10 Must Have Items for Your First Camping Trip

Must Have Items for Your First Camping Trip checklist

Packing for camping means walking the fine line between bringing enough to be comfortable, but not too much so it doesn’t end up being cumbersome. To help you strike the right balance and prepare adequately, we’ve put together a list of ten must have camping items that you should be sure not to leave behind to guarantee the most comfortable and relaxing adventure on your first camping trip!

10 Must Have Items You Should Bring on Your First Camping Trip

SaleBestseller No. 3
MTM Divided Ammo Crate Utility Box
MTM Divided Ammo Crate Utility Box
Ideal for easier carry and transport of multi-caliber ammo storage; Spacious, compartmented interior with 3 removable partitions
$15.99
SaleBestseller No. 6
Cliganic 10 Pack Mosquito Repellent Bracelets, DEET-Free Bands, Individually Wrapped (Packaging May Vary)
Cliganic 10 Pack Mosquito Repellent Bracelets, DEET-Free Bands, Individually Wrapped (Packaging May Vary)
DEET-Free & Powered By Essential Oils – Active ingredients derived from plants; Instant & Convenient – 10 individually-wrapped bracelets help keep mosquitoes away
$9.99

Last update on 2024-07-23 / Affiliate links / As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Tent

This one is rather obvious, but with so many camping shelter options out there, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to choose the best one for your first camping trip. From a traditional cabin style tent to a freestanding one, your selection should really be determined by what you’re trying to get out of your camping trip and what conditions you’re planning for.

A cabin tent is designed to have more room inside, allowing for more comfort and usability. These are a great option for temperate weather (using them in cool weather may not allow for a very cozy experience) and for families or folks planning to spend ample time inside the tent.

Pop-up tents often have similar features to cabin tents (spacious, family-friendly), but are intended to take the math out of the setup. They are designed to require less time to set up and have fewer separate pieces to lose or forget. They are a great entry-level option for your first camping trip because of their ease of setup but offer less flexibility in terms of weight.

Free-standing tents are quite common amongst adventure travellers on a multi-day hike or kayak trip (see examples here). Once assembled, they can be picked up and moved around in one piece (as long as they haven’t yet been staked down). They are often lightweight, using minimal poles, and have a separate rainfly and footprint. However, they compromise interior space and lack the airy expanses of cabin tents.

When selecting your tent, especially if you are going for a larger tent such as cabin style, consider allocating an additional 1 to 2 people’s worth of space as “free space”一 this creates elbow room that can be used for packs or personal gear, or simply space to walk around inside the tent. For example, if you are planning a trip for 6 campers, consider selecting an 8-person tent to allow for this extra space.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Coleman 4-Person Sundome Tent, Navy
Coleman 4-Person Sundome Tent, Navy
Wind and rain tested: Strong frame withstands 35 plus mph winds; Great ventilation: Large windows and ground vent for enhanced airflow
$66.98
SaleBestseller No. 2
Coleman Evanston Screened Camping Tent, 6/8 Person Weatherproof Tent with Roomy Interior includes Rainfly, Carry Bag, Easy Setup and Screened-in Porch
Coleman Evanston Screened Camping Tent, 6/8 Person Weatherproof Tent with Roomy Interior includes Rainfly, Carry Bag, Easy Setup and Screened-in Porch
Measures 15 x 12 feet with 6-foot center height; Spacious tent has enough room for 8 people with multiple queen size airbeds
$139.43
SaleBestseller No. 3
CAMPROS Tent-8-Person-Camping-Tents, Waterproof Windproof Family Tent, 5 Large Mesh Windows, Double Layer, Divided Curtain for Separated Room, Portable with Carry Bag - Blue
CAMPROS Tent-8-Person-Camping-Tents, Waterproof Windproof Family Tent, 5 Large Mesh Windows, Double Layer, Divided Curtain for Separated Room, Portable with Carry Bag - Blue
GREAT VENTILATION: Mesh tent top and doors offer great views and ventilation.; 2 ROOMS: A separated curtain can be used as room divider and projector screen.
$159.99

Last update on 2024-07-23 / Affiliate links / As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Find the right tent for you:

camping trip

Good Quality, Temperature Appropriate Sleeping Bag

Once you’ve settled on your shelter, you can focus on your sleeping gear itself. A good quality sleeping bag goes a long way toward comfort and warmth, so take your time in considering what your individual sleeping preferences are, and what the expected conditions are for where you’ll be camping.

