A Beginner’s Guide to Camping Hacks & Gear Essentials

COVID-19 has changed the way we vacation. In order to avoid crowded places, we now consider alternative types of holiday types and one great option is camping. A successful trip starts with having the right camping gear essentials. And, knowing a few camping hacks will help make your stay that more comfortable.

What's the difference between Camping and Backpacking?

Now, what you take on your trip depends on a lot on whether you are going camping or backpacking. The distinction between the two is simple. Campers drive to a particular location and camp out there. For example, you drive to a populated base camp and bring a nice, big stove.

While backpackers go on a hike and then make camp with what they’ve brought. For example, hiking 20 kilometers into the middle of a national park. Here you want something light and more portable than a big stove.

When you are buying camping gear, make sure you consider the weight and packability. Backpacking gear focuses on weight and tends to be pricier but it is great for both camping and backpacking. This dual-use is good for anyone planning on doing both.

Tip – Consider your specific needs instead of relying on a generic checklist, but a list of camping gear essentials remains the same for most trips.

What are the 10 Essentials for Camping?

When you think of camping, what’s comes to your mind? Tents, sleeping bags, backpacks are the most obvious camping specific equipment. Now this is all the expensive gear you really need but thankfully, you can get by with a lot less thank you think.

Let’s start with the most obvious camping-specific equipment: Tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, and all that other stuff that immediately comes to mind when you think of camping.


Number one on the list. Tents come in many sizes and types. There are ultralight tents for backpacking and you have spacious heaver tents best suited for hanging out near a car.

Most tents come in two varieties: three-season and four-season. Except for the deep of winter three-season tents are great for beginners, while four-season tents are more durable to handle snowdrifts (not for beginners).

Camping Tents

Sleeping Bags

Similar to tents, sleeping bags come in different weights and handle different temperatures. Based on where you plan to camp and when you will have to research to find the ones best suited for you.

Camping Gear Essentials - Sleeping bags

Sleeping Pads

This may not be considered a camping gear essential but, if you want a little more comfort, get a sleeping pad. This is an air-filled pad that sits between your bag and the ground.

Camping Gear Essentials - Sleeping Pads

Hiking Boots or Shoes

If you plan on staying around the campsite all day, then sneakers will do. However, if you plan on going for a hike or long walks, dedicates shoes that offer more support, padding and stability are required.

Again, you are spoilt for choice but to make things simple, you can break them down into four types.

  • Boots are heavy but sturdy and offer a lot of grips.
  • Trail runners are light but provide little traction or ankle support.
  • Approach shoes are mostly meant for climbing and lie somewhere in-between boots and runners.
  • Finally, you have hiking shoes. They are lightweight, have good traction, and solid durability.
Camping Gear Essentials - Hiking Boots


Backpacks is where the distinction between camping and backpacking matters. If you are camping, you really don’t need a backpack. Although you want a good day pack if you are planning on going on small hikes.

There are three main distinctions in sizes: day packs, overnight, and the long haul. Which you need depends on what you are planning on doing.

Camping Gear Essentials - Bagpacks

Headlamps, Lanterns, and Flashlights

Spoiler alert! It gets dark in the woods, so you need something to help you see at night. An LED flashlight is a good option. You can get a lantern to help you move around the campsite and for inside your tent. Personally, I prefer a headlamp as is surprisingly useful, like when you are trying to set up a tent after dark.

Camping Gear Essentials - Lanterns

Water Filtration Systems and Treatment Tablets

When we went trekking in the Himalayas, we were told that we could drink straight from the streams as the water was fresh. I was apprehensive about that and used treatment tablets. My wife, on the other hand, decided to brave it out. She got the runs by the end of the day. Save to say even if campsites have fresh water available, you should always have some kind of water filtration system available

Camping Gear Essentials - Water Filters

First Aid Kit

Do not leave home without it. Make sure it includes bandages, gauze, aspirins, moleskins for blisters, aloe vera for burns, and bug sprays.

Camping Gear Essentials - First Aid Kit

Pots and Pans

If you are camping and have access to storage, just use your pots and pans. You really don’t need any special camping cookware. However, you will want special cookware that is lightweight if you are backpacking.

Camping Gear Essentials - Pots & Pans

Cups, Bowls, and Utensils

Camping cups, bowls, and utensils tend to be lightweight, plastic or stainless, and often designed to make them easier to pack.

Camping Gear Essentials - Cups & utentils

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Camping Hacks

You can make your stay outdoors more enjoyable with a few creature comforts and camping hacks.

  1. Organize your campsite with shoe organizers. Keep your utensils, scrubbers, dishcloths, trash bags, and other cleaning gear in the shoe organizer so it’s easy to find and use.
  2. Carry collapsible cups as they have lids, easy to pack, and can be used for both hot and cold drinks.
  3. A common cause of accidents is tripping over the tent strings. Cut pool noodles and place them at the end of the tent strings. This way you can see the strings a mile away!
  4. Eggs for breakfast? Keep you ready to use scrambled eggs in a recycled container ahead of time. This will save you a lot of mess and you do not need to worry about the eggs getting crushed in the cooler.
  5. Store snacks or cereals in these recycled containers. This will keep them from getting crushed or stale when the bags rip.
  6. If the heat is getting to you, you can hang a fan from the ceiling of your tent or kitchen area to enjoy a nice cool breeze.
  7. Another great camping hack is Organizer Bins. Save time with unpacking and packing by using clear plastic tubs. Label them into the following categories:
    • Kitchen Supplies
    • Food & Snacks
    • Clothes & Laundry
    • Bathroom Essentials
    • Tents & Sleeping Bags
    • Music & Entertainment
    • Toys

Everything Else

Do not forget to factor in the safety measures to prevent or contracting COVID-19. Ensure you maintain 6 feet of distance from others where possible, always wear a face mask, and wash your hands regularly. Make sure you carry enough wet wipes, and hand sanitizers.

Whatever you buy and pack, just make sure to consider your climate, needs, and environment. I hope you found this list of camping gear essentials and hacks for camping informative. 

Now go read 40 Extraordinary Outdoor Quotes to Ignite the Adventurer In You!!

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17 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Guide to Camping Hacks & Gear Essentials”

  1. Love this list and tips. It’s been so long sense I did anything outdoors, these items brought back memories. Like the collapsible cups. The only thing I thought you overlooked is how handy military resell stores can be for multi use light weight gear. Love your whole vibe glad I stumbled upon your blog.

  2. This “city girl” cannot appreciate the camping elements. This post, however, is certainly a comprehensive list of essential camping gear and prep. Organized nicely in order, and fantastic photographs. Thanks for sharing.

  3. omg this came in the right time, we’re going camping next week, our first camping this year, can’t be more excited. I think I have everything except the water filtration system, that is so cool.

  4. The water filtration systems and treatment tablets have to be must-haves! This is a very comprehensive guide for anyone thinking of going camping for the first time.

    • that is so try Ana. Back in 2014 my wife and I hiked in the Himalayas and the local guide said the stream water was super clean. We trusted him however my wife ended up with a severe case of the runs! we had to cut short the hike and take to the doc! after that we never drink water without treating it first, no matter what people claim!


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