13 Items You Should Never Camp Without, According to Experts

Heading out into the great outdoors for a camping adventure is thrilling, but without the right gear, it can quickly turn into a bit of…

Heading out into the great outdoors for a camping adventure is thrilling, but without the right gear, it can quickly turn into a bit of a scramble.

Getting your packing list right is crucial for making the most of your trip. To help you out, we’ve scoured the web for some insider advice.

We found a treasure trove of tips from the camping community on Reddit, highlighting the gear they won’t leave home without. Ready to see the top 13 items on their list? Let’s dive in!

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1. A Fridge/Freezer

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We’ll kick things off with a fridge/freezer, which most campers in the r/Camping community swear by. 

They might take up more room in your vehicle but are extremely useful. When discussing his fridge freezer, one user wrote, “Such a game changer not having to worry about ice and keeping foods for much longer. Some newer fridges even have ice makers in them. I will never go car camping without one again.”

Another Redditor recommended potential fridges we should look at. Their favorite was an ARB Fridge. He said he’s had three of them and has never had any problems. 

2. A Headlamp

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One of the biggest challenges campers face at night is being able to see where they’re going. That’s why most people pack a torch. However, one seasoned camper believes a headlamp is a better solution.

Using a torch is great, but one of your hands has to hold it, making it challenging to do specific tasks. On the other hand, a headlamp is hands-free, so you can keep doing what you’re doing.

3. Binoculars

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A pair of binoculars might not be an essential camping item, but you need to pack a pair if you want to spot wildlife. 

Carrying a pair of binoculars massively increases your chances of spotting things like birds, deer, and potentially larger species like bears. A wildlife lover stressed the importance of his binoculars, saying, “No matter how light I try to get my gear, I never leave the binos.”

4. Good Pillows

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According to one camper, “A couple of good pillows makes a huge difference,” and we agree. Not packing pillows does save space in the car, but sleeping at night just isn’t the same, as another Redditor pointed out. 

He told Reddit, “I finally stopped trying to rough it and save space by avoiding bringing my pillow, and life has improved considerably with it in use.”

Honestly, we don’t know how he slept at all without at least one pillow!

5. A Camping Toilet

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If trekking to the toilet block at 3 am isn’t something you enjoy (who does), maybe it’s time you bought a camping toilet. One Redditor bought a camping toilet so his wife and daughter don’t have to go far to get to the bathroom, and now he never camps without it. 

You can keep a camping toilet in a small pop-up tent or gazebo alongside your main tent. Then, when you need the toilet, you don’t have to worry about walking to the other side of the campsite.

6. A Sleeping Cot

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To have the same, familiar sleeping surface every night, some campers swear by sleeping cots. One Redditor bought a sleeping cot to avoid sleeping on hard floors; it was one of the best decisions ever made.

When telling Reddit about his sleeping cot, the camper said, “It adds a couple of lbs to my backpack, but having the exact same sleeping surface each night is a blessing.”

If you pack a low-ground cot, a sleeping pad, and a sleeping bag, you’re well on your way to a more comfortable sleep. 

7. A Pop-Up Garbage Can

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A super simple item that makes camping much easier is a pop-up garbage can. Described as something “really nice to have around” by one Redditor, this camping item makes storing trash a million times easier.

Aside from having somewhere better than bags for your trash, you can also easily separate general waste and recycling, which isn’t something you can usually do if you use a plastic bag. 

8. A Hot Water Bottle

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A surefire way to keep warm at night is to fill a hot water bottle. If you can get hold of one with a fleece cover, even better! A lot of campers on Reddit like to put their hot water bottles in their sleeping bags an hour before bed so it’s nice and toasty when they go to sleep.

If you don’t have a hot water bottle, another camper swears by his drinks bottle. He commented, “I like to use one of my emptied drinks bottles. It’s nice to have something dedicated to it but it’s more practical to just reuse something for us.”

9. An Underquilt

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If you love hammock camping, a real game changer for you could be packing an underquilt. A hammock camper on Reddit told readers his underquilt has helped him extend the hammock season.

It’s also made him a lot more comfortable at night!

Other Redditors agreed, while one shared his experience without one. He told the internet “The temp dropped quite a bit, and holy hell was it miserable.”

10. Dutch Oven

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For one Redditor, “a cast iron Dutch oven has been a game changer.” Thanks to his Dutch oven, he’s been able to take camp cooking to a whole new level. He’s already made big breakfasts, cakes, and pies in his oven. 

Someone else on Reddit also takes a Dutch oven camping, and they love to make fresh sourdough. Another camper even makes homemade butter!

With a bit of culinary creativity, the opportunities are endless!

11. Fire Starting Equipment

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If you want to start a fire during your camping trips, you need to pack a fire-starting kit. Most fire-starting kits contain fire-lighting blocks, cotton wool (tinder), a magnesium fire starter, and a striker.

This is enough to successfully start fires, but one camper does recommend taking two extra things. The camper in question said, “I take a set of fireplace bellows and a fire poker. Not necessary, but makes fire-starting and tending way easier.”

Other community members were quick to agree with the camper, which tells us this is a useful tip to remember!

12. A Comfortable Chair

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One Redditor advised campers to buy a comfortable chair. He told the community a comfortable chair makes things like eating, drinking, napping, and lounging much easier. 

In response, another user said, “Yep, ditch the dinky little foldable camp stools and get one of those lawn chairs you see people bring to tailgates and little league games.”

Alternatively, you could purchase a hammock chair with a detachable footrest and cup holder. We don’t know about you, but that sounds next-level comfy!

13. A Comfortable Tent

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It may seem like a super simple response, but the most sworn-by item the r/Camping community suggested was a comfortable tent. An affordable tent might be suitable for the occasional weekend away, but Reddit believes any serious camper needs a higher-quality product.

According to one Redditor, the difference in quality between tents is huge. He told Reddit, “The difference in comfort between a backpacking tent and even a stock standard camping tent is hilarious.”

Someone else told readers that space is the key factor we should consider when looking for a tent. You won’t be comfortable if you don’t have enough space in your tent.

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