Cool Things to Bring Camping: What You Need

Your camping trip experience is directly dependent on the equipment and items that you bring.
Your camping trip experience is directly dependent on the equipment and items that you bring.

Have you thought about going on a camping trip but were not sure what to bring to have fun?

Even struggle to understand how some people just love to go on camping trips?

“There must be something I’m missing”, you thought…

And you were likely right…

The truth is that camping can be a lot of fun… or extremely boring…

It all depends on what you bring to your trip…

So why not learn what you can bring to make your trip epic?

Camping Essentials Checklist

You already know us: we're great fans of checklists
You already know us: we’re great fans of checklists

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all checklist of camping gear, there are some things that every person needs to bring to make the most out of their camping trip, whether it’s a family outdoor adventure or camping season for friends & partners.

This article is also helpful if you are car camping.

Let’s dive right into it.

1) Clothing

Pay attention to what clothes you bring camping. You're most likely packing way too much
Pay attention to what clothes you bring camping. You’re most likely packing way too much

Unless you want to go naked on your next camping trip, you’re gonna need some clothes.

The name of the game in clothes to bring camping is always pack less clothes than you think you need.

We cover this in more detail in our article dedicated to clothes to bring camping, but essentially you will always overestimate the amount of clothes you really need.

Normally, people will bring too many bags full of clothes and not wear half of them.

You really don't need that many clothes
You really don’t need that many clothes

So keep it simple.

If you:

  1. Bring a set of extra clothes, hiking shoes, a waterproof jacket, a bathing suit, breathable fabrics and towels; and

  2. Don’t bring: flip flops, expensive clothes & jewellery and too much perfume

You will be more than covered on the clothing angle.

Just don’t forget to bring a bag to separate your dirty clothes.

People like to unnecessary complicate and usually overthink the clothes they need to bring to some event (be it camping trips, vacations, etc.), when in reality things are much simpler.

And remember: please bring comfortable clothes.

Don’t dress to impress; it’s a camping trip, not your friend’s wedding.

2) Toiletries/Personal Hygiene

Toiletries are items you just cannot not bring camping. It's literally your hygiene we are talking about...
Toiletries are items you just cannot not bring camping. It’s literally your hygiene we are talking about…

While we’ve seen friends in camping trips without any of these items (they would just borrow from others), it makes your experience more difficult and we don’t think it’s worth going through the discomfort of having to brush your teeth with your fingers to save some space in your bag or a couple of dollars.

If you’re going camping, might as well do it right.

This article’s title literally mentions “cool things” people can bring to camping trips, so if you’re the kind of person that is even thinking about skipping the essentials, this article isn’t for you. But we digress…

There are 3 categories of items in the toiletries world:

  1. Must-brings/essentials: toothbrush, deodorant, towels, toilet paper

  2. Nice-to-haves: toothpaste, your favorite shampoo, a small mirror, hair clips, shaving equipment (you should shave before going on your trip!)

  3. Not needed: hair dryer, (excessive) perfume, hand sanitizer

Unless you’re like one of our friends described above (nothing against it!), the first group includes what you effectively need at a bare minimum to have a pleasant camping experience.

9 out of 10 times you won't need a perfume
9 out of 10 times you won’t need a perfume

But this article is about cool things that you can bring to maximize fun in your camping trip, so let’s focus on the 2nd group.

The 2nd group includes things that a lot of people tend to misinterpret for essentials but that in reality take your outdoor adventures to the next level.

Sure, if you go camping for 2 days, you can afford not to use shampoo in your cold showers.

But wouldn’t using your favorite shampoo & conditioner in hot showers feel much better?

We bet it would feel like home.

Similarly, wouldn’t having a small mirror and using hair clips make your life much easier trying to get your hair under control? Oh, for sure.

Bottom-line: if you’re looking to have a camping trip for the books, don’t try to stick to the essentials and save room in your bag; bring the nice-to-haves.

You’ll thank us later.

3) Entertainment

A high quality portable camping video projector will take your camping adventure to the next level
A high quality portable camping video projector will take your camping adventure to the next level

This is where your decisions will have the most impact on the quality and comfort of your camping trip.

There’s a whole universe of things within “entertainment camping gear” that we will explore below, but for your next trip, remember this: you can have great camping trips bringing no entertainment options or you can spend $1,000+ on entertainment kits for your experience.

It all depends on you.

Assuming you are willing to spend some cash in the name of fun (why else would you be reading this article?!), here are some gold nuggets from our experience.

Beginner

Who doesn't know what Monopoly is?
Who doesn’t know what Monopoly is?

