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Everything You Need for a Successful Camping Trip

By: Meg Atteberry

Sleeping under the stars is one adventure you can’t miss. Camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, but still have a few little luxuries to keep you cozy. However, you’ll want to be prepared with a camping packing list that covers everything you need. Don’t leave home without these essential camping items.

About this Guide to Camping Essentials

In this post we’ll cover:

  • What size tent and sleeping bag you need
  • Essential camping items
  • Personal items for camping

How to Choose the Right Sized Tent

Choosing a tent for car camping feels a bit like choosing the right vehicle, there are so many options to look at where do you even begin? Start with the number of people you’ll be regularly camping with. This may be your family, significant other, or just you. Don’t forget to think about any four-legged friends who also might join you.

You want to choose a tent that has enough room to fit everyone, but it’s too big where it’s exceptionally cold at night. A tent that’s too small also presents a problem, since everyone feels uncomfortable when they are squished.

If you’re solo, a two-person tent is perfect, since they’ll be enough room for your pack and you can always accommodate a friend. For those that love to camp with their doggos, find a tent that is a bit bigger than the number of people you’re accommodating. For instance, two people and a dog might find it easier to have a three-person tent or a two-person plus-sized tent.

Otherwise, select a tent that matches the number of people you’re camping with. If you’re primarily car camping, weight may not be a big concern. However, if you’re into backpacking or sleeping in the backcountry, choose a light tent to keep your pack weight down. Easy setup for either type of tent is a must. You don’t want to spend your time fiddling with pesky poles and tangled guy wires.

How to Choose a Sleeping Bag Size

Having the right sleeping bag makes all the difference for a cozy night’s rest. In general, one person sleeping bags should be slightly snug. This keeps the warm air close to your body and allows the bag to utilize its heating technology to the fullest. 

Your feet should have room at the bottom of the bag (think about a 12-inches in length) but shouldn’t be so roomy that there’s a lot of dead air. Shorter people can get shorter length sleeping bags. Shorter men may want to check out regular-sized women’s bags. While taller women might want to look into men’s sleeping bags (often marketed as unisex bags) to avoid paying more for a longer women’s bag. 

If you’re close with your S.O. you can opt for a double sleeping bag. This bag has just enough room for two and is ideal if you don’t find yourself constantly battling over the covers since you can keep each other warm. 

The shape of your sleeping bag is mostly a personal preference. There is everything from a traditional rectangle, to a mummy bag, to sleeping quilts. try a variety of bags to figure out which size is right for you.

Basic Camping Packing List

Stay organized with this amazing camping packing list to keep you organized. We’ve outlined the essentials you need for camping in one complete list so you can pack with confidence. This list includes things for both men and women.

  • Tent
  • Tent footprint
  • Sleeping pad
  • Sleeping bag
  • Camping pillow (you can use one from home)
  • Camp shoes
  • Camping chairs
  • An E-tool or small shovel
  • Water
  • Water jugs (to put out a campfire)
  • Locally-sourced firewood
  • Lighter
  • Camping stove
  • Cooking utensils (spatula, tongs, pot, pan)
  • Eating utensils (spork, knife, plates, bowls, mugs)
  • A dishwashing bin
  • Dish detergent
  • Sponge 
  • A cooler
  • Camping food
  • Headlamp
  • Battery-powered lantern (optional but handy)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Trash bag
  • Toilet paper
  • Toilet kit: shovel, hand sanitizer, toilet paper (if there’s no bathroom)
  • Dog bed, leash, pet supplies
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, feminine hygiene products, other toiletries
  • Prescription medication
  • Camping socks
  • Shoes for hiking and adventuring
  • Hat and beanie
  • Warm layers
  • Daytime clothing
  • Bandana
  • Clothes to sleep in
  • Undergarments

Pitch your tent with confidence this camping season by utilizing this camping essentials guide. You’ll feel cozy with the right sleep system, and remember all of the important items. With this guide to camping gear, you’ll be ready for a night (or three) under the stars.

About the Author:

Meg Atteberry

Meg ditched the 9-5 world as an architect in pursuit of adventure. Now a freelance writer for the outdoor industry, she’s made it her life’s work to inspire others to say “yes” to adventure. From the remote wilderness areas of Colorado, to exploring a foreign country, Meg specializes in off-beat destinations for the intrepid soul. You can find her in the backcountry searching for the perfect camp spot in her home of Colorado.

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