The key to a fun camping trip is having the right gear to bring. When you have all of the equipment you need (and know how to use it), you can handle nearly anything that’s thrown your way in the mountains.
But figuring out what to bring on a camping trip is no easy feat. There are thousands of different products out there, each marketed toward campers who want to be prepared during their travels. This makes choosing the right equipment very difficult as it’s hard to know what you should and shouldn’t bring on the trail.
The reality is that every single camper is unique so what would constitute a good gear list for your needs might be completely different from what would work well for someone else. However, there are some basic things that everybody should bring with them while camping.
In this article, we’re going to discuss 5 of the most important things to bring camping, regardless of where you’re going and what your experience level is in the great outdoors. Let’s get to it!
5 most important things to bring camping:
1. First Aid Kit
First up on our list is the humble first aid kit. A first aid kit is one of those things that you hope to never have to use but that you should always have on hand just in case an emergency arises during your adventures.
First aid kits for camping can come in many different forms, so it’s up to you to decide what supplies you want to bring on your next trip. But at a minimum, you should have supplies that can handle cuts, scrapes, bruises, bug bites, burns, allergic reactions, and athletic injuries (ie., sprains and strains).
Your first aid kit can be as large or small as you’d like (there are pre-made sets available from companies like Adventure Medical Kits if you’d prefer not to make your own) but the important thing is that you have one with you at all times while outside.
Also keep in mind that a first aid kit is only as useful as the person who carries it. If you don’t know how to use the supplies in your kit, you’ll have a hard time caring for others in an emergency. Consider taking a wilderness first aid (WFA) or wilderness first responder (WFR) course to learn some basic first aid skills before your next hiking trip.
2. Sun Protection
Everyone loves spending time outside on a nice, sunny day, but no one enjoys the feeling of being sunburnt. Plus, routine sun exposure and getting sunburns is known to increase your risk of skin related issues, so protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays as much as possible is essential.
There are many different ways to protect yourself from the sun while camping, so you’ll have to come up with a system that works best for you. Many people use things like sunscreen, sunglasses, and wide-brimmed hats to shelter them from the sun.
You can also consider using UV-protective clothing like sun shirts and even sun gloves like the Outdoor Research ActiveIce Sun Gloves if you want even more protection. Regardless of which sun protection supplies you use during your trips, it’s important that you use them consistently so that you can reduce your risk of getting a sunburn.
3. Food & Kitchen Supplies
Sitting back and enjoying a gourmet meal after a long day of adventuring outside is easily one of the best parts of going camping. As a result, no camping trip would be complete without lots of food and kitchen supplies.
The specific foods that you’ll bring on your camping trip will depend on your personal preferences and what kind of camping you’re doing. But the important thing here is that you actually bring enough food for your travels.
Also read: What Food Should I Bring for 3 Days Camping?
If you’re going car camping near a grocery store, you might be able to restock on supplies during your trip, but the backpackers among us should be prepared to be self-sufficient. It’s also worth bringing more food than you think you need, just in case.
But don’t forget to pack kitchen supplies, too! Your food won’t taste that great if you can’t cook it, so camp stoves, pots, pans, utensils, bowls, and fuel are all essentials for any camping expedition.
4. Tent & Sleeping Gear
Getting a good night’s sleep while outside starts with having a comfortable sleeping system. This includes sleeping specific clothes, having a warm and cozy sleeping bag as well as a sleeping pad to insulate you from the cold, hard ground.
Additionally, you’ll need to find a way to protect yourself from the elements as you sleep. Most campers bring a tent with them, but you can opt for any one of a number of different kinds of shelters, such as bivy sacks and tarps.
If you’re sleeping in an RV or camper van, you already have protection from the elements. But everyone else should take some time to decide what kind of shelter they want to use while camping before they head out on their next trip. At a minimum, your shelter should protect you from precipitation, wind, and bugs, but the specific form that it takes is up to you.
5. Map, Compass & GPS
Finally, you should always have navigation tools, like a map, compass, and GPS device (like the Garmin eTrex 200), with you whenever you go camping.
Navigation tools are essential for backpackers who are left to their own devices to find their way through the mountains. In these situations, having a map, compass, and GPS that you know how to use can be the difference between getting lost and staying found.
That being said, there’s value in bringing these items with you, even if you’re not going backpacking. If you plan on doing any hiking while car camping, you should have a map of your planned hikes. You should also have a compass and GPS, just in case you happen to wander off trail during your outing.
Of course, maps, compasses, and GPS devices are only valuable for people who know how to use them. If you’re not comfortable with your navigation skills, consider taking a navigation skills class with your local hiking club or organization before your next trip.
Camping Essentials: Don’t Head Outside Without Them!
The five types of gear that we’ve discussed in this article can be thought of as some of camping’s most basic essentials, but they’re certainly not the only things that you should bring with you into the mountains.
Packing the right gear for a camping trip is a skill that takes many years to hone. There are some items that are must-haves such as the things that we’ve discussed in this non-exhaustive list, but there are plenty of other things that are worth packing depending on the specific needs of your camping trip.
Regardless of what else you end up packing for your camping trip, remember to adventure responsibly whenever you head outside. Happy camping!
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