10 Camping Equipment Essentials

man outside the tent

When you’re staying in the great outdoors, the right camping equipment is everything. Gear is not only a great conversation piece around a raging campfire, but it can also keep you safe and comfortable when the unexpected transpires. Experienced campers know that quality equipment can often be the difference between a fun outdoor adventure and a regrettable one. 

In this article, we’ll discuss ten pieces of essential camping equipment that you’ll want on any trip. This gear ranges from safety equipment, to convenience, to bare essentials. We’ve broken down some features for each item on the list and given pros and cons for each. We’ve also listed the price range you should expect for each item and what is an appropriate weight.

With an entire industry built around camping equipment, it’s hard to know what is worth throwing in your pack. In the end, picked one overall essential you should have in year kit above all else when heading into the outdoors.

​Product FAQ

​Why Should You Carry the Same Equipment As Everyone Else?

​Camping can be exciting and novel, but ultimately our needs are the same in the wilderness as they are in a city. We all need food, shelter, water, warmth, and some degree of comfort to survive. The essentials camping equipment on this list is pulled not just from best practices in the camping industry, but also basic human needs.

​Will Essential Camping Equipment Really Keep You Safe and Comfortable?

​When you’re in the outdoors little pieces of equipment often become the most important. That extra set of matches could become your best friend when you’re cold and simply bump of the thermostat. And those extra painkillers in the first aid kit might help you ride out a headache that would otherwise send you packing for home. Ultimately, you need to know how and when to use all your equipment, but a few essentials can definitely keep you safe and comfortable.

​You Have Your Camping Essentials, Now What?

​If you’ve already stocked up on some essential camping equipment, it’s important that you spend some time learning how to use it. This is a common mistake made by beginners and experts alike. When you’re out on the trail exhausted the last thing you want to be doing is trying to read the directions on a brand new piece of equipment. Read all your directions and manuals before heading into the outdoors and test all your great thoroughly so it’s second nature when you need it.

​Where Can You Buy Essential Camping Equipment?

​Camping stores like REI, Cabela’s, and Eastern Mountain Sports will have a good selection of camping equipment. For simple and low-cost items shops like Walmart can also be a good option. Another excellent place to find essentials at a low price is Amazon.

​How Do I Know What’s Essential and What Is Not?

​A good rule of thumb is if a gear provides one of our fundamental human needs than it is essential. This includes plenty of food, water treatment products, fire building products, extra clothing, and first aid items. Don’t forget that you’ll want to bring extras of all your essential items like matches, food, clothing layers, and water treatment pills. Anything can happen in the great outdoors and gear gets destroyed regularly.

​How We Reviewed

people around the camping fire

Image via Pixabay

​For this article we selected essential camping ranging from obvious bare essentials through easily forgotten items that can make life much more comfortable. These items represent a range of prices and functions and some are more essential than others. We picked items that should be in any camping kit and broke down what features to look for when selecting one from many comparable models. For our top overall item on the list we chose a product that is the absolute most important thing to have. If your camping pack disappeared and there was only one key piece of equipment left behind, this would be the item you would want.

​Overall Price Range of This Product

​Camping equipment varies widely in price but the items on this list range between $2 and $50.

What We Reviewed

  • ​First Aid Kit
  • ​Waterproof Tarp
  • ​Pack of Matches
  • ​Camper’s Toilet Paper
  • ​Rope
  • ​Camping Cooler and Picnic Table
  • ​A Jar of Peanut Butter
  • ​Collapsible Beverage Dispenser
  • ​Portable Spice Rack
  • ​Camper Multi-Tool

First Aid Kit

​Features

​A first aid kit is an absolute must for any camping adventure. This need not be a massive thing unless you’re on a trip with many people. The most important things to have in a first aid kit are a mix of wound dressings including Band-Aids, gauze pads, medical tape, and blister bandages. Antibiotic cream and alcohol prep pads are also a must for cleaning and sterilizing cuts.

You’ll also want a first aid kit with a few simple medications like ibuprofen, cold medicine, anti-diarrheal, and anti-histamin. Make sure none of your medications have expired and all of you bandages are clean, dry, and unopened. Most kits also provide a field guide for simple first aid procedures.

