Everything That Should Be on Your Camping List
Camping has many benefits, but packing can be a pain and who wants to break the bank loading up on gear.
Figuring out what's essential and what's overkill is easier said than done, so we did the heavy lifting for you. Add these 17 items to your camping list to make your next camping trip a breeze.
A Tent That Lets You Sleep in Past Dawn
Why you need it: Night owls and camping are a tricky combination. In summer, the sun rises before 6 a.m., so getting enough shuteye can be tough.
This Ozark Trail 10-Person Dark Rest Instant Cabin Tent is the answer to your late-riser prayers. It's big enough for the entire family, and it stays pitch black no matter how bright it is outside. Perfect if you've been up past midnight, or if your toddler needs a mid-day nap.
Oh, and the entire thing sets up in less than 60 seconds. Win.
What campers say: "The 'Dark Rest' feature made sleeping/napping during the daylight hours easy (which comes in handy at a music festival where you're likely up until 4 AM - dawn. ... The easy windows made getting light, or air flow, super easy as desired. We had serious rain for a night and had no water in the tent at all! It also stood up solidly against strong gusty wind even though we didn't have the guy ropes staked out. All in all I have been very pleasantly surprised by this tent!" — Devon
Buy it now: Ozark Trail 10-Person Dark Rest Instant Cabin Tent, $272
Amazon's Most Popular Sleeping Bag
Why you need it: Look, it's just a sleeping bag. It doesn't tie your shoes or give you a massage, but it's warm, durable and comes in multiple sizes.
Grab a youth size if you have a little one in tow, or a double for some extra snuggling room.
Lots of colors and a reasonable price make this simple sleeping bag a winner.
What campers say: "We bought 75 sleeping bags from this seller (Oaskys) to give out to homeless, people in need. Before buying a large quantity, we bought a sample from each seller to compare the quality and temperature rating. We chose to buy this product from this seller because of the quality and great price." — Chau Le
Buy it now: Oaskys Camping Sleeping Bag, $25.99-$49.99
A Bunkbed for the Road
Why you need it: Camping with kids can get interesting, especially if you're camping with a lot of them. The Disc-O-Bed youth-sized bunk is a double-decker cot that allows campers to make the most of their tent's floorspace.
It's also fun, and comes in a larger size for grownups.
What campers say: "These bunk beds allow us to fit 2 adult large cots and one kids disc-o-bed in an 8 person tent which was the goal. The fact that the kids are actually excited about sleeping in it makes it that much better! I appreciate the quality of this product from the materials down to the carrying case with elastic to hold every piece into place. The kids use the storage and there is one pocket that fits a kid-size water bottle perfectly. All in all a lot of thought went into every design choice." — Buys Too Much
Buy it now: Disc-O-Bed Youth Kid-O-Bunk with Organizers, $309.99
A Hammock That's Actually Easy to Hang
Why you need it: Camping hammocks have a few additional boxes to check that backyard hammocks don't. They need to be lightweight, pack small and easy to hang up anywhere. This one by Kootek fits the bill.
It's spacious and sturdy, holding up to 500 pounds. It also comes with carabineers and 10-foot-long straps that have several loops to make it easy to adjust the height of the hammock in seconds.
The lightweight parachute fabric is also soft and dries quickly if accidentally left out in the rain.
What campers say: "I was a little skeptical of the quality of this hammock for the price, but I ordered it anyway since my old one ripped and I had an upcoming camping trip. I was TOTALLY IMPRESSED when it came in the mail! I got the double nest size. It was even roomier and comfier than I thought it would be. It also came with straps." — Jessi Butler
Buy it now: Kootek Double Camping Hammock, $27.99
A Table for Everything. Plus Storage.
Why you need it: There are tons of great camping tables out there, but we love that this one comes with a canvas storage container. Fill it with board games, cooking supplies, you name it.
The tabletop also comes in multiple finishes, and the entire setup is backed by a lifetime warranty.
What campers say: "We use this for a kitchen area counter almost. We pack all of our utensils plates and cookware on one side and we put snacks on the other of the bottom two sections (even kept out the bugs) and we set our stove on top and prep next to it. It works great and is the perfect size. We camp with 4 people normally." — Jay K
Buy it now: Camp Field Camping Table With Adjustable Legs, $69.99
A Storage Strap, AKA 'How Not to Lose Your Keys'
Why you need it: There are a million reasons to get this simple, insanely handy piece of camping gear. It gives you options. So many options. Hang up wet towels or bathing suits. Store snacks out of reach of pesky critters.
Add a mesh bag to toss your phone and keys into so you don't lose them in the dark. Super versatile, and it holds up to 150 pounds.