Sleeping bag temperature ratings are universally measured based on either the EN (European Norm) or ISO (International Standards Organization) ratings; the testing methods are largely the same between the two standards, therefore the EN and ISO ratings can be compared side by side. These standards provide two temperature ratings: Comfort and Lower Limit Rating.

The comfort rating is the temperature at which a cold sleeper may feel comfortable, as opposed to the Lower Limit Rating, which is the temperature at which a warm sleeper may still feel comfortable. It’s important to choose a bag that is suited to your individual needs based on the information stated in the bag’s ratings.

Sleeping bags are made of many types of materials designed to keep you warm, reduce weight, make you feel cozy… the list goes on! One of the most important considerations is your sleeping bag’s material: down vs synthetic is the most common argument out there!

Down is naturally an excellent insulator, but once wet, loses its loft and therefore loses its insulating properties. Alternatively, synthetic insulation can maintain its insulating capabilities even when wet. Traditionally, down offers a lighter-weight option to synthetic fibers, but can be compromised by wet conditions.

Beyond a sleeping bag’s fill material, other considerations include shape (mummy vs. rectangular) and features such as two-way zippers, the ability to zip together with another sleeping bag, quality of construction.

Last update on 2024-07-23 / Affiliate links / As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Read more to get the best sleeping bag:

Air Mattress/Sleeping Pad

What you put beneath your sleeping bag can easily make or break your camping experience. Consider what your needs are for padding comfort in addition to the weather conditions and how much bulk you can afford to pack with you.

A standard air mattress is a luxurious option but can leave a wealth of cold air beneath you which may be uncomfortable in cooler conditions. Sleeping pads are far less bulky and range in features from insulation to additional padding. Either way, unless you are accustomed to sleeping on the ground, don’t expect to start loving it on your first time sleeping outside.

Last update on 2024-07-23 / Affiliate links / As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Check out the best sleeping pads:

Cooking & Eating Utensils

The essential camping kitchen items are: stove, cooking apparatus, and utensils. This is where the dance of selecting “just enough” gear starts to shine. You may not get it 100% right on your first camping trip, but you’ll hopefully get very close if you follow our tips.

One stove should suffice to cook and boil water; this could be a minimalist stove that would be taken backpacking, to a two-burner stove that could feed a farm breakfast to a hungry crowd. Try to minimize excess cookware by bringing dual-function equipment: you can boil water for coffee in the same dutch-oven that you use to cook dinner in.

camping cooking utensils

Aim to reduce waste by bringing reusable plates and utensils but consider a spare set in case someone else’s goes missing. Many companies make “sporks” which double as both a fork and spoon – and your sharp camping knife may be overkill for spreading peanut butter on a sandwich but will get most any kitchen-related job done. Other miscellaneous utensils and items to pack include: can and bottle opener, spatula, and earth-friendly dish soap.

Last update on 2024-07-23 / Affiliate links / As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

See our top recommendations:

Lantern, Headlamp & Handheld Flashlight

If you want to leave your first camping trip with the same friends you started with, seek out a headlamp with a red light. This feature not only protects your night-time vision but respects that of your friends when you turn to talk to them in the darker hours.

For ambience, pack a lantern or two that can be used at the picnic table or in the tent; there are great inflatable, solar-powered lanterns that are lightweight and produce wonderful illumination. And as another precaution, consider bringing along a handheld flashlight in addition to your headlamp and lantern.

Last update on 2024-07-22 / Affiliate links / As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Read more about our favorite lighting solutions for camping:

Camping Chair

It’s nice to be out there “roughing it,” but there’s something to be said for having your tush up off the ground and a little something to lean back into.

There are many options for camping chairs, depending on the type of camping you’re doing, including stools, low-slung loungers, chairs with armrests and cup holders, and even camp couches! Whatever you choose, don’t go without it on your first camping trip, unless you’re ready to spend the afternoon looking longingly at your buddy’s relaxed state after a long day out in the wilderness.

