According to a recent poll from The Vacationer, 80 percent of Americans will take a vacation this summer and more than 40 percent want to travel more than last year. However, if you’re still hesitant to board a plane (either because of recent world conflicts or residual COVID effects), a camping trip makes for an excellent, outdoorsy alternative.

Whether you head into the wilderness with the family in tow, or you plan a solo adventure for some alone time off-the-grid, you’ll need to pack differently for a camping trip than you would for a normal vacation. Be ready to take on the elements—and maximize the fun—with this packing list for ultimate, unforgettable nature exploration.

Pop-Up Tent

You can’t sleep under the stars (securely, at least) without a tent. This camping essential will offer both comfort and protection from wildlife and other natural elements at night. But if you’re new to camping—or just want a hassle-free experience—a pop-up tent is an ideal solution. It’s easy to assemble and break down. Plus, the material is lightweight, so you can feel that airy summer breeze as you settle in for the evening.

Sleeping Bag & Pad

Just because you’re trading in a hotel bed for a patch of the earth doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable. A quality sleeping bag with an inflatable pad beneath it will ensure optimal coziness as you drift off. In the summer, you might be tempted to skip the pad since you won’t need as much insulation as you would in cooler seasons. However, the extra cushioning is hard to beat after a day of vigorous outdoor activities.

Camp Chairs

Some campsites come with picnic tables, but it still never hurts to bring your own set of camp chairs. Whether you want to lounge with a book and a beverage in the afternoon or relax around the firepit after sunset, camp chairs make a trip off-the-grid more enjoyable. Not to mention, most camp chairs are collapsible with makes them simple and convenient to transport. Bonus points if the chairs also have built-in cup holders.

First Aid Kit

While you can’t predict when injuries might occur out in the wilderness, you can plan ahead for treating them with an outdoor first aid kit. Whether you suffer a hiking accident, a bee sting or a case of heat exhaustion, it’s crucial to have medical supplies in reach. A first aid kit is compact enough to take anywhere, so you can deal with the unexpected at a moment’s notice. You’ll want to pack sunscreen and insect repellent too.

Water Gallons

Not all campsites have running water, but optimal hydration is vital to a safe and fun camping adventure. The nature recreation experts at REI recommend that you consume about one half-liter of water each hour during moderate-intensity activities in hot temperatures. Thus, in order to protect yourself from the risk of dehydration, be sure to bring a minimum of two gallons of water per person for each full day of the camping trip.

Flashlight

Once night falls, it can be extremely difficult to navigate a campsite. The sky might be full of stars, but this doesn’t always provide enough illumination when you’re fumbling around in the wilderness—and that’s why a flashlight is essential. Make sure the flashlight produces at least 160 lumens for optimal brightness that will stand up to pitch-dark surroundings. You should also have some extra batteries on hand just in case.

Cooking Utensils

Most (if not, all) of the meals you’ll eat on this trip will be made at the campsite, so be sure to pack the right tools for an outdoor kitchen. Of course, you’ll need the basic cookware such as pots, utensils, skillets, and plates. But if you don’t feel comfortable preparing meals over a fire, a portable stove will come in handy too. Bring a backup container of propane gas as well, so your stove won’t run out of fuel halfway through the trip.

Multi-Tool

Whether you need a knife to chop vegetables for dinner, a Ferro rod to ignite a flame, a bottle opener to crack a beer, or tweezers to remove a splinter, a multi-tool has you covered. This foldable, pocket-size device performs numerous functions, so you’ll be equipped for whatever nature throws at you. From blades to pliers to screwdrivers to wire cutters and more, this all-in-one contraption is durable, versatile, and reliable.

Solar Charger

Sure, the whole point of an adventure in nature is to unplug from the distractions of normal life. But even though you want to reduce screen time and turn off all those buzzing notifications, you still might need your smartphone for GPS navigation or access to an emergency contact should unforeseen issues arise. Therefore, it’s a smart idea to pack a mobile solar charger—you might not have to use it, but it could just be a lifesaver.

Dri-Fit Clothes

During these humid summer months, you’ll need activewear that keeps you both cool and comfortable in the outdoors, so your camping trip is ruined by the intense heat. Clothing made from Dri-Fit materials is a sure bet for any nature excursion. They have moisture-wicking micro-fibers that pull sweat from the skin, as well as mesh ventilation panels that help increase airflow in the body. These clothes were built for camping.

Use this Packing List for Maximum Summer Camping Fun

Whether your summer camping adventure takes you across the country or just a few hours outside of town, this packing list features all the essentials for a memorable trip in the Great Outdoors. Before you hit the road for some wilderness exploring, load your car with these tools, gear and creature comfort to maximize your fun this summer.    

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