Camping Gear for Beginners: 14 must-haves for your next camping trip!

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Camping Gear for Beginners
Camping Gear for Beginners

Whether you want to cross the country or tour Europe and Africa as a camper, you need essential camping gear to get you through the wilderness adventure.

But planning an intricate and magnificent camping itinerary can be challenging. How do you know which valuables you will need to keep you comfortable and not overload your backpack? 

Your camping checklist may depend on whether you’ll carry the equipment by car or on your back. In this guide, I will provide a list of the best camping gear you will need to keep you comfortable, whether you are going in an RV or hiking on foot. You might also enjoy reading: 7 best dog-friendly camping grounds in the USA.

Factors Determining Camping Checklist

Several factors determine the type of camping gear you pack, including:

Backpacking vs. Car Camping

If you carry your camping gear on your back to the campsite, you will need to streamline your supplies more than a camper toting their gear in the trunk of their car. 

Hiking with a heavy pack on your back can be challenging. So you better purchase lightweight materials instead of innovative heavy gears. 

But if you are going by car or RV, you can pack heavy essentials since you aren’t physically carrying the equipment. 


Different seasons dictate packing different camping gear. While you will maintain some equipment, others will change depending on the elements you brave against. 

For example, if camping in colder months, you may swap your thin nylon tent and sleeping bag used in the summer for thick thermal options. So, consider the season and pack appropriate equipment.  

Number of People

How many people do you expect to stay in your tent? One person requires a smaller tent, while 2 or more people will need larger tents.

Similarly, you’ll have larger cooking gear, more supplies, and food for two or more people. 

Duration of The Trip

If you plan to camp for a more extended period, you’ll need more camping equipment than a short-time camper. 


The activities you plan on doing while camping, such as hiking or fishing, will also affect what gear you need to bring.

For example, if you plan to go fishing, you will need to bring fishing gear, while if you plan to go hiking, you will need proper footwear and a backpack.

Experience Level

Beginners may need more gear to ensure their safety and comfort, while experienced campers could bring less gear and rely on their knowledge and skills to survive. 

Best Camping Checklist For Beginners

If you’re experimenting with camping as a beginner, getting ready for your first trip is exciting. However, you don’t need to overthink it.

Here are the best camping gears you should pack. 

1- Backpack

Whether you are a man or a woman, you will need a backpack. Different backpacks have different shapes and sizes you can buy, depending on your need and physical strength. 

You can choose the lightweight 65-liter backpack to carry your essentials. However, if you intend to take additional tools like camera equipment, an 88-liter backpack will serve you well. 

Remember, you need to fit everything you need in your backpack. Ensure the bag has an excellent hip clip because that is where most of the weight will sit, not on your shoulders. 

If you are looking for good camping or hiking Backpack, I suggest you check out Bseash’s waterproof backpack; it is ideal for climbing, camping, or even touring.

Assuming you’re carrying the backpack, what do you fit in the bag? That takes us to the second gear…

2- Camping Tent

A tent is the most prominent item you need to protect yourself against the elements and bugs. Nevertheless, the type of tent you’ll carry depends on several factors, such as:

  • The amount of walking involved to reach the campsite
  • The duration of your camping trip
  • The execution-style

For example, if you plan to hike to the campsite, you need a lightweight tent because every ounce of weight counts. You can attach the tent to the bottom of the backpack, and if you have a camping partner, you could distribute tent parts. 

However, if you are driving to the campsite, you can take a larger and heavy-duty tent with more comforting amenities and space. 

And since this guide is for beginners, we recommend sticking to an easy-to-unfold tent. I encourage you to do a test run and set up the tent at your home before you leave for camp. This way, you know what it takes to set up and unfold the tent.

If you are looking for a high-quality camping tent, I suggest you check out Coleman Camping Tent.

Camping Gear for Beginners

3- Sleeping Bag

The sleeping bag goes into the backpack, so you want something that stuffs down to less space. I recommend you choose a warm and comfortable sleeping bag with zipping vents that you can unzip when it is hot and zip when cold. 

Are you looking for a sleeping bag for your next camping trip? I suggest you check out the Oaskys Camping Sleeping Bag, one of the best on Amazon.

4- Pillows

Please don’t take your favorite pillow from home unless you use an RV because it will take up all the space in your backpack. 

So, what is the best solution? Buy an inflatable soft pillow that you can deflate into nothing when it is time to break camp. I recommend you purchase the Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Pillow, as it is compressible and a memory foam pillow.

While most new campers overlook pillows and end up doing makeshift pillows of bunched-up clothes, you should plan for one if you don’t want a sore neck in the morning.  

5- Inflatable Mattresses

With scientific innovations, you don’t need to carry the heavy traditional foam mattress on your camping trip. Inflatable mattresses are lightweight, and the air between your body and the hard earth keeps you comfortable and your body temperature warm. 

Of course, you also need to pack a comfy sleeping pad to prevent thorns or pricky grass from puncturing your mattress. If you are in the market for inflatable camping mattresses, I recommend you check out the MEETPEAK camping sleeping pad with a built-in pillow pump.  