What campers say: "So glad I purchased this for our camping trip. I was constantly hanging things and taking them down and hanging again. It was an easy place to find my necessities. Sturdy and good quality." — DVil1
Buy it now: Lamuro Campsite Storage Strap With 19 Separated Loops, $19.99
The Standard Issue Camping Chair
Why you need it: Who hasn't seen one of these? It's practically the official camping chair. They're sturdy, comfy and cushioned, and they come with built-in cupholders and a four-can cooler.
It folds down in seconds and fits easily into the included storage bag. If you really want a glamping experience, though, try one of these folding gravity chairs. They're not nearly as compact, but the reclining feature is heavenly.
What campers say: "Best camping chair I've owned. I won't get specific with my dimensions but I'm a pretty big guy. Most chairs you find in stores are designed for skinny people whereas this chair works well with my large body." — Steve S
Buy it now: Coleman Camping Chair With Built-In 4-Can Cooler, $32.69
A Lantern You Can Recharge in the Car
Why you need it: Even in summer months, the woods are dark when night falls. Unless you're planning on hitting the hay at 8:30, you'll need a reliable light source. Even if you do go to sleep early, you'll still need a light. Unless you plan on walking to the campground bathroom by feel.
This 1000 lumen light is plenty bright enough to illuminate a card game or after-dinner cleanup. It's also rechargeable, water-resistant and doubles as a phone charger.
What campers say: "I purchased a Supernova 500 for 19.99 and fell in love with it only to find out that the next one I went to buy was for 24.99. Now they are 39.99. I saw this light and for 18.50 I thought I would give it a shot, I was not disappointed this lantern is identical as the supernova at half the price and produces the same amount of light. I highly recommend this lantern." — Meatman
Buy it now: LE LED Camping Lantern Rechargeable 1000 LM, $29.99
A Bug Murderer, Because Why Not?
Why you need it: If there's one thing the movies gloss over about camping, its the bugs. Go to a real campground and you'll find gnats, ants and mosquitos, oh my. While bug spray is always a good item to have on hand, reducing the number of bugs in the area is always a plus.
This bug zapper can be charged via USB C cable or sunlight alone, making it ideal for camping. It covers up to 2,100 square feet, so most of your campsite should be within range.
What campers say: “I had another bug zapper which died and was looking for a new one. We have a very bad mosquito issue and need all the help we can get. This guy is small but definitely works. I also love that there's a pretty decent light built in. It was pretty much out the box operation for it. I sat it out in the sun and it didn't need any extra charging.” — Faiza k
Buy it now: Elechome Bug Zapper, $39.99
A Hot Shower in a Bag
Why you need it: Staying at a remote campsite doesn't mean you have to smell like you're staying at a remote campsite. This Coleman Solar Shower is a cheap and easy(ish) way to heat up water and rinse off.
Note: It's heavy when filled up, so lifting it requires some strength. It's not the most elegant solution, but it's worth it for the price.
What campers say: "Imagine my joy after swimming in a clay bottom, murky lake while camping, to find this wonderful device filled with sun-warmed, clean water. When we camp it's roughing it at a 4 on a scale of 1-10 (1 being using a machete to get to a campsite, 10 being glamping) so this item is a wonderful addition to our campsite. If you have a bad back or can't lift heavy items you might want someone else to hang it for you, but it heats up enough to clean off whatever filth you've been involved in while at camp." — Kindle Customer
Buy it now: Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower, $14.00
For Those Days When Protein Bars Don't Cut It
Why you need it: Just because you can rough it doesn't mean you have to. The Coleman camping stove is a classic piece of camping gear. It works with small propane canisters and comes with a push-button ignition — no more struggling to light a stove in the wind with matches!
The two burners provide enough space to cook a full meal for a family of 4-6, and they're easy to clean up afterward. Coleman also backs the stove with a three-year limited warranty.
What campers say: "I lead Learning Tours to interesting places. This summer took a group to Yellowstone/Tetons, and was in need of a new cook stove (we camp for the entire trip). Criteria: durable, dependable (needs to cook two meals a day for a group of 11 for eight days), not too heavy, decent temperature controls (often an issue with these stoves), good price. This stove met all these markers, making me a happy camper." — David Radcliff
Buy it now: Coleman Gas Camping Stove, $74.99
Camping Doesn't Have to Mean Lousy Coffee
Why you need it: Can we be honest? Instant coffee is sad. It doesn't matter what brand you buy. It tastes like sadness. Hot sadness, maybe, but still sadness. For coffee lovers (addicts, one might say), good coffee is an essential supply.
Ditch the instant and get flavorful, fresh-brewed coffee with this insulated, double-filtered coffee press. It might be the most life-saving piece of camping gear you'll buy. (For everyone around you, that is.) You could also be extra extra and bring along a portable espresso machine.
