Campouts are for fun but the trip can go south in a hurry if you are missing crucial tools and comforts. It’s time to get real about your camping list. We’ve chosen 25 items you will be thankful you packed and are sure to use. Most items on this list don’t include pricey gadgets but instead get back to basics, helping you whittle down your belongings and settle on what to bring camping. (Not listed are three fundamentals you should always bring: tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad).
Whether on the back of your car, on a small camp table or on a larger fold-out table for car camping, you’ll love cooking, prepping and even clean up when you don’t do it on a rock.
A Jetboil is a brilliant device that boils water like a pro. They are great for crafting early morning coffee without leaving your tent.
Extra trash bags will help keep trash, recycling and compost organized. Bring at least five.
Make sure to bring water purification tablets, a water filter or Aquamira to purify your water while camping. Even if you bring gallons of water, it’s important to have a backup source of water, sans giardia.
Extra water in a 5-gallon, plastic tub. Water is life, so safety first.
Bring no wash, no rinse shampoo for that fresh feeling when your hair has turned into a rat’s nest.
A deck of cards keep things interesting when you’re out of cell phone range.
S’mores fixin’s are a must. Even if you are gluten, sugar and marshmallow free, there are plenty of S’more recipes that cater to a variety of diets.
A foldable chair, preferably with a canopy, is a must, especially because sitting on the cold, hard ground isn’t popular, for good reason.
Bring a couple of “just add boiling water” camp meals in case you don’t feel like cooking.
A dish dryer “rack” or hanging dish organizer makes clean up less of a chore.
A headlamp is far superior to flashlight or lantern. Each camper should have his or her own.
What to bring camping if you don’t like getting wet? A decent rain jacket with a hood. Go all out and buy rain pants too. They don’t cost much these days and pack small and light.
We recommend one extra pair of socks per person, because uncomfortable feet are the worst.
Camp shoes, such as flip flops, are necessary to rest and air out tired feet after hiking.
A whistle, for emergencies, is so easy to have on hand. It hardly weighs an ounce.
Bring your hammock if it’s lightweight. Hammocks are great for camping if the weather is right. You you enjoy fresh air and a starry sky.
Carry with you a decent, high-tech, modern cooler. The newest ones will keep your food and fizzy drinks cold for several days.
A small, key ring style can opener should be thrown into your mess kit. It’s worth it, even if you feel it’s clogging up your keychain or too small to find.
Extra dish towels are handy for all sorts of clean-up and are much more eco-friendly than paper towels.
A folding bucket is useful to haul gear and makes kitchen duty much more possible. No more stooping next to your water source: now you can wash everything in a bucket. This item also works well for purifying water if you decide to bring a mechanical purifier.
We recommend a shade structure since you can find ultra lightweight versions, they provide a nice place to relax without pitching your tent, and most self-pitch.
Bug spray: you will enjoy the heck out of it.
Take your best hat, no matter what type.
A pocket knife is a multi-use tool that should always make the list of what to bring camping. Knives come in handy in countless situations.
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