You’re at this level here if you’re all for fun but have some cash constraints (are still a student or don’t think it’s worth it to invest too much in camping, etc)

You should be bringing:

  • Books

  • Board games

  • Puzzles

  • Frisbees

  • Playing cards

  • Toys for children (if camping with family)

  • Fishing rod

You get the drill.

These are fun items on the lower end of the price spectrum that will still be a lot of fun (one of my best camping trips involved playing Monopoly for seven hours straight, and needless to say, it almost ended friendships).

If you’re on the beginner level, feel free to skip the rest of the levels and go straight to the next section.

However, we would still encourage you to read through: you never know when you’ll become a bigger fan of camping and be ready to spend more on the experience 😉

Prepared to spend a bit more money?

Keep on reading, fellow outdoorsian.

Intermediate

Waterproof speakers are epic
Waterproof speakers are epic

You’ve been on the beginner level, had a good time, and are now ready to invest a bit more and have a blast.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Musical instrument

  • Bikes

  • Comfortably hammock

  • Pop-up tent bed

  • Portable shower

  • Waterproof speaker

  • Tent slippers & eye masks

These are now further down to the right on the price spectrum and will cost you some hundreds of dollars, but will also make your camping trip much better.

What better way to grab your bike and go cycling in the nature?

Or peacefully reading a book in a comfortable hammock?

Don’t like communal showers? No problem, you have your own.

Still not enough for the epic camping trip you are preparing for your family?

Welcome to the last level: expert mode.

Expert

Video game consoles can either ruin your trip or make it great for your kids - choose carefully
Video game consoles can either ruin your trip or make it great for your kids – choose carefully

You’re either a professional camper, a high income earner that wants to escape the stress of the city for a while or are willing to spend some money to provide your partner or your family with a camping trip they will never forget.

In either case, you are on the right side of the Internet.

Below are some items that will enhance your “glamping” experience (glamorous + camping):

  • High quality movie screen with video projector

  • Water trampoline

  • Xbox or PS5 (we don’t really recommend this as it kills the spirit of camping, but understand if you have kids and want them to have a great time)

The amount of cool camping gadgets with modern features that you can bring is only limited by your imagination.

Whatever you think you can bring camping, is most likely a great option.

Final Thoughts on Entertainment Items

You decide your entertainment; not your friend
You decide your entertainment; not your friend

By now you should have a good overview of what items you can bring to outdoor activities, which will hopefully help you.

However, never forget that your camping experience is defined by what you want, and not by what others are bringing.

We’ve witnessed families without any fancy things having much more fun than sole campers who had all the cool gadgets but the wrong mindset.

Ultimately, YOU define your camping essentials and the fun things you want to do.

4) Cooking (& Food)

The camping concept does not exist without cooking
The camping concept does not exist without cooking

If you’re not cooking (or helping someone else cook because you don’t know how to), I’m sorry but you’re doing something wrong.

Cooking is one of the best moments to bond with your family, friends, and partner, and it’s a fun way to meet other people that are spending days on your camping spot.

The Best Cooking Utensils

One fun thing about cooking is the wide variety of different food that you can prepare.

You can easily pretty much accommodate all the family in your camping party, no matter their preferences, if you have the right utensils.

Vegan? All good, let’s focus on plant-based food.

Obsessed with red meat? Not a problem, let’s do a BBQ.

Your options are endless.

A) stove (with fuel supply), pots and pans, gloves, water purification tablets, barbecue and charcoal

Can you really go camping without pots and pans?

These will be the utensils you will use to actually do the cooking.

b) Water storage containers, tupperwares, bin bags and other easy storage items

When you’re done cooking, you will often realize you have cooked too much food.

This won’t be a problem if you bring the proper supplies to preserve your food.

You will also likely need bin bags to throw away food remains (assuming you have no bones and a dog with you) and other items (needless to say, you should never throw things to the floor).

c) Napkins, forks, knives and cups

How else are you going to eat your food and drink your beers?

d) Camping table

Unless you’re OK with eating while standing, this one is non-negotiable.

Same goes for a camping chair.

e) Coffee machine

For coffee lovers, there's nothing better than having one while admiring a sick view
For coffee lovers, there’s nothing better than having one while admiring a sick view

This one is more of an optional one, unless you need your morning coffee to function.

f) Others

These are the things that don’t necessarily fit into any of the categories above but that will make your camping trip much better:

  • Bottle opener (especially for wine)

  • Picnic table

  • Cup holders

One last piece of advice: it is never worth it to bring things that are too heavy or do not allow for easy transportation, no matter how cool you think they are.

5) Shelter & Bedding

Don't be fooled: a good tent is one of the coolest things to bring camping
Don’t be fooled: a good tent is one of the coolest things to bring camping

Don’t underestimate items under this category.

