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What to Bring on a Camping Trip with Friends

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Going on a camping trip with family or friends is one of the best ways to take a break from a busy life and enjoy that time with your peers. Since it offers many things to do, people find it thrilling, relaxing, and satisfying.

You can do many fun and adventurous camping activities, including photography, hiking, riding, hunting, and an evening campfire.

Camping is the most exciting way to explore the outdoors and cherish the unmatched beauty of nature. If you’re planning a car camping trip with your friends and family, you should list the camping essentials you might need for the best experience.

There is a comprehensive list of things to bring on a camping trip with friends, no matter your camping location. No worries if you’re unsure what to pack for a camping trip with friends.

This article includes a list of things to bring to camp to have the best experience of your life. Use this camping checklist and pack all the things you might need. Let’s read further for details.

Packing Checklist


Camp Kitchen


Misc Gear

Things to Pack While Going Camping with Friends

Whether it’s your first camping trip or you have experience, we hope this packing list will help you plan a successful one.

1. Backpacks

things to bring on a camping trip with friends

A backpack is one of the crucial things to bring on a camping trip with friends. After all, it keeps all your belongings secure. 

Good backpacks come with multiple pockets and compartments. Therefore, you can pack your essential items in an organized way. 

Ensure the backpack you choose is flexible, lightweight, and waterproof. It should also offer maximum protection to your items stored inside. A good backpack distributes the weight evenly. Consequently, you don’t feel the excessive weight on your back. 

See Related: Travel Gift Ideas for Backpackers

2. Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Bag

Believe it or not, a good sleeping bag is something you will need the most, even if you have a high-quality tent.

The primary reason is the weather and uncertain temperature. The temperature of your camping site may drop drastically at night, making it difficult to sleep in the cold. Likewise, sleeping on cold, wet ground can be uncomfortable at least and fatal at worst!

In either scenario, sleeping bags can help you stay warm and sleep well.

There are a few other things that you should worry about, such as insects and bumpy ground. Imagine sleeping on an uneven and wet surface at freezing temperatures. These scenarios can ruin your overall camping fun.

If you want a successful camping trip, a sleeping bag is essential. For more convenience, consider packing a sleeping mat as well.

Read Also: Minimalist Travel Backpacks & Bags for Trips

3. Tent

camping tent

A tent is a must when it comes to camping. Your tent is your home when camping with friends and family. Whether sun, snow, rain, wind, or wild animals, a tent can protect you from all these things. Therefore, it is essential to bring a tent while packing for camping.

You must consider some points when picking a tent. Make sure it is waterproof or weatherproof. If you’re unsure about the material, ask the seller if it is appropriate for your camping site.

Another thing is the size of the tent. There are different sizes available. You can choose a tent based on your group size and space requirements. Consider picking a tent with separate rooms that comfortably accommodate you and your large group.

Also, look at tents with built-in mosquito nets.

4. Clothes

survival gear pants

Clothes are another must-have item on the camping list. Proper camping attire can help you stay dry, cool, and warm on a camping trip. They can protect you from cuts and scrapes, too.

Pack multi-functional attire that can serve multiple purposes and make you feel comfortable.

For instance, the scorching sun heat can dull your camping experience on a summer backpacking trip. If you want to enjoy yourself, make sure to dress appropriately. You can wear lighter clothes with sunglasses and a hat to ensure protection from the sun.

On the other hand, wear warm clothing as the temperature drops at night. Anything windproof and waterproof is great. In short, you should be prepared to deal with all weather conditions to enjoy yourself the most.

See Related: Best Travel Blazers

5. Water & Filter Water Bottle

water filter bottle

Staying hydrated is critical, especially when camping under the sun’s rays. You might find ponds, streams, or other water sources during your hiking journey.

However, you must always carry adequate water with you when camping. Get some filter water bottles and fill them up whenever you get water.

Sometimes, a campground’s water is not clean. Therefore, it would be best if you bring reusable filtered water bottles. You can fill them up without worrying about the source of the water.

Since these bottles come with an in-built filter, they can remove 99.99% of impurities within the water, making it drinkable. It also eliminates the chances of dehydration and getting sick on camping.

These things are also great when camping out in the sticks. If you’ve headed out there yourself, make sure you have contingencies. An experienced camper will take a Lifestraw and some water-purification tablets.

See Related: Best Camper Accessories

6. Food

camping trip snack foods

Carrying enough food to your campsite is essential to stay full and energetic. Though you can hunt, fish, and forage food while camping, bringing packaged and preserved food is always best.

Bring MREs if you’re doubtful about dinner, but there are thousands of options. You can even bring home-cooked food if packaged properly.

