Many people love the great outdoors because it gives them the chance to take breaks from their daily routine. Camping is one such activity – a favorite American pastime that has been a constant in families and friends’ holiday plans. The 2019 North American Camping Report estimates the number of camping households in America to be around 78.8 million. Camping trips require various essentials to make the experience pleasant and safe. So, what camping essentials would you need for your next camping trip? Here are 10 essentials to help plan for your trip.

Sleeping bag

The camping experience means spending a few nights outdoors, away from your comfortable bed. This is why you need a comfortable sleeping arrangement during your camping trip and sleeping bags would do just that. Camping without one makes for an uncomfortable night’s sleep since you will have a bed of twigs or moss. Sleeping bags also shelter you from the elements. Temperatures can drop significantly at night, so being cozied up in a warm sleeping bag will protect you from the cold and insects. Therefore, taking a sleeping bag with you is a no-brainer to guarantee a good night’s sleep and a safe camping experience.

Make sure your pick is eco-friendly, non-toxic and fair trade. There are also a good range of vegan sleeping bags you can choose from.

Flashlight or headlamp

The 2017 American Camping Report revealed that flashlights are the most popular camping purchase. Flashlights are useful emergency tools – maybe you would need to visit the bathroom during the night, check out some rustling you heard in the nearby bushes, or locate a midnight snack. Although night-time camping is made better with a cozy campfire, you will need a portable flashlight to make moving in the dark easier. Many campers choose headlamps because of its hands-free functionality. You should invest in a stable and robust light source to take along with you. Frequent campers recommend including extra batteries just in case your flashlight goes off. 


A tent protects you from rain, wind, and sun. Sleeping in a tent also guarantees a good night’s sleep by keeping you warm and safe from flying insects and crawling bugs. Even if you prefer sleeping under the stars, bring along a tent due to sudden downpours or snowstorms. Tents allow you to enjoy an actual camping experience because you live in the heart of nature without exposure to the weather and animals. Many tents are equipped with cool features suitable for the modern camper to choose from depending on size and functionality and you can check if it’s made of recycled material, if you want to be considerate to the environment. Consider getting a 10 person tent for your camping group if it is a large one for an enjoyable camping experience.



Hydration is crucial to human survival, especially while in the great outdoors. Consequently, you should have a camping water plan to ensure your water needs are met at all times. Consider the nature of your campsite – Does it have a water pump? Is the campsite located nearby? Hikers recommend using water purification methods like filters to purify the water you fetch from a water source. It will also be prudent to have water bottles and large containers to hold clean water suitable for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. Experts advise that you carry enough water to suffice for a half-liter per hour ratio during moderate activities in normal temperatures. Therefore, plan your water consumption around this advice and other factors like temperature, exertion levels, and altitude.

Sun protection

Prolonged exposure to the sun leaves you vulnerable to ultraviolet (UV) rays, which cause sunburn and skin cancer, the leading cause of cancer in the US. Because camping is an outdoor activity, you should pack some sun protection essentials to stay safe. These include sunglasses, sunscreen, and sun-protection clothing. UV-blocking sunglasses will protect your eyes from radiation and potential damage. Also, wearing sunscreen will limit your skin’s exposure to these harmful rays. Experts recommend choosing a sunscreen with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF) to ensure that you receive the best protection possible while outdoors. Do some research to check if your sunscreen is eco-friendly. 

Recently, many companies produce sun protection clothing to protect you from UV rays.  In addition to such clothing, you should also pack some protective hats for optimum protection from the sun’s UV rays.  

First-aid kit

Although it is unlikely that you will suffer a severe injury while camping, experienced campers recommend taking a first-aid kit along. Minor injuries like scratches, cuts, and scrapes are common while camping, and it will help if you treat these slight inconveniences quickly to prevent any infections. A good camping first-aid kit should include tweezers, bandages, cotton, gauze, cold compresses and heat packs, sterile rinse solutions, anti-histamines, anti-diarrhea medication, pain and anti-inflammatory medicine, insect spray, and an emergency blanket. You should bring along these items to preserve your safety, peace of mind, and wellbeing. Be sure also to include your prescribed medications. 

Pocket knife

A majority of campers agree that knives are a necessary camping multipurpose tool. A pocket knife takes almost no space in your bags, so it should be a bother to include when packing. Knives come in handy for cutting anything, from ropes to sausages. Campers commonly recommend the famous multi-tool Swiss Army Knife as ideal for camping. Therefore, it would best to bring a knife along because it is multipurpose, handy, and lightweight, and will save you from many frustrations while camping.

Navigation tools

Camping activities may include some remote hiking, so you will need a map and compass, signal mirror, and GPS to prevent getting lost. Campers often get lost due to the lack of proper navigation tools. Phones come with built-in apps for maps, compasses, and GPS; however, these may be unreliable as you may lose your signal or the batteries could die. This is why packing old-fashioned navigation tools is a much better and safer option. You should also learn how to use all vital navigation tools before you embark on your camping trip to ensure that you can find your way around while hiking and not get lost.


Toiletries are camping essentials for any kind of trip. Be sure to pack your usual shower gel, toothbrush and paste, shampoo, body cream, hairbrush, deodorant, facial wipes, and any other personal self-care items that are essential to you. Try to divide your toiletries, one toiletry bag containing your shower and dental care items, while the other has stuff you do not need to take to the showers – like your hairbrush and deodorant. The campsite’s bathroom may not be equipped with all that you need, like toilet paper, so be sure to pack all the toiletries you would need. 

Appropriate clothing

You must pack a variety of clothing for your camping trip. Experienced campers suggest packing according to the activities, seasons, and weather forecasts. Bring light clothes that are conducive for warm daytimes and thicker clothes for colder night-time weather conditions. Abrupt weather changes are expected when outdoors, so be sure you include extra clothing to remain dry when it rains and warm when it gets colder. Include some extra underwear, socks, gloves, jackets, and vests as well. Having the right clothes is vital for camping, so you should prioritize smart packing to keep you safe and comfortable. 

Also read: 

Top 10 Eco-Friendly Luggage Packing Tips

5 Eco-Friendly Holiday Essentials