New to Camping? Bring These Essential Items With You

When the weather is good, there’s simply no better way to enjoy the outdoors than on a camping trip. If you’re a beginner camper who’s trying to figure out what gear and accessories you need to purchase beforehand, no worries — we’ve laid out the essential items that should go with you on any camping adventure.

The Tent

There’s no industry standard when it comes to tent size, no so-many-square-feet-per-person rule of thumb. But here’s a good idea: Get one bigger than you think you’ll need. This allows for extra storage space for your gear or extra sleeping space. Other things to consider when buying a tent:

  • The insulation properties of the tent and your climate
  • If you want a porch or a seating/kitchen area
  • What sort of standing space you’re looking for
  • How large and heavy it will be when packed up and how well it will fit into your vehicle


Cold and damp air rises up from the ground at night, so get an insulated bedroll or airbed to sleep on — it creates a barrier that helps keep you warm and comfortable. If you decide to go for an airbed, use a mattress topper (blankets or foam) to prevent the cold air inside the bed from making you cold. Get a quality sleeping bag as well, paying attention to size, material properties and seasonal ratings. These range from 1 (hot) to 5 (very cold).

The Kitchen

Buy lightweight equipment with multiple uses and cookware sets designed to pack into a small spaces. This will help you transport everything easily to the campsite. If you’re feeling adventurous, invest in a Dutch oven, a cast iron cooking pot suspended over a campfire with a tripod and chain. They are great for a variety of all-in-one pot and oven recipes.

Campsite Food

Where there’s a kitchen there’s food, so consider how to keep yours fresh. An insulated electric cool box can help, but be sure to choose one with a lid that opens upward so the cold air won’t escape every time it’s opened. On-site electricity or portable solar panels will keep this working. Otherwise, you’ll have to go with old-fashioned coolers and ice.

Before you go, pre-plan some easy camping meals and hit the grocery store with a detailed shopping list. This will help take the stress out of meal times.

Think Fire

Gathering around a campfire is one of the best parts of camping, and getting one started is a lot of fun. All you need are dry matches, lint from your home dryer and a few handfuls of kindling such as dried-out grass, thin sticks and rotten wood. And firewood, of course.

  • First, dig a shallow pit in the ground and surround it with large stones to keep the fire contained
  • Then, build a pyramid with your small kindling over a layer of lint
  • Once lit from the base, gradually build up your fire by adding more sticks in size order, remembering that the hotter it gets, the larger the stick/log it needs.


Solar-powered lights or rechargeable battery-operated models are the most useful. We suggest:

  • Bring a broad-beam, hanging white light for practical tasks such as cooking
  • Get a few handheld flashlights or headlights for late-night walks
  • Hang a variety of ambient fairy lights or lanterns for socializing and setting the mood


Once camp is finally set up, you can relax and take it easy — but it’s easy to get bored if you don’t incorporate some activities in your plans. Try hiking, fishing, kayaking, campsite soccer, Frisbee golf, horseshoes, scavenger hunts, lawn bowling or corn hole. When you’re done with any of those, wind down with cards, board games or storytelling. And if you’re more of the lazy camping type, just plug in the RV and watch some TV.

Enjoy your outdoor adventure, and remember — this is simply a list of camping basics. For a detailed camping checklist, check out