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Camping Essentials: Things You Don’t Want To Forget To Take Camping

When it comes to planning your next camping adventure, you’ll want to ensure you pack all of the Camping Essentials. You know, the things that will make your life so much easier while camping in the great outdoors (especially if you have kids).

tent camping outdoors

I’m happy to say that if you are planning a camping trip and need some help on what essentials to take camping, you’ve come to the right place.

I’m sharing some of my favorite Camping Essentials (and some you can do without).

Camping is a fun family activity that we do every summer. I started camping when I was a toddler and now that I have my own kids, it’s been a goal of mine to ensure we camp regularly and have that bonding time away from the electronics and crazy city life.

As our kids have gotten older, we’ve found it so much easier to pack up and go camping whenever we please but it hasn’t always been that way.

In the beginning, it was stressful trying to pack for a family of 5 and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t times we’d get to our camping destination only to find that we’ve forgotten something essential.

*Sigh* this happened a few times.

So, don’t make the same mistake we have and use this list as a way to keep track of your camping essentials!

Camping Essentials: Things You Don’t Want To Forget To Take Camping

One of the tricks I use to this day is simplifying our camping list by dividing it into 4 main categories:

  • Shelter
  • Clothing
  • Food
  • Survival Gear
camping essentials

Now, you might be thinking this is overly simplified but I promise you, everything you need to take camping fits within one of these categories. So, let’s break those down further.


This one is quite obvious but surprisingly, is often overlooked (or under thought).

This is the main place you will be sleeping and taking refuge in if the weather turns bad or you need a place to escape.

For most families starting out camping, this is a camping tent. For others, this can be a tent trailer, RV, or even your car.

Whatever it is, your shelter needs to provide shade, comfort and protection from bugs, animals, and the weather.

For many years my family and I camped in a Coleman Cabin Tent. This was perfect for our family and big enough to stand up in and housing our gear in.

Now we own a pop up tent trailer but times when we don’t feel like hauling our trailer, we camp in our tent.


This is pretty self-explanatory but involves anything that you can wear to make your stay more comfortable.

This includes things like socks, shoes, underwear, tees, tanks, and even things like pants and jackets.

I like to pack an extra outfit for each of my family in case something were to get wet.


This next one is a bit obvious. Unless you entirely plan to hunt and gather your own food while camping, you need food.

Thing of things that are shelf stable, and foods that can be stored at room temperature are the best.

While taking things such as a cooler filled with ice, is feasible, ice only lasts so long.

So, unless you have electricity, you will need to plan your camping meals ahead of time to ensure you have food that will last you your entire camping trip.

Foods we love to take camping include:

  • Self-stable fruits such as bananas, apples and oranges.
  • Protein bars
  • Fruit Snacks (the kids love these)
  • Crackers or Chips (my kids love the Belvita breakfast biscuits)
  • Trail Mix
  • Beef Jerky
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • S’mores ingredients
s'mores while camping

Also, this is super important – WATER. Take LOTS of water.

Many campsites have running water or water hook ups but you will want to take drinking water or at least something to filter the water to ensure it’s safe for consumption.

You also want to plan for water for your pets, for washing dishes, washing hands, for boiling to prepare food, etc. This is honestly one of those things that you cannot pack enough of.

Aside from water, we typically take drinks with electrolytes like Powerade, Gatorade or Bodyarmor Sports Drinks especially if we expect to be in the sun a lot.

Survival Gear

Last but not least, this is basically everything else that you will need to survive in the wilderness.

Basically, if it is something that will help keep you alive while you are away from home, you probably need it.

camping essentials

Survival Gear We Take Camping Include:

  • Sleeping Bags
  • Blankets
  • Camping chairs
  • A Sharp Survival Knife
  • Medical Kit (one that has bandaids, sewing supplies, etc.)
  • Insect Repellent – the last thing you want is being eaten alive by bugs.
  • Firewood/Axe to cut wood
  • Fire Starter -My husband loves to start fires with a flint and steel BUT bring a lighter or matches just in case.
  • Sunscreen
  • Paracord
  • Compass
  • Lanterns/Flashlights/Candles (and don’t forget batteries)
  • Toiletries – Toothbrush, wipes or toilet paper, etc.
  • Trash Bags
  • Camping stove or something to cook food over the fire (make sure it’s fire safe)
  • Utensils – Forks, Spoons, ladles, etc. to use for eating/cooking
  • Paper towels/napkins/wipes
  • Hand soap/Hand sanitizer
  • Guns and Ammo – We conceal carry everywhere we go including while camping. It’s a way we can protect ourselves and our children in case of animal attack.

Things You Don’t Need to Take Camping But Can If You Have Storage Space:

  • A hammock
  • Books or Board Games (something to do while camping)
  • An air-mattress or foam crates to sleep on (it will save your back too)
  • Tarp or Rug to stick outside your tent or RV (this eliminates the amount of dirt you track inside your sleeping area)
  • Portable Toilet
  • Portable Shower
  • Camping table (the foldable ones work best)
  • Portable coffee maker (I swear coffee in the mountains tastes better)
  • Portable chargers (great for charging phones, tablets, etc. if you need some entertainment)
  • Camera to document your camping trip

Now, I know this is A LOT to remember. So, I’ve made a Free Printable Camping Checklist to help you remember.

I’ve also compiled a list of my favorite Camping Essentials below so you can get exactly what I’ve used and love for our camping adventures.

Camping Essentials Final Thoughts

Camping is a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy the sounds, views and wonders of nature. With a little bit of planning and gathering of the right camping gear, you can have a memorable camping experience.

My final piece of advice when packing camping essentials is: pack what you need but also pack/plan for the unexpected. Oh, and pack smart (I typically play a little game of Tetris to be able to fit everything we need).

Happy Camping!

Camping Essentials

The ultimate list of my favorite Camping Essentials to pack on your next camping adventure.