Camping list

   Whether this is your first time car camping, or you’ve been doing it for years, it never hurts to have a good list. To help you get out of the house with all your essentials, we’ve put together a list of everything you’ll need, including campsite and sleeping gear, camping kitchen essentials, outdoor clothing and footwear, health and hygiene products, as well as personal items and extras. For each category, we’ve listed the necessary items – as well as our top picks – as well as optional gear. Finally, for all of our product recommendations in one place, see our detailed camping gear review.

   Editor’s note: The form above gives a brief overview of what you’ll need to bring outdoors, but our full PDF version is printable and provides a more comprehensive breakdown of essentials and necessities.

   Check out our camping list PDF

   Whether you’re taking a quick weekend getaway or a long vacation in the woods, we pack the following gear for a cozy wilderness base camp on every trip. We’ve also listed some optional items that may or may not be worth bringing, depending on what facilities (if any) your camp has. If applicable, we’ve also included links to our gear round-up, where we break down the best picks in each category.

   Our top pick :The North Face Wawona 6($475)

   What we like: With the open interior and huge front office, the price is hard to beat.

   Not recommended: Setup time; Partially covered rain flies expose the bottom to moisture.

   Our top pick :REI Co-op Siesta Hooded 25($129)

   What we like: Affordable, comfortable three-season use, rectangular shape, heat shield, 25-degree temperature rating.

   What we don’t know: Heavier and less compressible than mummy bags.

   Our top pick :Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D($230)

   What we love: The chunky construction and plush foam make this one of the most comfortable mattresses on the market.

   What we don’t like: Expensive and too expensive for occasional campers.

   Our top pick :Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow ($45)

   What we like: The soft look, the sleeping bag cover that fits well, and the tiny package size.

   What we don’t know: Leaks easily; Those on a budget can bring a pillow from home.

   Our top pick :REI Co-op Camp X($50)

   What we like: Sturdy comfort, well-sorted feature set, and ample grid for hot summer temperatures.

   What you don’t recommend: Sitting closer to the ground than most camping chairs.

   Our Top pick :Petzl Actik Core($70)

   What we like: Powerful output, long battery life (via AAAs or rechargeable batteries), and an easy-to-use interface.

   What we don’t recommend: Expensive and not the most water-resistant option on the market.

   Our top pick :BioLite AlpenGlow 500($80)

   What we like: Impressive output, ample lighting modes, and interesting technical features.

   What we don’t like: It’s expensive and takes a while to learn how to do.

   Camping table (if no picnic table)

  Sun umbrella

  Sleeping bag liner

  Tent footprint/floor cloth

  Additional risk


   Experienced campers know the value of building a quality outdoor kitchen, especially if you have a larger group or plan to be out for more than a night or two. Items like camp stoves and coolers are a no-brainer, but don’t overlook smaller, forgettable items such as cookware, utensils, and food prep supplies.

   Our top pick :Camp Chef Everest 2X($190)

   What we like: Excellent output, high quality build, reasonably light and compact.

   What we’re not willing to do: If you’re willing to compromise a little on performance, you can save a lot of money.

   Our top pick :RTIC 52 Ultra-Light($200)

   What we like: Versatile size and competitive ice retention less than the competition.

   What we don’t have: Selling only online, it’s a small step down on the YETI in terms of cooling power.

   POTS and pans

  Cooking utensils (spatula, spoon, tongs)

  Silverware (forks, spoons, knives)

  A mug/cup

  Bottle/can opener

 Matches and/or lighters

  Cutting board

  The knife

  Edible oil

  Paper towel

  Measuring cup

  Aluminum foil

  Seasonings and condiments


  Laundry box/Portable sink


  Dish towel

  Garbage bag

  Food and equipment storage (Ziploc bags, plastic boxes, etc.)

 Camping table (if no picnic table)

  Kettle (if drinking water is not available)


  Portable coffee/tea maker

  Firewood (if allowed)


  Fire starter

   The clothing you bring to camp depends a lot on the expected temperature and weather conditions, but it all starts with a high-quality layering system: bottom layer, middle layer (insulation) and rain-proof layer. Specialized hiking shoes can also maximize the overall comfort of your camp adventure. If you’re heading out during shoulder season, don’t forget cold-weather gear like hats, gloves, and gaiters.

   Our top Pick :Smartwool Merino 250 1/4 Zip($115)

   What we love: The construction of 100% merino wool is warm, super soft on skin and naturally resistant to moisture and odors.

   What we don’t need: Wool leggings aren’t cheap and require maintenance to last (avoid the dryer).

   Our top pick :Patagonia Down Sweater ($229)

   Preference: Great for keeping weight warm, and great for everyday wear.

   What we don’t like: We prefer to use something lighter in the middle of nowhere.

   Our Top pick :Patagonia Torrentshell 3L($149)

   What we love :3 layers of protection and durability in a stylish and affordable package.

