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The Ultimate Camping Gear Checklist for 2024

Our comprehensive camping gear checklist will help you make the most of your camping trip
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camping list Review (Cooking up dinner in the Wawona's covered and spacious vestibule.)
Cooking up dinner in the Wawona's covered and spacious vestibule.
Credit: Rob Gaedtke
Tuesday May 14, 2024

Looking for a great camping packing list? We've got you covered. Our expert camping editors have compiled this comprehensive list of what to bring on your camping trip, from the essentials to luxury items you might want to consider. While you don't need much to enjoy the outdoors, even the most minimalist campers need a few essentials; think food, shelter, and clothing. If your style of camping looks more like building a cozy home away from home, you may want to add a few creature comforts to that list. Either way, using an organized packing list and checking things off as you go can be the best way to ensure you don't forget anything, and we've got you covered here.

If you realize you are missing a few things, we have recommendations on the top products in each category based on our extensive camping gear reviews. This is the gear our camping experts recommend to their best friends. Our reviews cover all the basics: tents, the best cookware for camping, camp showers, and much, much, more. Our camping gear testers have been pitching tents and sleeping under the stars for years, all the while taking diligent notes, analyzing materials, and comparing features. If you are looking for outdoor apparel, we recommend checking out our best hiking gear reviews, as many of these items can be used for all manner of outdoor adventures and are as well suited to a weekend camp trip as a day hike. If you prefer to ditch the car and let your feet take you off-road and off-grid, check out our backpacking list.

Editor's Note: We updated this article on May 14, 2024, to incorporate our latest picks for Camping Tents.


camping list - whether you prefer weeks-long backpacking trips, or cushy car...
Whether you prefer weeks-long backpacking trips, or cushy car camping weekends, spending your nights outside allows you to explore new places in a unique way.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Camping Checklist


Whether you are planning the maiden voyage in your brand-new tent or are a veteran camper, figuring out what to pack can be tricky. When spending a weekend or longer away from home, it can be tempting to throw in everything and the kitchen sink “just in case!” But part of the beauty of camping lies in enjoying the simplicity of nature. We've created a checklist of the essentials, nothing more, nothing less, so you can be prepared for your next camping adventure without being loaded with unnecessary gear.

You can use our list below, or you can download a customizable PDF version to check things off as you finish packing.

Even if you've spent countless nights under the stars, it never hurts to reevaluate your camping gear, so you have a solid base to start out the season. Using this list can help you get all your ducks in a row so you can spend less time packing and more time adventuring.

Weather can be unpredictable, so it helps to be prepared for a...
Weather can be unpredictable, so it helps to be prepared for a variety of conditions.
Sun-protective clothing can help your skin stay safe and happy if...
Sun-protective clothing can help your skin stay safe and happy if water activities are on the agenda.

Clothing


  Moisture wicking underwear
  T-shirts/tank tops
  Longsleeved sun shirt
  Shorts
  Pants
  Lightweight jacket/fleece
  Warmer jacket for evenings
  Sleepwear
  Camp shoes/sandals
  Hiking shoes or Hiking boots
  Wool socks
  Gloves
  Warm hat/beanie
  Sun hat/ball cap
  Rain jacket
  Sunglasses
  Bandana

  Swimsuit

SPF is non-negotiable if you are planning to spend a lot of time...
SPF is non-negotiable if you are planning to spend a lot of time outdoors.
If anything goes wrong on your camping trip, basic first aid...
If anything goes wrong on your camping trip, basic first aid supplies can help soothe small cuts and bug bites or hold you over until you reach a medical facility.

Toiletries


  Toilet paper
  Hand sanitizer
  Handsoap
  Toothbrush and toothpaste
  Hairbrush/comb
  Quick dry towel
  Prescription medications
  First aid kit
  Sunscreen
  Lip balm with SPF
  Insect repellent
  Wet wipes
  Portable camp shower
  Shampoo + conditioner

  Deodorant

Your sleep setup is personal to you, and you have the option to go...
Your sleep setup is personal to you, and you have the option to go super minimalist or outfit your tent to the nines with creature comforts.
With such a wide variety of tents to choose from, your home away...
With such a wide variety of tents to choose from, your home away from home can be as roomy or as cozy as you like.

