After years of outdoor adventures we’ve developed the essential camping packing list – updated for 2020!
Camping can be one of the greatest experiences in the world… if you have the right packing list. If you haven’t then it can be a nightmare. It takes time to learn all the things you really need and all the things you really don’t but after years of camping trial and error, we’ve got it perfectly.
We use this camping checklist for wild camping, hiking, cycling, backpacking or road-trippin’, basically, if it’s an outdoor adventure it’s fit for the job. It got us through our Three Peaks by Bike Challenge and it’s currently working a treat on our England to India cycle tour!
In this camping packing list you’ll find;
- Sleeping Gear (camping tent, sleeping bag, roll matt etc)
- Cooking Gear
- Survival camping essentials
- Medical & personal items you shouldn’t leave without
If it’s your first time and you’ve got absolutely no idea what to bring on a camping trip, use this list as a foundation and then you can add your own personal items. If you’re already a camping pro you can use it for some fresh ideas, if it’s different to yours drop us a comment to tell us how.
As always, all of these camping items are the best quality, lightweight, budget-friendly, and crucially, they’re all 100% vegan-friendly and were picked with sustainability in mind. It’s what we currently use and have tested for long enough to know it’s fit for recommending.
Everything on this packing list comfortably fits between two people, whether you’ve got hiking backpacks, bike touring panniers or you’re planning an RV camping trip. Enjoy and let us know what you think in the comments at the bottom!
A quick note before we get started…
As you go through this list, don’t worry if you don’t have many of the items. Sometimes it’s best to just get out there.
If you’re going to be camping in good weather, somewhere close to home that you’re familiar with, make sure you’ve got:
- A way to communicate
- Enough food & water
- The basic sleeping gear (tent, sleeping bag, camping mat)
Then go get out there!
But, and this is a big but, if you’re planning on camping in wet or cold conditions, in remote areas, or you’ll be wild camping, it’s very important to take the Camping Essentials – don’t risk going without them.
And lastly, a word on sustainability. Whilst everyone loves new gear, the production of outdoors equipment and camping things has a big environmental impact. Try and make the most of the products you already have and purchase sensibly when buying new ones. Invest in an item that will last rather than having to regularly replace them.
- Sleeping Gear (camping tent, sleeping bag, roll matt etc)
- Cooking Gear
- Survival camping essentials
- Medical & personal items you shouldn’t leave without
This packing list for camping contains compensated links which means if you make purchases through them we may earn a small commission. This is never of extra cost to you and goes to help Veggie Vagabonds keep running.
Sleeping Essentials for Your Camping Checklist
Whilst everything on this list is important, camping sleeping gear is most definitely the top priority. You’ll be hard pushed to have a successful trip without a decent place to sleep. When we were younger we used to skimp on some of this equipment but now things have changed. We’ve realised that no matter what type of trip you’ll be going on, you need a good nights sleep. For that reason, this is one part of our camping gear list that we’ve spent an especially long time getting just right.
Vango Tempest 200 Pro Camping Tent – Camping Essential!
In 2017 we bought the Tempest 200 Pro 2-person tent from Vango and it’s been perfect. It’s easy to put up, one person can do it in less than 5 minutes without breaking a sweat. Also, because of the design, you don’t need to use guide ropes which is very useful when you’re camping in tight spots or if you need to pitch it on hard surfaces.
It’s designed for two people but could easily fit three if you’re happy to snuggle. At 3 kg it’s not an incredibly lightweight tent but it’s still comfortable to carry for one person, or you can split the different parts between the rest of your party.
We’ve used it in all weather conditions and it’s done pretty well. It stood well in strong winds and storms, didn’t leak in consistently heavy rains and has good ventilation for hot weather.
It’s ideal as a cycle touring tent as there’s easily enough room for two people with ample space for all of your panniers and cycling gear in the front porch with enough room to cook inside.
To top things off, it’s well-priced and great value for money!
Vango Latitude 300 Sleeping Bag – Camping Essential!
The Vango latitude 300 is our go-to 3-4 season sleeping bag; it’s super warm, water-resistant and well fitted for a perfect nights sleep. The mummy shape hugs your body, keeping the warmth in so you’re comfortable sleeping up to -15°c. Thanks to the synthetic filling it also continues to insulate when wet – something we’ve unfortunately needed a number of times!
I’m 6ft 1 and there’s easily enough space for me and you’ll appreciate the zipping system which rarely catches. At 1.8kg it’s not a lightweight sleeping bag option but it’s suited to colder weather – better to have it and not need it, I say! If it does get warmer you can unzip it to use as a duvet instead.
Once again, it’s a top budget option and it’s recommended by the Duke of Edinburgh who knows a thing or two about outdoor gear!
