Camping can be a fun and affordable family activity, especially when you’re equipped with the right supplies. From survival to s’mores and everything in between, here’s what you’ll need to ensure a safe and seamless camping trip.
Your individual needs for camping gear will change depending on where you’re camping and how long you’re camping for. A weekend at a camping facility will require less preparation and packing than a week on the side of a mountain. Use this list as a starting point of the essentials:
First Aid Kit
You can find first aid kits pre-assembled at your local pharmacy or sporting goods store, or you can fill a container with the items you might need: Band-Aids, disinfectant, gauze, ibuprofen, antacids, bug spray, etc.
Headlamps and flashlights will keep you safe in the dark. Place lanterns around your campsite perimeter and bring extras for everyone to carry around. Tie a headlamp around a gallon-sized jug of water to create a quick lantern.
Batteries and/or Fuel
Solar powered flashlights and lanterns are economical and environmentally friendly. If you’re using standard flashlights, don’t forget to pack extra batteries!
Tent Repair Kit
You never know when a stick or rock may snag on and tear your tent. Your tent is your home for the next few days, so be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
When you’re out in the wild, you never know what wildlife may be around. Fortunately, bear spray works against more than just bears. Make sure your entire camping party knows how to properly use the bear spray to ensure everyone’s safety.
Jessica Sanders from Reserve America would never head into the wilderness without a pocket knife. “This tool is a camping essential that takes up almost no space in your bags. With a knife, corkscrew, saw, small scissors and more, you’ll have a variety of camping essentials in an easy to pack, compact size.”
Sleeping Bags and Sleeping Pads
“Even if the weather forecast looks hot for your camping trip, bring a sleeping bag for every camper.” says Erin Dower from Family Education. “Woodsy or mountainous areas can have temperature drops of 20 degrees or more at night, especially when there are clear summer skies.” Put a sleeping pad underneath sleeping bags to provide a base that isn’t uneven, rocky or rough.
Blankets and Pillows
Stay warm and comfy around the fire at night with an assortment of blankets and pillows wrapped around you.
These chairs provide a lot of comfort in a little amount of space. Stash a few in the back of your car and enjoy the comforts of home amidst the great outdoors.
Without running water, things can get messy fast. Whether you have dirt or dinner on your hands, wet wipes are a great way to stay clean.
Firewood, Matches, and Dry Newspaper
Camping isn’t camping without a campfire! Bring enough firewood to keep your fire strong. Dry newspaper works great as kindling. Don’t forget matches!
Stay warm, dry, and comfortable by wearing layers and bringing ponchos, rain coats, boots, and extra tarps to cover things in the event of an unexpected downpour.
Camp Kitchen Supplies
When it comes to camping, chances are you’ll be cooking, grilling, or heating up your own food. If you’re planning on cooking over a campfire, you’ll need a cooking grate. A camp stove is a convenient alternative for outdoor cooking. Cast iron pots and pans are the safest option for very high heat, but don’t forget the oven mitts. And remember to bring a can opener – nothing is worse than having plenty of canned items to eat, with no way to open them!
If your campsite doesn’t allow glass, plastic plates, bowls, and utensils are a great choice. They’re shatterproof, light to carry, and easy to toss out at the end of your trip. Just be sure to dispose of everything responsibly – bears and other wild animals are often attracted to campsites by the scent of food. Finally, don’t forget the cleaning supplies, a cooler or ice chest for perishable food items, trash bags, and plenty of water. It’s important to keep the campsite cleaner than when you found it.
If you plan on spending time in the great outdoors, sunscreen is essential. Not only does sunscreen protect your skin from harmful UV rays, but it’ll prevent you from bringing home a sunburn as a souvenir! Remember your toothbrush and toothpaste – if you won’t have access to running water, use a cup of drinking water to brush your teeth. Toilet paper and bug repellant are two more camping essentials – the outdoors is full of incredible wildlife, including insects. Protect yourself from bites with repellent for your skin and the area surrounding your campsite.
Board Games or Cards
According to The Camping Family, “A family camping trip is the perfect opportunity to catch up on game playing!” Leave technology behind for a night and play some games with your family and friends.
Whether it’s speakers for your iPhone or your scrappy old guitar, singing and dancing are great ways to pass time in the great outdoors.
Pack a Frisbee or football to toss around and keep you active. A badminton set can keep the whole family busy for hours.
Marshmallows, Chocolate, and Graham Crackers
Can you guess where we’re going with this?