What To Pack For A Camping Trip


what to pack for campingIf this is your first time going on a camping trip, you are probably concerned that you're going to miss something important that you know that you most certainly will need. Honestly, I have forgotten something very important on every camping trip that I've ever been on. Even when I have used an extensive checklist, I have still missed items that I crossed off because I thought it was already packed away in our camping van.

Have you ever forgot something extremely important that you needed while traveling?

Forgetting to pack items happens to all of us. For example, when I was traveling cross-country on my bicycle, I noticed that I was missing an important tent pole on my very 1st night out. I was 500 miles from home and there were no nearby camping stores. Fortunately, a local rancher took me into his home for the night because hail, fire, and brimstone storm was passing through where I was setting up camp. My parents sent me a tent pole priority mail and I picked it up in the next town via General Delivery.

Make Sure That Your Equipment Works Before You Leave.

Other times when I packed everything on my list, I later discovered that something really important like the cook stove no longer worked. If you are like most people, we tend to be forgetful, in a hurry, or just plain disorganized. The only way to avoid these pitfalls is to make a detailed camping equipment list and follow it.

What To Bring On Your Next Camping Trip

If you are wondering what to take on a camping trip, it really depends on where you are going, the time of year, the length of your trip, and the size of your vehicle. I can guide you in a general manner because of my experience in various types of camping including car camping, bicycle touring, backpacking, and group family camping. The difference between a poor camping trip and a great one is researching where you're going to help determine what your needs are before you leave him to have a written plan that is easy to follow.

fully loaded camping vanEssential Camping Equipment

  • Money-rolls of coins for laundry mat, credit cards, and cash.
  • Gravity fed water filtration system for daily and emergency use.
  • 5 gallon water storage container that is filled prior to leaving.
  • Sealed first aid kit (It's sealed to tell you that everything is in it).
  • White gas or propane camping stove.
  • Fuel funnel/filter.
  • National and state park passes, fishing licenses, campfire permits, etc.
  • Pocket disposable lighters and water proof kitchen matches.
  • Long BBQ lighter for lighting camp fires and camp stove.
  • Multi-tool with a pliers and a decent Swiss Army pocket style knife
  • Toilet paper packed in zip lock bags.
  • LED flashlights, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and battery charger(s).
  • Maps and compass or GPS
  • Rain gear
  • Three changes of clothing
  • Insect/bug repellent

cast iron skilletBasic Camp Kitchen

  • Large pressure cooker or stock pot.
  • Nesting cooking pots.
  • Cast iron griddle.
  • Stainless steel wok.
  • Stainless steel spatula.
  • Stainless steel flatware.
  • Stainless steel plates and bowls.
  • Stainless steel drinking cups.
  • Zip lock storage bags.
  • Parring knife.
  • Pot holders.
  • Stainless and plastic strainers.
  • Airtight storage containers for cooler.


I like natural fiber clothing. However, cotton dries slow. I use either cotton/poly blends or fast drying oft cotton like synthetics I usually sneak my cotton jeans and a few cotton t-shirts if the weather is warm with little chance of rain.

  • Maximum 3 sets of clothing per person. Plan on washing cloths once per week.
  • Cotton/synthetic blend clothing for fast drying.
  • Lightweight synthetic camping pants.
  • Button down long and short sleeve shirts.
  • Underclothes.
  • 1-2 pairs of shoes.
  • Lightweight sandals/flip flops.
  • Socks
  • Belt
  • Down jacket and one lightweight wind breaker.
  • Beanie cap.
  • Baseball cap.
  • Gloves or mittens.
  • Swimwear


  • Toothbrush, tooth powder, tooth paste.
  • Liquid body Dr. Bronner's soap and shampoo.
  • Comb, brush.
  • Disposable razor.
  • Deodorant.
  • Lightweight camp towel and wash cloth.
  • Mesh athletic storage sack for dirty or wet cloths.


