There is nothing better than escaping the hustle and bustle of the big city and heading out into the wild for a weekend of camping. Hiking through beautiful forests or rugged mountains, swimming in alpine lakes, falling asleep under a night sky full of stars… camping can be a tonic for the body, mind, and soul. To have a good camping experience though, some essentials should always be packed.
A good or bad camping experience can come down to having essential items that will make your experience comfortable and fun. Whether you're a novice camper or a seasoned survivalist, here is a list of the top ten essentials for camping that you shouldn’t leave home without.
A tent is one of the most important pieces of gear you will need for your camping trip. Even if you prefer to sleep under the stars, a tent can come in handy if the weather suddenly turns and you need shelter.
A tent can also shield you from high winds and protect you from hypothermia if the temperature suddenly drops, so it’s a good idea to always take a tent with you, even if you plan on sleeping rough. Always double-check that you have all the tent accessories like the tent poles, rope, stakes, and a rain flybefore heading out.
2. Sleeping Bag
A good sleeping bag is an essential piece of camping gear and one that can save your life in extreme weather. Even if you are in a warm climate, temperatures can drop significantly at nightfall, and it’s important to keep your body warm to ensure a good night’s rest.
Sleeping bags also protect your body from insects and other curious nocturnal creatures who may be seeking warmth. They create a barrier between your body and the ground and protect you from unwanted bites. They also provide a more comfortable base than a bed of moss or leaves!
3. Light Source – Flashlight, Head Lamp, or Lantern
A good source of light is another vital piece of equipment that should be packed into your backpack. A flashlight will not only provide you with a good light source for camping activities like cooking and midnight bathroom breaks, but it can also act as a survival tool if needs be.
There are three main types of light sources you can take on your camping trip: a flashlight, a headlamp, or a lantern.
Next to your tent and sleeping bag, a flashlight is probably the most important piece of equipment you will need when heading into the wilderness to go camping. A flashlight will not only provide you with a good light source for camping activities like cooking and midnight bathroom breaks, but it can also act as a survival tool.
A headlamp can be used to channel light to a target area so that you can see it more clearly in the dark like for night hiking and bathroom visits but does it hands-free.
Best Buy:A good entry-level headlamp like the FLEXIT Headlamp 2.5 illuminates your peripheral vision on both sides. The deluxe FLEXIT Headlamp PRO 6.5 offers 240° halo lighting, and also boasts a red night vision mode to keep your eyes dilating to a minimum.
A portable lantern is good for lighting up your camping or cooking area and offers a wide range of light. It also is extremely handy as a hanging overhead light in a tent.
Best Buy: The ILLUMiDOME from STKR Concepts is a lightweight, waterproof lantern that is compact and extremely durable, and boasts up to 100 hours of runtime.
Remember to pack extra batteries or a portable power source for your flashlight, headlamp, or lantern so you can keep your lights shining at all times.
Water is essential for survival in the wilderness and is something you should carry with you at all times. Always carry a water bottle with you whenever you go camping as the last thing you want to do is run out of water. It’s also a good idea to carry a filter or water purification tablets with you in case you need to refill your water bottle from a local water source like a stream or river.
5. First Aid Kit
Injuries can happen when you least expect them so always be prepared for any eventuality. From small cuts and grazes and blisters from new hiking boots to treating heatstroke and sunburn or hypothermia, a well-stocked first aid kit is essential on any camping trip.
Your first aid kit should include necessities such as antiseptic, bandages, gauze, and adhesive, as well as scissors, soap, an emergency whistle, and a CPR mouth barrier. It’s also a good idea to have sunscreen, burn lotion, insect repellent, and a silver thermal blanket for treating hypothermia.
6. Pocket Knife
A pocket knife is an excellent item to have while camping as this multipurpose tool can be used for an array of activities from cutting rope or fishing line, slicing meat or cheese, sharpening sticks, or tightening screws to skinning a small animal, if necessary.
7. Matches / Lighter
Camping isn't the same without a warm, crackling campfire, fire starters are one of the essential items that should be packed. Matches are the easiest and lightest to carry, however, make sure they are waterproof or stored in a waterproof container.
BIC or Zippo lighters are also fairly light to carry – ensure they are filled with enough fluid before setting off. You can also light a fire with a flint and steel or a magnesium fire starter. It’s a good idea to take two kinds of fire starters with you in case one doesn’t work, as well as some newspaper or dry kindling to start the fire easily.
8. Compass and Map / GPS
If you are heading into the great wide yonder and planning on exploring remote areas, never leave home without a compass and a map (or a fully charged GPS). Make sure you know how to use the compass and read a map correctly – getting lost or stranded in a forest or the mountains can be life-threatening.
9. Rain Gear
Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Always pack an extra set of warm clothes and a good rain jacket or rain gear. The weather can be extremely unpredictable and can turn in a few hours, so be prepared for any kind of weather even if you are camping in a warm climate. Also, remember to pack a rain cover for your backpack to keep everything dry if it rains.
10. Toilet Paper
Toilet paper may seem like a luxury to seasoned survivalists or hardcore adventurers but taking toilet paper on your camping trip just adds a level of comfort and hygiene that is most welcome. Many campsites tend to run out of toilet paper, so it’s a good idea to carry your own supply. If you are camping in the outback or remote areas, remember to take biodegradable or organic toilet paper to lessen the impact on the environment.
Having the right gear and equipment on a camping trip can make or break it and while there are many other important items to add to your backpack to make your trip a success, the essentials that provide light, protection, warmth, and safety that we have covered in this article are the most important. Happy camping!
Anything can happen at any moment in time. Being prepared can make a major difference in how safe you remain during an emergency. It’s recommended that everyone has an emergency kit ready so that they are prepared anytime that the unthinkable happens.