   What we don’t like: The fabric is stiffer and creases more easily than some of its high-end competitors.

   Our Top Pick :Outdoor Research Ferrosi($89)

   What we like: Durable, resilient, windproof and breathable balance.

   What we didn’t like: No built-in belt, and a bit technical for some.

   Our top pick :Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX($165)

   What we like: Light, comfortable, all-day wearable and able to handle everything from short hikes to lightweight sleepovers.

   What we don’t like: Relatively thin and flexible soles that can carry heavy packages on technical surfaces.

   Our pick :damn Tough Micro Crew Cushion($24)

   What we like: Good padding and breathability, good for three seasons, seamless construction, and backed by a lifetime warranty.

   What we don’t know: Tougher and softer than they are.


  A beanie

  Ball cap

  Camp sandals or slippers



  Long underwear


   Staying clean and comfortable in remote areas can be a challenge, but the good news is that many major campsites have amenities such as pit latrines and running water (in the form of taps) to make the experience a little easier. If not, you can consider a portable toilet and/or shower, and don’t forget common toiletries such as soap, toilet paper, and basic first aid supplies.

   Toothbrush and toothpaste

  Toilet paper

  Soap/Hand soap

  Toiletry kit (shower supplies, deodorant, etc.)

  Quick-drying towel

  Personal medicine

  Lip balm

  First aid kit




   Spatula or portable toilet (if not equipped)

  Portable/solar shower

  Baby wipes

  Sun hat

   Most of the items on the list above are camping essentials you probably won’t leave behind, but forgetting your wallet or cell phone can be like leaving your tent at home and kill your trip. On that note, here are some small personal items to consider before you go. Some games (like camping games) are certainly not necessary, but can make your trip more enjoyable.

   Basic repair tools (multiple tools, duct tape, extra wiring)

  Navigation (map, GPS, compass)

  Water bottle

  Earplugs and eye masks

  Battery and/or solar charger

  Notebook and pen

  Books or Kindles

  Camp game

  Bear Spray (if needed)

  Activity specific gear (backpack for hiking, pole for fishing, etc.)

  Id, credit card, cash

  A phone with a charger

  Camp booking

  Forest Service/Park Pass (if required)

   While the list above covers most of the basics of travel, there may be other items to consider depending on the time of year, how many people are in your group, and whether you’re camping with children or pets. Start with seasonals: Most of us are fair-weather campers, but those who like to go outside in the winter will need warmer and more protective gear, including a four-season tent, cold-weather sleeping bags and MATS, thicker clothing, snow-specific equipment such as snowshoes or skis and avalanche safety tools (beacons, detectors and shovels). For a more comprehensive look at the gear you’ll need for cold weather camping, check out our Winter camping checklist.

   When packaging, group size is another important measure. For example, a smaller team may cook on a standard two-burner without any problems, but a larger team may want to use a larger freestanding unit (or even a portable grill), opt for a three-burner design, or bring multiple stoves. If you’ll be camping out at the base for a while, you might also consider setting up a shade structure and folding table for hanging out and cooking, or making a clothesline to dry out wet gear. Portable fire pits have also recently become more popular, and we love the products of Solo Stove for their precision and smokeless.

   Finally, if you will be camping with children or pets, certain accessories and extras can maximize overall comfort. It’s always a good idea for kids to bring games and camping friendly toys like Frisbees, cards, and other compact items to pass the time at night or in inclement weather. For pets, we recommend bringing a longer leash or a walker to allow your dog to move around the camp while still staying nearby, foldable food and water bowls to maximize space, and a bed and/or blanket to keep warm at night. Ruffwear makes some of our favourite dog gear and accessories on the market, from storage device bags to car seat covers and even special sleeping bags.

   Be sure to check in advance what facilities, if any, are available to you. Will your campsite have fire pits and/or picnic tables? Is there a bathroom and/or shower on site? Can you get tap water to fill bottles and reservoirs?

  Check the restrictions before you go, make sure you know the latest fire bans, required bear protection (such as bear cans or bear food bags), etc.

  When loading the car, pack the biggest and heaviest items first (like hard-sided coolers and water jugs), then pile the smaller and lighter items on top. If you want to grab something (like food) quickly on the drive to the campsite, be sure to separate them beforehand.

  If you have limited space, consider using special compression bags for soft items such as clothes and sleeping bags.

  Pack what you can at home to save camping time and minimize the gear you’ll need to pack. Cut vegetables, marinate meats, and hide them in a labeled, airtight plastic wrap, pre-measure your spices and condiments, etc.

  Keep like-minded items in a case to make it easier to find what you want when you arrive: a tote for your tent, sleeping bag and MATS; Special bins for kitchen utensils and cooking equipment; Clothes in duffel bags or suitcases, etc.

  Use resealable bags for toiletries and other small items you don’t want to lose or get wet, such as lighters and matches.