How to Pack for Camping

On most trips, you can visit a nearby store if you have forgotten to pack something. A camping adventure in the wilderness is different though. If you realize you did not pack the water filtration or insect repellent, there is not much you can do about it once you are out in the wild. A well-planned and organized camping trip is more enjoyable.

First of all, you need to decide on your preferred style of camping and a location. Camping involves approaches and activities to outdoor accommodations. Find out if you need to make reservations, and if you should make a booking far ahead.

The season you choose to camp will determine what gear is necessary. Camping is not just an activity for one or two seasons. During shoulder season or winter, some campgrounds may be closed. Spring does offer new life and an abundance of flowers, but can also bring substantial amounts of snow in the northern regions and wide temperature changes in other areas. Summer remains to be the most popular season to camp, but be prepared for mosquitoes and thunderstorms. Autumn is known for its active wildlife and vibrant colors. However, the weather can change rapidly from hot to cold the next day.

Getting close to mother nature is extremely relaxing, but it is possible that you may want to engage in some of the activities. How to pack for camping depends upon the activities you want to do, for example, if you plan on going fishing, you will need to take a tackle box and fishing rod.

Identifying Your Camping Needs

Once you have decided where you are going on your camping vacation, you can determine the activities you would like to engage in. It is always a good idea to make a checklist of everything you may need for these activities, and cross it off as you pack.

There are different types of camping, such as adventure, dry or wild camping, backpacking, survivalist, winter or work camping. The type of camping you plan to go on will determine the gear you may need.

In the case of survival camping, you need mandatory items, such as an emergency space blanket, waterproof matches, knife, rubber gloves, a container for heating water over an open fire, halazone tablets, band-aids and fishhooks.

With winter camping, you have to keep in mind that the extremely low temperatures can be dangerous. You will need extra layers of clothing to protect you against the cold. Food should include carbohydrates for keeping the body warm and for providing energy. Durable and comfortable boots are a must-have for winter camping.

How to Pack for Camping and Hiking

Backpacking, or adventure camping, is a truly spectacular way to experience the stunning beauty of the great outdoors. Hiking allows you to remain fit, get close to nature and spot wildlife. One of the most important things to remember is not to over-pack, to keep it simple with the necessities and to keep your clothes dry by packing it into bags. Gear recommendations for an exciting camping adventure include:

Lightweight backpack

Consider the duration of the trip, weather conditions and activities before choosing the right size backpack. If you want to embark on a multi-day trip, you will be carrying sleeping gear, food, clothing and shelter. You may want to consider a 50L and above.


There is a huge variety of sizes and shapes available on the market today. Hikers often take along bedrolls or waterproof hammocks instead of tents. You will have to decide which suits your needs best.

Sleeping bag and sleeping mat

Consider the climate and insulation against cold from the ground.

Water purification

Ensure to pack purifying tablets.

Drinking and cooking

An ultra-light stove kit is perfect for camping in the wild.


It is recommended that you take enough food for one day extra in case of emergency and to adequately fuel your body each day.


If you love to observe birds, do not forget to pack a good pair of binoculars.

Hydration pack

A hydration pack or wineskin is great for carrying water.


A microfiber towel dries quickly and it is compact. Pack socks and underwear in dry bags. A rain or wind jacket is useful. For cooler weather, you could pack long underwear, a long-sleeve T-shirt, gloves, fleece jacket and cap or hat.

First-aid kit

A basic kit typically includes painkillers, bandages, dressing, cold compress pack, plasters, adhesive tape, sterile swaps and antiseptic cream. Take some precautions if you are hiking into leech terrain. Many hikers have had success with eucalyptus oil and insect repellent.

Sun protection

You may need sunscreen to protect your skin from the blazing sun, as well as sunglasses and lip balm.

Other essentials

Pack a torch or headlamp, matches, packable shovel and a knife. In extremely cold conditions, an extra set of clothes and ice pick will really come in handy. A navigation map or hiking compass is essential to pack, and you should keep it protected in a waterproof case at all times.

How to Pack for Wilderness Camping

Primitive or wilderness camping is typically lower in cost than other varieties of outdoor accommodation. Most camping spots, such as in Yosemite National Park, Washington and Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, require campers to have permits. You may want higher-quality gear when camping in the backcountry.

You will need a lot less equipment for this adventure. Campers usually take a backpack, sleeping bag, tarp, water purification tablets, first-aid and food. A three-season tent is cheaper, allows great airflow, but does not provide sufficient insulation against the cold. The four-season tent is bulkier and will keep you warm during freezing, frosting and icy nights.

When you are out in the wild and it is cold, there is nothing quite like a dry and warm sleeping bag. Down is a good thermal insulator. It is lighter and warmer, but usually more expensive.

