11 Things You Should Never Take Camping

Are you new to the camping world and wondering what not to take with you? If so, you’ve landed in the right place because what…

Are you new to the camping world and wondering what not to take with you? If so, you’ve landed in the right place because what you pack can make or break your trip!

Planning your first camping trip isn’t easy. There are many essential things to remember and certain things you should leave at home. It can be difficult for beginner campers to distinguish between what’s essential and what they don’t need. 

We’ll help you identify things that aren’t needed, take up unnecessary space, or negatively impact your experience. Keep reading for our list of 11 things you should never take camping.

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1. Too Many Clothes

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One of the biggest mistakes you can make when planning a camping trip is packing too many clothes. Packing too many clothes will take up too much space in your car or van, limiting your space for other essentials.

Generally, the best way to avoid overpacking is to pack things you know you’ll wear and be prepared to wear them once or twice. Don’t pack clothes for the sake of it; only travel with items you have a reason to wear. 

Some campers describe this as the “Golden Rule,” so try not to break it. 

2. Clothes You Can’t Get Dirty

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Similarly, if you have new or expensive clothes you can’t afford to get dirty, leave them at home. No matter how hard you try, you’ll likely get messy at some point during your camping trip. 

While it can be nice to look good all the time, you shouldn’t pack your favorite clothes unless you’re prepared for them to get dirty or possibly ruined. Instead, wear things that can withstand some dirt and grass stains so you can relax around the campfire.

3. An Anxious Pet

A man and a woman petting a golden retriever in green grass.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Traveling with a furry friend can be a lot of fun, but you should only do so if your pet is suited to camping. If you have an anxious cat or dog, consider leaving them with a family member or at a kennel. 

Not only is traveling with an anxious cat or dog unfair to your pet, but it’s also unfair to other campers. For example, if you have a dog that barks a lot when it gets anxious, think about how that will affect other campers, particularly if it happens at night. 

In a thread discussing anxious pets on Reddit, one camper joked about a time he heard a camper shouting at his dog for barking. Unfortunately for the other campers, the dog’s name was Bear!

4. Don’t Pack Food You “Might Want”

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While it can be tempting to pack a lot of food, you should only pack the food you know you’ll eat. Of course, we all want to pack heaps of snacks and goodies for the road, but you’ll just throw away food if you don’t eat it.

Even worse, food with a short expiration date might go bad during your trip. This could leave your cooler box, car, or van smelling like spoiled food. The best way to avoid overpacking food is to plan your meals. 

By planning your meals, you can identify all the ingredients you need. After all your meals are planned, you can start thinking about how many snacks you need. 

5. Firewood

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Few campers realize it, but firewood can sometimes contain insects and diseases. They might be tiny, but bugs can cause severe damage to trees and forests, so you shouldn’t take firewood from one place to another.

The general rule is to only transport firewood up to 10 miles from its source, including when taking it camping. At some campsites, you’ll likely see signs telling campers not to bring outside firewood onto their site.

If you want to travel with firewood, check online for the regulations. Most campsites provide firewood, so you shouldn’t need to pack it anyway.

6. Noisy Items

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Most people go camping to escape the noise and chatter of everyday life, so the last thing they want to hear from their camping neighbors is a ton of noise. Plus, it isn’t pleasant for animals that might live in or around a campsite either.

One Redditor in the r/Camping community once arrived at a dispersed camping area and found another camper had packed his drum kit. 

Anything noisy, such as a loud generator, hairdryer, or music speaker, should be left at home unless you know you can keep noise levels to a minimum. 

7. Valuables

Madison poses with some of her hand made jewelry
C: Amber L. Photography

Okay, so we’re not telling you to leave all your valuables at home because we know how difficult it can be to travel without a smartphone and laptop, particularly if you work remotely. However, you might want to reconsider if you’re thinking about packing any unnecessary valuables, such as jewelry.

As a rule, you should leave expensive valuables at home to prevent them from getting damaged, lost, exposed to the elements, or even stolen. Protecting valuables is more challenging when camping.

If you’re worried about something getting damaged or disappearing, leave it at home!

8. Body Sprays and Items With Fragrances

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Camping allows us to care less about personal appearance, so we don’t have to feel bad about making the most of the opportunity to be a bit dirty, sweaty, or even smelly. However, that isn’t why you shouldn’t pack body sprays and fragrances.

Instead, you shouldn’t pack body sprays and fragrances because they often attract unwanted animals. This can be annoying because you don’t want tiny bugs flying around your face, but it can also be dangerous if you attract the wrong animals.

You should avoid packing anything with heavy scents, such as deodorant, lotion, perfume, soaps, and laundry detergent. If you go online, you’ll find unscented, environmentally-friendly hygiene products made for camping.

9. Single Use Plastic Bottles

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This next camping item you shouldn’t pack is obvious but important. To prevent unnecessary waste, avoid taking single-use plastic bottles camping. Instead, pack a reusable water bottle that you can refill at every campsite you visit. 

Reusable water bottles eliminate the need to purchase countless bottles during your trip. While you can often recycle plastic bottles, there will be times when recycling cans aren’t available, and your plastic bottles will end up in a landfill. 

Never dump any plastic bottles in the wilderness, either. This can seriously harm the environment and put wildlife at risk.

10. Bottles, Glasses, or Containers Made of Glass

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If possible, avoid taking anything made from glass camping. While packing a couple of bottles of wine and your favorite wine glasses might seem tempting, glass bottles and glasses are heavy, take up more space, and are prone to breaking. 

When glass breaks, the tiny shards pose a risk of cuts to humans and wildlife. Furthermore, broken glass can also be a fire risk by concentrating sunlight rays or creating hot spots that can spark wildfires. 

Instead, opt for plastic food and drinking containers whenever possible.

11. Any Prohibited Items

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Finally, you should never pack any prohibited items when going camping. Different campsites have different rules and regulations, so it’s important to educate yourself about them and respect them during your stay.

If you don’t respect the rules, you risk being kicked off-site or fined. Some campsites prohibit noise systems, specific cooking equipment, firewood, fireworks, and alcohol.

Always check campsite guidelines and regulations before you pack to ensure you follow the rules.

There you have it—11 things you should never take camping. Now that you have this list of items to leave at home, you can start packing for your first camping trip.  

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