Camping Gear List

I’m no stranger to camping; I’ve done it my whole life. But, I always camped in an RV and I wasn’t the one doing the packing, either. You’d think tent camping would be simpler than owning a 40 foot camper with slide-outs, but I think it might actually be more work!

I quickly amassed a lot of expensive things so that I’d be prepared to camp at any time, and I’m planning on camping 54 days out of the year in 2021. I also wanted to make sure I was prepared for any emergency, since while I was camping I’d be hiking in National Parks where there are a surprising amount of dangers (including but not limited to bears!).

If you’re just getting in to camping and are wondering what you need, of if you’ve been camping for a while but aren’t prepared for anything, check out my gear list below. I’ve included pictures of almost everything and links to purchase where possible. I know it’s cheesy but you really can never be too prepared!

Many of these items are particular brands or from certain stores. Nothing is an affiliate link nor am I associated with any of these brands (unfortunately). I will not make any money if you buy any of the things on this list (unfortunately).

Most of my stuff!
  • Sleeping pad: I bought a Sleepingo on Amazon after reading way too many reviews of way too many sleeping pads. Nothing seemed like it was going to be perfect and some are incredibly overpriced. This one is compact enough for backpacking and surprisingly comfortable. I am a side sleeper and I don’t touch the ground no matter which way I sleep on this thing.
  • Or sleeping cot (not pictured): I bought a Coleman sleeping cot because EFF sleeping on the ground. I am way too old for that. It’s quite the elevated experience (pun intended) and totally worth it if you’re car camping.
  • Poncho: In case of rain. If you’re hiking and you get wet you can get hypothermia, even if it’s not that cold out. Stay dry!
  • Pots: I have small pots for backpacking and also brought a pot with straining lid from my kitchen.
  • Duct tape: Hopefully this is self explanatory.
  • Scissors: Same here.
  • Flashlight: Not sure where I got mine, it may have been a gift. Whatever floats your boat will do.
  • First aid kit: My kit is for multiple types of emergencies and is packaged/labeled so you know what to use for what types of injuries. Sometimes I hike with the whole kit, and sometimes I take a few things out to bring with.
  • Lighter/matches: I prefer long stick lighters to matches because I hate having fire so close to my fingers but I also have hurricane (waterproof) matches in case of an emergency.
  • Binoculars: I asked for an inexpensive pair for Christmas and got them. Just thought these would be nice to have to see even more nature.
  • Garbage bags: Don’t ruin nature or the parks! Take your trash out. Leave it better than you found it.
  • Sunscreen: I’m terrible at wearing sunscreen but trying to do better. I have Coola for my face and a Babo Botanicals 100% zinc spray for everything else.
  • Rope: Don’t have a specific use in mind but seemed valuable to have.
  • Coleman stove: This was a Christmas present and likely came from REI. It uses Butane that I got from Walmart (the fuel for my Jetboil is also from Walmart.) Stoves are necessary if you are camping somewhere that may not always allow fires (like California).
  • Cast iron pans: Mine are Lodge brand and I got them (on sale) and as a birthday present. They are from Target.
  • Pugie pie maker: You haven’t lived until you’ve had a pugie pie, or at least you certainly haven’t camped. You won’t regret getting one of these cast iron pie makers. You can do sweet pies, breakfast pies, pizza pies, or whatever you want. You just need bread, butter, and whatever you want to put inside. Oh, and an open flame.
  • Lantern: I have a small LED battery lantern with hook for hanging inside a tent. It’s from Amazon and was a birthday gift!
  • Life Straw: So small and easy to take with on a hike, just in case! Bought mine from Target.
  • Bathing wipes: Not all campgrounds have showers and those that do sometimes charge for them. Also, they are rarely inviting. If you’re not camping for very long, these bathing wipes can tide you over.
  • Inflatable pillow: Debated on whether or not I wanted one of these, but I think it’s worth it to camp in the backcountry. I don’t plan on using it when I car camp as I also brought a normal pillow.
  • Hand/foot warmers: Perfect for warming up your sleeping bag or if you’re doing any winter hiking. Great for emergencies too if you get lost on a hike and it gets cold, you’ll be prepared.
  • Paper towels / toilet paper: You never know when the vault toilets at the campground will be out of TP, and if you camp in an overflow CG or in the backcountry, you’ll be needing this! And yes, you should “pack it out” meaning take it with you when you leave and dispose of it properly.
  • BBQ grate: This is totally unnecessary but I bought it from Goodwill on a whim for $5 and am hoping to use it for cooking bell peppers, onion, or veggie burgers.
  • Gel pepper spray: This was a gift from a friend. It has a hand strap so you can use it while jogging (or hiking) and the gel allows for a more controlled spray so you don’t get any in your own eyes.
