Essential camping gear

Now that you know the camping basics, it’s time to go shopping! Here’s your go-to camping gear guide.

Tent essentials

It’s time for TENTx Talks. Here are some tips for the best outdoor sleep experience.


Keep these things in mind when shopping for a camping tent:

Decide on the size. This really depends on how many people you’re shacking up with. If it’s just you then stick to a small one. But if it’s you and a partner go for the three-person tent. You’ll have more room for activities.

Think about the weather. Four-season tents are super versatile because you can use them year-round. They come with extra flaps for extra protection in the colder months. It also comes with vents for better air flow in the summer season.

“You’ll want to make sure you have a rain fly, a tent, and a tent footprint,” Springfield says.

Ease of use. Some tents can be a pain in A to set up. If you’re just going on a 2-day vacay you don’t want to spend half that time figuring out which pole goes where. You can avoid tent stress by setting it up at home first.

Durability. Most name brand tents are designed for durability. But it’s still a good idea to get a tent that can withstand the elements.

Sleeping bags

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you buy a sleeping bag:

  • Is it waterproof?
  • What shape is it?
  • What is it insulated with?
  • How many people does it fit?
  • Will I freeze and/or sweat to death?

Camping mattress

A sleeping pad or camping mattress can provide top-notch comfort and support. But most importantly, they offer insulation from the ground. They should be easy to store, fast to inflate, and hella comfortable. Here’s a list of our top picks.

Alternatively, you can get a portable camping hammock.

The fire pit

Fire pits are one of the best parts of the camping experience. Here’s what you need.


The ideal camping chair should be comfortable, durable, and easy to carry. They come in lots of different styles like:

  • classic camp chair
  • low-to-the-ground chair
  • rocker
  • suspended chair
  • scoop chair
  • camp stool
  • two-legged chair
  • three-legged chair

Any of these options can be cozy AF. It’s all about what you like best.


Some campsites sell firewood. But you might want to bring a couple of fire logs to get the party started.

“If you’re going to collect your own firewood, look for dead standing wood,” Springfield says. “It’s any dead tree or branch that’s not laying on the ground. Wood on the ground is often water logged and rotten.”

PSA: Don’t pull a Paul Bunyan and go to town on trees. Only chop wood if you’re positive it’s allowed in the area. Remember, Smokey the Bear is watching you.

Fire starting materials

Here’s some stuff you can find in the forest for your fire:

  • Tinder. (No, not that Tinder). This includes dry leaves, pine needles, or anything else that’s easily combustible.
  • Kindling: This consists of small sticks or twigs that help fire up the flames.
  • Firewood. You can stack your wood in a cone, log cabin, or pyramid formation for a longer burn.

And here’s what you should bring with you from home:

  • matches
  • long-reach lighter
  • fire poker (optional)
  • a bucket to help you put the fire out

P.S. Some campgrounds don’t allow fires period.

“A quick call to the ranger station, talking with a camp host, or calling local fire departments can get that answer for you about fire bans or restrictions,” Springfield says.

Skewers for roasting foods

You can totes go old school and use a twig to roast your weenies. But you might have a tastier (and less splintery) experience with metal BBQ skewers.

Food and “kitchen”

This is what you need to cook and store your food safely:


Coolers have come a long way over the years. Some modern models can keep your food fresh for hours on end.

If outdoor dining is something you enjoy on the reg, you may want to invest in a portable refrigerator. These battery-operated bad boys can keep things cold for days and days. Just keep in mind, they can get super spendy.

Safe packaging

You probably won’t run into the Blair Witch on your next camping adventure. But chances are you’ll encounter some critters. So make sure you store your food in a secured container.

FYI: If you’re in bear country, take advantage of bear safety lockers. If they’re not available you should store your food in bear bags. Hang the bags in a tree 10 to 12 feet off the ground at least 200 feet from your sleep spot.


Here are some solid options for cooking in the great outdoors:

  • fire pit grill
  • coffee press
  • metal skewers
  • open fire kettle
  • cast iron skillet
  • metal cooking spoon and spatula (plastic may melt)

As for utensils, cups, and plates, lots of camping enthusiasts prefer stainless steel. They’re super-duper durable and more eco-friendly than paper or plastic.

“When considering cookware, think about weight if you’re going to be hiking with any of it,” Springfield says. “A coffee cup, plate, bowl, fork, knife, and spoon can get you pretty far.”


No one needs to look like they’re going to the Met Gala on a camping trip. But it’s still important to bring some basic hygiene and protective products with you.

Bug spray

Pesky pests can put a huge damper on your camping experience. Be sure to stock up on bug spray before you hit the trails. And these days, there are tons of natural products to choose from.


You should wear sunscreen every day, even if you’re under heavy tree coverage. Stick to SPF 30 or higher and reapply throughout the day.

“Also consider wearing a hat, long sleeves, long pants, and UPF clothing,” Springfield says.

Dry shampoo

You might not get a chance to scrub-a-dub-dub when you’re camping. But a quick hit of dry shampoo can keep your hair feeling fresh.


Lots of peeps like to bring their own toilet paper when they go camping. But(t) if you want to go au naturel and wipe with leaves, more power to you. Just make sure it’s not poison oak. And remember that hand sanitizer.

Camp clothing

You definitely don’t have to dress to impress when you’re in the woods. But it’s super important to pick clothes that can help you thrive in the elements.

Hot weather

Cotton and camping aren’t a great combo. It absorbs more water than other fabrics which can leave you feeling wet and sticky all day long. Instead, wear breathable fabrics like loose linens in the summer and light synthetic blends. You should also avoid dark colors that absorb heat.

Cold weather

Thermals are your friend. Also invest in a top-notch insulated winter coat, gloves, and wool socks. Long underwear, a thick hat, and waterproof boots are also a great idea.