Plus, you can go the extra mile by packing s’more’s ingredients and being mindful of the group’s dietary restrictions!

See Related: Best Minnesota Foods You Need to Try

7. First Aid Kit

First aid kit

A first aid kit is another vital thing to bring to your camping site. There are higher chances of getting injured when out in the wilderness. Therefore, it’s better to take precautions than to be sorry later.

The idea is to be ready to deal with cuts, splinters, blisters, bites, stings, and other minor horrors. That way, little injuries don’t turn into big ones.

There are lots of things that you must pack in your kit, including wipes, ointments, disinfectants, sanitizer, eye patches, cold packs, eyewash, cotton, alcohol, and gauze bandages. This can help you address cuts, bites, and wounds.

Also, carry prescribed medicines for illnesses like cough, cold, fever, stomachache, and headache. Moreover, bring essential oils that can soothe bites and itchiness.

8. Camping Knife

Camping knife

Several people overlook it, but a camping knife is a crucial survival tool you must add to your camping list. A multi-purpose camping knife helps you with various things. You can use it for food preparation, making kindling, splitting wood, and starting a fire. 

It also helps you open your canned drinks!

Besides this, it can assist you in various survival scenarios. Make sure the knife you choose has a premium-quality stainless steel blade. If it’s a folding blade, ensure it locks in place when folded open. Also, it should be easy to carry and use.

Choose a knife that can slice, chop, and even pierce. The knife will be your primary survival tool in camping.

Plus, you and all your buddies can compare and fawn over them! Ooh! Shiny!

9. Fire Starter

fire starter wood sticks

Camping is incomplete without fire. This is the most important thing you should have in your camp. It is the ultimate light source at night while camping in remote locations. It also helps you boil water & cook food and keeps you warm at night. It can also deter bugs and larger animals like bears!

But the question is how to light a fire in the woods. No worries. Just bring a lighter, matchbox, or magnesium flint. A matchbox is one of the easiest and cheapest sources to light a fire, but it might be useless once it gets wet – unless you spend a little more for waterproof matches.

In contrast, a flint can bring a different wilderness experience if you know how to use one. Honestly, you should bring one along. They’re cheap and a great idea to add to your gear.

On the other hand, carry a lighter if you don’t want to experiment with anything. It can help you light up a fire within seconds. There are tons of cheap USB-charged plasma lighters, perfect for campers.

See Related: Most Stunning, Unique Costa Rica Animals

10. Navigation Tools

Camping Survival Compass

When going camping with friends or family, it is advisable to have navigation tools such as maps, compasses, and GPS systems, even if you’re familiar with the site. Going to and returning from your camping spot can be tricky without proper directions.

The astounding statistics about how many people get lost for days in the woods yards from a campsite.

People usually use their phones to get directions to their desired places. But, this is not a reliable option when camping in the middle of the woods.

Try to take different maps, including the country, the city, the town, and the camping spot. All these maps together can help you stay on the right path. Also, it is suggested that detailed maps with information, like which areas to avoid, where to get food, etc., be acquired.

Additionally, a compass will help you navigate and ensure you follow the map correctly. Furthermore, you should learn it first if you’ve no idea about using or reading a map or compass.

PRO TIP: You can use an analog watch as a makeshift compass-like Bear Grylls! In the northern hemisphere, hold the watch horizontally and point the hour hand at the sun, halfway between that point and the noon mark on your watch points to the south.

In the southern hemisphere, hold the watch horizontally and point the noon mark toward the sun. The north-south line is halfway between the hour hand and the noon mark.

See Related: Things to Do in a Small Town

11. Bug Spray & Mosquito Nets

Bug spray

Bug spray is essential in certain parts of the world. Bug bites are irritating and can lead to some infections or allergies. Some of them, like the dear old mosquito, can cause death!

That’s why carrying a bug or mosquito spray with you is crucial. They can save your day – and maybe life! Use bug spray on your body and clothes to keep bugs away from you.

Apart from this, get mosquito nets as well for restful sleep. They will protect you from mosquitoes, flies, and insects inside your tent. 

PRO TIP: Looking for a more natural option? Try coconut oil. It deters most bugs, including mosquitos, moisturizes your skin, and is a partial sunscreen. Plus, you can always cook with it!

12. Wipes


You may not be able to bathe as frequently as you do at home while camping. But no worries about your odor; wipes can help you stay fresh.

Use a wipe to clean your sweat whenever you feel like sweating. Also, carry some wipes in your shoulder bag and put some in your tent to stay stink-free and refreshed.

Try odorless ones, as sweet floral wipes can attract bears!

