There are many reasons why you might want to go camping. A big reason might be because it’s a great way to unwind and get back into nature. Yet, you still need to find the best camping accessories to make your experience fun and relaxing.
We’ve created the ultimate camping list to help you learn about the best camping essentials for all types of campers.
Whether you’re planning to go for one night or one week, these camping must haves are those that you don’t want to forget. These are different from our RV must haves, as this camping must haves list is directed more toward tent camping, or at least camping without power to sleeping in a small RV in the woods.
We’ve broken down the ultimate list into four categories to help you find what you’re looking for. Camping must haves for families, tent camping must haves, best camping accessories for the hard core camper, and fun things to bring camping.
If you’re curious about the clothing situation, check out our post all about what to wear camping to make sure you are prepared for all types of weather.
Some items below could overlap a bit, so be sure to check them all out to see what you need to add to your camping list.
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Camping Must Haves For Families
Preparing for a camping trip can require a little more time and thoughtfulness if you’re camping with kids. But it’s totally worth it! Taking your kids along on a family camping vacation can create some of the best memories.
Here’s a list of some of the best camping items that you should have to be prepared.
1. First Aid Kit
With kids, you can’t really go anywhere without a first aid kit with you. Good thing that there’s a wide selection of ready kits on Amazon. Check this best selling first aid kit out that is small and easy to have with.
It has almost all of the campsite essentials for first aid that you can think of. And it has convenient packaging so it’s easy to bring along wherever you go.
For a more affordable option, check this one out.
2. Camping Chairs
Bring easy-to-carry and lightweight camping chairs that work for everyone in your family.
The kids will love to have their own size chair around the campfire while you can use a comfortable easy to pack modern camping chair like this one at REI.
3. Water Filter
Since camping can last for days, you’ll need access to drinking water for the entire family. A water filter or water purifier is what you’ll need.
We highly recommend the Go-Berkey water filter. Or, you could go a little larger and bring a Travel Berkey. This is the size we kept with us in our RV at all times.
Click here to read our review of Berkey Filters to learn more.
4. Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Sometimes we just want to enjoy hot coffee on winter hikes, or cold juice on summer hikes. Or just ice-cold water around the campfire for dinner. Using a stainless steel water bottle is just what will do the trick.
We recommend the Hydro Flask standard bottle or the CamelBak Chute Mag Vacuum which is made of double-walled stainless steel.
The kid sized water bottle from Yeti is of such great quality. It doesn’t sweat, keeps the drink warm or cold, and is dent-proof too.
5. Bug Spray
There’s this teeny-tiny annoyance sometimes when you go camping—bugs. To avoid being attacked by bugs, especially around the campfire, bring some lemon eucalyptus bug spray. It works wonders and is better on kids’ skin.
Remember to bring sunscreen when you’re planning to spend much time outdoors. Even if the temperature is cool, you can still get a sunburn if you’re not covered or using sunscreen.
This is our favorite brand of sunscreen. It works well and is safe on all skin types.
7. Cooler to store food
If you’re camping during summer days, a camping cooler can’t be absent from your camping accessories list. Coolers are not much hassle to bring along and they make sure that what you’re eating is still fresh when you cook it, so go buy one!
Tent Camping Must Haves
Tent camping, instead of RV camping, requires some specific camping essentials. See below our list of tent camping must-haves that you’ll want to have with you if you’re camping without an RV or motorhome.
Of course, the number one essential for tent camping is a tent itself. Check out the top tents at REI and read the reviews. You might find yourself spending less than you expect for a high-quality tent, depending on what you need.
Tents that’ll fit different campers vary. For example, a tent for 2 people can’t be used as a tent for a large family. So, take these things into consideration before buying!
9. Sleeping bag
You’ll want a sleeping bag for each person in your family. We’ve been happy so far with our Coleman sleeping bags for adults and our son loves his mummy-like sleeping bag for kids that looks like this. They’ve kept us really warm on 40 degree nights and are really comfortable when we use our sleeping pads.
10. Sleeping pad
For additional padding and insulation, you can add a sleeping pad to your list of must-haves for camping in a tent. Our kids each have a Klymit sleeping pad for kids, which is shorter in length and works well if they are 48 inches or shorter. Otherwise, go with a top rated sleeping pad from REI.
Sleeping pads are great because they roll up very small, so as not to take up too much space while providing extra comfort and warmth by staying up off the ground on cold nights.
11. Tent stakes
Tents stakes should also go on your camping must-haves list. The stakes that many tents come with are not usually the best quality. We like having the heavy-duty tent stakes like these with us to help secure the tent lines and keep it from blowing over in high winds.
Most new tents are waterproof and come with rain-flies. Yet, if you want additional protection from rain, you can bring a waterproof tarp with you.
