tents and hammock in woods

Your Essential Camping Gear Checklist

Paring camping gear down to the basics is no simple task. There are many ways to enjoy a night in the great outdoors, from a one-night sleep-out to serious backpacking to glamping in luxury.

Some essentials are in order if you’re heading out for your first such trip. Let’s assume there are at least two of you. You’re not looking to tackle sub-zero temperatures in your opening venture, and while not quite willing to break the bank, you want some good and dependable new gear.

Tenting Tonight

Since you’re turning the outdoors into your home, what about the house? There are only about a trillion kinds of tents to choose from, but we’d suggest the Coleman Sundome Dark Room tent for a reliable and reasonably-priced starter. It’s easy to set up and good by day, too, for blocking the sun’s heat.

The Bedroom

Your highest budget item should probably be for your sleeping bag because, well, sleep—and warmth if it does get a little colder than you’d expected. The Kelty Cosmic Down 20 will keep you toasty and rested at under $200. Add a NEMO Switchback Sleeping Pad for comfort, and think seriously about a Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow for the same reason.

Let There Be Light

Compact and under $30, the Ultimate Survival Technologies Spright Solar USB LED Lantern should keep things bright around the campsite. But we’re also partial to the lighted gloves, in various styles, from Mangata. While created with runners in mind, the gloves are great for directing light to whatever camping task is, well, at hand.

The Larder

Make sure you’ll be a regular before investing in a good camp stove. But start with a Biolite Kettlepot, which will serve for meals or coffee and will work well when you think about upgrading with Biolite’s stove or portable grill.

Goes Without Saying

The more you camp, the more you learn about what is essential for your next trip. But be sure to pack some matches (or wind-resistant cigar lighters), toiletries, and some rudimentary first-aid items. The Houmass 29-in-1 Tool Bracelet is an easy way to tote around some basic tools.

Have a Seat

It may not be essential, but a good camp chair will also serve you well at your next music and bourbon festival. The Kickback Rocker from GCI Outdoor lives up to its name.

Reward Time

When the day’s activities are winding down around the campfire, it’s time to break out the Yellowstone Select, which we assume was the first item on your packing list! Sip and savor the wilderness around you and start planning your next outdoor adventure.