There are certain pieces of gear that every camper should have in their gear closet, but knowing which items are truly essential can be a challenge. It’s tempting to get roped into big purchases when you see what’s available at your local outdoor retailer: lightweight tents, fancy camp kitchen setups, powerful water filters, camp showers… the list is endless!
Before you whip out the credit card, let’s talk about the gear you actually need. If you only bought these essentials, you’d be one happy camper.
Your tent will be your home away from home while camping. It protects you from the elements, keeps bugs and critters away, provides a dry place to stash gear, and can even be a pleasant place to hang out for a few hours.
If you’re overwhelmed with all of the tent options on the market, the best thing you can do is make a visit to your local outdoor gear shop. You can talk to experts about your camping plans, and they’ll point you in the right direction.
You could bring a bunch of blankets along for the trip, but camping will be a whole lot easier with a warm sleeping bag. This is another piece of gear with a wide range of price points and features, so do your research and ask for recommendations.
The final piece of your sleep-ready gear is a sleeping pad, which will help you sleep more comfortably through the night (no one wants to sleep on rocks). You can get an inflatable sleeping pad or a closed-cell sleeping pad, and either will work just fine.
When it gets dark in the wilderness, it gets dark. A headlamp makes it easy to see what you’re doing at night, but a traditional lantern also does the trick.
There’s nothing quite like chowing down at your campsite, but cooking while camping won’t be the same as cooking at home. You’ll want to simplify the cooking process a bit, and a camp stove plus a single, multi-use pot will be enough to cook up some delicious meals.
Matches might not be considered official camping gear, but they’re pretty dang important. You can keep a box of matches or a lighter with the rest of your stuff for easy access, just make sure to double check that your fire source of choice works before leaving.
A well-stocked first aid kit is an important piece of gear that will hopefully stay packed away, but anything can happen outside. Scratches, cuts, burns, and other small injuries can easily occur while camping, and bigger emergencies aren’t out of the question.
Okay, so this last one might not be essential in the literal sense, but it will make your life a lot easier. Keeping all of your camping gear in one plastic bin or box makes packing up and heading out a piece of cake, so you can spend more time exploring.
Backpacker's Pantry provides convenient, gourmet backpacking food for your next getaway. Browse our lightweight, nutritious camping food.