PROS

  • ​Cleaning and dressing cuts          
  • ​Medications for common ailments
  • ​Instructions for simple first aid procedures

​CONS

  • ​Can easily be over-packed with unneeded items
  • ​Medications can often expire
  • ​Bandages should be replaced to ensure they are sterile

​Weight

​First Aid Kits will vary in weight, but they shouldn’t weight more than a pound for a trip of two to four people.

​Waterproof Tarp

​Features

Waterproof tarps can serve as emergency shelters and also a ground covers while camping. A tarp is an excellent spot to unload food and gear while setting up a campsite without placing items directly on the ground.

First Aid Only 299 Pieces All-Purpose First Aid Emergency Kit...
  • Emergency Care: A total of 299 essential first aid supplies for treating minor aches and...
  • Set Include: Adhesive fabric and plastic bandages, antibiotic ointments, BZK antiseptic...
  • Convenient Packaging: Fabric case with clear plastic pockets for organization and easy...

PROS

  • ​Can serve as a shelter    
  • ​Excellent ground cloth option
  • ​Super versatile piece of gear

​CONS

  • ​All but the most expensive tarps are quite heavy

​Weight

​First Aid Kits will vary in weight, but they shouldn’t weight more than a pound for a trip of two to four people.

​Camper’s Toilet Paper

Freedom Living RV Toilet Paper (2-Ply, 8 Rolls, 500 sheets each) -...
  • MORE FUN LEISURE TIME: Enjoy spending more quality time in the great outdoors or with your...
  • DISSOLVES AS SOON AS ITS DONE ITS JOB: Septic Tank and Chemical Toilet Safe Toilet Tissue...
  • 100% BIODEGRADABLE - Perfect for RVs, tiny houses, off-grid living, boats, yachts, marine,...

​Features

​Toilet paper is an easy item to forget when heading out camping, but it’s a must. Unlike regular toilet paper, camping TP is often more highly biodegradable and comes in smaller quantities so it’s easy to carry in a backpack.

PROS

  • ​Camping-friendly packaging      
  • ​Can be stored with camping gear long-term
  • ​Aligns with Leave No Trace principles

​CONS

  • ​More expensive than regular toilet paper.

​Weight

​Single units of camping toilet paper will only weigh a few ounces.

​Rope

​Features

​Rope has a few key features essential to campers. The most important is to hang food bags and barrels overnight where they are out of reach for animals. Rope also has many utility features like hanging wet clothes and tying up tarps for additional shelter.

RAM-PRO 80 ft. Diamond Braid Polypropylene All Purpose Flagline Rope,...
  • Ram-Pro quarter inch all-purpose Durable light weight Diamond Braid Polypropylene Flagline...
  • Ram-Pro Polypropylene Rope is especially treated to resist sun damaging effects of UV...
  • Braid, also known as braid on braid or Yacht Braid rope, is constructed from a...

PROS

  • ​Necessary for food hangs        
  • ​Good for laundry lines
  • ​Can work with waterproof tarps for an extra shelter

​CONS

  • ​Food hangs aren’t recommended in all areas
  • ​Larger gauge ropes can take up a lot of space

​Weight

​A 50-foot length of five weight para-cord will weigh just a few ounces.

Camping Cooler and Picnic Table

​Features

​A cooler and picnic table aren’t essential for camping, but they’re very nice to have. These items won’t be viable when backpack camping, but they can add lots of comfort and cool, refreshing drinks when lounging around a camp ground.

Igloo Polar 120 Qt. Cooler
  • Ultratherm insulated body and lid keep ice for 5 days at 90 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Reinforced swing-up handles with tie-down loop feature
  • Dual snap-fit latches secure lid closure

PROS

  • ​Seats with back are often a premium when camping  
  • ​So are ice-cold drinks
  • ​Can make any campsite more comfortable for a longer stay

​CONS

  • ​Too heavy to use while backpack camping

​Weight

​A cooler and picnic table set will weigh around 20 pounds.

