12 Must Have Items to Take Camping

It seems that almost every post on the internet these days is to do with lists of things. These include things to do, places see, must have products, the smallest, the biggest, the fastest, the most expensive. From the 20 longest bridges in the world to the 15 most embarrassing photos of your favourite celebrities, there is will be a web page about it. So for a bit of fun we’ve created an irreverent list of the top 12 things you need to take camping – how many of these things do you take?

A camping site full of tents
Camping is great fun – but what essential items do you need?
Source: Flickr by Frederic Bisson

12 Essential Items to Take Camping

1. Tent

When going camping its a good idea to take a tent. A tent is made up of tent poles, a piece of fabric, bits of string and pegs that go in the ground. When assembled correctly, your tent allows you to sleep outside in all weathers whilst keeping you protected from the elements. You can pitch it in a field called a campsite, up mountain or on a beach. Don’t forget to take your tent home with you when you’ve finished camping because you can use it again another time.

If you don’t have a tent, instead you could use a bivvy or caravan. A bivvy can be a bit like a very small tent. A caravan has wheels and solid walls, which isn’t really much like a tent at all but caravaning is still a type of camping.

2. Sleeping Bag

The main purpose of camping is going to sleep in your tent. Unless you want to be cold and uncomfortable during the night you will need a sleeping bag. A sleeping bag is a bit like a quilt that is folded over and zipped up along the edges, but obviously for camping its much better than that.

Top Tip! When you wake up in the morning you can stick your head out of the tent and admire the view. That’s one of the best things about camping.

3. Sleeping Mat

It turns out that ground can be quite cold which is no good if want to sleep on it. A sleeping mat made out of foam or inflatable air bed will keep you off the cold ground helping to keep you warm when you are sleeping in your sleeping bag. If you’ve pitched your tent on a slope you might slide off your sleeping mat and get cold. Watch out for that.

4. Food and Drink

Unless you like being hungry and thirsty you’ll need some food and drink. You could go to the pub or the chip shop but there might not be one, or it might be closed.

Top Tip! Remember that you will not have a fridge, so perishables could go off.

Crisps, peanuts and beer are ideal for in the evening or, for when you get really hungry, a pasty. Make sure sure your pasty hasn’t been out of the fridge for too long or been left sitting around in the sun.

Maybe some cakes. Cakes taste nice. And biscuits.

Small cartons of fruit juice make a healthy breakfast drink. UHT milk will keep when unopened, so you can take that to put on some cereals. You’ll need a spoon to eat these. A bowl is a good idea too, although you can pour the milk straight into the inner bag that the cereals come in if you want to eat the whole packet 😉

5. Head Torch

Unless you can see in he dark you will need a torch to see what you’re doing at night. Head torches are the best because the light shines in whichever direction you are looking. Unless you’ve got it on the wrong way around, but you probably won’t make that mistake unless you’re a complete numpty.

6. First Aid Kit

The most likely injuries that you will get from camping are tripping over a guy rope and landing flat on your face or hitting your thumb with a mallet while knocking your tent pegs in. These can be done without hurting yourself too much and should provide other campers with a laugh at your expensive. But you might have an accident where cut yourself and need a plaster. Hopefully nothing worse, but its always sensible to have a first aid kit just in case.

The most important items to take on a camping trip
Twelve essential items to take camping

7. Black Bin Bags

Essential for putting your rubbish in! Black bin bags can also be used to keep your gear dry. If you don’t have waterproof clothing, black bin bags can used as emergency waterproof jackets by cutting out head and arm holes.

8. Friends, Family and/or Dog

What better way than to enjoy your camping expereince than by sharing it with your friends and family in person! Chilling out around the campsite telling jokes and making up stories about how campers get murdered in their tents at night by homicidal axe-wielding maniacs is all part of the fun.

Dogs enjoy camping too, so why not bring your best friend along? Don’t forget dog food, water plus bowl and collar and lead.

Remember that your friends and family will also need to bring at least some of the things in this list, but other things you can share.

9. Umbrella

Most of the time if its raining you can shelter in your tent, but sometimes you have to emerge into the wet. Umbrellas are particularly quick and easy if you just need to walk to the campsite’s toilet block or over to your car.

Waterproof clothing is also a popular option and especially handy if you have to put your tent up in the rain. You can’t really put up a tent with an umbrella but you could use a black bin bag as mentioned above. Or you could get someone else to to hold an umbrella up for you. The big golf umbrellas are the best.

10. Toilet Paper

It goes without saying that you don’t want to be caught out here. Even if you’re staying at a campsite there may not be any toilet paper, so there is no doubt that toilet paper is an essential camping item.

If you are wild camping the correct thing to do is to bury your excrement and either burn your toilet paper or take it home.

11. Empty Bottle or Container and Funnel

An empty bottle is ideal for storing water in for when you get thirsty, but you can also use them, along with a funnel, to have a wee in at night if you don’t want to leave the comfort of your tent. Top Tip! Don’t confuse you water bottle and your wee bottle / container.

12. Wash Kit / Personal Hygine and Health Products

If you consider friends and family as non-essential camping items you could probably forget about bringing your wash kit too. Generally people like to feel clean and have fresh breath so clearly some form of wash kit is essential.

When you’re camping in the countryside medical help could be along way off. It goes without saying that if you are on medication you should take it with you when you go camping.

A display of gear required for a backpacking trip
If you are going backpacking you will need to put all your gear in a rucksack.
Source: Flickr by Dan DeChiaro

Some Other Useful Things Not on the List

Clothes aren’t on the list because of course you will be wearing clothes already. If you are cold, just get in your sleeping bag. You can keep your clothes on if they are dry, which they will be if you’ve brought your umbrella like in point 9 above. Its best to take your shoes off before getting in your sleeping bag though.

A camping stove is good if you want to cook, heat up food or make tea and coffee, but it is not essential.

A mallet can be useful for putting your tent pegs into the ground. There might be a rock lying around that you can use instead.

If you’re staying at a campsite take some money because the owners will want paying, unless you’ve pre-booked online.

Lots of people like to take a mobile device with them wherever they go. Camping is good way of getting away from it all, so why not consider leaving your device at home? If you do take it remember a solar or in-car charger for when the battery runs out.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our tongue-in-cheek list of camping essentials. If you think we’ve missed anything off please leave a comment!

Quick Quiz!

Add up the the number of things on our list that you take camping and check your score:

1 – 4 – You’re really roughing it. It’s fair to say that unless the weather is perfect your camping experience is likely to be miserable at best.

5 – 8 – You’re risking a lousy camping experience. Without all the must have items you might not enjoy going camping.

9 – 12 – You have all the essentials in place for a great camping experience!

How did you do?


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