5 Camping Essentials First Time Campers Forget to Pack

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Camping is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the United States. Almost 40 million people in the United States go camping each year! In fact, camping is becoming more and more popular with each passing year. 

Camping is a very family friendly activity and is a great way to get in the outdoors, whether you’re an avid outdoorsman or not. However, many people go camping and forget to pack the key essentials. This is not harmful or dangerous, but it can have a big impact on whether your trip is enjoyable or not.

If you like coffee, you NEED to take this cool camping gadget with you on your next trip! View the item on Amazon.

Everyone, whether a camper or not, knows of the popular camping essentials that they need to have a fun camping trip. Examples of popular camping essentials are:

  • A tent. (Come on, who would forget this.)
  • Food supplies. (Yep, no one will forget this.)
  • Cooking/eating utensils. (No one wants to be stuck eating solely with their fingers, so it’d be very unlikely you would forget this.)
  • Change of clothes. (Unless you’re a hard-core camper that doesn’t mind spending days, if not weeks, in one set of clothes, chances are this is the first thing you’re packing with you.)
  • Sleeping bag/bed covers. (Everyone loves their sleep, I highly doubt you would forget these.)
  • Flashlight. (When people think, camping, they automatically think, flashlight.)
  • Bug spray. (Absolutely no one forgets this!)
  • Campfire supplies. (No one forgets this.)
  • Hygiene necessities. (Everyone hates bad breath, therefore no one forgets to pack their toothbrush.)

Every first time camper pretty much has the general idea of the basic necessities to take when camping. However, there are a few things that you might not have thought of.

Is Camping Dangerous?

Every activity you do will have a potential risk associated with it. When you first learned to ride a bike, you had the risk of falling off and breaking your arm. Did that stop you?

There are some risks that go with camping, but it’s nothing you can’t mitigate with some preparation.

Wild Animals

Wild animals are always present in any camping situation. Some are just pesky, would others can pose a serious threat. When camping just remember, you’re in their habitat. Respect them, and you’ll, for the most part, be safe.

If you’re camping far in the mountains, or somewhere where people are not often present, this means there will be more wildlife. The number one thing that would attract animals to your campsite is food. To help with this, suspend your food high from a tree before you go to bed. This will keep animals out of your food.

Natural Dangers

Remember, you’re out in the wild when camping, nothing is guaranteed to be safe. Depending on where you’re camping, keep an eye out for flash floods, rock slides, rotten trees, etc.

Control Your Fire

Controlling your fire is very, very important! There are more than 100,000 wildfires each year in the United States. In just the recent years, wildfires have burnt up to 9 million acres of land. Wildfires can move at speeds of 14+ miles per hour and then consume everything in their path including trees, brush, homes, and even humans!

When starting any fire in the wilderness, practice common fire safety. The NPS.gov (Nation Park Service) gives you two steps to follow before starting any fire:

  • Know the Local Rules“Each park has its own rules on where and when you can have a campfire. Ask at the visitor center or contact the park before you visit so you know any relevant rules.”
  • Know the Fire Conditions “Has it been windy and dry lately? That might mean campfires are banned, or that other special rules or restrictions are in effect. Again, contact the park when you arrive or shortly before you visit to find out if there is a burn ban or other weather-related rules you need to know.”

Why You Should Go Camping at Least Once a Year

Going camping is a great way to unconnected from society and technology for a few days. American life is one of constant hustle and bustle with little time to actually rest and re-organize your thoughts. Camping gives you a great opportunity to do just that while also getting some needed rest and relaxation.

Best Time of the Year to Go Camping

There really is no best time of the year to go camping. Many factors include personal preference, location, and popularity. If you’re wanting to go camping when in the spring or summer, it’ll definitely be more crowded.

And, depending on where you go camping, you might not be able to even find a spot to pitch your tent. On the other hand, if you decide to go camping in the winter, you’ll have a lot more room and it won’t be near as crowded.

TIP: Camping in places that have no access to restrooms or showers will result in less people.

Camping in a Tent vs an RV or Camper

Many people choose to camp in an RV opposed to pitching a tent. Which is better? The answer is none, really. Both have their benefits, and both have their cons.

