14 Things to Pack When Camping
With the 10 essentials above, you’ll be prepared in case of an emergency, but most of us will want to bring more to make the most of our adventure. Camping is a great way to enjoy nature whether we travel alone or with friends. To make the most of your trip, here are 14 things you should bring along:
#1: Cooking Supplies
While there are plenty of nutritious options that don’t require cooking, camping just doesn’t feel the same without some hot food (many of our PA staff members are BIG fans of morning coffee!) Fires can be great for cooking, but various factors could result in a fire ban in your area. If you do use a fire, make sure you have a grate and pots or pans so that you can safely heat your food.
In case you can’t use fire, you may want to bring a camp stove, which uses fuel canisters and should serve all your cooking needs. Whatever you use, don’t forget to bring some plates, cups, and utensils. Many people use disposables, but we recommend reusable kitchenware. It’s better for the environment and will mean less trash to pack up when you leave!
#2: Hygiene and Sanitation
Camping gets dirty, and that can be half the fun. That said, it’s important to keep a safe and sanitary campsite, especially when it comes to food. Be sure to bring sanitizer and wipes to keep your cookware clean. Many front country campsites provide shower facilities, but no matter where you set up, you’ll want to make sure you can keep your hands and face clean to avoid harmful germs and bacteria.
#3: Activity “Grab Bag”
No matter where you plan your trip, make sure you bring all the gear you’ll need for fun activities! Whether you plan to go rock climbing, play frisbee, or just read and play card games, make sure you bring all the necessary equipment. For ideas on fun group activities, check out our blog on ridiculously fun and easy team building activities.
#4: Solar Charger
Camping is the perfect opportunity to unplug and reconnect with nature. However, in today’s high-tech world, gadgets are almost inevitable. Cell phones offer GPS, cameras, and a way to reach help in an emergency. Radios and even lamps are now wireless and portable. But they all need power. A portable solar charger is a great way to harness the sun’s energy to keep your gear juiced and ready to go.
#5: Wireless Speaker
Camping just isn’t the same without music. If you aren’t musically inclined (or don’t want to pack your guitar, banjo, or accordion), a portable speaker can be just the thing to liven up your trip. That said, keep in mind that many people are outside to enjoy the beauty and solitude of nature, and may not be as excited to listen to the new Taylor Swift single as you are. Don’t bring anything too excessive and keep the volume at a neighborly level. Be sure to respect your site’s quiet hours. Your fellow campers will thank you!
#6: Bug Repellent
Camping happens outside. Bugs live outside. You don’t want bugs biting you or buzzing in your ears. If you don’t want to lather up with harsh chemicals launched from aerosol dispensers, consider a more natural repellent, like these 10 natural ingredients that repel mosquitoes.
#7: Hiking Boots
Sandals and sneakers are great, and super comfy, but if you plan on hiking, make sure to bring the right shoes. Especially for rough terrain, you’ll want something sturdy that protects you and offers stability. Something waterproof can go a long way when dealing with rain and streams.
#8: Lightweight Daypack
Odds are that you’ll do some exploring away from the campsite. For those trips, you’ll need a lightweight daypack. Bulky, heavy packs can be a hiker’s worst nightmare, so bring something compact so you can pack the essentials for wherever your adventure takes you.
#9: Chairs and Hammocks
Camping is meant to be restorative, but it’s hard to relax with nowhere to sit. Camping chairs are invaluable for enjoying the fire, eating, fishing, and a multitude of other things. For ultimate relaxation, we recommend bringing a hammock. Nothing will help you relax and enjoy nature more than swaying in the breeze between two trees!
Most of our phones have great cameras, so you’ll likely have one available. When you’re back home, you’ll be glad to have some pictures to go with your memories. But be careful not to live life through the viewfinder. Snap a picture of that sunset or waterfall, then put the camera away and enjoy the moment.
#11: Trash Containers
At Positive Adventures, we firmly believe in the Leave No Trace principles. These are guidelines meant to help us enjoy nature in a sustainable way that avoids human impact. One of the key principles of Leave No Trace is “Pack it in, pack it out.” If you bring it into the camp, be sure to bring it out. And for the record, yes – that includes your apple cores and banana peels.
#12: Survival Knife
This could probably fall under the “repair kit” section of the 10 essentials, but we thought it deserved the extra emphasis. No matter where you go, a good knife will serve you well. You may need to cut a rope, open a package, or clean a fish. A quality knife is something every camper should have handy.
#13: Critter-Proof Containers
Part of protecting the environment is caring for the creatures that live there. While you may worry about bears or bobcats, the most common invaders are raccoons, which have a knack for finding and opening food packages. There’s nothing worse than waking up to find some raccoons walking off with what’s left of your food. Bring containers that seal and can’t be pried open by the wildlife. These containers will also trap the smell, which is what attracts wildlife in the first place.
Coolers are a great way to seal your food and drink safely away from wildlife, but can also keep your items cold. While it’s nice to have cold beer and soda on deck, it’s even more important to keep your perishable food at a safe temperature (more on that below). For longer trips and larger groups, you may want to bring a separate cooler for extra ice.
There are plenty of other things you may choose to bring with you, and that will depend on where you’re going and what you plan to do. But remember: bringing too much can be as bad as not bringing enough. Especially for backcountry camping, everything you bring requires space and energy to move and store it.