So you’re making your first foray into camping and you’re starting from scratch? If you’ve spent any time browsing for camping supplies you know that there’s a slew of gear available and it can be hard to know where to start.
The truth is that most gear you’ll find on the market isn’t absolutely necessary unless you’re a diehard camper or if you do adventure sports. If camping turns out to be something you want to pursue, you can begin to explore specialty, one-off items later.
We like to have dedicated camping equipment that we aren’t bringing back and forth between the house and our camp box. This way we know where everything is and nothing gets misplaced or forgotten. For experienced campers, our list should serve as items to always keep in your camp box.
Starting out, you’ll need to have these ten camping essentials. Without them, your first camping trip might turn out so uncomfortable that it could be your last.
Okay, if the weather is good you don’t need a tent, but your average first-time camper probably isn’t going to feel comfortable sleeping that exposed. A good rule of thumb is to pick out a tent that is rated to fit one person more than you’ll be camping with so that everyone can sleep comfortably.
You have to stay warm at night, right? Be sure to check the bag rating and select one that is appropriate for the temperature you will experience while camping.
No camping trip is complete without a fire, so you need something to light it. Matches get wet and a normal lighter can be hard to maneuver into the heart of your kindling, so a windproof lighter is your best bet.
Flashlight or Lantern
Not only will a portable light source make life exponentially easier once the sun goes down, but it can actually save your life. Without it, people can get lost in the woods, wander off cliffs, and even freeze to death if they can’t find a lighter to start a fire in the dark.
Axe or Hatchet
You need to be able to break up logs and big sticks into burnable sizes, so an axe or hatchet is essential. Even if you buy a prepackaged bundle of firewood, you’re still going to need something to break it into kindling.
When it comes to cooking, a good pot is essential. Whether you’re boiling water or cooking food, it’s going to be used again and again. A quality cooking pot can be used over the fire or on the grill. We suggest getting a dedicated cooking pot that you only use for camping because if you cook directly over the fire, the bottom of the pot will get charred. That is fine for camping but probably not something you want to use in your home.
A knife can come in handy in dozens of ways when you’re camping, even if it’s just to sharpen sticks for cooking hotdogs. A good multi-tool will ensure that you have all of your bases covered. Bring both a knife and a multi-tool if you have the ability. A dedicated and sharp knife will cut circles around traditional multi-tools and is much easier to grip.
Even if you have a large container of water, it’s good to have something portable to fill up in case you decide to go for a hike. There are plenty to choose from but look for one that is portable, durable, and easy to clean.
You’d be surprised at how often people forget this one, but once you find yourself out in the middle of nowhere trying to eat without plates or utensils, you’ll be kicking yourself. Traditional “paper/plastic” disposable kitchenware is one way to go but there are other great options for dedicated camp kitchen sets that will make your life much easier.
Tarp and Rope
While this might not be essential, a tarp can come in handy in a number of ways, especially if the weather turns sour. Use some rope or bungee cords to set up a rainproof canopy in the tree, or put it beneath your tent for some extra protection against groundwater. A tarp also works well as a sunshade on hot days as a makeshift vestibule for your tent.