Camp Like a Pro With This Editor-Curated Packing List

POPSUGAR Photography | Kyley Warren
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In "Pack With Me," influencers and editors give us a rundown of their travel must-haves and a few travel hacks to go along with them. For this installment, PS shopping editor Kyley Warren shares what essentials are neccessary for a tent-camping trip, just in time for the summer travel season.

Tent-camping is one of life's greatest joys β€” assuming, of course, that you know how to prep and pack for it. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that spent a lot of long weekends venturing through the mountains of northern Arizona with just a packable tent, a couple spare batteries, and a propensity for adventure.

While we eventually upgraded to a travel trailer for convenience purposes β€” and, if we're being honest, the need for a proper shower β€” I still treasure those memories of getting to wake up beneath the trees and marvel at the stars just before bed.

In my adulthood, I've discovered that many people weren't exposed to tent-camping in the same ways that I was throughout my youth β€” and thus find themselves blissfully unaware of how to prepare for such an excursion as adults. Fortunately, packing for a camping trip is much easier than you might expect. All it takes is a little extra planning, caution, and a locational awareness that'll ensure you don't wander too far off the beaten path.

From camping chairs and battery-powered lanterns to a pocket lighter and a reusable water bottle, I've curated a comprehensive camping packing list below, with a mixture of both fun and practical products that are essential for all types of campers β€” whether you're an amateur or a bonafide outdoorsmen. Ahead, keep reading for the best camping gear and best tips for what to pack for a camping trip.

POPSUGAR Photography | Kyley Warren

Best Packing Tips For Tent-Camping

While I usually advise embracing a "less is more" approach when it comes to packing for more formal travel, tent-camping is a different kind of beast. You'll likely be limited on packing space since most tent-campers only travel to their destination or campground in a vehicle as opposed to an actual travel trailer.

However, tent-camping requires that you come very prepared and leave no box unchecked on your travel packing list. First-Aid kits are essential, portable chargers and batteries are necessary for keeping your electronics charged, and since you'll be living off the land β€” or at least too far away from any restaurant or grocery store β€” you'll want to prep some easy camping meals ahead of time.

I also recommend curating a packing list specific to your destination. For example, if you're camping in a humid destination where mosquitoes are abundant, bug spray will be your best friend. If you're camping in the desert or somewhere during a particularly warm season, you'll want to pack plenty of water β€” and then pack some more. And if you're venturing up through bear country or locations with mixed wildlife β€” like mountain lions β€” then you might want to consider investing in safety tools like a bear spray or horn.

Finally, you'll want to consider just how authentic of a camping experience you'd like to endure. There are thousands of campgrounds across the country that offer water and electricity hookups, along with a designated camping spot, for a small nightly fee; this is (understandably) a more popular option as opposed to setting up camp in the middle of nowhere, but it does mean you'll be in the same vicinity as a lot of other people. If you're looking to jump headfirst into your camping era β€” or just need somewhere with real peace and quiet β€” you'll be better off scoping out your own site without all the bells, whistles, and conveniences of a traditional campground.

Regardless of where you're traveling, this is one of the best seasons to explore the outdoors, detach from your cell phone, and immerse yourself in nature. Stock up on all the necessary things for camping like a pro below.

Waterproof Lighters
amazon.com

Waterproof Lighters

Waterproof Lighters ($16)

Even if you've spent endless hours watching "Man vs. Wild" with Bear Grylls, don't be fooled β€” not all of us are built to be survival experts and even fewer can manage starting a fire with their bare hands. Take the guesswork out of building a fire from scratch and be sure to pack a handy waterproof lighter that'll help you spark a flame instantly β€” and keep you warm in colder climates.

A Battery-Powered Camping Lantern
amazon.com

A Battery-Powered Camping Lantern

LE 1000LM Battery Powered LED Camping Lantern ($20, originally $34)

Before you ask β€” no, your iPhone's flashlight is not a sufficient light source to use while camping. To make sure you campsite is well-lit for preparing dinners come nighttime (and distracting pesky bugs), this battery-powered camping lantern will illuminate your space with no plug-in required.