This must-have camping gear is one of the most important ones for overnight camping. It’s also a great idea to give each of your kids their own flashlight if you camp with them for added security. They’ll love it.
14. Battery-powered fan
When tent camping, you can’t depend on electrical hookups. Especially if you’re hoping to camp out in the wilderness and not at a campground. Yet, it can get a bit stuffy and hot in a tent. So I suggest adding a battery-powered fan to your list of camping must-haves.
This one even comes with a LED light!
Best Camping Accessories For The Hard Core Camper
Hard core campers may need more than the standard list of camping gear must haves. If you’re just staying one night you can live off of cold sandwiches and hot dogs over the fire. However, if you plan to camp for more than a short weekend you are going to want some lightweight and multi-functional camping cookware, a shower bag, a campstove, and more.
Here are some additions that you may want to have with you on your next camping trip.
15. Cooking Set
Some people prefer bringing already-made food for camping. But that’s if you’re only planning for a short trip.
If you plan to camp for more than a night, you’ll need a complete cooking set with all the needed dishes and pots to make camping meals. Or, you can check out some high-quality camping cookware sets at REI here.
Cooking while camping doesn’t have to be hard. You just need the right supplies.
16. Camping stove
In addition to excellent pans, you’ll want to bring a camp stove as well. We love our Coleman Campstove (which sells out fast!) and see so many other campers with the same one.
This smaller stove from Gas ONE also works well for short camping trips.
17. Collapsible Sink For Camping
A collapsible sink for washing dishes while camping might not be something you normally think about. But it helps you keep your dishes clean, and works great as a storage container for your clean dishes during the day.
18. Pocket Knife
If you’re hoping to be a backwoods loving camper, then you may want to grab a good pocket knife.
Why? Because it has a lot of uses!
If you’re a newbie and would love to be a hard core camper in the future, learn how useful a pocket knife can be here.
19. Map and Compass
Maps are incredibly reliable when you know how to read them. And a compass is a great tool to partner it with. You may also consider downloading some trip planner apps and off-line maps to your cell phone before you head out.
If you love camping in backcountry areas, a head lamp would be especially useful! It’s really an essential for camping, even for casual overnight stays.
21. Camping towels
If you plan on doing any swimming or bathing in a lake or river while you’re camping, then you’re going to want to bring some camping towels. Not huge fluffy towels from home, but quick drying microfiber towels like these.
22. Spork Or Camping Cutlery
Check out these stainless steel sporks.
Remember that camping accessories should take up the least amount of space. That’s why many campers bring sporks or other folding camping cutlery. That way they don’t need to have multiple utensils, instead, they can have the best multi tools for camping.
23. Solar Shower Bag
Worried about taking a shower while camping? You can have this Solar shower bag that can let you enjoy a refreshing warm shower anywhere! It’s complete with accessories that you need for a legit shower as well.
24. Camping shovel
Consider bringing a multi-functional camping shovel. It folds up easily, works great for helping set up camp, and even has a small edge for sawing too.
Fun Things To Bring Camping
Looking for some fun camping accessories? Some extra equipment for camping that may not be needed, but may be considered glamping accessories that can make great camping gifts? Then check out our list of fun things to bring camping below.
Do you want a relaxing place to hang around in camp? Hammocks are great for that! They are so small and easy to store and carry, and simple to hang up too. This is a highly rated hammock that our friends love.
A hammock makes for a great camping gift idea too. We also know many RV owners who love having a hammock, which is why we listed it in our fun RV accessories post too.
26. Pie Iron
For fun meals, bring a pie iron. This cast iron cooker works great to make fun desserts or even grilled cheese over the fire.
27. Power Bank
Even though you’re camping out in the wilderness without electricity, you may still need a way to keep your cell phone charged. Or maybe your watch or other devices. That’s why you might want to bring a solar charging power bank.
A fun camping night is only complete with fun camping games. We’ve mentioned a lot of camping games as great camping gifts for kids before. Our family also loves this card game created by a digital nomad family we met while we were traveling full-time. Their kids helped create the game and it’s so fun and compact to bring along on any camping trip.
Remember to bring games that everyone can enjoy—the adults should be able to have fun, too.
29. Inflatable Paddle Board or Kayak
Are you planning to go camping near a lake? Then consider bringing along an inflatable paddleboard or kayak to enjoy the water. The entire family will have a great time.
30. Roasting Sticks
Are you planning to have a big campfire for the night? Then you’ll appreciate some roasting sticks to make the crowd favorite—S’mores. That way you don’t have to go searching for sticks in the woods that would work well for roasting.
Camping Checklist Printable
Did you get a lot of ideas from our list above and want to make your own checklist for your next camping trip? No need! We’ve made the checklist for you!
Click here to download a free printable Camping Checklist.
This list, plus our list of some fun camping gadgets, and camping tips for beginners, have everything you’ll need while camping.