If you’ve been a reader here for any length of time, you’ve probably heard me talk about how much I love camping. I didn’t grow up camping very much. I think we went once or twice when I was little. But I don’t remember much about it.
The camping bug bit me when my kids ranged in ages from 14 to 2 years old. I went on a church camp out and it was the most fun thing ever! Over the last 10 years we’ve averaged 3 camp outs a year with lots of hikes in between.
Camping isn’t hard and once you get the hang of it, you’ll see how simple and fun it can be. So if you’re a mom like I was, without a lot of camping experience, here’s a handy packing list to get you started for your next summer camping trip.
10 Basic Items to Pack for your Summer Camping Trip
You have the dates set and the location chosen for your next big summer camping trip Now it is just about time to start getting packed up. What should you bring?
There are quite a few things that you will want to take camping with you, but there are some things that are essential for you to bring. These will make your trip safer, easier and less stressful.
Check out this list of 10 Things to Pack for Your Summer Camping Trip:
1. Tent. This may be a given, but investing in a good quality tent can make all the difference in how enjoyable your camping trip will be. A cheaper tent is more likely to leak or let the critters in, while a quality tent feels more like a real shelter. I have a rather large collection of tents. Some I like better than others and each tent is unique so depending on the location of our camp out I may choose one over another. Some of the brands I’ve used and enjoyed:
- Ozark Trails – this is Walmart’s brand and is on the lower end of quality. But you can still have a good experience using one of their tents.
- Swiss Gear – we have several styles of Swiss Gear tents. They are good tents and usually fairly easy to set up.
- Paha Que Teepee Portable Outhouse – I have this tent for those times when we visit a primitive campgroound with no bathroom facilities. It sets up easily and is perfect for giving your people some privacy when they need it.
- Coleman. I also have a tent similar to this Coleman tent – great for family camping.
- Standing Room Tents. My step son and his family have used this standing room tent with a canopy the last few times we’ve gone camping. It’s great for warm weather camping and has lots of room to move around. He loves it.
2. A Tarp. You also need a tarp to spread out on the ground beneath your tent. Just trust me. You will be sorry if you don’t. Try to match the size of the tarp to the size of your tent, or fold the tarp so the edges don’t stick out from the end of the tent.
3. First Aid Kit. Having a well stocked first aid kit is essential for safety. When you are camping in the great outdoors, you rarely have access to clean water facilities to take care of your injury. Having the proper medical supplies are imperative. The outdoors are full of insects and poisonous plants too, so it is always a good idea to keep an antihistamine on hand as well as sunscreen, insect repellent, and hand sanitizer.
4. Rope. Rope is imperative to have on hand when camping. Rope can be used to tie down your gear, to hang wet clothes and more. I always take rope or paracord with us when we’re hiking and we usually hike once or twice on each camping trip. I also own this clothesline rope and use it to hang wet clothes, wet sleeping bags, and wet dishes in mesh bags.
5. Flashlights and lanterns. Half the fun of camping is being out at night. In order to keep that fun going, you need to be able to see. Kids love having their own flashlights. It’s a good way to teach younger kids a little responsibility for their belongings, too. You should always take a flashlight with you when you go on a day hike away from your camp site. Even if you leave early. You just never know. For older kids and adults, I love Maglights.
We own several types of lanterns – each for a different purpose. We use kerosene lanterns for hanging around the eating area. For inside the tent, I love my rechargeable Coleman lantern. It’s also nice to keep a lantern inside your portable outhouse for night time use. Each of my kids has one of these lanterns and they’re especially nice for hanging from the tent ceiling or for long distance backpacking.
6. Water. Whenever you go camping, clean water is a must. This is especially true if you are camping in the back country, where there are no clean water sources. Before you go camping, verify the availability of water near your campsite. Pack a couple cases of water bottles for drinking. If running water is an issue and you are camping near your vehicle, bring along gallon jugs of water for washing up, washing dishes, etc. If you aren’t camping near your vehicle and the water available isn’t safe for drinking you have several options:
- water purifyication tablets
- water purifyication tablets – read the instructions
- rapid boil water for 10 minutes
- water filtration system
Be sure to strain water of debris before purifying it to remove sediment, leaves, and other stuff. A cotton bandanna is perfect for this job!
7. Extra clothes and socks. It’s important to always have extra clothes. But even more important to have extra socks. Socks get wet. And wet socks cause blisters which are no fun. Extreme weather can hit at any time and no one wants to be stuck wearing wet clothes. Wool socks stay warm even when wet.
8. Camp Chairs. Not all campsites come with seating, and you will not always like sitting on the ground. Walmart or Bass Pro Shop are a great places to find deals on your perfect camp chair.
9. Tent Canopy or Screen House. Weather is often unpredictable, the forecast may say sunny and warm, but you may end up with rain. Camping is still fun in the rain. Believe me. I’ve been on more than my fair share of cold, rainy camp outs. If you are camping near your vehicle, setting up a shelter if your camp site doesn’t have one is a must. You can set up your camp kitchen and chairs under the shelter. And if the shelter has netting – you can get away from the bugs. We have a couple of screen houses and they are really handy at times!
10. Cookware and Dishes. You have to eat while camping, make sure you have something to cook in. Investing in good camp cookware is a must if you plan to go more than once. Depending on your needs you might want a variety of cookware for camping.
When I’m cooking over the campfire, I love using my large cast iron skillets. When cooking on a camp stove or even if I’m backpacking and need something lighter, I’ll use some lightweight aluminum cookware. There’s lot of choice available!
Planning for your summer camping trip doesn’t have to be hard! Get the basics packed and you’ll learn as you go. I like to make lots of lists before a camp out. And I don’t leave the house until everything has been scratched off!
What is your favorite thing about camping? Do you have any questions about getting started camping? I’d love to answer them! Let me know in the comments below!
P.S. Be sure to check out my free printable Car Camping Checklist!