Camping Essentials: An Adventure Checklist for Beginners (and Forgetful Experts!)

Camping is one of my favorite pastimes, but getting my life in order to pack everything and get on the road sometimes keeps me from venturing out into the wild. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been close to my camp spot and realized I forgot my cookstove—or worse my food. Out of necessity, sanity, and for my general well-being and health (no more uncooked spaghetti, hallelujah), I have put together a checklist for myself that has shortened my camping prep time and stress.

I will admit, this might be a novice camper problem. I’m sure camping experts have boxes labeled with gear specifically designated for certain weather and terrain, and fancy one-pot meals that Gordon Ramsay himself would applaud. So this checklist is intended to help the beginner campers, my soul sisters and brothers who still eat macaroni and cheese with roasted hot dogs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Beach Campfire


  • Coffee maker of some sort. I use an aeropress--which is essentially a espresso syringe. But I have also taken little packets of instant coffee, like Folgers or VIAs.
  • Multitool.
  • Rain Gear. This includes footwear, jackets, and tarps.
  • Flashlight or headlamp.
  • Tent or Notel car sleeper. The classic tent camping experience is always great, if at times uncomfortable, but I’ve recently become a car camper after discovering Notel car sleepers. They are a great source of comfort, allowing you to quickly transform your truck or SUV into a flat, bumpless surface. (No more hassle pitching the tent!) I highly suggest checking them out. I roll down the windows and feel the outdoors with maximum comfort no matter the weather or terrain.
  • Sleeping bag or blanket.
  • Food and water. This is an important one, and it seems really obvious, but there is something about being in the woods that makes me extra hungry and extra thirsty. Which is why I always suggest over-packing on both. In my experience, it always pays to be over-prepared. And I like to have a mix of food choices. Sometimes I just want to relax and not have to prepare my food. I subsist on Costco muffins, fruit, and crackers. Other times I want to cook steak and eggs in the morning.
  • Matches or a lighter. You might want to bring a stove top or maybe you want to old- fashion grill over a campfire. Either way, you never regret having the ability to start a fire or light a Citronella candle.
  • Bug spray. Everyone hates mosquitos. I use OFF! spray because my parents bought that brand when I was a child, and it has always worked for me, but this reminder can apply to any pest repellent of your choice. I hear the mosquito bracelets are pretty revolutionary.
  • Layers. I cannot stress this enough. Even in the summer I always take long underwear just incase the temperature drops.
  • Extra  socks. This is under essentials even though it could be seen as optional, because I love putting on clean, soft socks.
  • Rope. I just learned this one from one of my best friends. As previously mentioned, I’ve been car camping, and not feeling like I have to worry about bears, She reminded me that bears can smell food from up to twenty miles away. So now I put my food in a bag and hang it from a tree at least 100 yards away from me. Also rope is just always good to have.
  • For my female friends out there: tampons or pads. You just never want to be out in the woods without being prepared, I swear, our bodies can sense it.

So there you have it. My survival guide for camping. Comment the things you can’t camp without—my list can always be updated.

Happy camping!

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1 comment

  • Good article. May I suggest a Rocket stove that will fit in a 5 Gal bucket. I can send you a picture of one I bought on Etsy. Fuel is plentiful as all you need are twigs. Also buckets have many uses and I will leave it to your imagination to figure those out, the best being a seat.

    • Robert Morrissey



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