What Are The 10 Essentials For Camping And Hiking

Spending a week camping can be a great adventure or a living agony. 

Generally, a good camping experience comes down to just one factor: what you packed (or did not pack) for the camping trip.

Ten essentials for camping are navigation tools, first-aid kit, fire kit, shelter/tent, headlamp, knife, emergency food, water purifier, sunscreen, and insulators.

Whether you are a first-time or a seasoned survivalist, do not leave home without packing the essentials. The list may change a bit with different people and different camping types.

Hence, you may have to look at various factors such as your camping location, duration, and camping type.

Without further adieu, let us look at all of these essentials closely.

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1. 10 Essentials For Camping

1.1 Navigation

Navigation does not look essential at first glance. After all, your smartphone and a spare GPS are enough to cover all your needs.

But what if your phone or GPS battery dies or breaks. Or what if it malfunctions or goes out of service area.

Knowing and carrying a topographic chart and compass is a failsafe method to bring you out of danger.

And if you do not know how to read a topographic chart and use a compass, there are dozens of YouTube tutorials to help.

Furthermore, both REI and MEC run original sessions on chart and compass reading.

Similarly, for communication, always bring a fully charged cell phone and prepare well for recharging it when required.

However, one person in the group should carry either a satellite phone or an InReach for emergencies or no signals.

Essentials for camping in a tent
Map and Compass

1.2 First Aid Kit

Now first aid may come as a no-brainer. So much so that you may forget to carry it.

There is no point in going into the necessities of a first aid kit (Amazon link) here, so let us look at the items a comprehensive first aid kit should have:

  • Pocket CPR mask
  • Hand sanitizer and many dyads of latex gloves
  • Anti-septic wipes, band-aids, a pack of gauges
  • Polysporin
  • Tylenol, Advil, Gravol, and chewable baby Aspirin
  • Bottle of sunscreen
  • many energy bars and Aqua- tabs

Feel free to add any other medicines as per your personal need.

1.3 Fire Starter Kit

Even if you are not planning to build a campfire, fire can be useful in some situations, such as helping and rescuing, cooking food, or sterilizing knives and gauges.

A typical fire starter kit (Amazon link) can contain:

  • Waterproof matches & lighter in a plastic bag
  • Flint
  • Firestarter

It is better to carry flints and steel because, unlike match sticks and lighter, they work even after getting wet.

1.4 Shelter

If you are going for a day trip, you may not worry too much about shelter. But for trips where you will be spending the night outside, you will need it.

A bivy is an emergency shelter for your wild camping trips. Bivy packs are small and affordable.

In addition to these bivy bags, you can also carry ropes and a tarp to stay extra safe during rain.

For a more stable or comprehensive shelter, you can look at:

  • Tents
  • Tarp tents
  • Sleeping mattress
  • Folding cots

You can choose any as per your convenience.

1.5 Headlamp

You cannot restart the fire repeatedly after you put it out before going to sleep.

Furthermore, the weather may not even allow you to start a fire in certain situations (like rain or strong winds).

Thus, having a method of producing light on demand is essential. It will help you see in the dark and if you have to go out for a short loo break in the night.

Headlamps and flashlights are two popular options with their pros and cons.

A headlamp keeps your hands free for other tasks, while a flashlight is more flexible and versatile.

Just in case, carry a spare one and also bring extra batteries.

1.6 Knife

A knife is a multipurpose item on the list. Its uses go way beyond cutting veggies and cooking food.

You can use it to cut the wood into small pieces to light fire, cut bandages and tapes, or for protection.

Always carry multiple knives (Amazon link) for different purposes, preferably in various sizes.

1.7 Emergency Food

Hunger can be a big problem if you are out in the wild for a long time. Generally, you will make appropriate arrangements for food during your trip.

But emergency foods are dry rations and items with a longer shelf life. You can use them in emergencies.

These include biscuits, energy bars, chips and crisps, and dried fruits.

These food items can provide you with sufficient energy and help you survive in optimal condition when you run out of your food and have to live in the wilderness for a few days.

Additionally, it’ll also be helpful if you are out of the track or doing some strenuous activity and feel under the weather.

Furthermore, if you go on longer trips, they will be your best friends because you will run out of any perishable food items within the first week.

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Dry ration will help you survive

1.8 Water Purifier

Water can never be compromised with purity, especially when you are outdoors. The nearest area where you can get some medical help maybe a few hundred miles away.

In modern society, we have forgotten the terror of drinking unclean water.

Our infrastructure has mostly eradicated cholera, dysentery, and 100 other pathogenic water-borne illnesses from our vocabulary.

But impure water can be dangerous, even downright deadly, if not handled well.

You may be able to carry some purified water. But on a trip over two days, it becomes increasingly difficult to bring so much portable drinking water.

Good water purifiers (Amazon link) and filters can be a lifesaver for you. There are all types of travel-friendly options available depending on your need:

  • Water purifier pump
  • Water bottles with inbuilt filters
  • Squeeze water filter
  • Aqua tabs (put one tablet in 1 liter of water for 30 minutes, and you can have pure water)

1.9 Sunscreen

Limited exposure to the sun is good for health.

Overexposure will at least lead to sunburns, and too much of it can even lead to cancer.

Thus, always carry sunscreen.

You can also use a hat, cap, and full-length clothes to protect yourself from over-exposure.

1.10 Insulation

You should always carry extra clothing even if it is not very cold. It becomes very inconvenient to sleep if the temperature drops at night.

  • Pair of woolen socks
  • Jacket
  • Quilt
  • Rain jacket

Wear layers of clothing. Layers will keep you warm while you are outside, and they are easy to remove, so you don’t get toasted indoors either.

In the rainy season, try and avoid cotton. It loses its heat retention properties when it gets wet. Wool, however, is the opposite and doesn’t lose its heat retention properties.

1.11 Bonus

These items are not in the ten essential lists, but they can be helpful during the camping trip.

  • Watch
  • Insulated bottles
  • Mattresses
  • Bug spray
  • Sunglasses


Once you start packing for your camping, the challenge will not be what you should pack but how you can keep your backpack light and not miss out on anything important at the same time.

There may be many things that you may want to take on your camping trip or your next outdoor adventure.

However, the items we have mentioned are essential to any trip.

Even if you may not use them on every trip, the safety you will feel because of them will be worth it.

Happy camping!

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