  • Needle and thread.
  • Kitchen sponge with green scrubber on side.
  • Sun screen.
  • Bug repellent.
  • Extra rechargeable batteries.
  • Maps and road atlases.
  • Basic tools like adjustable wrenches, screw drivers, box cutter knife, and a socket set.
  • 12 V power inverter.

Camping Gear

Most of you are tent campers. If you camp in an RV, you can eliminate anything related to tents. Nevertheless, many people camping in RVs bring tents for kids and guests to sleep in.

  • Tent, rain fly, poles, stakes, and ropes.
  • Hatchet/hammer combo (for driving tent stakes).
  • 2 Cheap tarps from Walmart.
  • Three Sea To Summit down sleeping bags season sleeping bags.
  • Insulating camping mats and insulating air mattresses.
  • Small camp pillows.
  • LED and white gas lanterns.
  • Light weight folding chairs, stools, tables
  • Extension cords (for camps with electric hookups)
  • Coleman Ice chest/5 day cooler.
  • MSR water bags.
  • Stainless steel water bottles.
  • Camping shower
  • Coleman Camp shovel
  • Small wood handle Broom

How To Pack Your Camping Gear Like The Pros


I like to use 5 sees through plastic storage boxes to organize all of our gear.

  • Miscellaneous equipment box.
  • Eating utensils box.
  • Dried food item box.
  • Breakfast and snacks box.
  • Condiments and seasoning box.

Secret To Pack Your Clothing Like A Flight Attendant

Ever notice how light flights attendants travel? Everything they needs fits in one tiny suit case. We pack small individual soft sided athletic duffel bags with 3 days changes of clothing. Each person has one warm down jackets and 1 light windbreaker.

How Properly Store Your Food So It Does Not Spoil

We use to 5 day Coleman coolers to organize our food. Cooler number 1 contains frozen meats, dairy, and other perishables. We use block ice because it lasts longer. The fuller the cooler, the longer things stay cold. Once meats are thawed, use with 2 days to prevent spoilage. Store all meats in sealed zip lock storage bags.

Cooler number 2 contains fresh fruits, vegetables, drinks, and other items that we eat on a regular basis. This cooler gets opened often the items stored here generally do not spoil because they are consumed quickly.

How To Pack Your Sleeping Bags And Air Mattresses

After years of going back and forth between self inflating air mattresses and ones that require an electric pump, I have switched over to the Nemo Cosmo insulated air mattress. It inflates with a hand pump in less than one minute and weighs less than 2 pounds. Deflation takes less than 30 seconds. It's the warmest and lightest air mattress that I've ever used.

We use both lightweight down and synthetic sleeping bags that are compressible and very warm. Rather than stow them away in compression sacks while traveling, we lay them flat and place our luggage on top of the sleeping bags thus saving us precious time for both setting up camp and packing up camp.

Error on the side of taking more than you need without over doing it. It's better to have and not need then to need and not have. Most of the time, if you forget something you will always be close to a Walmart or it's equivalent.

Keep everything organized and easily accessible and you will have a wonderful camping trip.


  1. Mark, nice article on what to take camping. I realize you are a minimalist, but thought you and your readers might be interested in hearing about our vertical fire pit grate (patent pending). This product delivers an outstanding value proposition, revolutionizing campfires and fire pit fires by (1) making these fires easy to build, start and maintain, (2) freeing up time for other fun activities and (3) making them visually captivating while burning brighter and longer. We do this by providing a welded steel grate that maintains the fire logs in a teepee form throughout the fire. In addition to our core product we also have a collapsible version for easier transport and storage.

    Lee Hills

    • Lee, I checked out your products. Actually, the IncinerGrateā„¢ S4000 seems minimalist to me. Do you have any YouTube videos of your products in action?

      Most folks that family camp enjoy campfires more than any other activity. We can spend hours by a fire talking and enjoying the warmth. Having fire grate that is off the ground will help campers enjoy fires even more. Thanks for the tips!


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