Minimal Camping Checklist

Camping can take a lot of prep work and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the things you have to own and remember to bring in order to enjoy a short weekend trip. But when it comes down to it, camping is not about bringing every comfort from home, it’s about being comfortable in nature without all of the luxuries.

Some campers might choose to forego a tent and sleep under the stars and others might survive without a pillow. Minimalism means different things to different people. If bringing only the essentials and challenging yourself to live without every comfort sounds interesting to you, here’s a list to get you started.

1. Tent

My cozy Coleman 2-person tent  was extremely affordable and has been perfect for 2 people + a dog. It’s compact and easy to store in an apartment or car but also offers enough space for sleeping, which is all you really need it for anyway.

2. Sleeping Bag (+ Sleeping Pad & Pillow)

For me, the ideal sleeping situation includes a sleeping pad, sleeping bag and pillow. Amazon.com has a lot of affordable and compact sleeping pads and for a comfortable night’s sleep, it’s worth adding to your list. Investing in a nice sleeping bag will make your nights more comfortable as well. My Kelty 40 Degree Sleeping Bag has been great and is majorly on sale as I’m writing this post!

3. Matches/Lighter

What’s camping without a campfire? Be sure to bring a lighter or matches and it couldn’t hurt to throw in a backup in case the lighter fails or the matches get waterlogged.

4. Water

An obvious and important one. Bring more than enough water to last the entire trip. Any extra drinking water can be used for cooking, brushing your teeth, etc. If you’re doing a lot of backpacking and can’t carry enough water, look into getting a water filtration device.

5. Food

Keep it simple. If you don’t bring a cooler then you won’t have to worry about ice. Bananas and fruit, granola bars, bagels, nuts, trail mix, and jerky are just some ideas.

6. Multi-tool / Knife

A multi-tool with a knife (or just a sharp knife) is useful in so many ways and is not something you want to go without while camping.

7. Flashlight

On a moonless night it can be impossible to see two inches in front of your face. Having a source of light like a flashlight, lantern or headlamp is another must. I prefer a headlamp because it frees up your hands but if you’re looking for something multifunctional, these solar lanterns recharge in the sun and can be used to charge up your devices.

8. Layers

I’ve never regretting bringing clothing to layer on while camping. Consider how much it will cool off at night, you can always sleeping in your layers for extra warmth. A hat to block the sun and a rain jacket are also good to have on hand.

9. Toothpaste & Toothbrush

Keep toiletries to a minimum – running water for washing your face or body isn’t always available and most soaps and shampoos are very bad for the environment if you wash up in a lake or river. You will get dirty while camping. It’s inevitable. And I can almost guarantee that nothing bad will happen if you get a little bit smelly.

10. First Aid Kit & Insect Repellant

Insect repellant and a stocked first aid kit could make the different between an enjoyable camping trip and nightmare in the woods.

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