Basic Camping Equipment for First Time Campers

You’re not exactly Grizzly Adams. It’s not that you don’t enjoy being outdoors, but you just haven’t spent much time camping, hiking, or backpacking. You admire those seasoned outdoors men and women who look at home at a campground or on the trail. They’ve thought of everything, have all of the outdoor gear and outdoor equipment they need, and appear to be as comfortable in nature as in their own living rooms.

You, on the other hand, are getting ready for your first camping trip and believe that a tent stake is a hearty meal. We’re here to help. Use this list of basic camping equipment to look like an experienced outdoor pro on your next camping trip.


A tent is the most basic camping equipment there is. Be sure to bring a footprint or tarp to protect the bottom of your tent, a rainfly to add insulation and protection from wind and water, as well as tent stakes to keep everything firmly in place. Consider packing a mallet to drive stakes into firm or rocky soil.


While you can get by with a camp blanket, a sleeping bag is going to provide the most warmth. Most sleeping bags come with a temperature rating, so be sure to get one that will keep you warm. For extra insulation and comfort, toss a sleeping pad either in or underneath your sleeping bag.

Camp furniture

Some campgrounds have picnic tables, but you don’t want to bank on it. Plus, picnic tables don’t provide the most comfortable seating. Bring a camp chair and a camp table just in case your campground doesn’t provide a table.

Camp kitchen

Your camp kitchen equipment depends largely on what you’re going to eat while camping. Food requiring preparation and cooking obviously requires more equipment than food that’s ready to eat.

Pack a cooler to keep perishable foods and drinks cold. A camp stove opens up a lot of meal options. If you’re planning on cooking at the campsite, be sure to bring camping cookware such as a cook pot or pan. Also, pack the appropriate eating utensils as well as plates or bowls. Bring a reusable camping cup for water, coffee, or other beverages.


What’s camping without a good campfire? Bring a firestarter such as fire paste, fatwood, or a starter log as well as matches or a lighter. If your fire starting skills are suspect, consider bringing an accelerant like charcoal lighter fluid.

Campfires are great for ambient light, but it’s not portable. Bring a lantern to light up a large area, and a headlamp for camp chores and late night bathroom runs.

Clean up

Always, always, always bring a trash bag. You want to leave your campsite better than you found it, so don’t leave any litter. Bring biodegradable camp soap to clean dishes, and a PackTowl for drying. Consider bringing some hand sanitizer to keep hands clean, especially before and after cooking.


If you could only bring one item to a deserted island, it should be a knife. While you’re probably not camping on a deserted island, a knife is still great to have. Paracord can also come in handy around the campsite, and while you may never need it, you’ll look like a hero should someone ask for rope.

Be sure to pack an extra jacket in case you get cold at night.

Bug spray, sunscreen, and a basic first aid kit are also important items to have while camping.


Water is so important that it gets its own section here. You need water to stay hydrated, to wash dishes and hands, and also to put out your campfire before bed. You can never have too much water, so bring plenty.


This list covers all of the basic camping equipment for an overnight or weekend camping trip. With the items listed above you’ll be prepared and comfortable while camping. Of course, these are just the essentials. You may decide that you need a sleeping bag liner, full tang survival knife, a deck of cards, and travel pillow. The more time you spend camping, the better prepared you’ll be to accommodate your personal needs and preferences.

Looking for outdoor gear and camping equipment in Northwest Arkansas? Stop by and see us at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters!

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