If you are going camping, some items are optional. There are some things, however, that are essential. Here are some ideas about what you’ll need to make your camping trip enjoyable and safe.

1. Tents

Tents can be large and elaborate or small and simple. Dome tents are set up differently than “pup” tents, or triangular tents. Choose your tent style based on your budget, experience, campsite location, and weather. Just make sure you take along a hammer and the stakes.

2. Food and Water

Food and water are, of course, essential. Pack your food according to a daily menu that you make up ahead of time. Consider leftovers and how you could use them. Also consider portability and how perishable your food is. Be sure to plan your meals around camp-friendly fare (you don’t want to try making a soufflé on site, for example!).

Bring water in reusable containers. Refill with purified water. You can use water purification tablets or carry a portable water filter specially made to remove microbes and parasites.

3. First Aid

This is an important article that you do not want to forget. Your first aid kit should include:

  • Band aids
  • Tweezers
  • Antiseptic (ointment and liquid for rinsing)
  • Gauze
  • Bandage tape
  • Butterfly strips

4. Toiletries

You don’t want to get out into the wilderness and forget the toiletries. Toilet paper, a shovel, and feminine supplies are important items.

5. Cooking Utensils

Depending on how much cooking you want to do, cooking out requires some specialized items. Bring a few pots and pans, long-handled spoons and spatulas, and flatware kits with bowls for individuals. Remember heavy aluminum foil, napkins, and condiments.

6. Insect Repellent

Whether you go with chemical repellents or physical barriers such as nets, make sure you are protected against insect bites and stings.

7. Anti-Itch Cream

Bites do happen despite precautions. Poison ivy and other dermatitis-producing plants can also make for uncomfortable itching. Cortisone or other anti-itch cream, lotion, or ointment will work.

8. Pepper Spray to Repel Bears

Pepper spray that is made for campers and hikers is available. Hopefully, you won’t need to use it, but it apparently works well to repel bear attacks.

9. Tarp or Ground Cover

If your tent does not have a base, you’ll want a waterproof ground cover. A tarp will do.

10. Sleeping Bags

Sleeping bags are essential. Choose ones that are compact and appropriate for the weather.

11. Sleeping Pads

If the weather is cold, sleeping pads can make the difference between a sleepless, freezing night and a warm, comfortable one. They also add comfort if you are camping on rocks or very hard ground. There are inflatable pads that deflate for transport. These are more expensive than the rolled, “egg crate” pads that also work.

12. Flashlight

This one is self-explanatory – be assured you’ll need it!

13. Knife

A good pocket knife can be invaluable on a camping trip.

This list is only a partial one. Make your list to fit your needs. Add other items as they come to mind. Just make sure you sit down and make a list before packing and setting out.