The Ultimate List of Camping Must Haves

Camping sounds easy  – you hop in the car, drive somewhere secluded, pitch a tent, and enjoy. However, camping can go from enjoyable to stressful very quickly if you don’t bring along the right gear for a relaxing trip. Make sure you’ve packed to enjoy the elements with our camping must haves list! 


What Gear You Need: 

  • Tent

This might seem obvious, but if forgotten, your camping trip would have to end before nightfall. Make sure you get a tent that can easily fit everyone (even the pets!). We recommend a 4 person tent for only 2 people to assure you can have room to stay organized and comfortable 

Our Pick: Coleman 4-Person Sundome Tent from Amazon

  • Sleeping Bag / Blankets / Pillows 

Depending on how much room you have, a sleeping bag isn’t always a “must”. Your favorite blankets and pillows from home are a great substitute, but will take up more room in the car.  Be sure to check the lows for the weather before you go! If you are camping at a higher elevation the temperature may drop significantly at nightfall. A cold night without sufficient blankets is one of the quickest ways to ruin your camping experience. With that being said – pack extra blankets. 

Our Pick: TETON Sports Mammoth Queen Size Sleeping Bag from Amazon 

  • Sleeping Pad

This may not be considered a necessity for camping by everyone, but trust us, your back/hips/sides will thank us. Investing in a nice sleeping pad was a game changer for comfortably sleeping through the night. The “air pads” take up much less space but are more likely to become damaged and deflate which is why we recommend investing in the larger “memory foam” sleeping pad. The memory foam pad is *life changing* for comfortable sleeping in a tent.

Our Pick: Ubon Double Self-Inflating Air Mattress from Amazon

Our Pick: Better Habitat Memory Foam Floor Mattress from Amazon

  • Chairs

Bringing a good set of camping chairs will make the entire evening more enjoyable. Sure, maybe you can find a nice log or rock to sit on, but having a study camping chair will make sitting around the fire just  *that* much nicer. 

Our Pick: GCI Outdoor Kickback Rocker Chair from REI 

  • Hanging Light:

While there are many types of lights that are important for campings (and we’ll cover more of these later on!) bringing a hanging light for the top of your tent will help you feel more at home. Whether it’s to help you get changed at night, play a quick game of cards, or have easy access to light in the middle of the night – a hanging light is absolutely a must have for your tent. 

Our Pick:  UST Tent Bulb LED from Target

What Cooking Items to Pack:  

  • Lighter

Remembering to pack a lighter has benefits beyond helping you enjoy a warm meal. A lighter is a must have for every outdoor adventure – but be sure to check campfire restrictions at your location prior to starting any form of wood or charcoal fire. 

Our Pick: Waterproof Rechargeable Lighter from Amazon

  • Cooler

If there is one thing to not discount shop for, it’s a cooler. A good cooler can make the difference between having delicious meals for one night, or an entire weekend. In order to pack meats, eggs, etc. you want to invest in a cooler that can keep your products cool and ice solid for an entire weekend. Make sure it is large enough to hold enough food for your entire  group or family. 

Our Pick: YETI Tundra 35 Hard Cooler from YETI

  • Portable Stove

When it comes to cooking and camping, perhaps nothing is more useful than a portable stove. Portable stoves are often allowed in areas where charcoal and fires are not. Bringing a portable stove can help you do everything from make burgers at night to coffee in the morning. 

Our Pick: Coleman Gas Camping Stove from Amazon

  • Portable Grill

Portable grills also offer a great option for camping (however, we find that a portable stove is more useful). If you have the space – bring both. A grill will help you make your favorite classic camping meals! We recommend a gas grill over charcoal to assure you’ll be allowed to use it at the majority of camping locations.

Our Pick: Cuisinart Portable Propane Grill from Amazon

  • Table

Truth be told, we did not invest in a camping table until after dozes on camping trips. We fully believed that the ground, our car, or a log was sufficient…but we were wrong. A large table really helps make dinner prep and serving a breeze. Plus, it is great for games and storage when dinner is done!

Our Pick: Aluminum Folding Table from Amazon

  • Utensils + Silverware 

One of the worst things that can happen is getting prepared to make your favorite camping meal to discover you forgot the right pots, pans, utensils, or silverware. Make sure to thoroughly think through all items you will need to prepare and serve your camping meals. 

Our Pick: Overmont Camping Cookware Set from Amazon

  • Hand Sanitizer

Here’s a simple one – but definitely needed! One thing is certain, after a day in the dirt you won’t feel clean enough to cook a nice meal. A good hand sanitizer will help keep you safe and feel refreshed before eating. 

Our Pick: Yield Design Hydrating Sanitizer from Yield Design Co. 

Must Have Gadgets

  • Portable Charger

We get it – you are going camping to disconnect. However, having access to your phone, speaker, and other electronics as needed will come in handy.  Packing portable chargers can help you assure you’ll always be able to charge on the go. 

Our Pick: Portable Solar Charger from Amazon 

  • Speaker

We love enjoying the sounds of the outdoors, but sometimes when enjoying the evening or preparing  your camping meal, it’s nice to have your favorite songs. A portable and waterproof speaker will be a great gadget to include as you pack for camping. 

Our Pick: JBL Flip 5 from JBL

  • Headlamps

They may look silly, but headlamps are a must have for camping. Lanterns and flashlights are, of course, good items to pack but a headlamp is the most important light to bring. This will make cooking, playing  games, and even finding a secluded place to use bathroom easy in the dark. 

Our Pick: Vont Spark LED (2 Pack) from Amazon

Important Extras for a Successful Trip:

  • Front  Door Mat 

Whether this is a towel, woven blanket, or outdoor rug – bringing some sort of mat  to put at the entrance of your tent will help the dirt stay out. IT’s amazing how much of a difference a simple mat outside of your  door can make!

Our Pick: Outdoor Reversible Camping Mat from Northern Tool

  • Bug Spray

This is a must have extra! There is nothing more annoying that trying to enjoy a nice night outside while being attacked by pesky bugs. We recommend bringing multiple forms or doing your research on the types of bugs where you’re camping so you can be sure to pack one that works! 

  • Games

Sure, you will enjoy the simple outdoors – but sometimes you will want something else to entertain  yourself. Bringing a deck of cards, a puzzle, or a fun portable game like ZombieDice will help keep you extra entertained!

Our Pick: ZombieDice from Amazon

  • Toilet Paper and Paper Towels 

Perhaps this should have been higher on our list because these are a few things you do not want to forget.  

  • Shower Wipes

We’ve said this a few times – camping gets dirty. Packing shower wipes will help you feel refreshed after a long day of adventures.

Our Pick: Surviveware Biodegradable Wet Wipes from Amazon

  • Trash Bags 

Something small but so important – trash bags. Even if you try to be as eco-friendly as possible,  you will still collect some trash while camping. Bringing trash bags will help you stay organized and make sure you aren’t leaving any trash behind. Remember to leave your campsite cleaner than you found it!  

  • Hammer & Saw

These are a few tools that come in handy when pitching your tent and preparing a campfire. If you have the space, we recommend bringing along a thorough toolkit so you always have the tools you may unexpectedly need. 

Our Pick: Solude 12-Piece Tool Kit from Amazon

Did we forget anything? Let us know! We’d love to hear what products, gadgets, and items you’ve found that make your camping trip a little more enjoyable! Contact us.