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Going on a camping trip with family or friends is one of the best ways to take a break from 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 lots of fun and adventurous activities while camping, 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 start making a list of 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 not sure 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.
- Things to Pack While Going Camping with Friends
- 1. Backpacks
- 2. Sleeping Bag
- 3. Tent
- 4. Clothes
- 5. Water & Filter Water Bottle
- 6. Food
- 7. First Aid Kit
- 8. Camping Knife
- 9. Fire Starter
- 10. Navigation Tools
- 11. Bug Spray & Mosquito Nets
- 12. Wipes
- 13. Trash Bags
- 14. Regular Towel & Cooling Towel
- 15. Windproof Umbrella
- 16. Camping Stove
- 17. Bear Spray
- 18. Sunscreen
- 19. Bluetooth Speaker
- 20. LED Lantern
- 21. Camping Parachute Hammock
- 22. Camping Chair
- 23. Portable Toilet
- 24. Air Tight Containers & Ziplocs
- 25. Fishing Rod
- 26. Travel Board Games
- 27. Solar Charger
- 28. Musical Instruments
- Final Thoughts
Things to Pack While Going Camping 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.
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2. 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, which makes it difficult for you 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 in such a case.
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 temperature. These scenarios can ruin your overall camping fun.
If you want a successful camping trip, a sleeping bag is a must-have essential. For more convenience, consider packing a sleeping mat as well.
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A tent is a must when it comes to camping. Your tent is your home when camping with friends and family. Be it 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.
Also, 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 can accommodate you and your large group comfortably.
Also, look at tents with built-in mosquito nets.
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 which can serve you multiple purposes and make you feel comfortable.
For instance, the scorching sun heat can make your camping experience dull 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.
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5. Water & Filter Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is critical, especially when camping under the sun’s rays. During your hiking journey, you might find ponds, streams, or other water sources.
However, you must always carry adequate water with you when camping. Get some filter water bottles with you 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% 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.
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Carrying enough food to your campsite is essential to stay full and energetic. Though you can hunt, fish, and forage food while camping, it is always best to bring some packaged and preserved food.
Bring MREs if you’re in doubt 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!
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7. 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
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, make sure the blade 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
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 of no use once it gets wet – unless you spend a little more for waterproof matches.
In contrast, a flint can bring a different type of wilderness experience if you know how to use one. Honestly, you should just bring one along. They’re cheap and a great idea to add to your gear.
On the other hand, just 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 out there perfect for campers.
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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 coming back from your camping spot can be a little tricky without proper directions.
The statistics related to how many people get lost for days in the woods just yards from a campsite are astounding.
People usually use their phones to get the right directions to their desired place. But, this is not a reliable option when you’re 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 to acquire detailed maps with information, like which areas to avoid, where to get food, etc.
Additionally, a compass will help you navigate yourself around and ensure you’re following 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 horizontal and point the hour hand at the sun. Halfway between that point and the twelve o’clock mark on your watch points to the south.
In the southern hemisphere, hold the watch horizontal and point the twelve o’clock mark in the direction of the sun. The north-south line is halfway between the hour hand and the twelve o’clock mark.
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11. Bug Spray & Mosquito Nets
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 it is crucial to carry bug or mosquito spray with you. 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 other 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 acts as a partial sunscreen. Plus, you can always cook with it!
You may not be able to take a bath as frequently as you do at home while camping. But no worries about your odor; wipes can help you stay fresh.
Take a wipe and use it 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 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!
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14. Regular Towel & Cooling Towel
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
There’s nothing worse than getting wet in a rainstorm while camping. To make the most out 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 it into your backpack without occupying much space.
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16. 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.
17. Bear Spray
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 essentially 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 or so – even if it’s just “yo bears!”
If bear black, just step back. If bear brown, just gets down. If bear white; *ahem* say goodnight.
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 that determines 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
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. Keeping the volume low in the forest is advisable as it might attract or disturb wild animals.
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20. LED Lantern
If you’re camping in the forest or uphill, take an LED lantern. If you think your phone’s flashlight can accommodate all your needs, you are wrong.
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 this, you get a reliable light source as an LED camping lantern comes with 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.
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21. Camping Parachute 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 come to your rescue and give you a comfortable sleep.
It is compact, lightweight, and does not take 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
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 that let you relax after a long day of trekking. Go for a foldable camping chair that comes with a backrest.
23. Portable Toilet
If you’re camping in an area with no access to a toilet facility, bringing a portable toilet can be a good choice. 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
While it is not essential for camping, they are handy. When you prepare food in forests and wild regions, you should avoid leaving your food out as it might attract animals.
Air-tight containers let you keep your food safe and fresh for a long time. Moreover, they capture food smell. That means hungry wild animals would not attract 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
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. Fishing is an excellent activity to enhance your concentration, self-esteem, and waistline if you prove successful.
Look for a fishing rod having a good combination of flexibility and strength.
See Related: Best Fishing Spots in the World
26. Travel Board Games
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 more 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
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. As solar chargers can store solar energy, 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.
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28. Musical Instruments
While musical instruments do not count as camping essentials, they are always enjoyable to have when spending quality time with family or friends. Think of fireside favorites like an acoustic guitar, ukulele, harmonica, banjo, or banjolele if you’re inclined.
Playing a good song on your favorite instrument around the campfire with your friends and family is peak camping.
So these are a few camping essentials for camping trips with your favorite folks. Include them in your camping packing list if you’re going camping with friends or family and aren’t sure what to bring. Happy camping!
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.