Sleep Gear


  Tent
  Ground tarp
  Extra tent stakes
  Mallet or hammer
  Sleeping bag
  Sleeping pad/mattress
  Camping pillow
  Camping blanket

  Earplugs/eyemask

The best hammocks are light, portable, and easy to set up anywhere...
The best hammocks are light, portable, and easy to set up anywhere. Hop in and enjoy your time unplugged.
Binoculars are great for birding, spotting other wildlife, or taking...
Binoculars are great for birding, spotting other wildlife, or taking in distant scenery.

Entertainment


  Hammock
  Binoculars
  Field guides (plants, birds, insects)
  Fishing gear
  Water toys (kayak, paddle board, canoe)
  Cards, games, frisbee
  Instruments

  Books

You never know when your multi-tool will come in handy.
You never know when your multi-tool will come in handy.
Headlamps provide handsfree visibility for your nighttime activities.
Headlamps provide handsfree visibility for your nighttime activities.

Camp Tools and Miscellaneous


  Headlamp + extra batteries
  Power bank
  Multi tool
  Firewood
  Saw or axe
  Sunshade
  Clothesline/paracord
  Duct tape

  Safety whistle

Though some do, not every campsite has a charcoal grill onsite, so a...
Though some do, not every campsite has a charcoal grill onsite, so a portable camp stove is a good way to ensure you get hot meals.
Good adventures require good meals to along with them.
Good adventures require good meals to along with them.

Camp Kitchen


  Camp stove + fuel
  Matches or lighter
  Camping cookware (frying pan, pot)
  Dutch oven
  Cooking utensils (spoon, tongs)
  Pot holders
  Portable coffee maker
  Knife
  Cutting board
  Roasting sticks
  Aluminum foil
  Plastic baggies
  Cups + mugs
  Plates + bowls
  Eating utensils
  Wash bins
  Biodegradable soap
  Sponge
  Paper towels
  Bottle opener + can opener
  Camp table
  Table cloth
  Camping chairs
  Cooler
  Lantern
  Water storage jugs
  Water bottle

  Trash bags

camping list - our testers on the job! we have tested dozens and dozens of tents...
Our testers on the job! We have tested dozens and dozens of tents over the years, from tents best used when car camping to rooftop tents.
Credit: Rob Gaedtke

Camping Gear


If you look at this list and realize you are missing a few items, don't worry. First, see if you can substitute with something you do have; second, ask if you can borrow from friends or family. If you haven't had any luck with those options, you can fill out your gaps with some of our recommendations for top camping gear. Even if you have your tried-and-true setup, it's always fun to check up on the latest and greatest in the outdoor gear world.

Sometimes you need a tent for two, and sometimes you need a tent for 10. No matter your needs, we're here to help you find the right shelter.
Credit: Clark Tate

Tents


Getting the right tent for any outdoor excursion is a must. A solid tent means you stay dry, warm, and get a good night's sleep. A tent should suit a lot of your camping needs, and it should last a while. We have loads of tent reviews, including the best camping tents, top rooftop tents, and our best canopy tent picks. Naturally, there's a considerable price range across genres. Below, you are going to find our best picks in each category.

camping list - more than just for sleeping, tents can become the de facto hangout...
More than just for sleeping, tents can become the de facto hangout space for the whole fam.
Credit: Rob Gaedtke

Camping Tents


The type of camping tent you need depends, of course, on the type of camping you are planning. Our picks prioritize spacious interiors, great design, easy to set up, durable fabrics, family-friendly, and a good value.