Waterproof Shoes
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Waterproof Shoes

Crocs Unisex-Adult Classic Clogs ($21)

Hiking boots and comfortable sneakers are great for camping, but for a more outdoor-friendly option that you can comfortably slip into after a hike, fishing trip, or just while you're rinsing off in an outdoor shower, you can't go wrong with a classic pair of Crocs.

An Emergency First Aid Kit
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An Emergency First Aid Kit

First Aid All-Purpose Emergency First Aid Kit ($22)

An emergency first-aid kit should be at the very top of your camping packing list β€” and for good reason. Even with all the planning in the world, the unexpected can still happen, and the last thing you want is to be battling an injury or ailment in the middle of nowhere, without the proper resources to take care of it.

A Solar Power Bank
amazon.com

A Solar Power Bank

Solar Charger Power Bank ($24)

Unless you're camping in a proper campground (complete with water and electricity hookups), you'll need to find an alternative means to power other travel essentials like your electric grill, portable speaker, and smartphone.

A Reusable Water Bottle
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A Reusable Water Bottle

Owala FreeSip Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle ($28)

Staying hydrated is key to enjoying a camping trip to the fullest, especially if you're planning on doing other activities like hiking or fishing. This stainless steel water bottle keeps liquids cold for an extended period of time, and it's easy to carry thanks to its comfortable top handle.

Organic Granola
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Organic Granola

Nature's Path Organic Gluten Free Coconut and Cashew Butter Granola ($46)

Wondering what food to pack for camping? I recommend easy, nonperishable items that don't need to be stored at a certain temperature in order to stay fresh. Granola is a great snacking option, and for larger meals, you can opt for breads and lunch meats, veggie packs, canned beans, and more.

An Outdoor Jacket
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An Outdoor Jacket

L.L. Bean Mountain Classic Anorak ($59)

A weatherproof jacket is one of the best clothing items for camping β€” even if there isn't rain in the forecast. We love the earthy coloring on this cool layer, along with its zippered pockets which are ideal for concealing items like bug spray or a portable power bank while you're hiking.

A Camping Chair
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A Camping Chair

GCI Outdoor Kickback Rocker Chair ($60)

Heading somewhere with a fire pit that's primed for campfires? You'll want to make sure you have a proper camping chair tucked into your car for those evening s'more sessions and cookouts around the fire. This outdoor chair even comes with a shoulder strap, making it easier to carry.

A Camping Table
homedepot.com

A Camping Table

Nice C Camping Table ($60)

Unless you'd prefer to prepare your food on the ground, you'll want to take a foldable table along for your next camping trip. This durable table is great because it comes equipped with built-in storage where you can conceal open food items and keep curious animals at bay.

A Camping Tent
amazon.com

A Camping Tent

Coleman Camping Tent with Instant Setup ($168, originally $200)

Unsurprisingly, the most important product to pack for a tent-camping trip, is: a tent (groundbreaking, we know). This Coleman tent is one of my favorites because it has a pop-up design that's much easier to set up than traditional models. Plus, you can shop it in a handful of size options that can fit anywhere from four to 10 people, depending on your group size.

A Durable Cooler
amazon.com

A Durable Cooler

Yeti Roadie 24 Cooler ($250)

Even if you limit the amount of refrigerated foods you take on your trip, you'll still want some sort of cooler handy, that way you can store ice or other camping food essentials like lunch meats. This model from Yeti is a bestseller that's hailed for its durable build, thoughtful lock system, and convenient carrying handle, which will help you transport the cooler from your car to the camp site with ease.

A GPS Map
rei.com

A GPS Map

Garmin GPS Map ($500, originally $600)

If your camping adventures take you off the grid and out of service, this GPS map will help to keep your loved ones back home in-tune with your exact location. Best of all, the product comes highly recommended by professional hikers and outdoor enthusiasts alike β€” read our exclusive interview with Evelynn Escobar to learn more.


Kyley Warren is an award-winning writer, editor, and affiliate strategist with more than four years of experience in the publishing space. She currently works as an assistant editor on PS Shopping and is an expert on all things related to shopping and fashion. She previously worked with Entertainment Tonight as a style commerce writer, and her byline has appeared in publications globally.