The 12 Essentials to Pack for a Camping Trip

Don't end up spending the night sleeping in your car
What to Pack When Camping
Photo: Spaces Images/Getty Images

There are two kinds of campers in the world: those who thrive in the wilderness and those who've been dragged along for the ride, phone charger in hand. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, what you pack (or forget to pack) can make or break your mountain getaway.

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Fortunately, spending the night snuggled up with Mother Earth doesn't have to be a big ordeal. Even if you're the person who has a hotel booked on standby—you know, just in case—pack these 12 essentials in your car, and we promise you'll actually enjoy your weekend in the wild.

Whether your idea of the perfect picnic is cooking in the wilderness or sipping a summery cocktail at a sidewalk café, we’ve got everything you need to spend your Summer in the Wild. Let the outdoor entertaining begin.

  • Reclining Camp Chair

    While everyone sweats it out on that seven-mile "day hike," spend the afternoon in the padded comfort of the La-Z-Boy of the outdoors.

    homedepot.com, $70

  • CamelBak Hydration Pack

    A roomy compartment and two-liter water capacity makes this daypack an ideal hiking partner, especially when your human partner is back at the campsite, napping the day away.

    sierratradingpost.com, $40

  • TETON Sports Mammoth Double Sleeping Bag

    Fight over who's taking up too much space on your side of the bed—or giant sleeping bag in this case.

    amazon.com, $120

  • ALPS Mountaineering Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad

    First-time campers take note: You can't just lay your sleeping bag on the ground and call it a night. (Unless you're used to sleeping on a mattress that's literally hard as a rock.)

    sierratradingpost.com, $35

  • Columbia Silver Creek 10-Person Cabin Tent

    Even if it's just the two of you, trust us, you'll appreciate the extra space after the second night of snoring.

    basspro.com, $450

  • 55 Quart All-Terrain Wheeled Cooler

    No matter where your camping takes you, this off-road-ready cooler will follow, keeping your food (and, of course, beer) cold for up to five days.  

    coleman.com, $79

  • Cabela's Deluxe Campers Kitchen

    A bit excessive? Perhaps, but when you're cooking for a crowd, a collapsible mobile kitchen, with room for all your cooking essentials, always beats kneeling on the ground trying to chop an onion.

    cabelas.com, $153

  • Jacob Bromwell Stainless Steel Camping Cookware

    Lightweight and inexpensive, this campfire cooking set includes everything you need for your gourmet dinner outdoors, even if that entails only cracking open a can of beans. (Just don't forget the can opener.)

    sierratradingpost.com, $20

  • Coleman Camp Propane Grill/Stove Combo

    A wood-burning fire will get you only so far when it comes to cooking dinner. Luckily, propane is an always-reliable backup.

    coleman.com, $120

  • Turtle Shell Portable Bluetooth Speaker

    When the silence of the great outdoors is just a little too peaceful (or the family one campsite down a little too annoying), this waterproof speaker will save your sanity.

    nordstrom.com, $100

  • Coleman Quad LED Lantern

    For when the fire is long gone, this lantern provides bright, 360-degree light, which can be split into four separate flashlights.

    coleman.com, $65

  • Long-Sleeve Flannel Shirt

    Because if you didn't wear a flannel when building your campfire, did you really build a campfire?

    uniqlo.com, $40

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