A Jar of Peanut Butter

​Features

​Peanut butter is one of the most classic camping foods of all time and for good reason. Peanut butter is a high-fat food, so it can keep the body energized during lots of strenuous activity. Jars of PB also usually plastic, so they travel well without breaking.

Jif Creamy Peanut Butter, 16 Ounces (Pack of 3)
  • Contains 3- 16 Ounce Jars of Jif Creamy Peanut Butter
  • A gluten-free peanut butter that has 7g protein (7% DV) per serving
  • Contains no artificial preservatives and Non-GMO

PROS

  • ​Energy-rich            
  • ​Most jars are very portable
  • ​A classic for most backpackers

​CONS

  • ​Some brands can be high in sugar
  • ​Can not be served to those with allergies

​Weight

​This will depend on weight, but most jars of peanut butter will weigh around one pound.

​Water Treatment Tablets

​Features

​Whether you’re camping in the deep backcountry or your local town park, you’ll want to ensure that you have clean drinking water. With a tiny jar of water treatment tablets you’ll never need to question if the water from a sink tap or mountain stream is safe to drink.

Potable Aqua Water Purification Treatment - Portable Drinking Water...
  • One bottle of 50 Potable Aqua Germicidal Water Purification Tablets
  • Makes questionable water bacteriologically suitable to drink within 35 minutes
  • Emergency water purification tablets effective against Giardia lamblia when used as...

PROS

  • ​Excellent for back up and peace of mind  
  • ​Easy to use
  • ​Very lightweight

​CONS

  • ​Must be kept dry
  • ​Glass jar should be transported carefully

​Weight

​A jar of water treatment tablets weights around 3 ounces.

​Portable Spice Rack

​Features

​Veteran campers often appreciate the importance of a spike kit when camping. Freeze dried meals can be delicious and nutritious but a little extra flavor can go a long way, especially during extended camping adventures.

WGIA Portable Spice Jars Set of 7 Sauce Condiment Storage Container...
  • PREMIUM QUALITY - Made of BPA free plastic. clear design let you easily identify contents,...
  • EASY ORGANIZATION - The 3 Sharp oil Bottles for liquid seasoning such as oil, vinegar, soy...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT & PORTABLE - Comes with 2 carry storage bags, easy to carry.Super lightweight,...

PROS

  • ​Can improve already prepared camping meals
  • ​Not much extra weight
  • ​Camp cooking can be a fun activity on any trip

​CONS

  • ​Must be packed with care to avoid blow outs and leaks

​Weight

​A good quality portable spice rack will only weigh around 3 ounces.

​Camper Multi-Tool

​Features

​A multi-tool can be a lifesaver during a camping trip. As the old saying goes, “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” With a good solid multi-tool you’ll at least have the chance to fix it.

Rose Kuli Camping Accessories Hatchet Multitool, 18-in-1 Survival Gear...
  • 【Compact Multitools Hatchet】: Contains 18 different tools including Axe, Hammer,...
  • 【A must-have EDC】: These tools for men are strong enough to Cut, Pry, Twist, ideal as...
  • 【Easy To Carry】: Solid nylon pouch holds the equipment well. An extra little nylon...

PROS

  • ​Most are very lightweight          
  • ​Safe and easy to use
  • ​Can help mix a multitude of issues

​CONS

  • ​Cheap multi-tools are prone to rusting

​Weight

​Most quality multi-tools weight less than a pound.

​The Verdict

​If we had to choose one item from this entire list of camping equipment to bring into the outdoors with us it would a fresh, dry book of matches. This could be a contentious choice, but we feel that the ability to build a fire trumps all else in an emergency. With a little creativity a camper can build a shelter out of scavenged resources and potentially get by without a first aid kit.

With a book of matches, however, you can build a fire that will provide warmth, a visual sign of your whereabouts, light, comfort, and even the heat needed to cook scavenged food and boil water. Though many of the items on this list are essential camping equipment, a book of matches and subsequent fire can help sustain life in an emergency like few other items can.

Featured Image via Pixabay

Last update on 2021-06-20 at 06:08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.