Want some other options? Check out our guide to the best vegan sleeping bags!
Going camping in hot weather?
If you’re travelling in hot climates then a sleeping bag liner is another option. You can use them as a really light layer to cover you from insects or a breeze and they’re almost the size of a tennis ball when folded. If you’re going to be in hostels or using other peoples sleeping gear you can use it to keep you clean from the dirty sheets!
Camping Roll Mat – Camping Essential!
Finding the right camping mat can take a while but it’s worth testing out a few. The Mountain Equipment Helium mats are comfortable, relatively lightweight and are, most importantly, hard-wearing.
You can find ridiculously lightweight sleeping mats but they tend to be easy to puncture. This is a nice compromise between weight, comfort and reliability.
When the sun goes down it’s nice to have some lights in your tent and we actually opt for fairy lights! They might not be a camping essential but they’re smaller and lighter than a lantern, have better battery life and give your tent a magical glow!
Blanket or throw
Not so useful if you’re camping in cold or wet weather but a simple, lightweight blanket is one of our must have camping items for picnics, especially if your tent is too small to eat inside!
Cooking Gear for Your Camping Checklist
At Veggie Vagabonds we’re all about tasty vegan camping food. No matter where we are or what we’re doing, food always gotta be tasty – in the outdoors is no exception. We’ve not added a camping food list (you can find inspiration on our vegan section) but these essentials for camping cooking are lightweight, practical and will make sure your camping trip stays tasty!
There are loads of fancy stoves that promise to boil water quicker than the sun but in our experience, they aren’t worth the money. This Vango stove is super lightweight and works just as well as similar stoves 5x the price.
For the camping gas, one canister will comfortably last two people for around 8-10 quick meals. Go for noodles or couscous cos they both boil real quick!
These guys are awesome quality and because they’re metal you can use them to stir hot things from the stove.
If you’re a food-loving adventurer, a good chopping knife is a piece of essential camping gear you shouldn’t go without. You don’t need to take anything huge, just make sure it’s good-quality, lightweight and a safety sheath is really useful to stop it stabbing holes in your bags.
Plate/Bowl and Mug
If you’re wanting to pack light then don’t bother taking a bowl and plate. Generally, a bowl is better, cos eating porridge from a plate is weird! Take a good quality mug and you’ll be able to put it straight on the camping stove, saving you the extra things to wash.
Lightweight Cooking Pots
For camping, you want cooking pots which are lightweight and won’t ruin quickly from the stove. You can also get good mess tins which can be used for storage and cooking. Ours were another charity shop find, bought for less than £5, but they’re light and long-lasting.
Though we tried to avoid plastic, a good quality storage box will last for a long time and is the lightest option. You can use it to store your cooking gear and then to keep leftover food in. It’s airtight so you don’t need to worry about spillages either.
Put a selection of your favourite herbs into a ziplock bag to season your meals. It weighs nothing but makes camping stove cooking much tastier.
Our tip – plan your meals and make herb mixes to put in the bags – Mexican chilli coming up!
For drying your cooking gear.
You can use the can openers on penknives but this can get them rusty if you don’t clean them properly. A can opener is a cheap, lightweight option.
For the dishes, or anything else you want to clean.
Want some vegan camping food ideas?
Electronics for Your Camping Packing List
With the blog, we take more electronics than your average person may want (though we’ve seen plenty of standard campers carry far more!) – you can decide which is best for your trip. Blog aside, we don’t go anywhere without our cameras!
We always like to know we’re getting the best deal possible, so all the electronics on this camping checklist are some of the best you’ll find for the price.
This really is our baby. The Fujifilm Xt-30 is such a great option for a travel camera because it’s lightweight, small and robust but takes absolutely stunning shots. Both photo and video are amazing and the AF recognition is groundbreaking. If you’re looking to take a camera on your camping trips, we’d highly recommend the Xt-30!
This is our smaller, lightweight option we use for on-the-go photos. The Sony HX60 has an impressive 30x zoom, 20 megapixels and an almost fully responsive manual mode so you still have some of the play you would with a DSLR. Overall we love it and after nearly 3 years of use, has always done us proud!
Phones with Good Battery and GPS
Anytime you head into the outdoors it’s important to keep a phone with you for communication and also to use for GPS. At around £150 you can’t go wrong with the Motorola g6; it’s pretty tough, has an awesome battery, latest Android operating system and a really great camera (the photo below is pretty good for £150, right?).
On multiday camping trips, a solar power bank is a necessity. With this Outxe battery pack, you get around 8/10 charges on phones, it’s waterproof, dustproof and shockproof. It also has solar panels for charging with clips so you can attach it to your backpack or if you’re camping for bike touring you can attach it to your pannier and charge on the move.