We’re sure you’ve heard stories where someone went camping with just a tent and the trip was a total nightmare.

Using just a tent is never enough.

Tents & Tent Ropes

What's camping without tents?
What’s camping without tents?

Yes, it’s technically possible to go camping and sleep in bungalows, but most of you will likely sleep in tents.

On that note, don’t rush and buy a random tent – it can seriously ruin your camping trip as sleep is one of the key things to have.

While this article isn’t about tents, here are some quick guidelines to help you choose an appropriate tent:

  • Think of how many people will be using the tent

  • Pay attention to the tent’s material (some are better for rainy season, others are the go-to if it’s sunny)

  • Make sure you check its ventilation

  • Get a tent with a floor made of something durable

For more details, Big4 has a solid article on tents.

PS: always buy a waterproof tent. You should be able to face all weather conditions.

Sleeping Bag & Mat

Where else are you gonna sleep on?
Where else are you gonna sleep on?

Alternatively, sleeping pads are also a very solid option for camping comfort.

Camping Pillow

This is likely a controversial one given the amount of people that can sleep without one.

Nonetheless, we just can’t do it and this list would be incomplete if we didn’t include pillows.

Lighting Items

Be sure to bring a lantern or even torches, especially if you go camping to a spot with no lights and no people.

Others

Doormats & floor rugs, windbreaks and dust pans are some additional items that you can equip your tent with.

6) Miscellaneous

A drone is easily one of the coolest things to bring camping
A drone is easily one of the coolest things to bring camping

Your best gear for camping (or other outdoor activities) can be even better and more complete with the items below.

These are by all means not necessary, but you should consider bringing (some of) them to have even more fun things to do when camping.

Camera

Nowadays you can even use your smartphone
Nowadays you can even use your smartphone

Bringing a camera is great since it lets you record moments for eternity and recreate memories in the future.

However, we’ve also seen people NOT enjoying their camping experience because they were taking photos or recording videos all the time.

If you do so, yes, you will have a lot of photos that you can revisit in the future.

But you won’t have lived memories.

Revisiting moments lived is only worth it if you ACTUALLY lived them. If not, there’s no point.

So bottom-line: bring a camera to your camping trip, but make sure you don’t spend all your time using it and actually live the experience.

Binoculars

Binoculars are severely underrated
Binoculars are severely underrated

If there was a top 10 things to bring camping, binoculars would make it to the list.

There are few things more beautiful to do while camping than sitting down and watching birds in the distance.

Or wearing your binoculars to fully appreciate a breathtaking view.

Just bring the binoculars. You will have plenty of fun things to do with them.

Picnic Blanket

When you’re tired of camp chairs and picnic tables, just grab your picnic blanket and sit on it with the family, either playing cards, eating or just talking.

Drone

If hadn't noticed, we're huge fans of drones
If hadn’t noticed, we’re huge fans of drones

Although on the pricey end of the spectrum, we highly recommend it if you can afford one.

A drone is easily one of the best things to bring camping since you can get images and videos that otherwise you would not have a chance to get.

Think of it as a camera on steroids.

But remember: if you spend too much time using the drone, you will have great images but you won’t have memories.

Final Thoughts

You now have a comprehensive list of items you can bring to have a great time camping.

More important than summarizing them (you can just go back and forth to the different sections and read the ones you have questions on), it’s to highlight the key message:

A great camping ultimately always depends on each one of us.

What is great for ones can be boring for others; what is a must-have, fancy item for some, can be seen as futile for others.

Don’t try to blend in. Instead, do your own thing. Do what ultimately makes you happy. Look within yourself for what will make a camping trip epic.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is your view on camping with pets?

Can be great or a nightmare, as it ultimately depends on each person. For sure don’t bring them if you haven’t had them for a while.

Going on a road trip with some friends next month. How applicable is the list?

Completely. A road trip is the equivalent to camping on the road so pretty much everything covered above can be done.

Any specific tips to go camping with the whole family?

Don’t neglect anyone. While it can be tough when you want to go fishing, your partner wants to be with you on the hammock and your kids are obsessed with a new TV show, you will have to strike a balance. When you do so, don’t ignore anyone’s ideas.

Which season is the best to go camping?

There’s not a simple answer as it depends on what you want and what you enjoy. Common sense applies: don’t go camping in the winter if you hate rain and vice versa.

What about medication? Don’t you need it?

Absolutely. Please make sure you bring the bare minimum of medication to tackle colds and also keep painkillers around just in case.

What are your go-to ultimate relaxation techniques?

Again, highly dependent on each one, but personally we’re a bit fan of naps on the hammock to the sound of birds chirping.

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