When you’re planning a camping trip, there are a number of items that almost always have to factor into your camping plans. In addition to these pieces of essential equipment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions, “Vaccinations can help protect against certain diseases and conditions while camping. Be sure your vaccinations and your family’s vaccinations are up-to-date.” The following items are required regardless of the time of year you’ll be camping, though additional equipment may be necessary during colder seasons.
Insect repellant. Not only are bites from ticks, mosquitoes and other bugs unpleasant, they also can be hazardous to your health. Prevent bug-borne diseases by bringing along a good repellant that contains DEET and by thoroughly checking yourself for ticks and other pests throughout your camping trip.
Sunblock. Excessive sun exposure can cause sunburn in the short-term and a plethora of serious health issues in the long-term. Camping often involves many hours in the sun, so make sure to pack plenty of sunblock that’s at least SPF 15. A sun-protecting lip balm with at least SPF 15 is also recommended.
Sturdy, supportive shoes. In most cases, camping isn’t the time to wear your normal tennis shoes or casual loafers. Even if you don’t plan to hike, the proper footwear is still essential in order to protect your feet from moisture and injury.
Wool or silk socks. Cotton socks trap moisture next to your skin, offering an excellent opportunity for bacteria and fungus to grow. While camping, it’s important to have a pair of dry, clean socks made from wool or silk available at all times, as these fibers draw moisture away for better foot health.
Layers of clothing. Temperatures vary drastically between day and night, so pack clothes that you can easily layer. Ideally, you want to wear several lightweight layers so that it’s easy to put them on or take them off according to your comfort level at any given time.
Packing food. You’ll need nutritious food that won’t go bad during your camping trip. Make sure that you bring items in resealable watertight containers, as well as plenty of ice in the cooler for items that have to be kept cold.
Sleeping bag. Every sleeping bag comes with a temperature rating and varying levels of waterproofing. Pick something that is rated for a little bit chillier weather than the coldest you’re likely to encounter in order to ensure you sleep safe and warm.
The right tent. If you’re tent camping, make sure you select something that’s the right size for your needs, and make sure you are well-acquainted with the setup process before heading out for your camping trip. While most have some water resistance, it’s still wise to bring along a tarp or other ground cover to go underneath the tent.
Plenty of potable water. You can survive without a lot of things, but not without water. Even if you’re planning a leisurely camping trip, you might be surprised just how much more water you need when you’re outside all day. Don’t be afraid to bring along several more gallons per person than you think you’ll need — it’s better to have too much than not enough.
Bathroom accommodations. Plan ahead for that inevitable call of nature, even if it’s just packing extra toilet paper in case the campground bathroom runs out. Chemical toilets are a popular option, or you can simply bring extra bags that are easy to seal for true “roughing it” behind the nearest bush. Remember, however, that you never want to leave anything behind when you’re camping, so a good method of waste removal is an absolute essential, as well as required by law in many areas.