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Check Your Packing List For A Great Time Camping

Whether you plan on sleeping under the stars in the wide-open desert or nestled among the trees in a national forest, camping can be a delightful experience. Sleeping, cooking, and relaxing outside is fun and stress-free if you have the right tools.

To make sure your outdoor adventure goes as smoothly as possible, it is crucial to be prepared. Nature is beautiful but sometimes unpredictable. A little preparation means you can spend more time with family and less time worrying. With proper packing, you'll transform the great outdoors into your temporary home in no time.

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01Shelter

Mokka pot on a gas cooker outside a tent. David Malan / Getty Images

The most important thing to have while camping is suitable shelter that provides protection, comfort, and security. Some people prefer to enjoy the outdoors in an RV or camper, while others want to be closer to nature and sleep outside. A high-quality camping tent is a great shelter option that will last for years.

Along with your tent, make sure to pack the necessary poles and stakes along with a mallet for securing the stakes into the ground. You may also want to consider bringing a sunshade or tarp for the top of your tent, ground cloth or tent footprint, doormat, and tent lights.

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02Bedding and furniture

Father building fire while family and friends set up camp near mountain lake Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Trust us when we say comfort is key. If the weather's ideal, why not opt for a traditional sleeping bag and travel pillows? For some extra softness and warmth, consider adding a sleeping pad, blankets, and sheets. Other fun bedding options are cots, hammocks, and air mattresses. Be sure to bring an air pump to quickly inflate the mattress.

For campsite furniture, stick to the basics and pack a couple of folding camp chairs and a folding table. You may also want to bring a tablecloth and clips, an outdoor rug, or sit pads for insulation on chairs.

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03Clothing

A couple's legs dangling playfully while wearing hiking boots. Pekic / Getty Images

Since Mother Nature can be unpredictable, it's best to pack enough clothes to prepare for any eventuality. Choose lightweight fabrics that are moisture-wicking so you can reuse the same pieces a few times. In addition to pants, shorts, long-sleeved shirts, and t-shirts, you also want to pack a hat, sunglasses, rain jacket, swimsuit, sleepwear, sandals, hiking boots, and socks.

Depending on the climate, you may also want to include a heavy coat, gloves or mittens, specialty footwear, or an umbrella. Look for clothes that will keep you cool and protected from the sun during the day and warm and dry at night.

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04Toiletries and first aid

Child brushing teeth outdoors

A few everyday items should be on everyone's packing list, such as shampoo, biodegradable soap, hairbrush, floss, toothpaste, and a toothbrush. Don't forget to pack toilet paper, hand sanitizer, feminine products, razors, washcloth and towel, cosmetics, face wipes, and prescription medications.

It is important that your campsite has a fully stocked first aid kit which includes bandages, antibiotic ointment, rubber gloves, antiseptic wipes, and a small multi-tool with tweezers and scissors. Ideally, your kit will also include an assortment of basic medications like painkillers, antacids, and antihistamines.

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05Campsite essentials

A camping tent and assortment of camping supplies set up in the woods. apomares / Getty Images

Every campsite needs a good fire for warmth, light, cooking, and ambiance. One option is to bring your firewood, but that isn't allowed in all places. Another choice is to cut your firewood; in that case, you'll need to pack an ax or hatchet and a lighter or matches. You could also bring camping fire starters or charcoal to help get the flames going.

Your campsite will also need adequate lighting, which you can get from placing a few lanterns in strategic locations. Other camping essentials that should be on your packing list are flashlights, headlamps, extra batteries, duct tape, a basic toolset, trash bags, and recycling bags.

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06Cookware and utensils

Group of young campers preparing food at autumn camping hobo_018 / Getty Images

Set up your camp kitchen with ease by packing a few fundamental pieces of cookware. Don't forget a grill rack for over an open fire, or a camping stove with fuel. You'll also want to pack pots and pans with lids, potholders or oven mitts, measuring cups and spoons, cutting board, tinfoil, sharp knives, and cooking utensils such as a spatula, serving spoon, tongs, and skewers.

Once the cooking is complete, you need utensils to feed your friends and family. Pack a couple of mess kits, including plates, bowls, cups, forks, knives, and spoons. Keep your outdoor kitchen tidy by bringing the necessary clean-up supplies like paper towels, soap, sponges, dishwashing bin, drying towel, and food containers for leftovers.

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07Food and drinks

Young couple preparing sausages on bonfire in front of tent at night eclipse_images / Getty Images

Before you leave for your camping trip, plan out your delicious camp-friendly meals and prepare your ingredients at home. Consider bringing freeze-dried camping meals and pre-packaged snacks like granola bars and trail mix. Don't forget the condiments, olive oil, butter, spices, and seasonings.

Having plenty of fresh water on your camping trip is crucial. Bring filled water jugs that you can refill using potable water. Bring a kettle for heating water and a portable coffee maker if you like coffee or tea in the mornings. For beer and wine, pack a bottle opener, corkscrew, and koozie.

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08Protection from the elements

High angle view of small group of unrecognizable friends taking out bottles of beer and other alcoholic beverages from a cooler while relaxing on a picnic. fotostorm / Getty Images

To ensure your ultimate comfort and safety during your camping trip, remember to pack bug spray, ointment, citronella candles, sunscreen, aloe vera, and lip balm with SPF. Store all of your perishables in coolers with ice or ice packs for freshness. You may pack a water filtration system if you plan to source water from nearby lakes or ponds.

If you're camping in bear country, you'll need to take extra precautions. Bring along a special bear bin or canister to store your food. Another option is to bring some paracord and a food hanging bag to secure your goods in a tree.

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09Outdoor exploration gear

Two backpackers hiking in the outdoors. IPGGutenbergUKLtd / Getty Images

Part of the fun of a camping trip is exploring the land around you. Packing a few important navigational tools will help guide you and ensure a safe journey. Bring a compass, portable GPS and map for backup, guidebook, and a pocket knife or multi-tool.

You may also want to travel with a daypack for long hiking trips. Add some snacks and water bottles or a hydration pack. Pack a travel lantern, two-way radios, a whistle, binoculars, and a camera for added adventure and security.

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10Games and entertainment

Friends camping together in nature. Sitting on grass near campfire, singing and playing acoustic guitar. Fist pot is on fire. Two males and two females. Summer or spring time.Deliblatska pescara, Bela Crkva, Serbia, Europe vgajic / Getty Images

Maximize quality time with the family by bringing a few games on your camping trip. Popular entertainment choices include playing cards, dice, travel-sized board games, books, drawing pads, and instruments.

If you plan on enjoying outdoor sports and activities, pack some basic equipment. Bicycles are a great option for camping in the mountains. Camping trips close to the water offer tons of excitement, so you should bring a life jacket - especially if you plan on canoeing or kayaking. For fishing, you will need poles, reels, line, bait, and tackle.

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