Packing for a camping trip takes lots of preparation. So much prep work that you can sometimes forget the critical things and essentials that can make or break a memorable camping trip. Like what kinds of essentials, you ask? Below, we’ve listed 10 must-haves for your next camping trip, from coolers to cool-weather gear. With these essentials, your camping trip will be effortless, safe and fun.
If you haven’t invested in a heavy-duty cooler with long ice retention, it’s about time. For your next camping trip, pack everything you need for days at a time without worry. Learn how to use dry ice in a cooler properly and safely and you’ll never have to think about heading into town to retrieve ice from the gas station ever again.
Considered one of the Ten Essentials, one of the top must-haves for your next camping trip is a headlamp. Headlamps offer a safe means of lighting your way so you don’t stumble on rocks or roots around the campsite. Furthermore, unlike a flashlight, headlamps are hands-free, allowing you to make dinner after dark or catch yourself in a fall.
Even if you have a hand-me-down Coleman lantern from your grandpappy, a headlamp can help guide you in certain circumstances. For instance, if you’ve already turned out the lantern and hit the hay, a headlamp can illuminate your path to the restroom or scrounge the car for a snack. And, of course, you should always make sure you have a standard flashlight backup, preferably a tactical flashlight with a strong beam to see what’s stirring in the bushes.
It pays to be prepared! No matter how safe or short your next camping trip is, always bring a first aid kit. Whether you choose to make your own DIY first aid kit or swing by the recreation store for a pre-assembled kit is entirely up to you. But make sure it has everything you need to attend to burns, scratches, cuts, insect bites and more. You might even want to pack some medicine to help with dehydration. In fact, do yourself a favor and choose a first aid kit that can stay in the car, too. This way, you can retrieve it during activities away from the campsite.
Most of us ignite the stove or a campfire with a firestarter and lighter. But sometimes, a firestarter gets waterlogged or damp and a lighter runs out of fuel (or also gets damp), leaving you without cooking options or a way to stay warm on a chilly night. That’s when you need a backup emergency: waterproof matches. Waterproof matches are a must-have for your next camping trip and can save you in an emergency. Even better — choose waterproof matches that come in a watertight canister.
Rope comes in super handy at a campsite. You can create a line for drying clothes, wet swimsuits and dish towels. But you can also use it to hang a bear bag or create some extra shelter with some tarp over the picnic table. A sturdy rope can be useful in certain emergency situations. Remember your rope and learn a few important knots. You never know when you might need them.
As we mentioned, a rope can be used to create a shelter with a tarp. So, another must-have for your next camping trip is a tarp. Tarps can be useful in all sorts of ways. For example, you can protect your tent’s bottom from getting wetter than necessary or use it to create an A-frame shelter over a cooking station. Pick a sizable cooler with wheels that can keep your perishables super cold for up to 10 days. The good news is that tarps are a relatively inexpensive bit of camp gear. They are also easy to fold away and pack without taking up too much room in your vehicle or backpack.
Cell phones are great for finding directions. But often, campgrounds and remote camping sites can be positioned in the middle of nowhere with minimal cell service. And without a signal, you could easily find yourself disoriented or — worse — lost! So do yourself a favor and pack a few old-fashioned navigation tools like a map and compass that will never lose service. Keep them in a waterproof bag and know how to use them to get back to a site, your car or the road.
Another must-have for your next camping trip? A multipurpose pocket knife. Swiss Army Knives and the like are excellent and compact camping tools to keep on hand. It takes up little space in a camp gear bag and offers all kinds of convenient things you might otherwise forget to bring, like a pair of scissors, a saw and even a corkscrew to open that wine bottle.
Have lots of activities planned, like hikes or kayaking? Be sure to pack some snacks to satisfy your hunger between meals. Whether you choose some protein bars, nuts or a jar of protein-packed peanut butter, be sure you can supply your body with enough nutrients and energy to keep going and enjoy your fun-filled day.
No matter how frequently you check the forecast, the weather can change on a dime. So as you pack, be sure to carry an extra set of warm clothes — just in case! While moisture-wicking clothes are great for the summer months and taking hikes in the snow, you want to ensure you can stay warm once the sun goes down or a cold rain sets in. Just change out of your sweaty clothes and into a pair of loose joggers and a hoodie sweatshirt as you sit by the bonfire.
Remember to carry along these 10 must-haves for your next camping trip and it’s sure to go smoothly. This way, you can focus on the fun!