Most forgotten camping items that should definitely be on your checklist!

Part of enjoying the great outdoors is needing very little to enjoy camping. Whether you’re a minimalism survivalist or looking to glamp with a homier setting, there are some easily and often forgotten items that can be added to your list to help you have a comfortable and amazing experience

This is a comprehensive list, so not all items may be necessary for the particular camping adventure you might be going on. I’ve divided the list into categories for easy referencing, which include utility, toiletries, clothing, mess kits, and entertainment. 

A mountainside with trees and a cloudy sky.


  • 550 cord –550 cord can be used to hang supplies, string up a tarp for rain cover, hang a hammock, or create bracelets or keychains for entertainment, etc. 
  • Duct tape – Duct tape is so multipurpose, that I have seen it used in impressively creative ways. Use it to patch a tent, prevent hot spots while hiking, make a splint, or create a hammock, the uses are endless!
  • Lighter- a small but essential item, make sure the lighter has fuel and you always have a backup ignition source.
  • Tent poles and stakes – it sounds obvious, but these can easily be left out of the tent bag, you don’t want to end up chasing your tent on a windy day. Double-check you have your tent poles before leaving home.  
  • Hatchet- for cutting firewood. I’ve also used one to hammer in tent stakes in hard desert earth.
  • Tarp – Can be used as a tent footprint, rain shelter, or sunshade.
A tarp provides an extra layer of protection against the rain.
A tarp provides an extra layer of protection against the rain.
  • Camp chair- a luxury but great to have so you don’t have to sit on the cold ground or in the dirt when relaxing at the campsite.
  • Hot hands- When camping in winter hot hands have come in handy more than once. Great for warming up hands on freezing mornings. I’ve also used them to warm my feet up by sticking them in my socks on especially cold nights.
  • Jumper cables or jumper pack for vehicle – You don’t want your battery to go dead at a backcountry site because an interior light was left on all night and end up walking miles to find help. A jump pack is great to have for self-sufficiency, but jumper cables are a great addition to your supplies, just in case. 
  • Tub or basin- This makes washing dishes and collecting water much easier. 
  • Collapsible water jug – A way to carry water is essential to have for putting out fires, handwashing, showers, etc. A collapsible one takes up less space as it empties. 
  • Dry bag – Depending on where you’re camping and what activities you have planned, a dry bag is a must. I like to put my essential items in it while paddleboarding, kayaking, or diving. 


  • Toilet paper- I carry a roll of the good stuff from home in my vehicle. You don’t want to end up wiping with leaves, but if you do make sure to avoid poison ivy!
  • Soap – Dr. Bronner’s is a great choice because it can be used for handwashing, dishwashing, showers, clothes, etc.
  • Wet wipes- embrace being dirty, but when extra stinky wet wiping your face and the hot spots is (almost) as good as a shower.
  • Lip balm- especially necessary for windy, cold, or dry environments
  • Insect repellant- a must to keep the mosquitos and gnats at bay. It really can make a camping trip a nightmare when you’re swarmed by bugs the whole time, now I always make sure I have bug spray in my pack.
  • Sunscreen- SPF is important to have to keep your skin healthy. I also keep After Sun or aloe gel for when the sunscreen doesn’t cut it on those long days of hiking.
  • Hand sanitizer- whether you’re at an established site with bathrooms or roughing it, it’s nice to be able to sanitize after using the restroom and before cooking!
  • Extra contacts or a pair of glasses- for those of us who need corrective lenses, an extra pair is essential. I lost a contact lens while camping and had to wear my backup glasses that I luckily had in my backpack. 


  • Extra socks- Wet feet while hiking or camping can easily lead to skin breakdown. Always bring a change of socks. It is also good to have extra socks for cold nights, I’ve layered them many nights when camping in the winter.
  • Pillow- a good pillow is a luxury. You can bring one from home or use an inflatable pillow. I’ve forgotten my pillow more than once and used my sleeping bag stuff sack filled with clothes as a replacement.
  • Rain jacket or poncho- for the (un)expected rainstorms!  
  • Bandana – a bandana has many uses including a handkerchief, rag, to keep hair out of your face, to mark a trail, make a flag, etc

Mess Kit

  • Can opener- if you’re bringing canned goods, you definitely want to be able to open them.
  • Aluminum foil – foil can be used to cook food on or in, scrub a grill, as a plate, or many other ways
  • Mug- for coffee, tea, or hot chocolate around the campfire
  • Coffee or tea – for those late nights or early mornings. It’s nice to have a hot cup of joe on a brisk morning, especially if you are a daily coffee drinker. 
  • Cutlery- While it is possible to eat everything with your hands, it’s much more convienant to have forks/spoons/knives/ chopsticks on hand. 
  • Paper towels- For cleaning, and kindling if necessary.
  • Ziplock bags – These can be used for leftover foods, collecting items, or storage. 
Cheese crackers and cherries
  • Propane- if you’re taking a camp stove, make sure you have propane to light it, and make sure it’s the correct type of fuel for your stove! 
  • Pot – For cooking or boiling water for coffee or tea. I’ve also used a pot as a bowl.
  • Sponge/ scrubber- a better option than paper towels for cleaning dirty dishes, especially if the food is stuck on. 
  • Spatula – or tongs to cook over a fire and easily take items off the grill.
  • Plates- much more convenient than eating out of a pot or off aluminum foil but both of those options are available if you do forget the plates.
  • Spices – salt, pepper, garlic, etc. I like to bring small containers of each to make campfire meals that much better.
  • Butter, oil, coconut oil – Something for cooking; it’s possible to cook without it but it is definitely a game changer.
A girl in a pink jacket sits next to a campfire in the woods.


  • Books – Especially while solo camping. There’s nothing better than relaxing in a hammock in the woods with a good book and fresh air.
  • Games – I like to bring a deck of cards, but if you have children or a group of friends it’s always fun to bring games to play or have game ideas on hand (think adult summer camp… a game of capture the flag, anyone?)
  • Notepad and pen/pencil- Great for journaling, writing down ideas, and findings, or keeping score during a game of Spades.
A person relaxing in a hammock in the woods.
  • Field guide – local plants/animals – Being able to identify the flora and fauna of an area can be a huge asset when in the wilderness. 
  • Binoculars – If you are a fan of birdwatching, binoculars could be a good tool to have in your pack.
  • Star chart- Laying outside and looking up at the stars is a joy in life, being able to identify the constellations and planets makes it that much cooler. 
  • Campsite reservation- be sure to check if a reservation is necessary at a campsite before making the trip! I like to use Campendium to find campsites, whether they are at established sites or dispersed camping in the wilderness. 
22packing light 22

Whatever your next adventure brings, make sure you are prepared and have the essentials, and maybe a few luxuries on board to make your camping trip epic!

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