Best Overall Camping Tent

The North Face Wawona 6

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Best Bang for Your Buck

REI Co-op Skyward 4

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Best 4-Person Tent

MSR Habitude 4

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camping list - once installed, rooftop tents require very little setup when you...
Once installed, rooftop tents require very little setup when you arrive at your campsite.
Credit: Ross Patton

Rooftop Tents


A relative newcomer to the camping world, the design (and comfort) of rooftop tents is getting more dialed each year. Beware of a hasty purchase, however, as you could end up with a tent that doesn't work like you thought it would, such as a rack that doesn't quite sync with your vehicle, or a tent that doesn't fit on your rack. Thankfully, we've worked out all the kinks for you in our review of the best rooftop tents.

Best Hardshell Rooftop Tent

Roofnest Sparrow EYE

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Best Softshell Rooftop Tent

Thule Approach M

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camping list - an enclosed canopy tent placed over a picnic table can help keep out...
An enclosed canopy tent placed over a picnic table can help keep out the sun and bugs while you enjoy your meals.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Canopy Tents


Canopy tents are slowly finding their way into the camper's kit. It's fair to say that, when erected, they quickly become the kitchen and dining room in most campsites, for good reason. A canopy tent fulfills a variety of purposes, too: good for the park and the beach. Have a good sense of how you intend to use yours, since some are designed for commercial use (think farmer's markets), and others are best for carrying around, such as those intended for camping and the beach. See our top canopy tent review for the full comparison of products.

Best Camping Canopy

Clam Outdoors Quick-Set Escape

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camping list - starting with the proper equipment is key to cooking a great camp...
Starting with the proper equipment is key to cooking a great camp dinner.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Camping Kitchen


The little things always matter, especially when it comes to food. Our testers have gone to great lengths to bring you the best camping kitchen setup around. We divulge on the best camping cookware, top camping stoves, and yes, even a comparison of camping tables. When you have a good setup, you can cook the best food, in the quickest amount of time, with the least amount of fuss. Be discerning, however, as there is a lot of variety out there, and having a good sense of how you intend to use your kit will make all the difference.

camping list - with adjustable windscreens, the cascade can accommodate larger pots...
With adjustable windscreens, the Cascade can accommodate larger pots or provide more or less wind protection.
Credit: Jared Ross

Camping Stoves


Camping stoves range from your standard double burner to those with legs so it can stand on its own. Not to be confused with a backpacking stove, a camping stove is the kind you use when car camping, or you are, at least, nearby the car. Why? They are hefty and not built for backpacking. Time to boil and wind resistance is key to a good camping stove, along with a host of other metrics we tested to help you find the best camping stove on the market.

Best Overall Camping Stove

Camp Chef Everest 2X

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Best Bang for the Buck

Gas One GS-3000

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Grilled meats, veggies, and other food items are a staple of camping cuisine, and a portable grill can take your meals to the next level.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Portable Grills


An excellent choice for the park or the campsite, take your camping kitchen to the next level with a portable grill. Do your homework, as some of these grills run on gas, while others need charcoal. It all depends on what you are going to use it for. To learn more, take a dive into our research on the top-rated portable grills.

Best Overall Portable Grill

Weber Traveler

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Best Bang for Your Buck

Cuisinart Grillster

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camping list - cast iron is a durable and long-lasting option for your camp cookware.
Cast iron is a durable and long-lasting option for your camp cookware.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Camping Cookware


Crucial considerations to any future set of the best camping cookware are: what is it made out of and what types of bells and whistles does it have that I don't know about? Reason being, there are some creative differences in what was traditionally just referred to as just “pots and pans.

Best Cookware for Car Camping

Stanley Even-Heat Camp Pro

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Best Two-Person Backpacking Cookset

GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist HS

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camping list - a portable camping table provides some much-appreciated order (and...
A portable camping table provides some much-appreciated order (and some height) to your camp kitchen.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Camping Tables


Tired of using your camping stove on the ground? Yep, you sure are. Let's be honest, camping tables are not an essential item to sleep in the woods, but they sure make life easier when you do, and they are handy for more than just cooking. When scrolling through the table options, take special note of stability and portability, key features to the top camping tables we've tested.

