20 Important Things You Need To Include on Your Camping Packing List

This article is reader-supported. We may earn affiliate revenue from qualifying purchase made through links on this page. Learn more.

two camp chairs facing a forest
Mazama Campground | Crater Lake National Park – Photo by: Deke and Tiffani

We’ve all been there. You get to camp, set up, and then realized you’ve left an essential piece of camping gear at home. Maybe it’s something major, like a raincoat during a rainy weekend, or something small, like your Chapstick. In either case, you’re feeling put out and frustrated.

I have found the easiest way to avoid this situation is to organize a camp kit and just keep all the necessary items stored together. That way, when you get ready to adventure and pack up, you’re not scavenging around your home trying to remember what to bring. If you have an RV or trailer, these are the perfect items to keep in your camper at all times.

Necessities

1. First Aid Kit

I’m a big hiker, and therefore I have a few backpacks to use on different hikes, like a short day hike, a one-night backpack, or a week-long backpacking trek. But I only have one first aid kit, so I’m always switching it out between packs. Because of this, I have forgotten it a few times. Mostly, I haven’t needed it, but of course, when I did need it, I didn’t have it. My poor pup was bit by another dog and bleeding as we finished our hike. I had to tie my bandana around her leg. It didn’t hold, but fortunately, it wasn’t a bad wound. I learned my lesson after that.

2. Tylenol/Ibuprofen 

I like to keep Tylenol and ibuprofen in my camp kit in addition to my first aid kit. Long hikes and not sleeping in my own bed put a toll on my muscles, and it’s a pain to go rifling through your backpack for the first aid kit when all you need is two little pills.

camp light
LED Camping Lantern featured in Scott & Jaime’s Favorite Gear

3. Flashlight/Light Source

A flashlight, headlamp, or other light source is not something you want to forget at home. On a one-night backpacking trip, I forgot my headlamp. Fortunately, there was a full moon, so I was able to see a little bit. However, I just called it a night early and went to sleep when it got dark, and luckily didn’t need light for anything in the middle of the night.

Weather-Related

4. Sunscreen

When you camp and call the outside home, you spend much more time in the sun. It’s always good to have sunscreen on hand. There’s not much worse than not being out in the wilds and having sore skin from sunburn. Also, you want to protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun that can cause skin cancer.

lucas paw paw ointment
Lucas Papaw Ointment featured in Tiff & Deke’s Favorite Gear

5. Chapstick/Lotion

If you are a Southern girl like me, when you go out West, the dry air always seems to take you by surprise. Keep Chapstick and lotion in your camp kit to help protect your skin and lips from becoming dry and cracked.

6. Raincoat/Poncho

Having a raincoat or poncho to keep you dry is a game-changer. There’s a Scandinavian saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” And it’s true. When you’re protected against the elements, you are much more comfortable and happy.

7. Hat/Gloves

The Scandinavian saying also holds true to cold weather. That’s why keeping a hat and gloves in your camp kit or camper is a great idea too. Keeping your head and hands warm will help ensure those chilly nights are much more enjoyable. It pays to keep them on-hand even during the summer when you might get surprised by a chilly night.

Kitchen

8. Wine Opener/Bottle Opener

The most inconvenient item I have forgotten has probably been a wine opener. Without a corkscrew, there’s just no easy way to enjoy a glass of Pinot. Once, I had to push the cork down into the bottle. It wasn’t hard, but without a way to cork the bottle afterward, we had to finish it all in one evening while sitting around the campfire.

9. Cutting Board

You may not think of a cutting board as a necessity until you find yourself needing to chop vegetables or cut up meat with nowhere clean to do it. Part of the fun of camping is to prepare meals outside by the campfire, and believe me, you won’t want to cut anything directly on a campground picnic table.

10. Can Opener

If you’ve ever tried to open a can without the help of a can opener, you know that it’s a near-impossible task. No mix of knives, rocks, or pliers ever seems to be able to get the job done. Keep a dedicated one in your camper or camp kit, and never worry about canned goods again.

Spice Storage
Magnetic Spice Jars featured in Chris & Shawn’s Favorite Gear

11. Staple Spices

This past autumn, my sister forgot the spices for the steaks we wanted to grill. No salt, no pepper, or anything to flavor the steak. She ended up begging from the neighbors, and they were gracious enough to give us some. From that point on, I keep some basic spices in my camp kit.

bamboo plates
Bamboo Dish Set featured in Heather & Jeff’s Favorite Camping Gear

12. Dishes–Including Knives

Another thing I keep stored in my camp kit is a basic kitchen setup, which includes plates, bowls, cups, and eating utensils. I’ve had to try to eat steak with a spoon and knife before because I forgot forks. I do not recommend it. Also, you want to keep a sharp knife for chopping veggies and cutting up meats for the grill.

13. Dish Soap

Also in my kitchen setup is dish soap. One time forgetting it was all it took for me. We had to label our eating utensils and reuse them throughout the week. You can rinse them with water, but it only gets them so clean. Store your bottle of dish soap in a Ziplock bag to keep it from oozing all over the rest of the stuff in your kit or camper drawer.

14. Sponge/Dishtowel

Along with the dish soap, you will also find you want a sponge or dishtowel to clean your dishes. You can use paper towels in a crunch, but having a sponge or dishtowel makes the process much easier.

Comfort

camp chair
Recliner Camping Chair featured in Nathan & Winter’s Favorite Camping Gear

15. Camp Chair

My best friend gets annoyed with me because I always seem to be forgetting my camp chair. The last time we camped together—before we even left—she said to me, “I don’t have an extra chair.” Point taken. It is now stored in my camp kit.

16. Fire Starter

A good campfire always makes a night under the stars more enjoyable. I like to keep fire starter in my camp kit in case I end up with wet wood or just have problems getting my campfire going. It’s especially important if you plan to use your campfire for cooking.

Electronics

17. Charging Cords—Camera, Phone, Tablet, and Other Electronics

Having a way to charge your electronics is important when you’re on the road. I went to Sequoia National Park last year and brought the charger for my camera battery but forgot the cord to charge it on my power pack. The park was so beautiful that I took way more pictures than I thought I would. Though I didn’t run out of juice, I would have been bummed if I did.

Portable Charger
Portable Charger featured in Kelly’s Favorite Camping Gear

18. Portable Charger

In addition to having the correct charging cables, you also want to keep a portable charger in your camp kit or camper for those dry camping nights. But be sure it’s charged up and ready to use.

Pets

19. Dog Leash and Tie-Out

Most campgrounds require your dog to be on a leash, usually one no longer than 6 feet. It’s good for the safety of your pet and the other campers. You don’t want to get to camp and not be able to walk your pup or let them relax by the campsite because you forgot your leash or tie-out.

20. Water Bowl/Food Bowl

I hate to admit this one, but I am bad about forgetting my dog’s water bowl or food bowl. Usually, I have enough on hand to improvise, but I have had to pour water into my hand to let her drink. And then it gives me terrible dog mom guilt.

What do you keep in your camp kit or camper so that you don’t forget it? Let us know in the comments!