10 Must-Have Camping Essentials for First-Time Campers


Starting a camping trip is fun, but missing some important stuff can dampen the experience. Well, this list will surely help you get ready. Packing all the essential things can make a big difference, especially when camping with kids.

This article provides a list and offers ideas and preparation tips to ensure you have the best camping experience. Save this for later and include it on your camping checklist.


outdoor camping essentials - camping tent

Photo Credit: Li Yang

Camping is not complete without a tent, and choosing which is best for you might be crucial. There are many considerations when choosing one that can make a comfortable and enjoyable experience for you and your family.

Below are the types of tents and their uses. We also include the weight and capacity so you will know what to choose for your next trip. 

Backpacking Tents

  • A quick set-up, perfect for backpackers and solo adventurers
  • Capacity: 1-4 people
  • Weight: 2-5 pounds

Family-Sized Tents

  • Often include separate rooms for privacy and storage options.
  • Capacity: 4+ people
  • Weight: 10-20 pounds

Dome Tents

  • Sturdy construction and ease of setup and suitable for various camping conditions.
  • Capacity: 1-6 people
  • Weight: 4-10 pounds

Cabin Tents

  • Vertical walls and spacious interiors.
  • Capacity: 4+ people
  • Weight: 15-30 pounds

Canvas Tents

If you’re new to camping, make sure to read our article on tips and guides for beginner campers. That will help you a lot.


sleeping bags and pads

Sleeping comfortably is a must. But knowing what sleeping pad or bag to choose can be quite confusing if you’re new. So, let’s check what to look for when buying sleeping bags and pads for your camping trip.

Sleeping bags

  • Temperature rating (depends on the climate you are camping in)
  • Insulation 
  • Size and weight
  • Shape and design (mummy or rectangular bags)

Sleeping Pads

  • Insulation 
  • Type (inflatable or foam)
  • Thickness and comfort
  • Size and weight


cooking equipment for camping

The best camping experience is sipping your coffee early in the morning while watching the sunrise and having a delicious meal. You need cookware to achieve that, and a portable camping stove is always the best choice.

Choosing a camping stove also depends on your needs and preferences. 

  • Backpacking Stoves (Lightweight and compact)
  • Propane Stoves
  • Multi-Fuel Stoves
  • Campfire Stoves (firewood or charcoal)

Here are the cookware items you need.

  • Cooking Pot
  • Skillet
  • Utensils (spatula, tongs, and a knife)
  • Plates and Bowls (lightweight)
  • Cups and Mugs
  • Cutting Board


camping with fire

I always forgot this item when I was a beginner. So, if you’re new to camping, check out our tips and guides for beginners so you can be equipped with knowledge on your next camping trip.

Also, remember to add a pocket knife to your camping checklist. I always carry those two items when I go camping. Because some of my camping buddies always forget this stuff. 


Don’t be stuck in a situation where you don’t have water and food. Don’t just drink on a river because someone says it’s safe to drink. You might catch a serious illness due to bacteria instead, use a water filtration system.

Before going camping, make sure to pack enough food and water. Preparing food is time-consuming, so create a detailed meal plan outlining what exactly to eat for each breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack. That way, you’ll know what’s coming up and only bring what you need.


first aid kit for camping

You can’t expect anything, and someone may have small cuts and scrapes that can lead to infection if untreated.  So, save or write down these items, and don’t forget to include them in your camping first aid kit.

Bandages and Dressings

  • Adhesive bandages in various sizes
  • Gauze pads and rolls
  • Medical tape
  • Antiseptic wipes


  • Pain relievers (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen)
  • Antihistamines for allergic reactions 
  • Antacids for digestive issues
  • Prescription medications (if necessary)

Emergency Supplies

  • Tweezers for removing splinters or ticks
  • Scissors for cutting bandages or clothing
  • Thermometer especially when your camping with a baby.
  • Disposable gloves

Other Essential Items

  • First aid manual or guidebook
  • CPR mask or face shield
  • Blister pads or moleskin for foot care
  • Instant cold packs


essential camping hygiene and toiletries

We don’t want to smell bad, especially if we camp with friends or family. Packing the necessary camping hygiene supplies is important to ensure a fresh and clean experience. Add these items on your checklist. 

  • Biodegradable Soap and Shampoo
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Toilet Paper
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Wet Wipes
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect Repellent


When exploring the outdoors, having the right navigation tools and maps is crucial to ensure your safety while hiking in remote areas.  

These camping essentials will help you easily find your way.

Navigation Tools

  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Smartphone with GPS
  • Map and Compass Combo


  • Topographic Maps
  • Trail Maps
  • Park Maps


Campfires are great at night, but only a few feet of light make them bright. And this is one of the most forgotten items in camping so make sure to bring them. Flashlights offer a focused and powerful beam of light, perfect for navigating trails or spotting wildlife in the dark and for your safety. 

Many campers prefer headlamps because of their hands-free functionality. Both are good, but if you can only choose one, go for headlamps. 

In addition, don’t forget extra batteries and charging devices.


camping clothing and footwear

Dressing appropriately for the outdoors is crucial for staying comfortable and protected during your camping trip. Whether hiking in the mountains or lounging by the campfire, clothing and footwear are essential. Make sure to check these items on your checklist.

  • Layer (Base, Insulating, and outer)
  • Rain Gear
  • Hiking Boots
  • Moisture-Wicking Socks
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Gaiters
  • Extra Clothing

We hope that this list helps you on your camping trip. While there are several items to bring, those 10 are your must-haves. 

You can also download our FREE printable PDF camping checklists if you want a more detailed one. Happy camping!

Jessie Bongolo

Hi there! I’m Jessie Bongolo, an online freelancer who loves to roam around rather than slouching in a chair all day. You can usually find me wandering in the Philippines, taking pictures of nature and writing about all my adventures.

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