Best Overall Camping Table

Lifetime 4-Foot Fold-In-Half Adjustable

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Best Overall Roll-Top Table

Camp Time Roll-A-Table

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camping list - camping chairs come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but the...
Camping chairs come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but the standout options share many of the same features.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Camping Chairs


The sheer diversity in shape and construction of today's camping chairs is bewildering. But don't be fooled; there are clear stand-outs. The top camping chairs are comfortable, portable, and they last a few seasons.

Best Overall Camping Chair

ALPS Mountaineering King Kong

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Best Bang for Your Buck

REI Co-op Skyward

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camping list - for a day at the beach, or a week in the woods, you'll need a cooler...
For a day at the beach, or a week in the woods, you'll need a cooler to keep the snacks and beverages fresh.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Coolers


More so than just about any other camping item, coolers have undergone a not-so-silent revolution. Insulation technology has gotten much better, and so has the average price of a cooler. But you don't need to break the bank. Figure out what exactly you need your cooler for, and let our testing guide you. We have comparison reviews of the best soft coolers available and the best powered coolers out there. Be discerning, as there is lots of innovation (and price range) in each type.

camping list - whether you need it for a day at the beach or a week in the woods, a...
Whether you need it for a day at the beach or a week in the woods, a well-insulated cooler keeps snacks and beverages fresh.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Hard Coolers


In this category, we are talking about the best-of-the-best, old-school coolers, good for the campground, back of the truck, or park barbeque. They can be hoisted up with ease, function as seats, and will most likely keep ice for a few days. But this doesn't mean the best coolers for camping are all the same. They aren't. Read on for our top picks.

Best Cooler for Most People

ORCA 58 Quart

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Best Wheeled Cooler

Yeti Roadie 48

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Soft coolers are great for day trips and picnic outings.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Soft Coolers


Think portability when you think of soft coolers. These are great, of course, for camping, but also for taking to the park, beach, or a friend's house. Soft coolers don't hold as much as a standard cooler, but, again, they make up for it when you are on the move. See our review of top soft coolers from our veteran testers.

Best Overall Soft Cooler

AO Coolers 24 Pack Canvas Cooler

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Best Premium Soft Cooler

Engel HD30

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camping list - if you have access to power and you need things to stay seriously...
If you have access to power and you need things to stay seriously cool for a longer period of time, a powered cooler is a good option to consider.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Powered Coolers


A powered cooler is as it sounds—it needs to be plugged in. They are excellent for road trips, as you can plug them into your car's DC outlet. Though they are more expensive than other cooler types, they can double as mini-fridges. Below are our favorite powered coolers we have tested.

Best Overall Powered Cooler

Dometic CFX3 45

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Best Bang for Your Buck

Costway 54

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camping list - one of our testers on the job! it's a rough life, we know. the key...
One of our testers on the job! It's a rough life, we know. The key to our reviews is that we compare all items against each other, all the while creating unique ways to test them.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Camp Bedding


The fear of not getting a good night's sleep can keep some people from camping. But, be not worried, we can help you find your comfiest self: we have comprehensive reviews for the best camping sleeping bags. A good night's sleep doesn't stop there, however, as we have compiled reviews of the best camping pillows and best blankets for camping.

camping list - there is a wide variety of sleeping bags to choose from depending on...
There is a wide variety of sleeping bags to choose from depending on the climate, length, and style of your camping trip.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Sleeping Bags


Right up there alongside your tent, a sleeping bag is all-important when sleeping outside. Prices vary a ton, and the same goes for quality. In general, you need to figure out how warm of a bag you need, what material is ideal, and your budget. A top quality sleeping bag should last a long time.

