Lists. Either we love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no doubt that we need them. Yet, even with a list somehow we always end up forgetting an important item; like our worn-in hiking shoes on a hiking trip (guilty!). If you’ve never been car camping before, to make your lives easier—and to make packing a lot more fun—we’ve put together a list of the essential camping items you need to bring along to survive your next car camping trip. Most items on here are reusable so you’ll also be minimizing your camping waste. Double win.
Clothing To Layer Up. The saying is true, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” If you’ve ever explored the great outdoors, you know the weather can be unpredictable and you have to be prepared for what Mother Nature throws at you. Bring along bright colored clothing to layer up when it’s cold but easy take it off as you warm up. Wear a big brimmed hat to keep the sun out of your eyes. Also check out clothes that offer UV ray protection.
Portable Chargers/Extra Batteries. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t have extra outlets for you to use. If you’re using your phone to take pictures throughout your trip, keep it on airplane mode to conserve energy, but also bring along a full portable charger to recharge its juice after a long day of adventure. If you’re lugging around a camera, be sure to bring along extra batteries too.
Sunblock/Bug Spray. Want to come back without a body full of red spots? Protect yourself while you’re out enjoying nature. Sunblock keeps out harmful rays and bug spray keeps the bug bites at bay.
Swiss Army Knife. A literal work of art, swiss army knives come in handy for the big and little things that occur while camping. They can be used to cut small branches, open packets of food, or remove splinters. It’s like your own portable handy (wo)man.
Lantern/Headlamp. If you don’t want to be running into things at night, make sure you bring a lantern or a headlamp. They are great to use in a communal setting such as in the tent, on the table (e.g. eating dinner, hanging out with your buddies) or for hands-free situations (e.g. going to the restroom).
Tent. An obvious and essential item to bring. Besides sleeping in it, a tent also protects you from the bugs, predators (e.g. wolves, bears), and weather conditions (e.g. wind, snow, rain, dust).
Sleeping Bag. Unless you don’t mind sleeping on the hard natural floor of the earth or covering your body without a blanket, a sleeping bag is a must. For added comfort, you can put a sleeping pad under your sleeping bag.
Ice Chest. Because everyone needs ice cold beers right? Before leaving for your trip, fill it up with ice and keep all your perishables in there (orange juice, bread, veggies, and meats). This’ll help make sure your food lasts the entire trip. Tip: ice chest with wheels are useful for when you have to walk from the parking lot to your campsite.
Stove. We don’t know anyone who likes cold food. If you’re bringing anything besides dehydrated foods, you’ll need to bring along a stove to cook your meals. It’s even perfect for brewing your morning coffee or cup of tea.
Reusable Utensils. Reduce your waste by bringing your own plates, bowls, cups, forks, knives, and spoons. Don’t forget to reuse and wash them!
Reusable Containers. Perfect for buying food in bulk and saving on trash bags. Plus it’ll keep packing up effortlessly easier and cleaner.
Reusable Water bottle/CamelBak. Humans cannot live without water. Reduce your plastic waste by bringing a reusable water bottle to refill. A CamelBak is great for hiking or hands-free situations.
Water Bucket. Some campgrounds have a water station (it looks like a normal industrial sink) for you to fill up tap water as you need. Most campgrounds don’t allow you to wash your dishes in there. Water buckets are an easy way to transfer large amounts of tap water back to your campsite to wash your dishes. Just remember to bring the dirty water back to the water station to dump it in the sink (don’t just dump it on the ground as the chemicals can harm the surrounding environment). With that being said, every campsite is different; double check your campground’s rules and regulations before going.
Water Jug. Depending on the type of campground you stay at, some may not have running water. Make sure you bring enough water jugs to refill you drinking water bottles or CamelBaks (this is not the same as a water bucket).
As a friendly reminder please be careful to respect the environment and the campground you stay at. Follow each site’s rules and regulations so that we can continue to enjoy the natural world without harming it. Feel free to let us know what other essential camping items you find useful on your trips in the comments below (contrary to popular opinion, we don’t know everything).
Jennifer & Vivian