Not sure what to packing for camping trips? This camping packing list and guide has all the answers for tent-based adventures!
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 don’t. Use this guide to camping gear as a foundation or modify it to your own trip and you’ll save yourself a ton of trial and error.
We use this camping checklist for wild camping, hiking, cycling, backpacking and 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, countless backpacking trips and it’s currently working a treat on our England to India cycle tour!
Know what you’re looking for? Jump to…
- Sleeping Gear (camping tent, sleeping bag, roll matt etc)
- Cooking Gear
- Survival camping essentials
- Medical & personal items you shouldn’t leave without
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!
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A quick note before we get onto the camping gear…
As you go through this list, don’t panic 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 and 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 buying new gear, your camping kit list can have a big environmental impact. 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.
To find out more, take a read of our Sustainable Outdoor Clothing Guide here!
A Few Camping Packing Tips!
To make sure you pack all things needed for camping, a few handy tips never go a miss…
- You know the saying: fail to prepare and prepare to fail… this couldn’t be truer than with camping. It’s never too early to start camping prep!
- Use this guide to help you make a list of all the things to bring camping, then note down what you already have and what you might need to buy
- Don’t leave it last minute to pick up crucial essentials for camping
- Go for a trial run before, especially if you’re using lots of new camping equipment
- There’s no harm in practising packing your camping gear, it’ll speed up the process when you’re in the wild
- When it comes to leaving for your actually trip, make a complete list for camping items you need to take and check them off when you put them into your bag
- If you’re unsure, get someone to double check you’ve got everything you need on the camping packing list. If in doubt, reach out to us and we’ll take a look 🙂
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1. Camping Sleeping Essentials
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.
No matter what type of camping trip you’ll be going on, you need a good night’s sleep. For that reason, this is the part of your camping gear list you should get just right.
Vango Tempest 200 Pro Camping Tent – Camping Essential!
Easy to put up (one person can do it in less than 5 minutes), strong in bad weather and a great budget option. It’s also freestanding (doesn’t need guide ropes) – very useful for camping in tight spots or pitch 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 a super 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! If you want to check out some more options then take a look at our Tent Buyer’s Guide.
Vango Latitude 300 Sleeping Bag – Camping Essential!
A super 3-4 season sleeping bag – 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!
If you’re camping in hot weather then a sleeping bag liner (UK/USA) is another option. Use them as a light layer and they’re pretty small 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!
The Mountain Equipment Helium sleeping pads are comfortable, relatively lightweight and seriously hard-wearing.
You can find very lightweight sleeping mats but they tend to be easy to puncture. This is a nice compromise between weight, comfort and reliability.
Fairy lights 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!
2. Camping Cooking Gear
At Veggie Vagabonds we believe, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, food always gotta be tasty – camping is no exception. We’ve not added a camping food list (you can find it here – vegan camping food guide) but these essentials for camping cooking are lightweight, practical and will make sure your camping trip stays tasty!
MSR Compact Camping Stove (USA) & Camping Gas
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 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, are plastic-free and 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 has a safety sheath (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, a bowl is generally more practical.
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.
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. You can find a bunch on our Guide to Vegan Camping Food.
Tea Towel, Can Opener and Scouring Pad
4. Camping Electronic Gear
Camping electronics are not just so you can document your journey, they can also keep you safe and connected. This is the gear we pack, which is light, high-quality and great value for money.
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!
A smaller, lightweight option 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, it’s 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 (there are now newer models) because 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 panniers 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 power bank on sunny days.
What good are electronics without chargers?
4. Survival Camping Essentials
‘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.
A good outdoors penknife should be on any outdoors gear list and can really be a lifesaver. The Leatherman Wave 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.
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.
You need a water bottle to drink from and with you can store extra water in the bladder to keep at your campsite. We go for cycling bottles.
You can get simple tablets to add to water or a filter. We use a Sawyer Squeeze filter but take tablets along just incase.
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.
5. Camping Medical Gear & Personal Items
Whether it’s scratches from angry squirrels, nettle stings or upset stomachs, it will all feel less comfortable in a tent – taking basic medical items for camping is a must. Other bits of personal gear like books or playing cards can be good to take but you can decide what works best for your trip.
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.
Deet is 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.
Is there any other camping equipment you never leave without? 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!