You will often move around camp, even if it rains. A plastic poncho will keep you dry, but it is not recommended if you plan on hiking. A more breathable rain jacket may be best suited for hiking longer distances.

Always keep emergency numbers available so you can contact the authorities immediately if necessary.

How to Pack for Camping and Recreational Activities

There is no right way to pack for recreational camping, since the equipment you pack depends entirely on the season and the activities you plan on doing. The best way to ensure you do not forget to pack the extras you may need for the activities, is to create a checklist. Cross the items off once you have collected it.

The campsite that you are about to visit may have specific regulations regarding fires and campers. It is best to check the website or contact the campsite authority to find out how you are allowed to use your site.

It is always a good idea to test the gas, lighters, GPS and flashlights before you start packing. Replace the batteries and get new lighters if needed. You should also look for tears in your tent, blankets and sleeping bag. You will want to fix it before you head out to the campsite. Some of the basic stuff you may need for recreational camping, includes:

  • Plates and utensils
  • Camping Stove
  • Grill
  • Pocketknife
  • Food
  • Trash bags
  • Paper towels
  • Matches or lighters
  • Small broom
  • Insect repellent
  • Tarp
  • Tent
  • Sleeping pads
  • Sleeping bags
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Cooking supplies
  • Camp chairs
  • Games and books
  • Cooler
  • Clothes
  • Sunscreen

You can camp in every season. Extremely low temperatures can be dangerous, and your diet should include carbohydrates for providing energy and keeping your body warm. You will also need extra layers of clothing.

Dealing with Worst-case Scenarios

As with everything in life, you always hope for the best, but there is a chance that something can go wrong. It is therefore a good thing to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Before you leave your home, ensure that you have all the basics you may need for your camping trip. The list includes:

  • ID and money
  • Camera, phones and portable chargers
  • Binoculars, compass, pocket knife, map and whistle
  • Duct tape, rope and extra tarps
  • Small shovel, hammer and saw
  • Antibacterial soap, sunscreen and bug repellent
  • First-aid and tent repair kit
  • Toiletries
  • Trash bags (take extra)
  • Extra food
  • Water shoes and hiking boots
  • Clothing
  • Sleeping bag
  • Cooler and water bottles
  • Dishes, utensils and cooking pans
  • Flashlight and lantern
  • Check the tent.
  • Campsite phone number and confirmation number
  • Campsite address
  • Police phone number for the area you are going to visit

Storms can quickly destroy a campsite. If a storm rolls into the area where you are camping, add more tent stakes and tie down everything you can and store items in trash bags. Do everything you can to keep your clothing dry.

Let children carry a whistle around their necks in the wilderness. Children can easily wander off, and a whistle can help you find them. It is possible to get lost in the wilderness. A signal flare can help rescuers to get to the location where you are in need of help.

Bears typically hunt for food and protect their young. Make sure you do not keep any food in the tent. Store the food far away from where you sleep. If you see a bear while on a walking trail, do not run or turn your back on it. Bears usually get frightened by noise. You can wave your arms and make noise. Always carry bear-repellent spray.

Some camping sites go to sleep at night, and others come alive. It can happen that the neighbors brought the dog and the beer pong table with them and do loud late-night cooking, campfire stories, laughing and sing-a-longs until the early-morning hours. When they do wake up in the afternoon, the radio is cranked to its highest volume, and the dog will bark for days. Camping grounds usually have quiet hours. The best option is to report their behavior to the campground management.

Tried and True Camping Tips

Confirm with the campsite management that they provide safe and clean drinking water. Ask them about the facilities they offer, such as shade options, showers and barbeques. This will help you determine how to pack for camping.

You do not want to be caught unprepared miles away from help. Therefore it is advisable to find out about poisonous animals, insects or plants in the area. Pack your first-aid kit according to the potential dangers.

Always try to set up camp before dark. Choose a safe site to pitch your tent. Avoid camping under trees where there is a possibility of rotting branches falling on the tent. Do not set up camp in a river path or trench. It can fill up quickly during heavy rainfall.

Never leave a fire unattended. Cover the ashes and dying coals with sand or dirt. Be aware of all the fire regulations in that area.  If a campfire transforms into a wildfire, you can either try to contain it or immediately evacuate the area. You should contact the local authorities as soon as possible.

To avoid water pollution, empty soapy water far from natural waterways. Make sure your tent is dry when packing up and take all the rubbish with you. Leave the camping site clean and tidy.


The type of camping you plan to go on will determine the gear you will require. Before you leave your home, ensure that you have all the basics you may need for your camping trip. How to pack for camping depends upon the activities you want to do. The best way to ensure you do not forget to pack the extras you may need for recreational activities, is to create a checklist.

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