Leisure/Sport, Travel

How to pack for a camping trip: the smart essentials

how to pack for a camping trip (1)

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Outlines how to pack for a camping trip, which things are essential to pack and why, and how to make sure you don’t overburden yourself — especially if you’re hiking through the camping area.

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When you go on a camping trip, you have to think carefully about what to take. On the one hand, there are certain things you need in order eat, drink, and be protected from the elements. On the other hand, you cannot take too much, as you have to carry it, potentially over long distances. The key to packing efficiently, is deciding what is essential and what isn’t.

How to pack for a camping trip: essentials

how to pack for a camping trip

This guide lists some of the most important items to take camping.


When trekking around the wilderness, you need your backpack to be as light as possible, so one specifically designed for camping is best. Camping backpacks are designed to hold everything you need and are secure, with plenty of pockets. You may also want to buy a rain cover for it, to prevent all your belongings getting soaked in a downpour!


Blankets and comforters take up too much space, so a sleeping bag is a must when camping – many of them even come in handy travel bags. Using a liner or pad underneath will make sleeping more comfortable.


A tent is usually the best option for camping, as it gives you somewhere to shelter and sleep. You may also want to use tarp to cover any equipment with, or to sit under during the day to avoid strong sun or rain.


Nobody wants to get lost in the wilderness, so make sure you have a way to navigate. A map and compass are the traditional navigational equipment, but you may also benefit from using a GPS device, especially if your map-reading skills are not great.

Food & drink

You will need to eat and drink while camping. A camping stove, fuel and cookware are essential. Transfer your food into zip lock bags beforehand to reduce the space it takes up. You can even prepare and freeze some food and keep it in a cooler. A water bladder is better than a bottle as it can be compacted down when not in use, and if you don’t have a safe water source, you will also need a water filter and purifier to avoid illness.


If camping in warm weather, ensure your clothes are quick drying and wicking, to help with sweating. For cold weather, make sure you wear thermals and fleece, and remember that a hat and gloves will reduce the amount of body heat you lose. It is always a good idea to pack waterproofs in case of rain. Sturdy shoes will reduce the chance or injuries to feet and ankles, and be comfortable for long periods of hiking.


Other essentials include:

  • First aid kit (including painkillers, antihistamines, or any medication you regularly take)
  • Toiletries (including sunscreen, lip balm, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and wet wipes)
  • A light source, such as a headlamp or solar-powered lamp
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Solar charger
  • Knife
  • Spare zip-lock bags
  • Pest control items such as bug spray, or even bear spray depending on where you are camping
  • Shovel
  • Sewing kit
  • Sunglasses
  • Whistle
  • Any permits or other paperwork you might need, depending on where you are and what you plan to do
  • Cell phone (although this may not work in the wilderness)
  • Cash or cards if you will be near civilization

This isn’t an exhaustive list, and you may find that the items you need vary slightly depending on where you are camping, what time of year it is, how long you are camping for, and who is going. This guide does, however, give you a good basis to start from when packing.