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Camping is a great way to explore the natural beauty of the world on a more intimate level. Even if your car might be a few feet away, there’s a definite thrill of being a little exposed. While some creature comforts obviously get sacrificed the wilder your experience veers, camping can still be a comfortable change of pace and a wonderful way to unplug for a few days. Our Camping Gear Guide for Novices helps make sure you enjoy your visit with Mother Nature in the highest possible comfort.
This gear is pretty universal for any level of interacting with the outdoors, so it’s a good place to start as you outfit yourself. If you’re looking to add to your personal equipment, check out our Intermediate or Advanced Camping Gear Guides
This list is for a night or two in the woods, out-of-the-car camping, RV camping and hiking in decent weather, where there’s fresh water available nearby. If Glamping is more your style, check out our Newbie Gear Guide.
- Gear Bags (clothing, toiletries, miscellany)
- Utility Tool
- Trash Bags
- Knife (J carries a no-frills, low-cost Gerber because he had a habit of losing his higher-end knives. He’s had this one for a couple years and it has yet to escape or otherwise let him down.)
- Paracord Rope
- Camp Saw
- Water Bottles: Plan on consuming roughly 32oz per hour of hiking.
- Spare Batteries
- Backup batter/Charger/Solar Charger
- Fire Kit
- Firewood: Be mindful of restrictions on bringing your own firewood to the party. Wood that has been transported from other locales can harbor invasive parasites and insects, and wreak havoc when introduced to new forests. Be respectful of fire bans and other regulations and help preserve the forests for generations to come.
- Matches (It’s with no small amount of skill that campers can strike matches off of rocks, pants and even zippers, which is how J entertained himself in the woods as an adolescent Boy Scout.)
- First Aid Kit
- Ground cloth (Some heavy plastic drop cloth cut to size is perfect.)
- Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Pad
- Camp Pillow (a luxury you’ll never regret)
The weather forecast, while not always the most reliable, is still your best friend when it comes to packing. Assume the worst and you’ll always be ready to experience the best. A freak cold front or flash rain can literally catch unprepared campers sleeping, and can quickly ruin an outing. Don’t skimp on the ability to layer. Take our word, being prepared for 50° and waking up to 16° makes more than the air snappy.
- Hiking Boots
- Camp Shoes and/or Sandals
- Wicking Shirts
- Sock Liners
- Sleeping Clothes: It may be an extra pound or two, but having something that doesn’t smell like woodsmoke and is guaranteed to be free of poison ivy is worth it.
- Wool Socks
- Long-Sleeved Shirt
- Microfiber Towel
- Cook Kit
- Tea and/or Cocoa (Protip: Steep tea bags in a bottle under the sun for an easy brew)
- Trail Snacks (Be aware of where you are in relation to animals.)
- Peanut Butter
- Cured Meat
- Kind Bars
- Dr. Bronner’s Soap
- Reusable Dish Cloth (These are a must for both camp and home kitchens.)
- Wet Naps
While meditations on nature are wonderful, we’re not all trying to write our own Leaves of Grass or Walden Pond. Camping is a highly social activity, and having a pack of cards or a portable game can go a long way towards bringing your crew closer together. For those seeking solitude, however, there’s not much better than a soft breeze on the pages of a good book.
- Pack of Playing Cards
- Card Game: UNO, Coup or others
- Kindle: You’ll get no judgment from us. Books are heavy!
- Dr. Bronner’s Soap
- Ziploc Bag(s)
- Various Lotions and Skin Care Products
Bringing each of these items along isn’t necessary, but they can definitely improve the camping experience. Some, like sunscreen and bug spray, are more essential for certain individuals than others. Respecting your comfort level as well as that of those you’re camping with will ensure a great experience.
- Handkerchief: It has 1001 uses and counting.
- Rescue Whistle (Bears do not enjoy high-pitched noises, and a whistle is infinitely more portable than a cranky toddler.)
- Notebook (We’re both really into MUJI notebooks)
- Bug Spray
- Portable Seat
Too much of the outdoors?
Check out our Glamping-friendly Newbie Gear Guide