How and What to Pack on a Camping Trip

Last update May 22, 2017

The camping is ideal for getting away from the busy urban life or testing your surviving skills. But what should you pack with you in order to survive the night?

In large groups, people usually organize the checklist of what each member should bring with them in addition to their personal belongings. Things like tents, mats, blankets and cooking wares can be shared with and used by several people together. However, let’s look through the essentials that everyone should consider packing up with them.

Camping Tents and Sleeping Bags

Logically, unless you are traveling in RV, you need a place to sleep. For the snowy regions, you should consider the temperature outdoors. There are great 4-season camping tents out there with various thermal protection properties. For instance, the double-wall tents have better warmth insulation but generally, they are heavier and take longer to set up than the single-wall tents.

As for lighter options for warm seasons, check out bivy sack and sleeping bags, designed for a single person. They are more compact and weigh less than the tents. Also, bivy sacks require neither a lot of space nor poles for setting up on the ground.

Camping Backpack

Count up how many days you are going to spend in a backcountry. There might be no need to buy and wear a large tourists backpack for a single-night camping. The camping backpacks vary in volume. An optimal 1-day pack has 30-50 liters. A 3-day backpack may have from 40 to 70 liters. Finally, an extended trip for a week or longer will require a backpack with the capacity from 60 to 80 liters or even bigger so that you could put there all your necessary items.

Instead of bringing several large bottles of water that are often hard to pack, you can buy a hydration pack. Basically, it's the same backpack but with an integral water pocket and a flexible bladder for drinking water on the go.

Power Bank

Having a power bank on you during travels is a smart decision because the phone’s battery may not last long, especially, when you often turn the GPS on to check your current location or find the right route. Furthermore, if you plan on climbing the mountains, you might be asked to pay for battery recharge at the base camp. In this situation, you might want to have a solar charger with a backpack strap to be able to charge your phone on the road.

Waterproof Plastic Bags

Use plastic bags with zipper locks to protect your documents and map against the moisture on your travels. You can buy a bunch of these bags to keep your phone, spare batteries, small water-sensitive electronics and other interesting findings dry and clean.

Portable Outdoor Lights and Lanterns

Small and portable camping lights and flashlights will help you not only illuminate the camp surroundings but also quickly find an item in the backpack or on the ground in the darkness. Also, most of the nocturnal animals tend to stay away from illuminated spots. From a practical point of view, the LED lights are considered to be a better option than the bulbs because they offer longer service life and better shock absorption.

Quick Dry Towels and Clothes

Obviously, having spare pairs of socks is necessary. However, you might not need another shirt or pair of pants for a single-night camping. Still, count up how many days and in what kind of environment you will be staying and pack things accordingly. Furthermore, if the camping involves kayaking or rafting, pack a couple of fast-drying towels and a set of clothes. Try to find quickly drying materials so that you could go without too many clothes. 

Travel Cookware and Utensils

Campfire cooking is possibly one of the best parts of camping. Surely, you will need something to start the fire with and some wares to put your food in. There are lightweight travel utensils that can be strapped to the backpack. The sets of collapsible or foldable plates and compact travel mugs won't take up a lot of space inside your bag either.

Survival Kit and First Aid Kit

A survival kit may include dozens of items that may come handy for survival in the wilderness. The list must include windproof matches, a compass, a sewing kit, a whistle, a multi-tool or a swiss-army knife, and others.

In addition to your personal hygiene products, don’t forget to pack a first aid kit. The most common things include bandages, plasters, sunscreen, a hand sanitizer, painkillers, rubbing alcohol, etc. Pack any antiallergic drug and prescription medicine if necessary too.

If you are going to gather and cook the food around the campsite, you might want to have the anti-diarrhea and laxative drugs - just in case of some unfortunate accident. Note, you might not be allowed to take some medicine and alcohol when traveling across the border.

Packing Up Order

When putting things into the backpack, you should always consider the packing order. A sleeping bag, spare clothes, and other rarely used lightweight items go in first.

The heaviest items, including food and cooking wares, should be put in the upper-middle section closer to your back. That way, your backpack will wobble around less and, more importantly, won’t pull you backward.

Put the lightest and most essential items on the top of the backpack or in the side pockets so that you didn't need to take everything out in order to reach them.

Bulky items that take quite a lot of space like roll mats and bottles of water are placed in the outer pockets or strapped to the backpack. The tent poles are usually strapped to the sides as well.