What to take Camping
Updated: Apr 14
The Definitive Camping Equipment List
Here at trek and camp we have spent thousands of nights under canvass in all corners of the Globe. We've made mistakes, forgotten essential items and developed our knowledge. Here we want to pass on that knowledge to help you to pack all the things you need for camping. So lets get straight to the point. Below you will find a list of the items your going to need for a happy and comfortable adventure.
Tent Footprint or Tarpaulin
A sleeping bag
A Roll mat or inflatable mattress
A travel pillow
A camping stove and fuel
Pans and a Kettle
Lighter or matches
food and drinking water
So that's the basics but lets go in to a little more detail. Keep reading for the little hits and tips the will take your camping grip from good to Awesome!
If you have been camping a while then you will have a good working knowledge of tents, however if your new to camping then you need to understand the basics of choosing a tent. the size of tents is measured by how many people can sleep in them from one man tent right through to 12 man tents. If you are going camping on foot then this becomes really important. If you are camping on foot, trekking or bike trekking your going to want a light tent. if your going in the car this is going to matter less.
The most important point to make with tents is that they are going to be your shelter. your tent is a barrier between you and the wind and rain. If you are going to borrow a tent or have acquired a second hand tent then it is essential to make sure its waterproof. Re proofing a tent with something like Fabsil universal protector is a cheap and easy way to ensure that you stay dry. Fabsil is very quick and easy to pain on to your tent with a paint brush and will extend the life of your tent. In addition I always carry a few tent repair patches in case the tent gets small rips or tears. Before you set out ensure you have a few spare guy lines and tent pegs handy just in case any get lost damaged or go missing.
The bottom of most modern tents ( the groundsheet) is made from a tough, high quality PVC. That said there is always a chance that a small stone or tent peg left by another camper could penetrate the groundsheet. pitching your tent on a tarpaulin or a tent footprint adds another layer of protection and will make you groundsheet last longer.
The Sleeping Bag
When it comes to choosing a sleeping bag there are a bewildering array out there. If you are going camping in autumn, winter or early spring then usually a 3 season or 4 season sleeping bag will be required. In summer depending on where your camping a 2 season sleeping bag often suffices. A word or warning, if your camping with children its just as important to keep them cool at night in a tent as it is to keep them warm. Tents can get very hot.
In addition to your sleeping bag I would recommend 2 item which have made me more comfortable over the years. 1. A cotton sleeping bag liner. Most sleeping bags have a nylon inner which can get uncomfortable and 2. A travel pillow.
For more information read our guide to choosing the right sleeping bag.
The Roll Mat or Inflatable mattress
High on your camping essential list should be something to sleep on, aside from comfort your roll mat or inflatable mattress provides a vital barrier between you and the ground. Even on the warmest summer night the ground will absorb your body heat and you will soon be uncomfortably cold. Roll mats are a cheap and cheerful solution however they often lack in comfort. Inflatable mattresses have come a long way since the early days. these days self inflating mattresses are reasonably priced and provide excellent comfort and protection.
If you are a frequent camper then no doubt you have invested in a fantastic camping stove, Well done! If your just starting out this is one of the items that can really leave you scratching your head. My advice is don't worry too much. A basic camping stove which screws to the top of a gas bottle is fine for most solo campers. When we are family camping we don't have anything fancy for cooking for multiple campers we simply pack more compact backpacking stoves. I highly recommend the Vango Compact Stove They are cheap, simple, fuel efficient and have never let me down. They come in a water resistant container which also protects them while they are being transported. The most important consideration when packing up your stove is how your going to light it. In a force 10 gale matches can be a burden so I always pack 2 disposable lighters. When choosing a camping pan set you can spend over £100 or as little as £10. Bare in mind its just as easy to burn an expensive pan as it is to burn a cheap one. Ensure your pans and kettle are a suitable size for your stove to prevent them from being top heavy and toppling your camping stove.
Food and Drinking Water
As with any activity energy and hydration are super important and while camping, hiking and trekking this is no exception. If you are camping without a camping fridge always be careful when packing fresh food that it doesn't spoil.
Quite often the best foods to have on your camping checklist as dehydrated meals such as noodles and rice or canned foods such as baked beans and chilli con carne.
It is essential to make sure you are carrying enough water not only to drink but to rehydrate any food, wash dished and wash yourself!
Now as an experienced camper I have camped on solitary hillsides and on family camp sites around Europe and everything in-between. Lighting is always something I plan carefully. There are so many reasons to have a good light source while camping that you just don't consider at home such as finding your way to the bathroom while avoiding well camouflaged guy lines, repairing your tent at 2am or digging another layer out of your rucksack to keep warm. A good light is essential. I always carry a led camping lantern which stays in my tent as a guide me home light and an energiser Vision HD+ Headtorch for navigation outside the tent.
Other items that should be on your Camping Equipment list
A Multitool, check out our multitool guide.
Knife, fork and Spoon
A can opener
Camping cups and plates
Plastic bags for waste, to protect your kit from water and dirty laundry
A first aid kit
Insect repellent, Check out our insect repellent guide here
Wet wipes, toothpaste, soap and a travel towel
A mobile phone or GPS reciever if your going into open countryside
Water purification tablets or system if collecting water from rivers or lakes.
Here and there in this post I have used affiliate links. If you choose to buy from them I will earn a small commission at no cost to you.
Thankyou for your support and happy camping!