What to Pack for Your Next Camping Trip

camping gear at camp site

When it comes to picking out camping supplies, the average layman knows to bring a tent, sleeping bag, and of course marshmallows, but a lot more goes into packing the perfect equipment for your next camping trip than just making sure that you can make smore’s. Depending on where you intend to go, your camping needs may vary wildly from cold-weather gear to off the ground sleeping equipment. Whether or not you have to hike in, paddle in, or even fly in, in some cases, can all make a huge difference when it comes to the supplies you should bring and how much you can carry.

When setting out on your next camping adventure, there’s no such thing as being too prepared, but there is such thing as being prepared for the wrong circumstance. Should you make sure to pack your winter gear? Should you bring an extra pair of hiking boots? Is it worth investing in a high-power flashlight or other electronic devices for your stay out in the wilderness? Or are you looking to truly rough it? While the great outdoors maybe be welcoming in photos, not everything is predictable when you leave Mother Nature in charge. That is why it’s best to make sure you have everything you need when exploring the great outdoors. Not to worry, we’ve put together some of the most important things to consider when prepping for your next expedition! So read on, or check out our printable camping checklist for a handy reference guide you can check off while you pack.

Choosing a Tent

The first thing to keep in mind before you go camping is choosing the right campsite. If you’ve never been to the location you’re going to before, it can be hard to gauge what kind of terrain you’re going into without getting a good look first. It’s always a good idea to research the local weather, find out if people have been in this area before (if you are a wilderness camper, of course, it’s safe to assume local camping grounds have seen many visitors) and what they said about the camping spot. In general, it’s always good to have an idea of where you’re going. But all the maps in the world can’t prepare you for a damp camping spot or high winds, which is why it’s best to make sure you have a tent that can withstand the elements without weighing you down.

There are hundreds of different styles of tents, all made for different things from, camping in an arid climate to climbing Mount Everest. And this doesn’t even begin to cover the idea of size, as bigger tents might be a great in theory, but no one likes spending the night shivering due to a large, empty tent. And there are other things to consider, too, like rain tarps, and ground tarps, to help keep your tent protected from the weather. And of course, for the tent that has seen a little too much adventure, there are also tent repair and upkeep kits that you can invest in that are lifesavers for ripped or punctured tents.

The biggest thing to keep in mind when packing a tent is functionality and weight. Now, if you’re new to camping, the idea of judging if something is good or not based on how much it weighs may sound something straight from the farmers market. However, making sure you’re not over encumbered when walking on trails can make a huge difference, not only for your food supply but also for your water usage and of course, your general enjoyment.

Sleeping Bags

Another piece of camping equipment to keep in mind is a sleeping bag. In general, when we think of sleeping bags, we think of the slightly plasticky bags we used when having middle school slumber parties, but sleeping bags have a lot more science behind them than that description would imply. From bags engineered to keep you cooler and dryer in certain climates, to ones that are meant to keep heat in and keep you from getting too cold at night, investing in a good, high-quality sleeping bag and other sleeping essentials like a camping mattress, or even a hammock made to keep you off of the wet ground, is well worth the effort. It’s important to do your research and pay attention to sleeping bag sizes and weights, as the bulkier the sleeping bag the more space it takes up in your pack. But spending the extra time on your sleeping gear will all fall away once you’re comfortably asleep in the great outdoors.

Cooking and Finding Clean Water

If we’re being honest, a large majority of our thoughts throughout the day center around food. Going out to the woods makes finding food and making sure you bring in enough food a major priority that could end in disaster if handled poorly. Not only do you need to keep in mind the water and food supplies you have available with you, you need to be prepared for instances where those food supplies might be compromised. This is where things like water filters come in handy, and with plenty of portable options to choose from, like tablets and filter straws, you can easily pack away a filtration device to help make your entire trip more potable.