13. Trash Bags

Trash bags

Trash bags may not seem important, but they sure are useful. Many people dump their waste at camping sites, which impacts the environment. Plus, it’s gross. It is EVERYONE’S responsibility to keep our surroundings clean. A camping site is no different.

Put all your waste in trash bags until you can bin it. If that means carrying your trash with you, being a bigger backpack, and suck it up!

Trashbags serve many purposes when camping and in survival scenarios. They can be used for separating gear within a backpack, used as waterproof covers for backpacks and gear, made into makeshift shelters, waterproof clothing or ropes, and even flotation devices!

See Related: Simple Ways to Sustainable Travel

14. Regular Towel & Cooling Towel

cooling towels

Another camping essential that you must bring with you is a towel. In addition to drying or wiping your body, you can use it as a blanket, a pillow, an extra layer to your clothing or shelter, or clean the outside of your damp camp before packing it all up. Buy a high-quality towel that absorbs water quickly.

Apart from a regular towel, you can also carry a cooling towel. It can be a lifesaver to protect yourself from the sun. You need to wet the pad, squeeze out the excess water, and use it on your face, neck, and shoulders to beat the heat.

Once you wet the towel properly, you can use it for up to 4 hours straight. After that period, soak it again to see the continuous magic. The best part is that these cooling towels are reasonably priced.

15. Windproof Umbrella

two windproof umbrellas

There’s nothing worse than getting wet in a rainstorm while camping. To make the most of your trip, it is critical to step out of your home with a proper rain protection plan – for once, I’m not talking about travel insurance Editor’s note Guess again! You folks get insured if you’re going into the wilderness!*

The best option is to pack a windproof travel umbrella. Also, make sure to buy a foldable umbrella. The compact size will make it easy to put into your backpack without occupying much space.

See Related: Best Family Travel Insurance Plans Affordable Plans

16. Camping Stove

camping stove

Many campers carry pre-cooked or fast food to save the hassle. Worse – some believe the R in MRE does mean “ready.”

Spoiler alert: it rarely is ready. Nevertheless, there is a solution to it. Reduce your reliance on cold packaged food by bringing a camping stove!

A portable gas stove lets you heat your favorite food while camping. A good stove comes with windscreens and temperature controllers to simplify outdoor cooking. 

Do not forget to add it to your camping packing list if your campsite does not include a grilling system and cooking arrangements.

See Related: Essential Packing Tips for Travel to Maximize Your Trip

17. Bear Spray

bear spray

Like bug spray, the bear spray ensures your camping is pleasant and safe. If you are camping with friends somewhere in a dense forest or national park, you must keep it handy.

God forbid if a bear charges you, the spray can be life-saving.

Bear spray (aka bear mace) contains capsaicin and similar capsaicinoids that stop bears from behaving aggressively. It is a much stronger form of pepper spray used by law enforcement. Don’t play around with it. It hurts. Bears hate it, so imagine what it’ll do to you.

Standard sprays provide an effective distance of 15 feet. We suggest getting one with a range of 25 feet or more. Make sure the spray works on almost all types of bears.  

PRO TIP: Bears are shy and easily startled. Most bear attacks occur because the bear is surprised. Be a good visitor and let them know you’re coming. While you’re out and about in the wilderness, simply call out every hundred paces – even if it’s just “yo bears!”
And remember…
If bear black, just step back. If bear brown, just gets down. If bear white; *ahem* say goodnight.

See Related: Minnesota National Parks and National Park Service Sites to Visit

18. Sunscreen


While camping on a sunny day, you might have to deal with excessive sun exposure. Remember, unprotected UV light exposure can harm your skin, immune system, and eyes.

Even if it is a cloudy day, continuous sun exposure can cause significant damage to your skin. As a result, you must wear SPF protection. 

Sunscreens come with an SPF label determining how long they will protect you against the sun. We recommend getting sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher. Take a patch test before using sunscreen.

Besides sunscreen, wear clothes that protect you from the sun’s rays. Protect your neck, ears, and eyes if the sun is too harsh, and get good-quality sunglasses.

19. Bluetooth Speaker

portable bluetooth speaker

There is nothing more pleasing than listening to your favorite music while camping. So whenever you go camping, add a Bluetooth speaker to your camping packing list. 

Buy a good quality, waterproof, portable Bluetooth speaker that you can easily connect to your smartphone or music system. 

Make sure it has a good playtime of at least 20 hours. It is advisable to download music offline to your phone. Thus you can play music even if there is no network at your campsite.

Listening to music can make your camping trip more fun, whether you are camping with friends or family. It is advisable to keep the volume low in the forest as it might attract or disturb wild animals.

