Basic Essentials for Your First Camping Trip

When it comes to preparing for your first camping trip, one of the main keys to ensuring its success is to properly pack for the event. However, knowing what to pack and what to leave behind can be unclear at times. What are the most important essentials to bring with you on a camping trip? Take a look at some of our must-haves as you gear up for your wilderness adventure.

A Durable Tent

When you’re camping, your tent is your bedroom away from home. How big do you need your tent to be? Tent sizes are classified as one-person, two-person, three-person, and so on. Think about how many people you’ll be camping with and use that to determine what size tent to buy. If you want a little extra space, choose a tent one size up from what you think you need.

What kind of tent should you buy? There are two main types of tents: three-season tents and four-season tents. Three-season tents, the most common type for the recreational car-camper or backpacker, are designed for use in spring through fall. Those camping in the winter months or in very cold climates will benefit from a four-season tent, a shelter specifically designed to withstand extreme weather.

Warm Sleeping Bag

Sure, the hiking and exploring and campfire stories are fun, but at the end of a long day of adventuring, you’ll want a warm, comfortable place to lay your head and get a good night’s sleep. Not only does a sleeping bag offer comfort, but it’s important for your safety. Nighttime temperature can drop drastically, especially in the mountains.

Sleeping bags have temperature ratings so you can identify what kind of weather they’re designed for. For example, a bag may have a 15-degree rating or a 30-degree rating. Keep in mind that the temperature ratings are meant for survival situations. A 20 degree bag may keep you alive in 20 degree weather, but you probably won’t be comfortable. You should plan to get a bag that is rated for colder conditions than the average temperatures you’ll be experiencing.

Sleeping Pad

Even if you have the warmest, coziest sleeping bag, it’s basically useless without a sleeping pad unless you’re sleeping in your car or on a cot. Sleeping pads offer comfortable cushioning, but they also help to insulate you against the cold ground. There are many sleeping pad options on the market, from super lightweight, inflatable mats designed for backpacking to bulky foam pads. One of the most important considerations when choosing a sleeping pad is R-value.

R-value is the measurement of an item’s resistance to heat flow. The higher a sleeping pad’s R-value, the more efficiently it will insulate you from cold surfaces. You’ll find R-values ranging from less than two (best for warm temperatures) and all the way past five (necessary for winter camping).


Even with the light from a full moon, spending the night in nature requires you to bring your own method of illumination. While flashlights work fine, headlamps are the best as your primary source of light for camping as they are easy to pack and free up your hands for tasks around camp. In addition to headlamps, lanterns are a nice way to brighten up camp and offer some ambient light.

High-Quality Jacket

When you’re camping, you’re at the mercy of the elements, so a robust jacket goes a long way. In most places, even in summer, temperatures typically drop at night. It’s better to be prepared with more layers that you can shed if you start getting warm than to not be warm enough. We have a wide selection of women’s jackets and men’s jackets — take a look and find one that works for you.

Camp Chairs & Table

Little luxuries like chairs and a table offer a world of comfort around camp—whether you’re preparing a meal or telling stories around the campfire. Most camping chairs and tables on the market fold very easily and don’t take up a lot of space when traveling to your destination.

The Right Shoes

Bring comfortable shoes that properly accommodate the outdoor activities you’ll be doing while camping. If you’re hiking during the day, pack hiking shoes or boots. Pro tip: Throw a pair of sandals or slip-ons in your duffel so you have something lightweight and breathable to wear around camp. Plus, it’s nice not to have to grapple with your hiking shoes every time you want to go in and out of your tent.

A Roomy Backpack

There are plenty of small necessities that you will want to bring along with you on your camping trip. From protein packed snacks for your hikes to portable battery packs for your electronics, a sturdy, roomy backpack is key. Get a pack with plenty of pockets and storage that’s also comfortable to wear on longer hikes.

First Aid Kit

Always bring a first aid kit camping for those unforeseen, “just in case” moments. Some essentials to include are bandages, ointment, gauze, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, ibuprofen, and a handful of safety pins. If you don’t end up using your first aid kit, no big deal. If something happens, you will be very happy to have the supplies on hand to take care of things.

Being properly prepared is a surefire way to make your first camping trip an enjoyable one, so take the time to put together a thorough list before you take off. Happy camping!