Best Heavy-Duty Camping Sleeping Bag

ALPS OutdoorZ Redwood

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Best Budget Camping Sleeping Bag

Coleman Brazos

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camping list - a good camping pillow can help you get the good night's rest you...
A good camping pillow can help you get the good night's rest you need to tackle adventures in the coming day.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Camping Pillows


You really need to stop lugging around your bedroom pillow on camping ventures. Grab yourself one of our favorite camping pillows, would ya! They pack light, you can get them dirty, and you can stuff them in your backpacking pack as well since most are light and extremely compressible.

Best Overall Camping Pillow

NEMO Fillo

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Impressive Bang for the Buck

Therm-a-Rest Compressible

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camping list - camping blankets are perfect for enjoying early morning sunshine or...
Camping blankets are perfect for enjoying early morning sunshine or cozying up in front of the fire.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Camping Blankets


Camping blankets are as good for sleeping as they are for wrapping around yourself on those chilly mornings. But make sure you make a good decision before you ditch the sleeping bag, if that's what you're thinking, as camping blankets tend not to be as warm as their zippered counterparts. But in general, the best camping blankets are excellent to drape over anyone and anything—pets included—for extra cold-weather assurance.

Best Overall Camping Blanket

Kammok Firebelly

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Best Bang for the Buck

Kelty Biggie

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camping list - when you don't have to worry about weight, you can bring an extra...
When you don't have to worry about weight, you can bring an extra cushy camping mattress for sleeping, lounging, or reading maps.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Mattresses


A camping mattress isn't just for camping; it's great for when you have visitors or are sleeping in the back of your car. These mattresses take that old foam-rolled pad to the next level. Most of the top camping mattresses are inflatable, and some are big enough for two. Consider the size of your tent, and packed-down size, in case you intend to use it when backpacking.

Best Overall Camping Mattress

Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D

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Best Bang for the Buck

REI Co-op Camp Dreamer XL

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camping list - good for more than just sleeping on, a camping cot can be a nice...
Good for more than just sleeping on, a camping cot can be a nice spot to hang out on those early beach mornings.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Cots


Bigger and arguably more comfortable than a comparable sleeping pad or blow-up camping mattress, a camping cot definitely has its place, especially for side sleepers… and those times when sleeping off the ground is a good thing. Think spiders. We field tested and outlined our favorite camping cots.

Best Overall Camping Cot

Coleman Pack-Away Cot

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Best Bang For The Buck

KingCamp Folding Deluxe

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camping list - ultralight starter is the perfect name for this hammock because it...
Ultralight Starter is the perfect name for this hammock because it is extremely lightweight but not the lightest. And it is narrower than many but not quite as narrow as the most ultralight options which means the comfort is more forgiving of less experienced hammockers.
Credit: Elizabeth and Adam Paashaus

Camp Accessories


Assuming you've got the big-ticket items figured out, such as a good handle on the best tents and best sleeping bags for camping, now is the time to think about the other stuff. Pocket knives and multi tools are good for the kitchen and making spears for the kids, and a camp shower is a sure bet when there's no river nearby. Lastly, don't forget the best first aid kit with all the essentials. Below is a hand-curated selection where you can see the best pocket knives and the best hammocks for camping.

camping list - our testers have bought and tested more headlamps than we can count...
Our testers have bought and tested more headlamps than we can count over the years. We take great pride in that fact. Our comprehensive comparison of headlamps is the best you are going to find. Anywhere.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Camp Lighting


Lanterns and headlamps have a lot of range. No pun intended. Over the past few decades, batteries have gotten better and lights have gotten brighter, all the more reason to take the time to figure out exactly what kind of campsite lighting you want. Whether you are looking for the best headlamps for camping or the best lanterns, we've put hundreds through a battery of tests over the years. Below you are going to find the best we've come across. As you are looking around for the perfect lighting setup, follow this advice from our testers: “we recommend you think about how it might perform when things go wrong.”

