Share with your friends


Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

In case you didn’t know, there’s been a boom in camping this summer. In wake of COVID quarantines, people are gravitating toward trips and activities that come with built-in social distancing. Camping, of course, is a great option. But packing for either a short- or long-term camping trip involves a lot more than just a tent and smores. Looking to spend a night or more in the great outdoors? Consider these 17 items before you go.

RELATED: 10 amazing National Parks photos to inspire your next trip

Permits and reservations

Some National Parks are now requiring day visitors to have permits to better control crowds and promote social distancing. Check for park-specific information. And unless you know of a secret spot that’s always available, you’ll likely need a campsite reservation, now more than ever in light of increases in bookings, as well as new social distancing guidelines. Search online to see what’s available, then reserve one ahead of time or be prepared to encounter the dreaded “campsite full” sign. As a backup, you can usually find affordable last-minute accommodations in nearby gateway towns on travel sites like


More than anything else, you need shelter when sleeping outdoors. If summer weather permits, you might get by with a hammock, but chances are you’ll need at least a tent to enjoy your stay.


This usually includes sleeping bags but some claustrophobic people sometimes pack a lot of warm blankets instead, especially in summer weather. For a better night’s sleep, you’d be wise to bring along a sleeping pad of some sort, like a Therm-a-Rest, so you don’t wake up with a sore back. Also consider a small pillow, or inflatable pillow, or even just a pillow case to stuff your jacket or sweater into.

Firewood, if permitted

Before chopping loading up firewood, just sure to check local laws first, since campfires aren’t allowed in some areas due to risk of wildfire. If fires are permitted, this will be one of the most important things you’ll bring. While some campsites have ample firewood available, you never know, so it’s always smart to bring at least a starter bundle. You’ll obviously need a lighter, as well, and some newspaper and kindling to help start fire.

Food and water

We recommend taking more than you need for both, especially the latter as dehydration happens a lot faster outdoors. For food, consider tin foil dinners (meat and veggies encased in tin foil), hot dog skewers, dutch ovens or easy camp stove recipes.


Keep your food and drink cool and fresh in a lightweight cooler. You’ll also need ice: Blocks are better than cubes because they last longer, although they do take up more space.


Unless you want to eat like a savage, don’t forget knives, forks, spoons, cups, plates and bowls—at least whatever your meal plan calls for.

Camping stove

If not cooking on the open fire, bring a stove and don’t forget the propane. Just keep in mind that if you’re flying in from somewhere, you’ll need the time and care to empty it of all fuel and clean it thoroughly to rid it of all fuel vapors and residue.

Appropriate clothing

Depending on where you’re camping (i.e. mountains), you might need to bring a full-on winter puffer, rain gear or several layers to stay comfortable. To stay extra warm while protecting your skin, always bring a hat of some sort, and a few extra pairs of socks since there’s a good change they could get wet on the trail.

Light source

Most people take a lantern or individual headlamp. You might need to find your way to the bathroom and back in the middle of the night. Tip: If your headlamp has a red setting use it—not only does it preserve your night vision but it will help you see even more stars and meteors (not to mention, you won’t blind other campers on the way to the bathroom).

Personal hygiene

Most people take at least toilet paper, toothbrush, sunscreen and wet wipes to stay fresh. If restrooms aren’t available, you might also need to bring a poop shovel like The Deuce, though any small garden shovel will do. You’ll use this to dig a hole 6″ or deeper to bury your business. Be sure not to leave your toilet paper anywhere other campers might come across it, for obvious sanitary reasons.

Camping chairs

These are wonderful for passing time around the fire. Bring one to save your back and your legs for maximum enjoyment.

First aid kit

Accidents happen. This can help you overcome them until you can get proper medical care (if needed).

Bear spray

If you’re headed to an area that bears call home, be sure to pack bear spray. You can also avoid unwanted ursine encounters by packing your food, toiletries and anything scented like toothpaste in a bear box or bear bag. Bring extra garbage bags to double bag trash that you are packing out for the ride home, and bring a separate bag for recycling.


The parks are going to be especially crowded this season so be sure to bring face masks, extra soap and hand sanitizer. You will be sharing trails, campsites and bathrooms with plenty of other travelers.

Downtime gear

Will you fish? Talk around the fire? Play frisbee? Go hiking? Either way, have a plan and pack for it—especially when camping with kids.

Optional gear

Other items you might consider, depending on the type of trip you have planned and how light you’d like to pack, include an axe for cutting firewood, a shovel for smothering a fire, sleeping aides (melatonin or other over the counter pills), and duct tape just in case any faulty gear requires a temporary fix.

A note on campsite etiquette

Always pack out what you bring in (including your trash), so the site is left clean for the next set of campers, and to preserve the pristine natural environment. Also, be considerate of any nearby campers by keeping the volume down on your music and keeping your voices low, especially if you’re staying up later than other campers, since noise really carries in nature.

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Family, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Blake Snow

Blake Snow

Blake contributes to fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a writer-for-hire and frequent travel columnist. He lives in Provo, Utah with his supportive family and loyal dog.

One thought on “What to pack for a camping trip”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.