Solar Charger – Forclaz Trek 500
A recent addition from Decathlon and it works pretty well! We strap it onto the bikes or the tent and have it charge the powerbank on sunny days.
What good are electronics without chargers?
Survival Camping Essentials for Your Checklist
‘Survival essentials’ might sound excessive, however, when you’re in the outdoors, particularly if you’re camping off-the-beaten-track, it’s best to be prepared. These camping items aren’t big, nor are many of them expensive, but they will keep you safe and make your time outside more rewarding – make sure you add them to your pack list for camping trips!
Leatherman Rebar Penknife – Camping Essential!
A good outdoors penknife should be on any outdoors gear list and can really be a lifesaver. The Leatherman Rebar has all the tools you’re likely to need but is nicely compact and easy to use. It also comes with a 25-year warranty, which is great!
Compass and Map – Camping Essential!
It’s always good to have a backup navigation system and a compass is another outdoors essential you shouldn’t really leave without. You can buy topographic maps online and they’re good to keep with you if your GPS packs up. Find out how to use a map and compass here.
Emergency Whistle – Camping Essential!
In the rare event of an emergency, this is can be another outdoors lifesaver.
Emergency blanket – Camping Essential!
These weigh next to nothing and are pretty cheap but can be used if the temperatures drop and you don’t have the right sleeping gear or clothing.
Black Diamond Storm Headtorch – Camping Essential!
A good quality headtorch is another invaluable item for your camping checklist. This Black Diamond headtorch is pretty kick-ass with powerful lighting and colour options, good battery life and it’s waterproof, something very important for camping in bad weather.
Water Bottle and Water Bladder/Storage – Camping Essential!
You need a water bottle to drink from and with you can store extra water in the bladder to keep at your campsite.
1 tablet for 1 litre of water and an amazing price. Great if you’re getting off-the-beaten-track and to stop plastic waste from buying bottles.
Lighter and Flint Sticks – Camping Essential!
Fire is real important when camping so keep a lighter and backup flint sticks somewhere safe and waterproof.
Looking for other gear?
This Day Hiking Packing List has lots of outdoor clothing suggestions you can use for your camping trip
Going on two wheels? Check out our Bike Touring Packing List
This handy, pocket-sized book tells you how to survive every disaster situation possible, from tsunamis to finding water and making shelter – it’s got it all. It’s a godsend for all outdoor adventures and could well save your life if things go pear-shaped.
One of the best options for quick fixes, like broken tent poles, ripped ground or flysheets, holding together broken crockery etc.
Another item that’s perfect for quick fixes around your campsite. They’re so light and cheap you should always add some extras when packing for a camping trip.
Whether it’s your clothes, your rucksack or your sleeping bag, if something rips or breaks a travel sewing kit is the perfect solution. If you’re in proper survival mode then you can even use it to give stitches…
For only £10ish dry bags are the best way to keep your valuables safe and dry. Even if you think you’ve got the most waterproof tent, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Store food, personal items, tools or keep your valuables dry. Stay sustainable by washing and reusing the bags.
Leave no trace when you’re in the outdoors, bring bin bags for your rubbish.
You’ll save money and won’t be wasting batteries each time you change them from your headtorch, lights etc.
Medical & personal gear on our camping packing list
Whether it’s scratches from angry squirrels, nettle stings or upset stomachs, it will all feel less comfortable in a tent, so taking basic medical gear is a must. Other bits of personal gear like books or playing cards can be good to take but we’ll let you decide what works best for your trip.
Camping First Aid Kit – Camping Essential!
Sarah’s favourite! This well equipped first aid kit comes with all the basics you need and then you can add in any extras you might like to take.
Sleeping in a tent with severe sunburn is not a fun experience, take one suitable for the conditions and your skin.
This stuff helps bites, stings, sunburn, chaffing, cuts, unknown rashes, dry skin the lot. Basically, if there’s a problem with your skin slap some Soducrem on and it will probably get better (don’t hold us to that, but it works for us!).
The easiest way to replenish your electrolytes you may have lost sweating, also good if you have tummy troubles.
Deets a pretty nasty chemical so we advise this natural one.
Light, compressible and very quick drying. They’re also anti-odour, so if you’re a piffy camper then you don’t need to worry.
What else do you have on your camping equipment list? Tell us in the comments section below!
The Essential Camping Packing List for Outdoor Adventures
Over the years we’ve fine-tuned our gear to create the ultimate camping essentials list, filled with all the gear you need and nothing extra. As Sarah’s been camping since she was a wee nipper and I’ve always enjoyed a night under the stars, there’s been plenty of time to get it just right.
Enjoy, and remember, if you’ve got any Q’s just drop us a comment below – happy camping folks!
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