Top 5 Camping Items to Bring with You on a Trip

Most campers have different views and opinions regarding which items are necessary, which tools are a luxury, and which things are only a burden.

Although each camper has a different skillset, as well as a different plan in mind in regard to setting up camp, preparing food, and such, there are a few items that are absolutely necessary for all scenarios. Today we will talk about the top 5 camping items to bring with you on a trip, so let’s start with:

1. Sleeping bag

Sleeping outdoors may feel uncomfortable to inexperienced campers, especially first-timers. However, it can also be a very unpleasant experience if you aren’t too accustomed to bugs, insects, and wildlife in general.

Aside from comfort, sleeping bags offer better insulation, which can make a difference in both winter and summertime. The portable, lightweight properties of sleeping bags make them ideal for most outdoor activities, camping in particular.

If you want a more comfortable solution and don’t particularly need the insulating properties of sleeping bags, inflatable sleeping mattresses may be a better solution. With a thicker platform to support your back and a wider space that would allow you to sleep in at least one of your favorite positions, pads can be a bit more convenient for beginner campers.

However, the practicality of sleeping bags in terms of requiring no setup means that they are a better solution for campers who’ve worn themselves out during the day and want to sleep as soon as possible.

2. Spare shoes and clothes

It’s remarkably easy to throw sweaty clothes in a washing machine and jump into fresh, new ones while at home. However, the situation is slightly different when you’re camping, found under a tree, and it’s raining more heavily than you imagined.

The common myth that people can become sick while wearing wet clothes for longer periods is partially true. Wet clothes will inevitably lower your body temperature, which will, in turn, have a negative impact on your immune system; consequentially, this leaves open doors for bacteria and viruses that would otherwise be repelled.

Spare clothes can also be used to create makeshift bandages if you didn’t bring a first aid kit, and someone in your camping party has gotten injured. Although they aren’t nearly as sterile as medicinal gauzes, DIY cloth bandages can be sterilized with a heated iron (or with a lighter with some degree of success).

3. Hatchet

Although pocket knives are smaller and to some degree more versatile, knives can’t chop firewood, they can’t be used to dig small holes, and they’re a dependable self-defense tool only in experienced hands.

Where pocket knives fail, hatchets shine the most. These tools allow you to prepare a campfire, tend to it, organize toilet ‘holes’ in case you don’t have portable solutions, and they’re generally both more effective and intimidating when used as weapons.

Hatchets, however, weigh a bit more, and they occupy more storage space. Unless you’re prepared to leave some of your supplies so as to make enough space for it in your backpack, you may want to consider a model that features dedicated compartments to which a hatched can be attached.

This way, you will have faster access to it while hiking, and you’ll save quite a bit of backpack space in turn. If you plan to carry pre-packaged bundles of firewood to the campground, opting for a compact shovel may be a better idea.

4. A lighter

If your camping trip is supposed to take more than a day, you’ll need a lighting solution to provide visibility throughout the nighttime. There’s a broad range of tools and items that fare better at this than a plain lighter, although most of them are meant to provide a single benefit – lighting the way.

Lighters can be used in a variety of situations, from starting a fire, over sterilizing makeshift bandages and gauzes, to creating torches, and even becoming a light source by themselves.

A lighter can’t come close to flashlights and headlamps when it comes to providing sustainable visibility, as even the finest Zippos are able to only illuminate up to a few feet of the surrounding area. However, lighters don’t work on batteries, and they are more reliable by a long shot for that particular reason.

Some would argue that matches may be a better camping solution. The only benefit matches have over lighters is that they are biodegradable. Their single-use method of operation leaves them at a huge disadvantage when compared to lighters that can be struck thousands of times.

A weatherproof lighter is a best-rounded solution for campers who want to reliably start a campfire, treat wounds, and have a readily available pocket-sized source of illumination. Just in case, you may want to bring at least one refill filter.

5. Compass

Despite the fact that Google Maps can provide a relatively detailed view of the surroundings of your campsite, the outlying woods and hills will probably still look unfamiliar when you first arrive. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where one of the campers wanted to explore or simply had to answer nature’s call in private, which led to them becoming lost and confused on how to get back to the group.

Having a compass in the pocket is not a guarantee that the lost camper will be able to make their way back, but at least it will help navigate the woods more accurately.

You may also need some additional guidance that a compass alone can’t provide. In times like these, you may want to keep a ham radio handy. Ham radios can help you reach other people on the same frequency up to 62 miles away. It’s a great alternative to your cell phone, especially if you’re having trouble picking up mobile signals so far into the wilderness.

Compasses are remarkably easy to use, and all models made by at least somewhat reputable manufacturers are required to pass obligatory operational checks, which essentially means that you can get a dependable one at a very approachable price.

Other navigational tools may be a bit more versatile and efficient, although compass sits at the top of the list in terms of reliability and dependability. For instance, GPS devices work on batteries, and most of them work off maps that may not cover the particular outdoor location you may end up being in.

We hope that this guide was useful to you and that you have learned something new on the essential item to take on every camping trip. Make sure you are staying safe in these times we are all going through and have a good one, guys!

Noah Sullivan

Noah Sullivan, an alumnus of the University of British Columbia with a degree in Recreation and Tourism Management, has been exploring the RV and camping world for 16 years. His professional journey includes managing outdoor adventure companies. His insights are drawn from personal adventures and professional roles in travel consultancy. Since 2019, as part of our editorial team, Noah has guided readers through the intricacies of mobile living. He's a licensed pilot and enjoys landscape photography.

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