about what supplies to purchase will depend on how often you use them. Don't feel guilty if you take some more stuff with you just in case or if you really want to pamper yourself. Glamping is a whole mood after all.

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