When it comes to camping, most people either love it or dread it. However, it may simply come down to how well you’re prepared for camping that determines whether you enjoy it or not.
Camping offers many benefits including being able to log off from the digital world, strengthen bonds with family and friends, and learn important life skills. It’s one of the most economical ways to take a vacation, and if you know what to pack it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable!
Whether you’re planning your first camping trip or are a seasoned pro when it comes to life in the great outdoors, today we highlight some of the most essential gear for comfortable camping.
Only happy campers here!
The most important gear you’ll need for a comfortable camping experience is shelter. Most people envision a basic tent when they think of camping, but today’s tents come in all shapes and sizes depending on your needs. You could even choose ultimate comfort by staying in a campervan.
While you don’t necessarily need a tent if you wish to sleep under the stars on clear summer nights, it’s still a must for protecting you from elements such as wind, rain, and biting insects.
The first step in determining what type of tent you’ll need is to consider how many people will be camping with you and where you plan on camping. If your campsite requires a long hike to reach, you’ll definitely want something that is lightweight and easy to carry.
If you are able to drive right up to your chosen campsite, you can than opt for something a bit more deluxe that maybe offers multiple room chambers where you can enjoy greater privacy and space along with more storage for your camping gear.
When choosing a spot to set up your tent, select a spot with level ground that offers protection from wind. Remember that erecting a tent in daylight is much easier than at night and avoid setting up your tent in a location that may be prone to natural dangers like flooding.
If you feel like setting up your own tent is too much of a hassle, there are destinations all around the world that offer glamping experiences where accommodation like luxury safari-style tents are already set up for you and may even include a proper en suite bathroom.
Another big decision to make when camping is whether to have a powered or non-powered campsite. While a powered site is best for comfort and convenience as it allows you to run power to your caravan or camper, many campers prefer cheaper non-powered sites which also often benefit from being placed in more scenic natural areas.
While the idea of going completely powerless may seem like a romantic idea, the reality is that most people these days will find it difficult to endure more than a day or two without power. And thanks to solar panel technology, campers can now camp off the beaten track and still enjoy their power needs. Solar panels to suit all budgets and they come in a variety of sizes to suit your individual needs.
Convenient portable folding solar panels can be connected to a battery or power station to provide you with hours of power. Solar panels can also be paired with a solar generator to convert DC power to AC power which will then power various household appliances and electronic devices you bring camping with you.
Many solar panels also have USB inputs which will allow you to directly charge electronics like your phone or tablet straight from the panels. Don’t forget to pack a quality powerboard, long extension lead to plug into the power source if you plan on using one, chargers for all your devices, and spare batteries for things like flashlights.
Since you won’t be able to take your entire wardrobe with you camping, it’s important to be selective and choose proper clothing. What you should take with you largely depends on where and when you are planning to camp as well as what activities you plan on engaging in.
One of the best methods of dressing for camping is to dress in layers which allow you to add or remove clothing whenever it is required. The three-layer dressing system is often most effective and consists of wearing a base layer, mid-insulating layer, and outer shell layer. You can then pack items like a beanie, gloves, and scarf if needed.
It’s important to always remember that weather is unpredictable, and night-time temperatures can be much colder than day-time temperatures, especially in desert environments. Camp clothing is more about comfort and safety and not about fashion. Choose lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics that are both durable and low maintenance. Synthetic fabrics like polyester and polypropylene as well as natural merino wool are much better options than cotton which can take a long time to dry and absorbs odors.
When it comes time to call it a night, always pack dedicated sleepwear since the clothes you wear during the day will often get quite dirty while camping. You want to ensure you have comfortable dry clothes to wear to bed that are free from any scent of food or cooking that may attract wildlife into your tent.
And while we’re on the topic of sleeping, having comfortable sleeping gear is equally important. Most campers pack a sleeping bag, but it’s important to understand that they have temperature ratings. You should always select a sleeping bag that is rated to withstand the temperatures you will be sleeping in whether that is warmer summer nights or freezing autumn and winter nights.
You should also consider getting a sleeping bag liner which will help keep the bag cleaner and will give you added comfort and insulation. You can also bring along a sleeping pad or mat for added cushion or go all out and get an inflatable mattress if you don’t need to carry your camping gear a long distance to your campsite.
Don’t forget mattress sheets and possibly blankets if you are forgoing a sleeping bag and consider a mosquito net to offer greater protection against biting insects. A lightweight pillow is of course another necessity, or you can opt for simply using rolled up clothing if you’re limited on space.