Camping in an RV


  • More comfortable than a tent.
  • An RV offers the luxuries of TV, etc.
  • An RV is a cleaner experience than camping in a tent.
  • Access to a bathroom.


  • Not as great a camping experience.
  • An RV doesn’t fit into certain camping spots.

Camping in a Tent


  • Offers a real camping experience.
  • It’s fun!
  • Gives you a sense living in the wild.


  • A tent can get dirty pretty fast.
  • It can get pretty cold, or hot, depending on where/when you’re camping.

Cooking Food Over a Fire vs a Gas Stove

If you’re trying to decide whether to cook your food over an open fire or to resort to a gas stove, just ask yourself one question, “What do you want your camping experience to be like?”

If you want to have that live of the land feel, then definitely go with an open fire. Not only is it fun, but it’s an amazing experience. And, food just tastes better!

On the other hand, if you’re just wanting convenience, then a gas stove may be for you. When it comes down to it, it primarily depends on personal preference.

Is Camping Allowed in National Parks

Camping is permitted in most national parks. But it’s always a good idea to double check with the park you are wanting to camp at.

Is there a limit on how many days you can camp in a national park?

Each park may have different rules. But generally, camping at the same site for longer than 14 consecutive days is not allowed.

The 5 Camping Essentials You Might Have Forgotten to Pack

I’ve personally put together a list of 5 things first time campers forget to pack with them. Most of these things you could do without, but they’ll definitely make the whole camping experience more enjoyable.

1. A Portable Shower

If your campsite doesn’t have any showers and your camping trip is going to last longer than a day or two, you might want to take a shower with you. It probably sounds funny, but you can actually buy a portable shower. They’re extremely easy to use and a great thing to take along on your first trip.

There’s a really cool one on Amazon that offers some great features. It’s super easy to use and can be set up as easy as a tent. View the price on Amazon.

2. A Camp Chore / Survival Knife

Never go camping without a heavy duty knife. A knife is one of your best friends when camping. You want something durable yet not bulky.

Read My Article: What Makes a Good Survival Knife: How to Choose the Right One

When choosing a knife to use around the camp, you want it to have a few things:

  1. Full Tang – The blade extends all the way into the handle.
  2. Comfortable – You’ll be using the knife a lot around camp.
  3. Fixed Blade – You want a knife that is a fixed blade. This means that the knife does not close.

The KA-BAR Becker BK2 is a great knife that will definitely get the job done. View the price on Amazon.

3. A First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is very important and is a must-have on any camping trip. Many campsites are secluded from main roads and you are most likely not going to have good phone service, so having a means to that an injury is extremely important!

Your first aid kit should contain all the essentials, here’s a few:

  1. Your first aid kit should be kept in a water resistant container/bag.
  2. It should contain multiple forms of bandages.
  3. Cleaning wipes (Alcohol wipes).
  4. Tweezers
  5. Much, much more.

The Surviveware Large First Aid Kit is a great choice. It’s FDA approved and has 200 essential basic life-saving items with additional space to add your own items. View the price on Amazon.

4. A Pair of Binoculars

It’s a happened time and time again, people go camping without a pair of binoculars and later regret it. One of the fun things about camping is you get to see wildlife. However, the wildlife a lot of times don’t get close enough to see that well, especially the big animals like deer and a potential bear or two.

You’ll never regret having a good pair of binoculars! Most binoculars tend to let you down. They don’t pull objects up that close or lack good focus, try to get a pair of binoculars from a name brand, such as Nikon.

The Nikon ACULON is a great pair of binoculars that work wonderfully. View the price on Amazon.

5. Crank Powered Phone Charger / Radio

If you’re wanting to keep your phone charged while camping, it’s always nice to have a charger. When camping in the wild, it’s even nicer if that charger can power itself. That’s when crank powered chargers come in handy. You can crank the charger to give it power, and it return it chargers your phone. This way your phone never goes dead, even if you don’t have access to electricity.

It’s also a good idea to have a crank powered radio on hand, just in case the weather or something takes a turn for the worst.

The Kaito KA500 is a great choice. It offers 5 different ways to power itself. And it’s a phone charger,  weather alert radio, flashlight, and a reading lamp all in one. View the price on Amazon.

When you went camping for the first time, what did you forget to take and later regret?

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