Camping is a perfect activity to get outside with friends and family and connect with nature. However, there is a lot to bring if you want to camp comfortably, and even when it seems like you prepared for it all; chaos can still strike - but don’t lose hope! There are things you can bring to be prepared for the unprepared, and still have a great time in the great outdoors. Follow the list below for 15 items to always include in your camping kit.
Finding the perfect roasting stick can sometimes be next to impossible. Never walk through the brush or share that one perfect stick again! Bring along your very own inexpensive roasting sticks to make each s’mores experience incredible.
If you’re like me and live in the Pacific Northwest or just enjoy camping all seasons of the year; you may encounter a little rain. Sometimes the weather prediction isn’t spot on so being prepared for the lightest or heaviest showers can save a camping trip. I always bring along an extra tarp to build a waterproof shelter or cover things that I don’t want to get wet.
The moon and the stars are the only lights you should need while camping, but bringing a lantern can really help when you need to walk to the bathroom late at night. I like to use my LUCI light, it's inflatable and easy to store. It also has a solar panel so you can charge it on your day hike!
Picture this, you are back at your campsite ready to begin cooking your delicious dinner. You go to start up your stove and it won’t light. You’re out of propane! To avoid this catastrophe, always bring another bottle of propane so you can have a hot dinner instead of cold mush.
Cordelette is inexpensive and versatile. There are so many things you can do with cordelette that you should always bring it wherever you go. You can use it as a way to anchor down your tent, build a tarp shelter, hang a clothesline, and more.
Fires are a staple of camping but if you don’t have a way to light your fire you won’t have one! Bring waterproof matches in your camping kit to ensure that you will always have a reliable way to light your fire.
If you stay at established campgrounds there is generally running water that is also drinkable. However, if you like to go off the beaten path, it’s easy to find yourself without drinking or cooking water. There are many ways to purify or filter water, so I like to keep a few options in my camping kit so I always stay hydrated. I generally bring some iodine tablets and my MSR ceramic water filter.
Too many times I have arrived at my campsite expecting to have all of my tent pieces together, only to find the stakes missing. If you’re forgetful like me; tent stakes are a good thing to have, but they have a lot of other uses as well. They help with building tarp shelters, setting up extra guylines for your vestibule to keep it taut, or can be great backups if one of your tent stakes breaks.
p.s. heavy rocks and sharp snags make great impromptu tent stakes.
Sometimes you can run out of firewood and that’s not good when you still have s’mores to roast! A lot of campgrounds allow you to burn dead snags and brush on the ground as long as it fits inside the fire pit. That being said, check with your campground host or forest service before taking anything. Bringing along a hatchet to break down some of the larger pieces of wood you find around camp can make fire building easier.
When nature calls, it’s always good to be prepared. If you’re doing some real backcountry camping, or just really hate the pit toilets at your campground, bring along some toilet paper and a trowel. If you are familiar with Leave No Trace then you already know the proper uses for these tools, but if you don’t, that's okay too! The trowel is used to dig a hole at least 6 inches deep to bury your business. The TP should always be packed out. So don't forget a disposable bag and the hand sanitizer!
There are a lot of activities to do while camping. That being said, it’s easy to not drink enough water while having fun. I always bring at least one reusable one-liter water bottle to stay hydrated wherever I go.
Being outside is wonderful, but sometimes it can be dangerous. Always be prepared to help someone, or yourself, by bringing a first aid kit.
You never know when you might need any utensil, whether that be for spreading your peanut butter on your sandwich or mixing together your salad kit at the top of a hike. Why not have every utensil in one? I prefer using my morsel spork, a long spork with a serrated edge and a wide spoon with a silicone edge spatula to get all the peanut butter at the bottom of the jar.
Being in the great outdoors has its pros and cons. A pro is being able to experience the beauty of wildlife and nature while fully enveloping yourself in it, a con is that you are outside and no matter how well you prepare, things can always take a turn. I always have some tea and cocoa to have a hot beverage on a chilly night.
Getting outside is an experience that everyone should try, but there is an inherent risk that comes with not having all of your home comforts, and things can take a turn for the worst. I bring along an extra blanket or sleeping bag to make sure everyone stays warm and cozy.
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Hailey Light is an experienced outdoor guide and aspiring steward of the natural world. When she's not skiing, climbing, backpacking, canyoneering, or white water rafting you will find her trying out new recipes to share in her articles.