What campers say: "I've used several of the standard glass French presses over the years and they work good, this just works BETTER! The double wall vacuum insulation keeps the water temp at an even point so it extracts the maximum flavor from the coffee grounds, and when it's ready, it's still nice and hot." — Robert A. Sawtelle
Buy it now: Coffee Gator French Press Coffee Maker, $27.99
The Cooler With Over 4,000 Good Reviews
Why you need it: People rave about Yeti coolers, and we get why. They're bear-resistant and claim to keep ice frozen longer than any other brand. But they're also nearly $400.
The Coleman Xtreme is a fraction of the price, and it can reportedly keep ice up to 5 days in temperatures as high as 90°F. For most campers, that's plenty enough insulation. The 70-quart model can hold up to 100 cans, and the closed lid doubles as a seat, cup holders and all.
What campers say: "The solid ice lasted about 3 days. It still had icy water for my water and soda though. Everybody told me I would need to spend money on a Yeti if I wanted to have ice for 4 days, but for way less, this did great." — Jennifer Sharp
Buy it now: Coleman Xtreme 5 Cooler, $69.99
Cooking Essentials That Won't Rattle Around in the Trunk
Why you need it: Sure, you could raid your kitchen cabinets for pots and pans, but there's an easier way. This camping mess kit fits together like a puzzle, including 27 pieces of quality cooking gear. The pots and pans are made of non-toxic aluminum with a safe, non-stick coating and heat-resistant handles.
The full list of items includes: 1 hanging pot,1 boiling pot,1 frying pan, 1 kettle, 6 BPA-free bowls, 4 BPA-free small plates, 3 BPA-free big plates,1 BPA-free foldable soup spoon, 1 rice ladle, and 1 cleaning sponge.
Combine the mess kit with this awesome kitchen utensil set for the total package.
What campers say: "We purchased these to replace our bulky 'leftover' camping cookware. They are fabulous! Lightweight but sturdy and well-made; the handles work well and stay cool. Very compact but large enough to prepare meals for 2-4 people. They are perfect for our 2-burner Coleman stove." — Mamacat
Buy it now: Bulin 27 PCS Camping Cookware Mess Kit, $64.99
A Canopy for Bug-Free Meals
Why you need it: We already talked about getting rid of bugs via bug zapper, but the other option is keeping them out of your space altogether. This pop-up screen room is large enough to fit over a picnic table so you can enjoy a meal without swatting away mosquitos.
It comfortably fits 4-6 adults, and comes in more sizes if you want extra space.
What campers say: "I absolutely love this. It popped right up straight out of the bag. I didn’t even use the ropes to secure the sides. I only tied down the bottom and used sandbags to secure it. It was windy the other day and it didn’t even move. I strung solar lights inside and put an outdoor rug underneath. It’s my outside oasis free of bugs." — Shari
Buy it now: Alvantor Screen House Room, $159.99
A Solar Generator for Fun (and Emergencies)
Why you need it: Camping with a dead phone battery is a pain. How are you supposed to look up the coolest local hikes? Or places to eat when you can't be bothered to cook?
Charging your phone in the car works to a point, but if everyone in the family has a gadget to charge, it's problematic. That's why a small generator is one of the best pieces of camping gear you can buy. This one is solar-powered, and you can plug in your phone, laptop or even a CPAP machine. It only weighs four pounds, so you can bring it along even on a backpacking trip.
Note: The generator cannot be charged while it's in use.
What campers say: "This portable charger is amazing! I only used it one night so far. It came fully charged out of the box. I used my Philip System One Cpap overnight, using the recommended DC power. I slept a good 7hrs and the LCD indicator didn't move. I worked very well. This will be great for camping. Thanks Flashfish, goofy name, excellent product!" — Joshua David Sutake
Buy it now: FlashFish 200W Portable Power Station, $129.99
The Requisite Camping Survival Kit
Why you need it: We hope you never need this kit, but you'll be glad to have it around if you do. This 126-piece survival kit was made by U.S. military veterans. It's an all-in-one survival kit, including a tactical folding knife, wire saw, pen, fire starter, compass, emergency blanket, folding pliers, tactical defense whistle, saber card, bottle clip, carabiner, a full first aid kit, and so much more.
And all of that comes in an 8 inch by 6.5 inch by 6 inch package. Clip it onto your backpack to take along on a day hike, or just keep it in the car in case of an emergency. Better safe than sorry.
What campers say: "This is a mega big necessity for any emergency. We had a really bad natural disaster last year and since then we have decided to keep an emergency box that contains some food, water and survival necessities. This pack is great for our emergency box as everything you can think of is included. Nice that everything also is small and compact and fits all in the carrying bag it comes with." —Misty Flota
Buy it now: Aokiwo 126-Piece Emergency Survival Kit, $34.99