Best Headlamp for General Purpose Use

Petzl Tikkina

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Best for Stunning Performance

Zebralight H600w Mk IV

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Best Overall Lantern

Goal Zero Lighthouse 600

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Best Bang for the Buck

Goal Zero Crush Light Chroma

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camping list - a pocket knife can come in handy for anything from sharpening your...
A pocket knife can come in handy for anything from sharpening your roasting stick to preparing campsite charcuterie.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Pocket Knives and Multi-tools


Whether you are fishing, cutting salami, or your kiddo is whittling a spear, a pocket knife is arguably the most versatile piece of gear on any camping trip. The best pocket knives have durable blades, bomber construction, and fold up easily. A multi-tool is another one of those things that seem to have endless uses, so why not keep one stashed in that tub of camping gear? The best multi-tools have loads of features and are sturdy and affordable.

Best Overall Pocket Knife

Benchmade Mini Barrage 585

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High Performance Heritage Design

Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork

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Best Overall Multi-Tool

Leatherman ARC

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Best Overall Multi-Tool for Everyday Carry

Leatherman Skeletool CX

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camping list - a hammock is the perfect place for a post-hike siesta.
A hammock is the perfect place for a post-hike siesta.
Credit: Elizabeth Paashaus

Hammocks


We welcome the addition of hammocks to the line-up of modern camping. They are great for an afternoon siesta, lounging, reading, and even sleeping, if you can handle it. If you're on a budget, and who isn't, check out our budget hammock review. As for the best hammocks for camping, venture below.

Best Deal for Camping

Gold Armour Camping

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camping list - if you plan to split your own wood for evening campfire sessions, an...
If you plan to split your own wood for evening campfire sessions, an axe is a must, and the blunt end can double as a mallet for hammering down tent stakes.
Credit: Clark Tate

Camp Axes


Whether you are erecting a lean-to in the Alaskan wilderness or splitting some deadwood in the mountains of Virginia, a good camp axe should split with efficiency, swing with precision, and have a durable blade. Our top top camping axe picks below.

Best All-Around Axe

Fiskars Chopping Axe

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Best Multi-Use Axe for Experienced Users

Gransfors Bruks Small Forest

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camping list - let's be honest, a camping shower is not a necessity. but that...
Let's be honest, a camping shower is not a necessity. But that doesn't mean you don't need one. When there's no river or lake, cooling off and cleaning up is oh so nice. There is a big range of quality, and cost, in this category, but, rest assured our testers have got all that figured out.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Camp Showers


Like with most camping gear, finding the best shower for camping should be undertaken with care. Some strap to the top of the car, while others are great for washing dishes and helping clean off the mud your dog rolled in for an hour. There are a lot of options, so choose wisely!

Best Shower for Road Tripping

Yakima RoadShower

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Best Shower for Camping

NEMO Helio Pressure Shower

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camping list - hope for the best and prepare for the worst; it never hurts to have...
Hope for the best and prepare for the worst; it never hurts to have fully stocked first aid kit on hand.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

First Aid Kits


The first aid kits we tested come in all shapes and sizes. Some of these are great for the home and car, while others are compact enough to warrant a spot on a camping or backpacking trip.

Best Kit Overall

Surviveware Small

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Best Value for Home Use

Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose

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camping list - our researchers in the wild. in this instance, testing hiking poles...
Our researchers in the wild. In this instance, testing hiking poles. The MSR Dynalock is a great option for any hiking excursion, like this one to Hawaii.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Hiking Activities


Hiking and camping go hand in hand. Hit the trails during the day, circle the fire at night. It's the way life ought to be. Thankfully, we have a small arsenal of comparative hiking gear reviews to help you find what you need, same with our favorite camping gear. And, if you are looking for a best-of-the-best sampler for all things hiking, check out our best hiking gear listicle, where we list the top items, just like we are doing here. Everything we review we have bought at the store, then tested rigorously over months.

camping list - between our entire team of testers, we have experience with just...
Between our entire team of testers, we have experience with just about every piece of gear you need to enjoy your weekend off-grid.
Credit: Brian Martin

Why You Should Trust Us


At GearLab, we know how important it is to have high-quality and reliable camping gear so you can get outside and enjoy yourself without having to worry about your equipment. Our team of outdoor enthusiasts are experts in their respective fields and have spent over a decade testing the latest camping gear on the market. After extensive research, we purchase the top products on the market and put them through rigorous side-by-side testing. To make an unbiased evaluation, we create metrics and rate each product based on how they perform during a series of tests.