Last update on 2024-07-23 / Affiliate links / As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Check out our selection of the Best Camping Chairs.

must have items for first camping trip camping trip chairs

Camping Table

If you are venturing off the beaten path and don’t expect a picnic table, think about bringing along a camping table. It drastically improves your cooking and eating experience and can double as a place for games.

Last update on 2024-07-22 / Affiliate links / As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Read our roundup of the Best Camping Tables.

Cooler

There’s nothing worse than warm beer. Or spoiled milk. Bring along a good cooler with ample ice to keep your essentials frosty during your trip. Depending on what’s on the menu, you may be able to freeze some of your foodstuffs beforehand, which contributes to keeping the cooler cold and protecting the integrity of your food.

Bestseller No. 1
Coleman 316 Series Insulated Portable Cooler with Heavy Duty Latches, Leak-Proof Outdoor High Capacity Hard Cooler, Keeps Ice for up to 5 Days
Coleman 316 Series Insulated Portable Cooler with Heavy Duty Latches, Leak-Proof Outdoor High Capacity Hard Cooler, Keeps Ice for up to 5 Days
SWING-UP HANDLES: Easy to for carrying and lifting; HIGH CAPACITY: Accommodates up to 80 cans
$47.79
SaleBestseller No. 2
Coleman Ice Chest | Coleman 316 Series Hard Coolers
Coleman Ice Chest | Coleman 316 Series Hard Coolers
HAVE-A-SEAT LID: Closed lid supports up to 250 lbs.; STAIN-RESISTANT LINER: For easy cleanup; leakproof channel drain plug
$103.99
Bestseller No. 4
Igloo Heavy-Duty 25 Qt BMX Ice Chest Cooler with Cool Riser Technology
Igloo Heavy-Duty 25 Qt BMX Ice Chest Cooler with Cool Riser Technology
Extremely durable yet lightweight with proven 4-5 day ice retention; UV inhibitors protect the cooler against sun damage for extended life
$89.99
SaleBestseller No. 5
Coleman Chiller Series 60qt Wheeled Portable Cooler, Insulated Hard Cooler with Ice Retention & Heavy-Duty Wheels & Handle, Great for Camping, Tailgating, Beach, Picnic, Groceries, Boating & More
Coleman Chiller Series 60qt Wheeled Portable Cooler, Insulated Hard Cooler with Ice Retention & Heavy-Duty Wheels & Handle, Great for Camping, Tailgating, Beach, Picnic, Groceries, Boating & More
ICE RETENTION: TempLock insulation keeps drinks ice cold; PORTABLE: Recessed wheels and a retractable handle with comfort grip make it easy to move
$41.99

Last update on 2024-07-22 / Affiliate links / As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Read more: Top 33 Best Camping Cooler Review in 2024

Water Carrier

A water carrier doubles as both a container for a generous supply of water, as well as a convenient dispenser. These come in many sizes, but a three or five gallon provides a sufficient supply to refill water bottles, boil water for coffee, and wash your hands or dishes. Choose one with an easy to operate spout, and even better, one that compresses when not in use to save on space!

Last update on 2024-07-22 / Affiliate links / As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Garbage Bags

Likely the most overlooked piece of camping equipment: the garbage bag. Having a single, handy place to dispose of trash keeps your camp tidy and pockets available. Be sure to secure your garbage out of reach from wild creatures, as you would with your food, to preserve the wild part of the wilderness!

Final Thoughts

The ten must have camping items we’ve outlined should serve as a starting point to build your camping gear checklist for your first camping trip, and even for all the ones to follow!

Be sure to also include things that will make you happy or even more comfortable, such as cards, binoculars, or star maps. Just remember that camping is an opportunity to get further away from the norms of regular life, so try to pack what you’ll need, but not what you won’t, and let nature take care of the rest. That’s it – now you’re all set, enjoy your first camping trip!

Camping in winter? Check out our tent heater recommendations: Top 20 Best Tent Heater for Camping Reviews 2024

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