23 Essential Camping Must Haves

Weather is changing here in North Idaho from warm sun kissed skin to sweater weather. I am trying to hang onto the last few warm days that are ahead of us but that doesn’t mean camping season is over. It just means pumpkin spiced lattes and bonfires whenever the fire ban is lifted. There is nothing like a warm cozy down jacket with a fresh cup of coffee made in the french press. And sitting around camp staring at the delicious potatoes and eggs that are fried in the cast iron skillet. Those are my types of mornings. There just isn’t any coffee like the camp coffee made with hints of dirt and leaves.

Honey and Taylor
Hiking with Honey!

When I prepare for my weekend camp trips, I always tend to leave something behind that I usually end up buying along the way. So I decided to jot down the essential camping items that I must bring every time I camp. Not necessarily for backpacking because that would be slightly different items to keep my pack light. But anyways, here they are:

Sleeping Arrangements

1. Tent- Unless you want to cowboy camp, that’s cool too.

2. Sleeping Bag- I suggest at least a 30 degree Fahrenheit bag, unless you want to become a human popsicle in the cold weather.

3. Sleeping Pad- Or if you want extra comfort, an air mattress. But then you have to add a mattress blower upper.

4. Pillow- This is more of a luxury item for me but waking up to a kinked neck is never fun. I haven’t reached master level of mountain woman yet.

Big Agnus Copper Spur UL2
Here is our Big Agnus Copper Spur UL2 tent. Works wonders. We can even fit our dog Honey in it. As long as we don’t put our packs in there.

Cooking/Food Preparation 

5. Cooler- Unless you can gather and hunt your own food, I suggest packing some just in case.

6. Firewood- Because S’mores, duh!

7. Portable Stove- This is back up! You never know if fire bans will be in effect.

8. Lighter- Because starting fires can be gosh darn hard! Newspaper helps! Just no plastics!

9. Pots, Pans, Iron Skillets- Oh my! Camp food just tastes better in a cast iron skillet. Steak and potatoes anyone?

10. Cooking Utensils- Because you’ll want to be able to flip that steak and stir the potatoes!

11. Dining Utensils- Optional, really. But I prefer to eat my steak and potatoes with a fork. Who needs a knife?

gsi pinnacle soloist review
Our GSI Cookset and lighter that we bring with us every time!


12. Jackets- Because mother nature can be unpredictable.

13. Shoes/ Sandals- Or just go barefoot. Get your Earthing on!

14. Clothes- Adjust for the type of weather you’ll be camping in. Also, save a clean pair for your last day. Feels so good. Trust me.

15. Towels- You may want to swim or shower and air drying takes too long.

There I am, in my puffy Arc’teryx down jacket. Seriously so warm. Sometimes too warm even with snow on the ground.

Must Haves

16. Daypack/Backpack- You’ll need one of these. Unless you are part octopus.

17. Flashlight- Important. Unless you are part cat. Why can’t humans be as cool as these animals?

18. First Aid Kit- Even the basic kit would work. But if you’re anything like me, you might want to get hospital grade everything. Just in case.

19. Garbage Bags- Because we all know we pack way too much garbage.

Personal Items

20. Basic Toiletries- Shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, ect. Or just embrace the stink!

21. Sunblock- Because well you know! Skin cancer!

22. Bug Spray- Because mosquitoes love toes and my toes don’t love mosquitoes.

23. Toilet Paper- Because leaves aren’t Angel Soft.


24. Coffee and Coffee Maker- Probably the two most important items on this list. Seriously. Or you can use instant coffee but where is the fun in that?

Hope this helps you on your next camping trip! Obviously I take more than the items listed like food, water, and games. But I tailor it to the type of camping I’ll be doing and for how long. I try not to over pack the car because sometimes we end up car camping and the more room the better! Thankfully Josh has a Subaru that is long enough for us to sleep in because my Camry would not work.

Thank you for reading and tuning in every week! We appreciate all of your support for Mtn Talk. I want to know if you would add anything to this list. What are your essentials for camping?


3 thoughts on “23 Essential Camping Must Haves

    1. Yes it might be a little big of an undertaking, but it’s always been my dream to go camping at Isle Royal National Park in Michigan ! 🙂 I’ll let you know how it goes for sure! 🙂


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