Going on a camping trip but not sure what to bring to have fun? Make sure you know the cool things to bring camping by reading the below. If you want more information specifically on what clothes to bring camping or even why going camping is good for your body and mind, we’ve also written about that.
Camping Essentials Checklist
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 the 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.
Unless you want to go naked to 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. You will then bring too many bags and not wear half of them. Not ideal, we know.
Keep it simple. If you:
Bring a set of extra clothes, hiking shoes, a waterproof jacket, a bathing suit, breathable fabrics and towels; and
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.
To sum up: 1) don’t pack too many clothes, 2) adapt your choices to the weather forecast and 3) pack separate outfits and you will be fine. Onto the next one.
2) Toiletries/Personal Hygiene
While we’ve seen friends in camping trips without any of these items (they would just borrow from others), it makes your experience much less smooth 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…
For completeness, there are 3 categories of items in toiletries world:
Must-brings/essentials: tooth brush, deodorant, towels, toilet paper
Nice-to-haves: toothpaste, your favorite shampoo, a small mirror, hair clips, shaving equipment (you should shave before going on your trip!)
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.
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?
I 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.
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 the camper.
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.
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)
Toys for children (if camping with family)
You get the drill.
These are fun items on the lower end of the price spectrum that will still provide you a lot of fun (one of my best camping trips involved playing Monopoly for seven hours straight. 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.
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:
Pop-up tent bed
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.
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 zone of the Internet.
Below are some items that will enhance your “glamping” experience (glamorous + camping):
High quality movie screen with video projector
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
By now you should have a comprehensive 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.
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.
Keep reading for our opinion on the best cooking gear for your outdoor adventure.
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
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 wine?
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
This one is more of an optional one, unless you need your morning coffee to function.
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)
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 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.
Keep reading for more of the best things to bring camping.
Tents & Tent Ropes
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?
Alternatively, sleeping pads are also a very solid option for camping comfort.
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.
Be sure to bring a lantern or even torches, especially if you go camping to a spot with no lights and no people.
Doormats & floor rugs, windbreaks and dust pans are some additional items that you can equip your tent with.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 big fans of naps on the hammock to the sound of birds chirping.