Essential Camping Gear

Camping is one of my favorite travel styles. There’s nothing quite like sleeping in the great outdoors! And it lends itself well to several of my travel tenets. As an introvert, camping with my own tent or camper gives me the privacy I need to relax and recharge. Once supplied with basic gear, camping is also a much cheaper option than hotels or even hostels, especially if you are traveling as a group. It can even be free! Speaking of gear, I’ve put together a list of camping essentials I always bring with me, plus a few luxuries to up the comfort of your outdoors experience if you have the budget for it 🙂

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Basic Camping:


Choose a size depending on how many people you will normally camp with and the size of your vehicle. I usually camp alone by scooter, so I have a small 2 person tent!


If there’s going to be any kind of wet under your tent, from dew to rain, and you want to stay dry, you need a tarp under there!

Sleeping Bag

Sleeping bags are rated for different temperatures, so make sure you anticipate the overnight weather and choose appropriately. Mummy bags are great to stay warm, while ones that unzip all the way around can be used open as a blanket and might be better for sticking your feet out and keeping cool on warm nights.

Sleeping Mat

Partly for comfort and partly for warmth, even a very slim camping mat is essential. If gets you off the ground so that the cold doesn’t seep up and chill you overnight and gives you a layer of cushioning.


Ok, this might actually not be essential. You could bunch up some clothes to support your head easily enough. But I like to bring one anyway. An inflatable one takes up very little space!

Eye Mask

Tent walls let in the light more easily than building walls. If you want to get good sleep past dawn, invest in an eye mask.


Sleeping Bag Liner

A sleeping bag liner does two things. It creates a barrier between you and the bulky bag that you can easily remove and wash as needed. It also adds a layer of warmth. For more versatility in your sleeping bag, you can opt for a lighter weight one and add a liner for cool weather camping.

Air Mattress

A step up from a sleeping mat!


A different step up from a sleeping pad!


For relaxing or as an alternative to a sleeping pad/air mattress/cot. Get one with mosquito netting and/or rain fly and skip the tent, too! (Just be sure you’ll be camping somewhere with a good spot to hang it)


Basic Camping:

Camping Stove

Depending on how many people you are and how much you plan to cook, you can get a one or two burner camping stove. I love my tiny little burner that screws right into the container of propane. Speaking of, don’t forget the appropriate fuel for your stove!

Spork Multi-Tool

I travel with this all the time, not just when camping. So useful!

Pot Kit

A basic pot kit can include a lot of stuff! This one even comes with my favorite tiny propane stove. You can make a lot of meals with one pot or one pan, or just boiling water 🙂

Water Bottle

Another essential for any trip, not just camping. I’m partial to collapsible ones 🙂 Or get one with a Lifestraw included so you can refill from any water source – including a stream/lake!



The ability to keep food cold gives you more options for what you can cook while camping. Get a basic one (wheels are nice!) or upgrade to an electric cooler that plugs into your car and can keep food warm, too.


A lot of campgrounds have grills provided but if you love to grill, bringing your own means you’ll always know you have one.

Collapsible Table

In case there’s no picnic table at your campsite.

Collapsible Chair(s)

To go with the table or to sit around the fire!

Coffee Maker

Upgrade from instant with a travel coffee maker. There are several different styles to choose from, such as a k-cup thermos or a mini French press!

Cooking Multitool

A compact way to add lots of fancier utensils to spice up your camping menu!

Dish Washing Tub

For when there’s no sink.


Camping Basics:

Biodegradable Toiletries

With biodegradable products, you can even wash in a river or lake if there’s no shower available. Or scrub up at a water tap. Good for body and dishes!

Travel Towel

These things pack up small and are super absorbent – perfect for all kinds of travel, including camping.


Camping Toilet

From very simple to actually flushable, never worry if there will be facilities or how clean they are by bringing your own!

Camping Shower

If no shower is available, upgrade from a tap or river with a camping shower. You can even heat water with the sun for a warm shower or splurge for a privacy tent (great for the camping toilet, too)!

Misc Other Items

Basic Camping:

Power Charger

So your basic USB gadgets like phones, tablets, and batteries never die out in the wilderness.


A small, hands-free flashlight is so useful when camping. Find your way to the bathroom at night, read, find things in your bag, or hang it in your tent for some overhead light.


Camping Multitool

So you’re prepared for any little think you need to fix or modify while out in nature.

Solar Lantern

A bit more light than a flashlight and charges in the sun.


For those who need more power to luxuries such as lights, television, and appliances.

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