When I was 12, I spent three weeks camping and canoeing in the Boundary Waters, near the border between Minnesota and Canada. This was the first backpacking trip that changed camping from a fun, low-key thing I did with family to an adventure and an excursion.

Unsurprisingly, camping has become a regular part of my life, especially when the weather is nice. I’ve been lucky enough to turn some of my friends on to camping, but am surprised to learn that many of them have no idea what to bring on a camping trip. Consequently, I created this Camping Gear Guide. It is my hope that this will provide an easy, clear-cut, minimalist packing list for anyone who is feeling unsure in what they should have in their pack.

Shelter

Naturally, if you’re camping for multiple nights you will need a shelter of some kind. I love bringing hammocks and a simple three-person tent. A blanket and/or tarp are both ideal for a picnic. Also, remember to bring a headlamp, hammer, and extra tent stakes.

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag/sleeping mat
  • Mallet/hammer
  • Hammock
  • Headlamp
  • Large picnic blanket
  • Tarp
  • Tent stakes
  • Water filter

Campfire

Most of your campfire materials are already on site. You should be able to create a decent fire with small sticks, birch bark, leaves, and tinder. However, we recommend bringing a fire source (matches, lighter, etc.) and large logs or an ax. Make sure you know how to build and start a fire before heading into the outback. (If you don’t know how, read this.)

  • Fuel
  • Matches
  • Charcoal
  • Coolers
  • Ice
  • Water bottles
  • Bottle opener
  • Plates, utensils
  • Ingredients and campfire-friendly recipes (like these!)

Clothing

It goes without saying that form should follow function, especially when camping. Bring clothes that are comfortable, durable, flexible, and will dry fast. We recommend awesome footwear — a must when hiking. Water sandals that can float are also a smart purchase if you plan to spend any time on water.

  • Moisture-wicking clothing
  • Comfortable walking/hiking shoes
  • Water sandals
  • Socks
  • Jacket
  • Rainwear
  • Swimsuit

Extras

Bikes and Frisbees are fun toys to enjoy outside! Remember to bring pack-out sacks (leave no trace) and toilet paper if your campsite does not have a restroom. A first-aid kit is always a smart choice when backpacking, along with plenty of sunscreen. It is easy to overpack when it comes to the extra stuff. Overpacking is fine for short, easy trips, but for multiweek excursions make your selection carefully, (nothing is worse than dead weight in your pack).

  • Toilet paper
  • Pack-out sacks
  • Camera
  • Alarm
  • Sunscreen
  • First-aid kit
  • Bikes
  • Frisbee
  • Cards

What inspires you to go camping? How do you pack for a trip? Do you think it is better to pack light or heavy? Are we missing something in our guide?  —Alex



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