16 Camping Gear Must-Haves
Does anyone else have a “Camping Box”? When the snow starts to melt in the Colorado Rockies my Camping Box emerges from the depths of my storage where it will then live in Rex’s car for the summer. Our box has been to several states and plenty of National Parks and Forests. It stores everything we could possibly need for hiking, camping, and cooking so we stay organized while road tripping. It even doubles as a table most of the time!
I have decided to list every item that is found in our box in hopes it helps you! You certainly don’t need everything we have and if you are trying to create your own box I suggest buying used gear from the REI Garage Sale or your local buy, trade, sell outdoor retailer because gear can get expensive, and fast.
My main concern while camping is to be comfortable sleeping. The first night of camping is the hardest for me because I am not used to the sleeping arrangement, so I focus on being as cozy as possible.
Tent: Tents can be split into two categories: 1. A tent for backpacking and 2. A tent for car camping. We typically car camp so we have a larger tent that we recently upgraded. The North Face Dome 3 Tent is a very unique and beautiful tent with multiple windows, doors, and even a stargazing roof.
Sleeping Bag: Once again, you can split sleeping bags into the categories: camping and backpacking. Backpacking sleeping bags are small, lightweight, and snug. You have a little more room with a camping sleeping bag.
It’s also important to look at the temperature rating of a sleeping bag. I typically camp in the summer, but because the temps of the mountains drop at night in Colorado I chose a bag with a temperature rating of 20°F.
Temperature Rating (°F)
+30° and higher
+15° to +30°
+15° and lower
Sleeping bag accessories:
- Storage sack- Leaving your bag permanently smooshed in its tiny bag it came with is terrible for the insulation. Use a storage sack for long-term storage.
- Sleeping bag liner- Slipping a liner in a sleeping bag keeps both your bag clean and adds more warmth. Camping in the summer? Ditch the sleeping bag and just use the liner.
Sleeping Pad: Invest in one of these if you haven’t already. These not only keep you comfortable and off the ground, but they also keep you warm because you aren’t touching the cold ground. I use this one from REI.
Pillow: It’s time to stop bringing your pillow from home. Camping pillows are often one of the cheapest things you can buy regarding camping gear and they’re tiny so you can save room in your car or backpack.
Once again, there are two categories of cooking systems you can purchase which depends on if you are car camping or backpacking. I have both a Jet Boil and Coleman Grill which I use depending on the situation. Jet Boils are good for boiling water for freeze-dried camping food or something like mac and cheese. If you’re car camping you have the luxury of cooking a larger meal which is when the Coleman Grill comes in handy.
- Jet Boil is the leading brand for compact cooking systems. They usually boil water in 100 seconds or less and are compact enough to throw in your backpack. Don’t forget to stock up on fuel.
- Car Camping? Grab yourself a Coleman Grill. We actually purchased one from an REI Garage Sale for $20 because it previously was used as rental gear.
Utensils: Get yourself a long handle spork. Trust me on this one. It comes in handy when you’re eating out of a freeze-dried camping meal bag. Your hands stay nice and clean while you’re digging in.
Coffee: Yes, in my eyes coffee deserves it’s own spot because it’s what I look forward to the most in the morning. I use our Jet Boil to boil water quickly and use our camping french press to enjoy the morning.
- If you are hiking I suggest the Sawyer Water Filter. I love the large bags you can stock up on water when you find a stream or lake. These things were a lifesaver while hiking in Wyoming.
- These water storage cubes are great for car camping or just to leave in your car at all times. It holds over 5 gallons of water and is collapsable for storage.
Camping chair: Helinox is one of the top brands for tiny, packable camping chairs. These sit low to the ground, but they pack up to the size of a Nalgene! I just purchased this one and LOVE.
Headlamp: I honestly don’t know the reason why someone would purchase an expensive headlamp. That is why I purchased a rechargeable one from Amazon and it hasn’t disappointed.
Outdoor Wet Wipes: I used these during a four-day hike out in the Wind River Range and loved them. They kept me clean and smelling nice during my time away from a shower.
Waterproof Matches: These are good to have in case of an emergency or if you forgot your lighter.