What to Bring for First Time Camping? [Camping Essentials for Beginners]

Camping is an outdoor activity that is often done for personal enjoyment and recreation. It can involve spending a night in the great outdoors, or it’s just a weekend getaway.

Camping usually requires some type of gear, such as a tent, sleeping bag, camp stove and cooking utensils. This article breaks down the items you would need for your first camping trip.

3 Most Important Things to Bring for First Time Camping

Camping involves a great deal of physical activity. You will be hiking, swimming and cooking. You will also need to carry a fair amount of weight, such as tents, sleeping bags and camping gear .

Knowing what gear to bring with you is an important part of your preparation before your first camping trip.

Always try to pack light on your first trip out so that you can experience the fun of exploring the great outdoors without carrying multiple bags and trying to find a spot in the woods that has ample space for your stuff.

Depending on where you are camping, you will need:

1. Clothes and footwear

  • Rain gear (poncho or poncho liner)
  • Warm sleeping clothes (sleeping bag, sweatshirt)
  • Walking shoes (hiking boots) with socks for each day of the trip
  • Swimsuit and towel if you will be doing water sports
  • Read more on what clothes to take on a camping trip

2. Cooking & Food

  • Water bottle (for water purification)
  • First-aid kit (bandages, aspirin, gauze, prescription medication)
  • Utensils for a camping stove
  • Camping stove and fuel (camp coffee can be used as a substitute for water)

3. Safety & First Aid

  • Knife (to cut firewood, open cans, etc.) and pocket knife (for emergency use)
  • Safety whistle or personal locator beacon (to let others know you’re alive) – only bring a personal locator beacon if you are in an area with cell service.
  • First-aid kit (bandages, gauze, aspirin, prescription medication)
  • Firestarter (flint/steel) (for starting a fire)
  • Sun hat and sunscreen

What Gear do You Need to Start Camping for Beginners?

1. Sleeping & Shelters

  • Tent or tarp (for shelter from the weather – look here for what size tarp for camping) or hammock with bug netting and ground shield in case of rain and/or wind (for shelter from bugs)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Ground cloth (to protect the tent floor)
  • Poles (for holding up the tarp)
  • Hammock straps, hammock suspension system, or a line and carabiners to hold your gear up in trees

2. Lighting & Communications

  • Flashlight with extra batteries (for general lighting and to help you find your gear if it is left on a trail where someone else has hiked or camped off-site)
  • Tent light (a smaller flashlight for interior lighting of the tent)
  • Headlamp for hands-free lighting (if you need to hike or climb at night)
  • Communications devise with batteries and charger (to let others know where you are and that you’re alive)

3. Navigation & Make Camping Plans for the First Time Out

  • Compass to help you find your way if you get lost hiking or camping. When setting up the tent, orient it so that the north is toward the top of your pack.
  • Map of your area so that you know the right trail to take if you get lost.
  • GPS unit or map app for your phone if you get into trouble and need to call for help

In Conclusion

Camping is a fun activity that you can do with friends, family, and people you don’t know. Make sure you have a list of the gear you need to bring with you before your first trip out.

If you are camping in a tent, ensure it has enough space for all the equipment and supplies you need to bring. Be safe when camping with all your gear.