Now that we’ve covered sleeping gear, let’s move on to… 

6- Proper Clothing

Your clothing is primarily hinged on the weather forecast, location, and the environment. One rule of thumb for many campers is to avoid cotton clothes because they absorb moisture and provide limited insulation against the cold. 

Synthetic and wool fabrics are ideal for most camping trips. Check out lightweight thermal pants and shirts with layers of warming insulation. 

You need different pairs for hiking and for sleeping. Other clothing necessities include:

  • A Houdini jacket just in case things get wet.
  • An excellent set of thick wool socks with sock liners.
  • Gloves 
  • Hiking shoes with an excellent ground grip.

Generally, you want to pack clothes with layering ad convenience in mind. 

7- Headlamp

A headlamp is valuable if you arrive at a campsite during dark times.

Why is a headlamp better than a regular flashlight? Headlamp allows you to use both hands when you cook or assemble your tent at night. Check out the GearLight LED headlamp, the highest-ranking Headlamp on Amazon.

So far, we’ve talked about your shelter and clothing; now, let’s talk about cooking. 

8- Portable Stove

Hiking needs energy, and you got to eat to get that energy. Now, assuming you’ll cook at least one or two meals, you’ll want to carry a portable stove. You have multiple choices of cooking stoves. 

For instance, the double burner camp stove can help you quickly cook a full-course meal for three or more people. But if you’re alone, you can use the single-burner camp stove. These are ideal for those traveling by car or RV. 

However, if you’re carrying a backpack, you can buy a JETBOIL system to help you boil water. It also has a built-in French press to make coffee. The little stoves make cooking stews, paste, rice dishes, and beans easy. 

But where do you place the stew or bean while cooking? That brings us another cooking camping gear…

9- Cookware

I prefer carrying the ceramic solo pot from MSR because it has different cookware that packs into itself.  Inside the larger pot, you have the following:

  • Two plates
  • A smaller pot
  • Two drinking cups with tops
  • Straining lid.

Of course, you also need to pack utensils and a cutlery set. And here you also have different options. I often use GSI outdoor crossover kitchen kit because it is small and lightweight, with everything I need to cook a meal outdoors. 

10- Meals Ready to Eat

It is nice to have a good meal with fresh food; however, that is not viable if you plan on camping for multiple days because you don’t have refrigeration. 

So, you eat fresh food on the first night but need meals ready on the subsequent nights. Meals ready to eat are awesome. You boil water, add it to the bags, and voila! Delicious meals. 

11- Bear Canisters

If you are camping in places with bears, you need a bear canister to keep your food. However, packing it in the backpack may be challenging.

You will also need to cook away from where you stay because bears are ferocious animals. In addition, you may also need bear spray to protect yourself against roaming bears. 

12- Water Filter System

One of the essential things a camper need to do is to hydrate. And since you may not carry adequate drinking water that can take you for weeks, you need a water filtration system

You have different options for filtering your water because, in many places, you can’t just draw water directly from the stream. Wilderness water could have harmful bacteria like E-coli or Giardia, making you poop in your pants for months if not years. 

While you can use tablets to cure your water, they taste bad. I have discovered a fantastic way to filter your water- the gravity water filtration system from Platypus, which occupies a small space. 

It comes with two bags- one for unfiltered water and the other collects filtered water. The dirty water bag hand above while the clean water hangs below. Once you fill the dirty water with the right bag, you connect it to a filter, which connects to the clean bag. 

You can transfer the clean water into a water bladder or container. I also use a 3-liter hydra pack water bladder in my backpack with a tube that connects to my mouth. It is easier to carry, allowing me to hydrate on the move without hassle.

13- Mobile Solar Bank

Communication is essential for all campers, and because you may not have access to electricity, you need a mobile solar power bank to charge your phone.

You can use the sun to charge the battery bank and your phone or camera. If you are looking for a high-quality Mobile Solar Bank, I suggest you check out SunJack 25 Watt Foldable IP67 Waterproof Power Banks with USB-A and USB-C for Cell Phones, Tablets, and Portable Backpacking. 

14- Toiletries

Even if your campground has designated shower facilities and a bathroom, you need to carry toiletries like toothpaste, towels, and toilet paper. You better take these than sorry, especially if it is an overcrowded campsite. I also recommend you get a toiletry organizer bag for your next camping trip.

And if you camp in the wilderness, you need a small shovel to dig a hole for your poop. I encourage you to ensure the hole is at least 6 inches deep and cover your waste. 

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In Conclusion

So what is your next camping destination? You have all the essential camping gear to stay safe and comfortable in the wilderness. 

While you may not need a bear canister or bear spay, other equipment mentioned in this article are valuable for a successful nature adventure. 


Hello friends, I am Altiné. I am SO excited you are here! I am the person behind Off The Grid Planet. Off The Grid Planet is about off-grid living, homesteading, and self-sufficiency: learning self-reliance, sustainable homes, gardening, survival, preparedness, and renewable energy and inspire you to live a simple life. I do my best to bring you the most correct, up-to-date, and comprehensive information on these topics.

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