Not only do you need to plan out what kind of trail rations you should bring with you, but you also want to make sure you have the tools needed to cook said trail rations. Choosing to bring a camp stove with you can help you know where your next meal is coming from, but they can be rather bulky, which is why some people stick to the good old classic campfire. But even with a campfire, bringing in your own pots, pans, and utensils are a necessity few can avoid. That’s why things like collapsible pots and pans and multi-utensil devices can come in handy. They can help reduce the amount of weight you carry in and can make cooking a snap.

You also need to make sure that not only do you have the gear needed to cook your food, you should also able to build a fire, which sounds easier than it actually is in many situations. Being sure that you have tinder with you, as well as a handsaw and waterproof matches can keep you from shivering through the night. It’s important to follow the local laws when it comes to building a fire in area you’re staying, of course, as no one wants to be the person to start a forest fire. As always, when you’re done cooking or warming yourself with your fire, dump water on it, stir the ashes, and dump water again. If it isn’t cool to the touch, it could still be a danger.


Choosing the right backpack is essential when looking to store all of your camping equipment. From lightweight backpacks made for short hikes to large bags with added support to keep your back comfortable through your entire trip, being sure you have the right bag can be the difference between an exhausted hiker and a happy camper. Many camping bags are treated with a special coating to help keep them waterproof and can come with added features like straps to prevent chafing and even additional compartments that can be added or removed at a moment’s notice.

Now, for some trips, it’s impossible to fully get away without carrying something in, and sometimes you’ll even end up stashing gear along the way for longer hikes, but making sure that you can carry your tent and other gear in with you is a huge factor when planning for your next trip.

While camping backpacks may seem like a pricy option in some cases, the added engineering that goes into a high-quality backpack is well worth the price of admission, as these bags are made to withstand the elements and stay in tip-top shape for years to come. And, while not necessarily part of their camping appeal, they come in plenty of styles and colors to satisfy even the most fashion-forward campers.

Camping Clothes

Another thing to keep in mind when packing for your next camping trip is clothes. From a good set of hiking boots and socks to a windbreaker, gloves, and even moisture-wicking headgear, what you put on your body is almost as important as what you put in your backpack when it comes time to hit the trail. Investing in good quality equipment can help you be sure your clothes can withstand the trek in, and can keep you safe, dry, and warm no matter what nature throws against you. For colder weather, investing in a good base layer is always a smart idea.

Whether you’re an adventurous camper looking to face nature’s worst, or you are looking forward to a leisurely weekend on the lake, taking the time to invest in quality, breathable clothing is an essential part of packing. Not only should you make sure that you have water-resistant clothing, durability and comfort should go hand-in-hand. Camping gear is usually made to cause less irritation while hiking, paddling, or any other form of movement you have in mind and can even have specially made fabrics to help protect you from the sun. No matter what your clothing needs, putting in the extra time to make sure you’ve packed nothing but the best is sure to help you set up the best camping trip ever.

Safety Equipment and Technology

Before heading out, the first thing to do is make sure someone knows where you are going. While this isn’t necessarily something to pack, think of it as an emergency stash of help incase things go wrong. Sure, we all love the idea of vanishing into the outdoors for a weekend, but its important to take proper precautions to help keep you safe in a worst-case scenario. Things like first-aid boxes, extra batteries, flares, and even walkie-talkies can give you peace of mind and help you out in a pinch. You also never want to head into the outdoors without a compass, a map, and a general understanding of the surrounding areas. And while many of us head into the outdoors to escape technology, keeping a backup battery for your phone (or even a backup phone) can be a lifesaver.

On the flip side, if you love to embrace some of the newest technological advances in camping equipment while still enjoying the natural world, there are plenty of options to choose from, from camp stoves that can charge your phone to solar powered marvels like GPS, fans, and even lights. While none of these are necessary to going camping, they can certainly help make roughing it a little smoother, and are incredible pieces of engineering that can help you get out of a tough situation in a pinch (or just look really cool at your campsite).

No matter where your next camping adventure takes you, making sure you are fully packed and prepared can help make your next camping trip the best one ever. So strap on your backpacks and double check your compass, adventure is out there!