We are lucky to have a huge team of outdoor experts who, over the last decade, have researched and tested camping gear of all types. Our camping products review team includes Jason Wanlass, who spends as much time as he can camping and hiking outdoors, and led our reviews of camping tents, sleeping bags, cots, and more. Mary Witlacil is an expert camping chef who led our reviews of camping stoves, backpacking stoves, camping coffee, and other gear like women's hiking shoes. Ben Applebaum-Bauch has been testing camping gear for OutdoorGearLab for six years. He has a decade of professional experience in the outdoor industry. He brings an extensive knowledge of camping gear to this review. Maggie Nichols brings 15 years of professional guiding experience to her reviews of camping coolers, chairs, blankets, and more.

camping list - organizing your camp supplies into bins can make them easier to...
Organizing your camp supplies into bins can make them easier to manage and transport, bonus points if the bin is clear so you can see what's inside.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Packing Tips


The amount of gear you need for a weekend in the outdoors can quickly add up, but remember, everything has to fit comfortably in your vehicle on the way to and from your campsite. To make sure you're not over (or under) packing, we recommend customizing your checklist so that you know you are only bringing the things that you need. Secondly, we recommend gathering all your supplies in a staging area so you can organize them and check things off your list as you go. When you're ready to start loading, place heavier items like kitchen gear and tents on the bottom and load lighter things like bedding and food on top.

If you take multiple camping trips per season, it can be nice to have dedicated “camping bins” where you store your gear. Using clear bins and labeling what's inside is a great way to keep everything organized at your campsite and is convenient for at-home storage when you're not using your gear. Be sure to restock your bins with supplies like paper towels and biodegradable soap at the beginning of every season so that when you take off for a weekend away, you can throw your prepacked bins in the back and know that you have your essentials ready to go.

camping list - long pants and study shoes can protect your legs and feet through...
Long pants and study shoes can protect your legs and feet through whatever adventures you find yourself on.
Credit: Trish Matheny

When packing your clothing, you probably need less than you think you do. Tailor your clothing to the activities you have planned, and check the weather before you go.

Golden Rules of Camping


When you embark on your camping trip, remember you are using a shared space. With this in mind, there are a few courtesy habits that can help keep nature accessible and enjoyable for everyone. First, leave no trace. Whether you are setting up at a lakeside KOA, or hoofing your way into the backcountry, remember to pack out what you pack in; ensure that your trash is properly disposed of, clean up after pets, and leave your campsite cleaner than you found it. Second, be aware of the local wildlife in your area. Keeping nature enjoyable is important for everyone, including our furry friends. Never approach or try to touch wild animals, and remember to store your food in bearproof containers whenever you leave your campsite.

To quote Smokey the Bear, “ Only you can prevent wildfires.” If you plan to cozy up by the fire after setting up camp, check local fire restrictions before you leave home; some states have seasonal fire bans depending on the amount of precipitation and time of year. If you do have a campfire, build it smart and safe. Never leave your fire unattended, keep it small, and always have a jug of water closeby. Use local firewood, and when you are done, make sure the fire is fully extinguished before leaving your campsite.

camping list - camping can be a great way to unplug and connect with friends...
Camping can be a great way to unplug and connect with friends, family, and nature.
Credit: Rob Gaedtke

Our Intention


We trust this list of the best camping gear was helpful. Every one of our recommendations above is the result of thousands of hours of comparative testing. That is our promise and guarantee. Whether they are sleeping under the stars or zipping and unzipping tents, our testers are taking note of the things that matter.

Thanks.

Jason Wanlass, Mary Witlacil, Ben Applebaum-Bauch, Maggie Nichols