Camping Essentials for the First Time Camper

If you are a first time camper and want to be prepared for your camping adventure without overdoing it, below is a camping checklist for some of the basic camping essentials!


This is a crucial item if you hiking to a faraway campsite or destination. A backpack built for hiking may be costly but it is worth the investment. Get one that is durable, waterproof and preferably one that is able to hold all of your gear including a spot for your sleeping bag. You can always use bungee cords to secure your sleeping bag to your backpack if necessary.

Tent+ essentials:

  • sleeping bag
  • 2 – 3 tarps for under the tent, above the tent or covering items in case of rain
  • lantern

nice to have but not essential:

  • pillow
  • air mattress or a yoga mat to place under the sleep bag

Safety gear:

  • first aid kit
  • flash light – solar powered, rechargeable or one that works by winding up
  • swiss army or pocket knife
  • bungee cords and / or rope


  • Fork, knife, spoon, bowl, plate¬† – bring only a few of these – opt for the heavy duty plastic, you can reuse them, they are more lightweight and they won’t break!
  • Bring a pot and a frying pan to cook in or purchase a few of those aluminum serving dishes, the ones you see at catered events, buffets or continental breakfasts
  • Garbage bags – clean up, plus they come in handy as ponchos

Food + Beverage:

  • Pack plenty of energizing snacks –¬† fruits, veggies, granola, rice and anything you think would taste good over an open fire
  • Water purifier (you can find online suppliers who create products where you can take water from a stream, pond, river or lake and make it drinkable water) iodine tablets can also purifier water or you can boil water and allow it to cool. If you aren’t parked too far from your campsite, you can bring water jugs filled with purified water.
  • Fire starters, coals, matches, lighter
  • Cooler with ice- this is helpful if you plan to bring things that need to stay cool or if you are only camping for a few nights.

Clothing (obviously adjust based on weather conditions):

  • A good pair of sneakers and / or hiking boots
  • Bring lots of socks and underwear – for some reason whenever I go camping, this is the one thing I wish I brought more of
  • 1 heavy duty warm sweater with a hood
  • 1 lightweight and waterproof jacket like a windbreaker
  • 2 long sleeve shirts
  • 2 short sleeve shirts
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of sweatpants

Don’t over pack on clothes.


  • Toothbrush with a protective plastic top
  • Toothpaste
  • Soap (keep it in one of those plastic soap containers)
  • NOTE: You can always opt for individual plastic ziplock bags to keep your stuff protected as well.
  • 1 towel, 1 dish rag, 2 wash cloths
  • Toilet paper (lots of it)
  • Hair ties or a bandana – good to keep hair and sweat off your face and neck


  • leave any important documents locked somewhere safe in your car or at home – keep your license or ID with you in case of an emergency, place it in a protective, enclosed and sealed location.

Key Clip:

  • If you are the driver, attach your keys to a clip that you can clip inside of your tent or inside of your backpack securely. I don’t recommend attaching it to your jeans or pants as the keys make jingle around, loosen and fall off.


  • If you are in unfamiliar territory, it is always good to have a map handy especially if you are freestyle hiking or you lose sight of trail markers

Do your research:

  • Learn about the area you are planning to camp in before you camp there. Are these hunting grounds? Is it heavily populated with dear or bears? You want to be smart and safe.
  • Know what poisonous plants, trees, shrubs and berries look like – don’t eat anything you aren’t 100% sure what it is

I did my best to keep the camping essentials at a minimum but depending on where you are camping and how long, sometimes it can vary! Just play it smart and visualize yourself there before heading out on your journey. If you miss something along the way, remember, we used to survive without many of the luxuries we have today – have no fear, embrace nature and have a wonderful time!






January 10th, 2018 by Alexandra Christina

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