  • Hard insulated cooler: I wanted a 45 Yeti but of course, the price was way too much for me. I asked for an RTIC 45 for Christmas but couldn’t get it shipped in time for my trip. Instead, I got a 24 Yeti Roadie from REI and shipped it to a nearby store the day before I left. When I picked it up, I went to their garage sale store and found the exact same one for $70 less. I bought that one and returned the other! There was also a matching Yeti 45 on sale for $225 so I got that too. Only the roadie is on the road with me (because, come on, it’s a roadie.)
  • Bug Spray: Seriously, mosquitos love me. I practically bathe in this, DEET or no DEET.
  • Bungee cords: I don’t have a specific use case in mind for these, but I think every adult is supposed to own bungee cords by age 30, especially if you’re outdoorsy. So, I got cool ones that have carabiner clips on the ends.
  • Headlamp: Good ol’ Energizer from Amazon is good enough for me. This was also a birthday gift!
  • Roasting sticks: I got this roasting stick converters from REI for Christmas. They allow you to turn any stick into a sanitary roasting stick!
  • Camp suds soap: This soap is safe to use in nature but you should never bath with soap or wash dishes in any natural water sources to preserve them and the wildlife.
  • Fire starters: Maybe using fire starters is unlegit, but I’m lazy.
  • Citronella candles: Mosquitos love me. Not sure if these things even work but I prefer to have them.
  • Multi-tool: It’s a hammer, it’s an axe, it’s a multi-tool! Ya never know what you’ll need, but the hammer can definitely be used to push down your tent poles!
  • Emergency AM/FM radio: For emergencies…
  • Fuel for Jetboil
  • Neck scarf for sun protection
  • Backpacks: I have a Traverse 65L bag that is REI brand and came with a detachable day pack and rain cover. I also have a 30L REI brand backpack with holder for a hydration bladder and hip/chest support straps. Love them both!
  • Jetboil: I got a Jetboil, (again, on sale from REI) to boil water for coffee and to cook with if I backpack / camp in the backcountry.
  • Trowel: Yeah, this is for digging a poop hole. You shouldn’t need this while camping unless you go for a very long hike and nature calls. Otherwise, use a toilet! But when backpacking, you’ll need this bad boy.
  • Backpack rain cover: My 65L came with a cover but I’ll mostly be hiking with my 30L, so I got a rain cover for it. I’ll be in the Pacific Northwest, so this will come in handy.
  • Emergency blanket: Another really small and easy to carry emergency item that could save your life.
  • Picnic mat: I bought this to bring to the beaches in LA but it’s nice for camping too, especially if you have a dog – then they don’t have to lay in the dirt! If I’m hiking to a lake or cool spot I’ll bring this along to sit down and relax with.
  • Hammock: I got a Grand Trunk hammock in a Nomadik subscription box and even though a lot of places don’t let you hang them from trees to prevent damage, I still bring it with. What’s better than a weekend afternoon hammock nap?
  • Nomadic towel: Bought this on sale from REI and I have been using it as a yoga towel, but in order to cut down on what I am bringing, I am using this as my bath towel as well.
  • Hiking boots: I don’t like getting my regular shoes dirty/dusty/muddy so I try to always hike in my boots. I got my Columbia boots from Amazon and I think they were on sale.
  • Shower shoes: I wanted Tevas but couldn’t swallow the price so I bought a knockoff pair of Sketchers that I really like! Excellent water shoes if you’re hiking and have to cross any streams, or to use in CG showers, or as regular every day sandals.
  • White noise machine: I love sleeping with white noise and it gets so quiet in campground at night. I don’t want to hear every twig snap, so I bought a really small but powerful noise machine.
  • Power bank: I’m fine with being off-grid, but I love my Apple watch and of course, taking pictures. So, I need to charge a few things when I camp. This one had fine enough reviews and so far, works great!
  • Chair: I’ve had this for many years and I have no idea where it’s from but you can get them so many places! Don’t need anything fancy.
  • Tent: North Face Golden Gate 4 with footprint and rainfly (REI Sale)
  • Sleeping bag: Kelty Stardust 15 degrees (REI Outlet)
Camp chair, two-person backpacking tent, four-person tent, 15 degree sleeping bag.

Not pictured:

  • Hydration bladder: Mine is a 3L Platypus bag. It certainly adds weight to your pack but works great and you never want to be without water when you need it.
  • Knife: I bought a pocket knife on sale from REI outlet to use for self defense, but it’s also a handy camping tool.
  • Water jugs: A lot of campgrounds don’t have potable water so you’ll need to bring plenty with you. Also great to keep in your car for emergencies.
  • Floor mat: A nice to have, but helps keep dirt etc. out of your tent.
  • Plates / Cooking & eating utensils: Nuff said.
  • Spices: Please cook with spices. That is all.
  • Koozie: Gotta keep those drinks cold
  • Blanket: Of course I want a Rumple but I’m not willing to spend the money. I just bring a regular fleece blanket along for colder nights.
  • Battery operated fan: Great for hot summer nights when camping without electric.
  • Books: I use an Amazon Fire Tablet and rent Kindle books through the LA public library. So easy and affordable! See if your local library has a program.
  • Water bottle: Self explanatory. Pick one. I have a Hydroflask.
  • Mug / cups: I have two collapsible silicone cups that came with a cooking set as well as a Yeti mug and a travel French Press tumbler that is amazing. Gotta have my coffee, even when I’m camping.

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