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Everything You Need to Bring on a Summer Camping Trip

Camping isn’t just for the outdoorsy types; it’s for all types. Today, more than ever, people aren’t just using the summer season for beach vacations and cruises, but camping trips, too. In fact, the number of active camping households has increased by 68% since 2014. If you plan to go camping this summer, you’re in luck. Read on to learn what summer camping essentials to pack for your trip! We have what to bring camping right here

summer camping essentials check list

Campsite essentials

Take the comforts of home to the great outdoors. A campsite should have a complete setup to sleep, lounge, entertain, cook, and relax—just like your own living space. To create your home away from home, pack these items in your campsite essentials checklist:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pillow
  • Camp chairs
  • Folding table
  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Headlamp
  • Extra blankets
  • Battery-operated fan
  • Emergency tarp
  • Matches/lighter
  • Permitted firewood
  • Outdoor lighting
  • Wood axe
  • Multi-tool pocketknife
  • Bungee cords
  • Tent repair kit
  • Shade structure
  • Hammock

camping supplies in front of camping tent

Clothes for camping

Wherever you decide to go for your summer camping trip, you must be fully prepared with the right clothes. Check the local climate and weather forecast, and pack accordingly. Because summer camping weather can go from hot to cold in just one day, it’s key to bring layers. While each camping experience is unique, some clothes and shoes to consider for camping include:

  • Pajamas
  • Underwear
  • Lightweight t-shirts
  • Moisture-wicking, long-sleeve shirts
  • Hiking pants
  • Hiking shorts
  • Sweatshirt
  • Lightweight jacket or vest
  • Wool socks
  • Hiking boots or shoes
  • Flip flops
  • Water shoes
  • Rain jacket
  • Rain boots
  • Swimsuit
  • Sandals
  • Bandana
  • Sun hat
  • Gloves
  • Towels

Camping near a beach? We have tips on what to pack in a beach bag, too!

Kitchen items for camping

There’s something exhilarating about cooking out in the wild. The fresh, open air, tall trees, and nature at its finest provide the perfect backdrop for a morning “in the kitchen.” For the best-equipped camping kitchen, remember to pack these items:

  • Refillable water jugs
  • Portable stove
  • Propane grill
  • Portable coffee pot
  • Coffee filters
  • Pots/pans
  • Cast-iron skillet
  • Potholder
  • Cooking utensils
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Meat thermometer
  • Bottle opener
  • Can opener
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Toothpicks
  • Chef’s knife
  • Paring knife
  • Cutting board
  • Cooler with ice
  • Ice packs
  • Water bottles
  • Camp sink
  • Eating utensils
  • Plates/bowls
  • Cups
  • Thermos
  • Aluminum foil
  • Food storage bags/containers

family eating food around campsite

Food for camping

Stock up on food for your summer camping excursion—and bring enough to feed your group for the duration of your stay. With a mix of perishable and non-perishable foods, you’ll have a variety to satiate everyone’s cravings. While tastes vary, here are general recommendations for camping food:

  • Water
  • Coffee/tea
  • Sodas
  • Juices
  • Protein drinks
  • Cooking oil
  • Spices/seasonings
  • Salt/pepper
  • Sugar/sweetener
  • Condiments, like ketchup & mustard
  • Trail mix
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Energy bars
  • Nut butter
  • Dried fruit
  • Bread
  • Tortillas
  • Eggs
  • Meats
  • Potatoes
  • Grilling vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate bars
  • Graham crackers
  • Sliced cheese
  • Deli meat
  • Granola
  • Jerky
  • Canned beans
  • Canned soup
  • Hot dogs
  • Precooked sausages
  • Instant rice

Cleaning items for camping

Cleaning up after yourself is the best thing you can do to keep wildlife, critters, and insects away from your campsite. Bears and wolves are attracted to unattended food and trash bins, so keep your area free from anything that might bring unwanted attention. Dispose of trash bags in approved and fenced receptacles or keep them in a bear-proof container overnight. Other camp cleaning items to consider:

  • Earth-friendly dish soap
  • Paper towels
  • Sponge/scrub brush
  • Trash bags
  • Portable trashcan
  • Small broom/dustpan
  • Biodegradable multi-purpose cleaner
  • Laundry detergent
  • Clothesline & clothespins
  • Collapsible sink
  • Dish towels
  • Rubber gloves
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Small shovel
  • Laundry hamper
  • Stain-remover pen

Camping hygiene items

Hygiene is crucial—even when camping! Make sure to check your camping area for nearby restrooms, showers, and wash areas, and confirm you have access to clean water for bathing, cooking, and drinking. Some of the health and hygiene items to take on your camping trip are:

  • Biodegradable soap
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Lotion
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wet wipes/baby wipes
  • Deodorant
  • Razor/shaving cream
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellant
  • Toilet paper
  • Trowel
  • Hairbrush/comb
  • Nail clippers/file
  • Contact lens solution
  • Contacts/glasses
  • Lip balm
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Prescription medication
  • First-aid kit

items for hiking, including first-aid kit, hiking boots, and water bottle

Personal items for camping

Whether you’re just camping for a week or a weekend, there are a few everyday essentials you can’t forget. Don’t go without taking these personal belongings:

  • Cell phone
  • Sunglasses
  • Credit card/cash
  • Keys
  • ID/driver’s license

Outdoor recreational gear

One of the highlights of camping is taking advantage of some good, old-fashioned outdoor fun. There are several recreational activities that are offered near or around summer campsites, like hiking, fishing, swimming, biking, climbing, and more. Prep your proper gear, and bring:

  • Walking sticks
  • Fishing poles & tackle
  • Fishing line & extra spools
  • Fishing license
  • Kayak/canoe
  • Paddles
  • Beach towels
  • Lifejackets
  • Floats/swim tubes
  • Hiking backpack
  • Waterproof camera
  • Bicycle
  • Bicycle safety equipment (helmet, gloves, lights)
  • Bike repair kit
  • Climbing helmet
  • Harness
  • Climbing ropes
  • Carabiners & quickdraws
  • Belay device
  • Climbing guidebook

Studies show that hiking can greatly benefit your body and mind. Read “Take a Hike” to discover all the benefits of hitting the trail.


To round out your camping toolkit and guarantee you’re prepared for anything, think about packing these extras:

  • Printed map
  • Camping permits
  • Parking passes
  • Compass
  • GPS device
  • Guidebook
  • Binoculars
  • Portable power charger
  • Speaker
  • Games/toys
  • Whistle
  • Extra batteries
  • Portable fire extinguisher
  • Packable poncho
  • Notebook/pen

family sitting in back of car and setting up campsite

Plan a Road Trip to Your Camping Destination

It’s getaway season! Now that you know the summer camping essentials to pack for your trip and exactly what to take camping, it’s time to hit the road. Read our article,4 of the Best Road Trip Planning Tips,” for planning tips that save you big money.