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A Camping Checklist of the Outdoor Essentials

BY: Editors | Oct 18, 2018

Heading into the great outdoors? Better be prepared!

Man filling canteen in the wilderness

Unless you're Bear Grylls or an actual bear, you'll need things when venturing into the great outdoors. Even if it's just a quick weekend trip, it's always better to pack more than you think you might need when going camping. Making that list can get daunting, though. What if you don't have a tent yet? Will you need a pocket knife? Does that flashlight in the closet even still work? Take a look through this camping checklist to get a better idea of the stuff you'll definitely need out there.

1. Camping Tent

If you're forgoing a cabin or RV, you'll need shelter. A cozy two-person tent made of water-resistant nylon is a solid choice if you're just starting out, especially if it comes with its own carrying case (and most tents do nowadays). Our main advice though? Opt for a bigger tent than you might think (ex. a four-person tent for two people) so you have more room to store your gear inside at night. 

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4-person dome tent

2. Sleeping Bag

You might think of sleeping bags as flimsy, glorified bed sheets, but that's not the case. We recommend going for one with a hood to keep your head as toasty as your toes, but pay close attention to the temperature rating. If you only ever camp in summer in hot climes, you won't want a bag designed for subzero temps!

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Teal hooded sleeping bag

3. Hiking Boots

No camping checklist is complete without a spiffy new pair of boots. But be sure to go with function over form when shopping: something sturdy, water-resistant, and with plenty of traction to keep you comfortable and upright on any trails. Remember to size up, too, to accommodate thicker socks and any swelling your feet might do while on the trail.

Pro tip: When trying on your new boots, step onto an incline if you can and angle your feet downwards: if your toes hit the front of the shoe, you need to go up a half-size!

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Purple women's hiking boots

4. Backpack

Depending on how out there you are, you might need to bring as little as a water bottle or as much as, well, everything with you when you leave your campsite. Look for tons of pockets, an ergonomic design, and any extra features you think you'll need in the wilderness such as a built-in safety whistle or detachable rain cover.

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Hiking backpack

5. Survival Bracelet

Yes, you should pack a first-aid kit among your camping gear. But survival bracelets give you a little extra something for emergencies. While some have fire-starter essentials or a compass built in, the real benefit is the cord the bracelet's made from itself: paracord. You can unravel the bracelet to use the extra length of tough, weather-resistant string in emergency situations for building shelter and more.

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Braided survival bracelet

6. Binoculars

A good pair of binoculars can be the difference between seeing that blurry little thing way out there that could be a bear and seeing that thing out there that most definitely is a bear. Specs to consider are: size, especially weight if you're an avid backpacker; lens diameter, because a wider diameter means a clearer image especially at night; and whether they're waterproof or weather resistant.

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Binoculars

7. Bear Spray

Speaking of bears, this one's a non-negotiable among camping supplies: if you're camping in bear country, you absolutely need bear spray. Playing dead won't work! But remember to check your specifc park's guidelines since some national parks have banned the spray.

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Ruger bear spray

8. Flashlight

A camping trip's not a camping trip without a flashlight-enhanced spooky campfire tale, right? It's also a good idea to make sure it's waterproof and sturdy enough to handle a drop so you know it'll be ready to go when you need it.

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Army Gear flashlight

9. Camping Chair

Because sitting on the ground gets old pretty quick when it's been raining. If bells and whistles matter to you, plenty of camp chairs come with everything from cup holders to foot rests and attaching tables. If you're on the go, check the weight and how compact it is when folded.

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Foldable camping chair with cup holder

10. Nalgene Bottle

Nalgene bottles are the best for a reason: they hold 32oz. of hot or cold liquid, they're easy to carry, and they're as close to unbreakable as you can find. Not to mention the easiest way to ruin a day on the trail is to let yourself become dehydrated!

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Nalgene water bottle

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