Camping Packing List

Camping from your car or hitting the trail? Here are items you'll need in almost all situations. Personalize your list after trying ours. This list is good for backpacking trips of a few days or longer (if you'll wash clothes en route). Car campers: Bring more clothes to avoid doing laundry!

Backpack
External- or internal-frame packs are both okay, but buy from a reputable outfitter. Internal-frame packs hug your body closer and are better for keeping your balance over rough trails. Have the pack (loaded 30-40 pounds) fitted to your torso. Women: ask for a "women's frame." Backpacks 4,000 to 5,000 cubic inches should be plenty large enough for long weekend trips.

Map, Compass, and Trail Guide
Topographic map; compass (clear plastic base, handy for seeing map beneath); photocopied pages from trail guide.

Boots
Hiking boots (not sneakers), with strong ankle support and lug sole.
Shelter
Make sure your tent is big enough to hold people and all equipment in a storm. Remember to pack the tent's rain fly, poles, stakes, and ground cloth, which should be a few inches shorter than the tent's base.

Bedding
Sleeping bag (synthetic or down filling) good for 35 degrees or colder, with stuff sack (and plastic bag liner). Sleeping pad (foam or self-inflating air mattress).

Clothing
Keep all clothes in sealable plastic bags. Avoid cotton.
Socks: 3 pair, wool or polypropylene;
Sock Liners: polypropylene, 2-3 pair
Underwear: 3 pair polypropylene
Long-sleeved undershirt, T-shirt and long bottoms (Women: quick-dry sports bra)
Insulation (wool or fleece): two layers for your torso, one layer for your legs
Shorts: quick-dry nylon
Rain jacket (hooded) and pants: waterproof, not just water repellent.
Camp shoes: lightweight rubber-soled sandals or sneakers
Hat, Balaclava: wool or fleece; hats need chin straps or tie-downs
Mittens or gloves: in foul weather, mitten wind shells are handy.

Water
Two one-quart rigid, translucent bottles, one with wide mouth, one with mouthpiece. Water purification: Iodine tablets or backpacker's water filter. Car campers or backpackers in large groups may want a collapsible water carrier.

Food and Cooking
Stove and fuel: backpackers prefer one-pot meals, cookable quickly on a one-burner lightweight collapsible stove, usually burning white gas. Car campers may indulge in a two- or three-burner table top camp stove, using white gas or propane.
Cook sets: plan menus, then assemble the cook set. Minimalists like one- or two-pot nonstick nesting affairs, removable handles. Gourmets may want more tools. No iron skillets!
Cleaning up: pot scrubber, pliable food filter screen, biodegradable dish soap, quick-dry dishtowel; Ziploc bags (leftovers, garbage)
Utensils: Lexan (unbreakable plastic) large spoon and fork; insulated plastic mug with top.

First Aid
First Aid Kit: varies with size of group and likely risks. Outfitters sell personal-, family-, large group-, and wilderness first aid kits. Always bring moleskin, Band-Aids, and your prescription medicines (inform someone of your needs).

Hygiene/Sanitation
Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap/shampoo, towel. (Women: feminine sanitary supplies, Ziploc disposal bags)
Toilet paper: half-roll, plus sealable plastic bags for carrying out used TP
Trowel: to bury human waste
Additional garbage and smaller bags (for wet clothes), all sealable

Safety/Utility
Bug repellent: liquids, not aerosols
Flashlight or head lamp: (AA batteries); spare bulb and batteries
ID materials: driver's license, health insurance card, medical data card (prescriptions, allergies, blood type, family/friends for emergency notification)
Jackknife: rugged, with screwdriver, other built-in tools
Matches: wooden, "strike anywhere," or lighter, in Ziploc bag
Mirror: small, steel (for signaling)
Money: some cash, one credit card
Notebook, pencil
Sunscreen, bandanna, visored hat
Watch
Whistle (kept within easy reach)

What Not to Pack
Weapons, illegal drugs, alcohol, electronics that may disturb other campers or hikers (radio, cell phone). Weather radio or cell phone may be appropriate in extreme circumstances.

Rain Gear
A high-quality waterproof/breathable shell is your best bet. Patagonia or North Face make great products that are both lightweight and packable.

Special Items for Cold Weather
Think about how bad the weather is going to be. You want to be comfortable. Waterproof pants are as important as a jacket.

Gloves
Fingerless gloves are useful for adjusting the focus on binoculars and cameras.

Published: 6 Jul 2000 | Last Updated: 2 Sep 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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