Essential Camping Gear: The Bare Necessities

Essential Camping Gear

The cardinal rule of camping is that you have to come prepared with all the necessary camping gear. Sure, there are some available fun camping gear that can make your stay in camp a lot of fun. But you need to tend to the more crucial camping gadgets and items first. To help you with that, we’ve come up with a camping equipment list with gear you can’t do without.

Sleeping Bags and Pads

You will need a comfy sleeping bag to help you rest through the night comfortably. These are available in different weights, and if you’re backpacking you will need a weight that you can handle as you go hiking to your campsite.

Your sleeping bag will also probably be designed to suit a certain kind of temperature. Those designed for summer outings are generally cooler, while the winter sleeping bags will keep you from freezing to death. Some sleeping bags, though, are versatile enough for different seasons.

For added comfort, it’s a good idea to accessorize your sleeping bag with a sleeping pad. This is an air-filled mattress that comes in between the sleeping bag and the ground so you don’t have to worry about uneven or rocky sleeping surfaces.

You really should buy your own sleeping bags and pads, as camping equipment rental can lead to hygiene issues. Buy your own pillows too. A liner for your sleeping bag is a great idea, as you can just take it out to clean it instead of washing the entire sleeping bag afterwards.

Camping Tents

Some people seem to think that a sleeping bag will do when you’re staying overnight at your campsite, but what if it rains? You need a camping tent to keep you from getting drenched. Besides, lots of people like their privacy when they’re sleeping, plus the tent can protect them from bugs and mosquitoes.

These come in different sizes too. They range from the spacious tents that you can bring along when you travel by car to your campsite, while other tents are smaller and lighter so you can bring it along as you hike. Obviously, when you’re backpacking you will need compact camping gear.

You do need to check whether the tent is for 3 or 4 seasons. The main difference between these types is that the tent for 3 seasons isn’t really designed for cold winter temperatures, while the 4-season tent may handle even snowdrifts.


Gear for Camping

This isn’t necessary when you’re driving to a campsite, but it’s absolutely essential when you’re going hiking. These come in different sizes depending on the length of your stay and your hike. You have day packs, overnight, and long haul backpacks.

You will need to make sure that these are tough enough to carry your equipment. It’s best if they’re waterproof too. Also, you need to make sure they’re comfy to wear, as you don’t want the straps biting into your shoulders after an hour or so.


If you’re staying overnight, you will need gear that can help you see in the dark. Flashlights are okay, but you can get cool camping gear like headlamps that light the way while they keep your hands free. You also need lanterns for the campsite and for inside the tent.

All these are typically battery-powered, so make sure use fresh batteries for all of these lights. Bring along spare batteries too.

Water Filtration System

The best campsite will have a source of fresh water nearby. Still, it’s best if you bring along your own water supply to be sure. That may not be feasible, though, when you’re backpacking. That makes a water filtration an absolute necessity since you really don’t want to drink the water from outdoors without making sure you won’t get sick from drinking it.

The good news is that you don’t really need a fancy and bulky filtration unit. Treatment tablets can work just fine.


For many places, a nice pair of sneakers will do just fine when you’re camping. Longer hikes however may require you to wear hardier hiking shoes or boots. These shoes can offer greater support and stability for your ankles, plus they have the padding to keep your feet comfy.

  • Boots are very sturdy, though they’re a bit clunky. Still, you get a nice grip on the ground which helps with muddy terrain.
  • Trail runners, on the other hand, don’t offer ankle support or traction, so they’re for easy hiking paths. They’re light so it’s not much of an effort to go hiking.
  • Hiking shoes offer a nice compromise. They offer good traction, but they’re not as heavy as boots.
  • A pair of approach shoes is one of those cool camping accessories you can try, as they’re also like hiking shoes but they’re the best option for climbing too.

Just in case you don’t know—you need socks too.

Bare Essential Camping Gear

The Right Clothes

You should get some moisture-wicking clothes and underwear if you’re going hiking. Long-sleeved shirts can be useful against bugs or the sun, while you may need a jacket or a raincoat if it rains. If it’s cold where you’re going, you need clothes that can keep you toasty warm.


You absolutely need paper maps, despite what tech geeks preach about a paperless society. That’s because you may have new camping gadgets with maps and GPS to pinpoint your position with data like distance traveled, but getting a signal is often an iffy proposition.

So print out a paper map, and then put them in a plastic container for paper so you don’t have to worry about getting them wet. Even if you do have cool camping stuff that lets you navigate on your smartphone, a paper map is always a nice backup.

First Aid Kit

People can get hurt or get sick, so this kit can at least make sure that you get some form of treatment against burns or infection. You may want to include bug spray and moleskin for blisters.

Other products for health and hygiene include toilet paper, hand sanitizer, toothpaste and toothbrush, and a quick-dry towel. Don’t forget your prescription medications and your menstrual products too.

Other items you may need include sun protection items like hats and sunglasses:

Cooking Stove

Despite what you may have seen in movies, cooking over a campfire isn’t really the best way to go about getting hot food and drinks. You need a cooking stove so that you can at least boil water, which you will absolutely need when you’re drinking your coffee.

Don’t forget that you also need pans and pots, along with bowls, cups, and utensils.

Chairs and Tables

It’s very unlikely that you’ll find a nice handy grouping of rocks and logs where you can all congregate and relax. So bring some chairs where you all can sit on, and then a table where you can put your food and other items. A picnic table is often available if you’re driving to a campsite, but that’s not the case if you’re going hiking.

Cleaning Gear

These include trash bags along with a scrub bush and dishcloths. You don’t need cleaning gear that’s specifically designed for camping, as what you have in your home kitchen will do just fine.

Personal Items

You will need ID, some money or a credit card for emergencies, and your smartphone (as if you need to be reminded of this). If you’ve reserved a campsite (and you should), bring your campsite reservation confirmation.

Other Best Camping Gadgets

Camping Gear for Hiking

The necessary camping gear may not seem fun or exciting, but if you can handle the weight then you may want to bring along some unique camping gear to fight against boredom.

These items may be theoretically optional, but many parents know how important these items can be when you have kids along. Some of the other items on this list will be very useful for adults too.

  • These are useful for cutting food, but in many emergencies a knife can be crucial.
  • Sure, beer is fun when you’re camping and you have people who can carry a large cooler. But if you’re doing some hunting or fishing with your camping, this will be necessary for your fish or meat.
  • It’s a great tool for sightseeing, and bird watchers will need this. Kids are often fascinated by these tools too.
  • Coffee makers. For many coffee snobs, the coffee maker is absolutely essential even when hiking to a camping site. Now way will they tolerate instant coffee!
  • A sleeping bag is fine for the night, but sometimes you just want to relax during the day and enjoy the fresh air. You can even take a nap.
  • Some people just want to read, and there are those who can’t stand electronic reading materials. So a paperback will be fine.
  • Music player. It’s even possible to bring along small yet powerful speakers so you can have an outdoor party. But you should ring headphones too, so that you can enjoy your type of music that the others just can’t appreciate.
  • Portable gaming console. For modern kids, these are absolutely essential too!