Food and cooking
One of the most enjoyable aspects of camping is cooking in the great outdoors and let’s face it, you won’t be able to camp very long without eating. Many campgrounds offer up communal camp kitchens with barbecues, sinks, and possibly even a building equipped with a refrigerator, microwave, and toaster. If this is the case, all you need to do is bring your favourite food.
If you plan on being more self-sufficient in terms of your cooking needs, you will need to do a bit more planning. You should first check if fires will be allowed at your campsite or if you will only be allowed to use portable barbecues and stoves powered by gas cylinders. If fires are allowed, make sure you bring plenty of firewood and waterproof matches or a lighter to get things cooking.
It’s important to make sure to keep your perishable foods in a cooler to prevent spoilage, keeping in mind that specific coolers are often rated to keep things fresh for a set number of days. You should always pack additional non-perishable food items like canned goods and rice.
Make a list of all the meals you will need and pack any essential cooking gear items like utensils, cutlery, plates, can opener, pots and pans, trash bags, and Tupperware for storing extra prepared food. Don’t forget sponges and brushes along with biodegradable dish detergent to wash up and always safely store your food so as to not attract bugs and wildlife.
You will also want to pack plenty of bottled water unless you plan on boiling your water or using purifications tablets and other devices to ensure naturally sourced water is safe to drink.
Camping means not being able to simply flick a switch for light once the sun goes down. Flashlights and lanterns are going to be needed for night-time cooking, middle of the night bathroom breaks, and other camp activities.
Flashlights come in all shapes and sizes including basic handheld ones to head torches which allow you to free up your hands. The cheap handheld incandescent bulb flashlights will require batteries and often don’t last very long, while solar powered, mechanically powered, and shake flashlights will provide plenty of light without ever having to purchase batteries.
LED flashlights provide better battery life and generally produce a more powerful light, with portable LED lanterns being a great option for providing general light around camp where you then won’t need to carry a handheld flashlight everywhere.
First aid kit and survival tools
You should always be prepared for emergencies while camping, and this means carrying a well-stocked first-aid kit. Your kit should include a selection of bandages and dressings, antiseptic cream, painkillers, eye drops, diarrhea medication, a first aid manual, and possibly an EpiPen in case anyone in your camping group is prone to anaphylaxis.
You should also consider taking a basic first-aid course before you camp in order to learn life saving skills such as CPR and how to treat cuts and broken bones.
Other survival tools that are important to have include a GPS, multi-tool pocketknife to tackle a range of tasks around camp, your smartphone, and a distress beacon if you plan on camping in very remote regions where cell service will be limited or non-existent.
Careful consideration is needed when packing your toiletries for camping since you may need additional items when living in nature and want to ensure you don’t damage the environment with harmful chemicals found in some toiletry brands. You will need to seek out biodegradable versions of toilet paper, soap, and shampoo so as to not introduce harmful chemicals to the environment which could impact local flora and fauna.
Depending on what facilities are available to you at your chosen campsite, you may need to bring a solar camp shower, portable clothes line, and portable camp toilet or camp shovel for when nature calls. Pack hand sanitizer to disinfect your hands when running water and soap are not easily available and aloe vera to soothe sunburn and minor cuts.
Don’t forget to pack an extended supply of any medications you are currently taking along with an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses if you require them.
Protection against outdoor hazards
There are often hazards or dangers associated with camping that you may need to prepare for as well. Such dangers include poisonous plants and insects as well as venomous snakes and spiders. In addition to wearing long pants and proper footwear, you may want to wear protective gaiters to protect against snake bite, ticks, and spiky plants.
When it comes to footwear, you will want to have several different types available around camp. Sturdy hiking books are essential for day treks, while beach shoes or sandals will be more appropriate for life around camp and when using communal camp showers. You should avoid going barefoot at all times, as campsites are havens for broken glass, fish hooks, and other dangers.
Pack plenty of sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat to shelter you from the sun’s harmful rays. If dangerous wildlife may be present such as bears, you may wish to carry protective bear spray. The key is to research the dangers that are specific to wherever you’re camping and pack any recommended gear to avoid those specific dangers.
Tables and chairs
And lastly, while most campsites have picnic tables set up, you may wish to bring your own portable table and chair set-up. A table can be used not only for preparing and eating meals but also to arrange and prepare your gear before activities like hiking or fishing.
A portable, lightweight gazebo is a nice touch as well to cover your table. This will help keep rain and debris off any food or gear that may be placed on the table. Folding chairs can also be taken to areas like the beach or lake in addition to being used when dining together for meals.
While there may be additional camping gear items you can include on your gear checklist depending on your own specific needs, the items mentioned above will go a long way to making any camping trip more comfortable and enjoyable. With that said, we wish you happy travels on your next camping trip.