10 Must-Bring Items: Essential Camping Gear Checklist for Beginners

If you’ve never been camping before or still consider yourself a beginner, you’re probably excited but a little nervous. If we’re honest, that feeling of getting away from it all and immersing ourselves in nature can be intimidating!

The good news is that you live in a time where the days of tenting out have been replaced with easy-to-haul campers. But whether you love the idea of “roughing it” with a sleeping bag and a tent or you went to a pop up camper dealer for your shelter, your successful camping trip relies on Mother Nature’s compliance and your impressive packing skills.

Here, we’ve listed 10 must-bring items to keep in your gear when you’re a beginner camper.

1. Food and Water

It sounds basic, but the kind of food and water you bring camping with you is something you should think through carefully. Once you know where you’re going, find out what kind of amenities and water hookups are provided.

If it’s primitive (no bathrooms, little or no running water), bring plenty of bottled and jugged water, and plan meals that you won’t need a stove to cook. Alternatively, you can invest in a portable grill or stovetop and bring that with you. Those who are lucky enough to have campers have more flexibility in their meal choices and extra room to carry provisions.

2. Blankets

Tents go hand-in-hand with sleeping bags, but no matter where you’re headed, it can get chilly at night. Be sure to pack extra blankets or a 3-season sleeping bag to keep you warm in the cold air or cool when it’s hot. Avoid mummy bags unless you know you don’t toss and turn in your sleep, and don’t forget the comfy pillow!

3. Extra Light

How do you plan on seeing around you when it gets dark? Curling up in your tent or camper is one option, but if you need to explore the area, you’ll need a source of light that is stronger than your cell phone’s flashlight. Consider investing in a headlamp for a stronger light source that also leaves your hands free.

4. A Cooler

You’re being particular about the food you bring, but you’ll still need a little refrigeration to keep your beverages, meat, and dairy cold. Coolers with wheels are ideal for camping because you don’t have to carry them unless you’re moving across rocky or muddy terrain. Look for a cooler that has thick insulation to keep your goods chilled for your whole trip.

5. Kitchen Appliances

You wouldn’t be the first camper who gets out in the middle of nowhere and realizes you forgot something essential to cook or eat, like a frying pan or fork. Make a list of the must-have appliances you use and look for travel versions of those items. You might be amazed at the variety of options campers have for reusable and space-friendly bowls, plates, cups, pots, and cutlery! (Side note: Don’t forget the cleaning supplies, but make sure your soap is biodegradable.

6. Clothes

If space is limited, you’ll want to layer your outfits so you don’t have too many items of clothing in your backpack. Only pack enough to get you through the trip. If there is a place to wash your clothes where you’re staying, bring quarters for the laundromat. Be aware that washing laundry or yourself in the water may be an option, but only if you use biodegradable soap.

7. First Aid Kit and Sun Protectant

Camping exposes you to potential dangers that require first-aid kits. These can be as simple as tripping over a root or as hazardous as an animal bite. Keep your first-aid kit stocked with the essentials for campers. Don’t forget sunscreen, a sun hat, and the proper clothing to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

8. Toiletries

A great thing about being in the middle of nature is that you don’t have to put on layers of makeup or do your hair perfectly to impress others. Still, you’ll want to keep up a basic level of hygiene. Include those toiletries that help you stay fresh and clean, like hand sanitizer, deodorant, biodegradable soap and shampoo, and your toothbrush and toothpaste. Depending on the campground, you may need to pack extra toilet paper.

9. A Map

Old-school paper maps are the best way to get around an unknown area when the cell signal may be spotty. Don’t rely on your phone’s service to take you where you need to go. Ask for a map of the campground and keep it with you when you leave your campsite.

10. A Solar Charger

Electricity isn’t a common part of your camping trip. Even if you have a camper, it may run on a generator, which costs you money and will eventually run out. Unless you know you have an RV hookup, invest in a solar charger to keep your phone and other essentials juiced up.

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