See Related: Summer Music Festival Madness: Ways To Survive

20. LED Lantern

LED camping lantern

Take an LED lantern if you’re camping in the forest or uphill. You’re mistaken if your phone’s flashlight can accommodate all your needs. 

LED lanterns are not a luxury but an essential tool for your camping excursion. You can use it in plenty of ways as it provides consistent light. They can improve your ambiance. In the dark, the lamp can assist you in finding your way.

Modern LED lanterns provide you with 360-degree illumination. Consequently, you can lighten up more areas of your campground. Besides, you get a reliable light source, such as an LED camping lantern with a long battery life.

If you think carrying a light will be an extra burden, let us assure you that camping lanterns are lightweight and portable. You can also hang them inside your tents to read books, play cards, and perform other tasks comfortably.   

If you’re worried about batteries or chargers, find one that can be recharged with a hand crank.

See Related: The Floating Lantern Festival

21. Camping Parachute Hammock

set of camping hammock

If you want to make your camping trip more fun and relaxing, buy a parachute hammock. Several travelers can enjoy camping with a hammock because it allows them to sleep comfortably above the ground.  

If you cannot pitch your tent in the rough or sloping terrain, the hammock can rescue you and give you a comfortable sleep.

It is compact, lightweight, and does not take up much space. Furthermore, it is easy to set up. You can clip it to trees using nylon straps. It won’t take more than 5 minutes after some practice.

The hammock could be your best friend if you want to spend time in solitude or away from a busy campsite. The hammock can shield you from groundwater and rain if you’re camping in the rainy season.

PRO TIP: Sleeping in a hammock has many health benefits as well. It enhances your blood flow and relieves joint and spine pressure. 

22. Camping Chair

camping folding portable chair

To sit around your campfire, you will want a comfy chair. It will improve your social camping experience and also keep your clothes clean.

Camping chairs are comfortable and let you relax after a long day of trekking. Go for a foldable camping chair that comes with a backrest.  

See Related: Dana Reserve to Petra: An Adventure Trek Like No Other

23. Portable Toilet

portable toilet

Bringing a portable toilet can be a good choice if you’re camping in an area with no access to a toilet. It can provide you with bathroom relief anywhere. 

Modern portable toilets provide you with the comfort of the actual home toilet. Like a regular toilet, they support a flush system. In the portable toilet, waste is deposited beneath the bathroom into a contained area that is easy to dispose of.

24. Air Tight Containers & Ziplocs

Air Tight Containers

While they are not essential for camping, they are handy. Avoid leaving it out when preparing food in forests and wild regions as it might attract animals. 

Air-tight containers let you keep your food safe and fresh for a long time. Moreover, they capture food smells. That means hungry wild animals would not be attracted to your campsite.

Ziplocs can be used for the same job but are more vulnerable to animals. They are easier to pack in a backpack and can be used to keep valuables separate in little waterproof baggies!

25. Fishing Rod

fishing rod set

If you and your gang love to do fishing, get a fishing rod. It is one of the best things to bring on a camping trip with friends and family. Fishing will add great excitement to your camping tour- and may even result in dinner. 

You can also get your kids involved in this hobby. If you prove successful, fishing is an excellent activity to enhance your concentration, self-esteem, and waistline.

Look for a fishing rod with a good combination of flexibility and strength.

See Related: Best Fishing Spots in the World

26. Travel Board Games

board game

If you want to have an exciting camp trip with your friends and family, do not forget to get some travel board games. After hours of hiking and fishing, you may sit around your campground and enjoy these games. 

A deck of cards and board games like Bananagrams and Battleships can make your camping fun. Such games improve your logic skills, reasoning, and critical thinking and help pass the time on rainy days. 

Also, don’t forget to bring a picnic table!

See Related: Best Travel Board Games: Travel-Sized Options

27. Solar Charger

solar power bank charger

A portable solar charger will keep your phone, Bluetooth speaker, and other devices charged from the sun’s free power. Since it requires only sunlight to generate energy, you do not rely on batteries, car chargers, or campsite outlets. 

Just clip it onto your backpack and let it build a charge as you hike!

If you are camping in a forest where you don’t have access to electricity, a solar charger could be a savior. Solar chargers can store solar energy, and you can use them even on a cloudy day. 

Nowadays, solar chargers with up to 25000 mAh power are easily available. Since they support multiple ports, you can charge your electronic devices simultaneously.  

See Related: Best Portable Nebulizers for Travel

28. Musical Instruments

ukelele set

While musical instruments are not camping essentials, they are always enjoyable when spending quality time with family or friends. If you’re inclined, think of fireside favorites like an acoustic guitar, ukulele, harmonica, banjo, or banjolele.

Peak camping is playing a good song on your favorite instrument around the campfire with your friends and family.

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