Camping Gear Essentials

Toothbrush — check, tent — check… but what else should you pack for a family camping trip? This article on camping gear essentials will bring you up to speed.

Camp Gear Essentials 101

The first things that come to mind when you think about a family camping trip are fun activities such as toasting marshmallows, hiking or swimming. But good times require plenty of preparation. The key to a successful trip is organization, and that starts with planning your meals. You should consider not only the food your family will eat, but also about how you'll cook and serve it. Additionally, be sure to pack those easy-to-forget necessities that can make all the difference on a camping trip — such as a lantern, bug repellent and a first-aid kit.  

Types of Camping Gear 1



On a camping getaway, your tent becomes your home. It helps keep your family warm and provides protection from the elements, insects and wildlife. When choosing a tent, pay close attention to the size to ensure your family will be able to sleep in it comfortably. You should also ensure your tent is designed for use during the season you intend to go camping. The weight and ease of setup of your tent are also important factors that can make all the difference to your enjoyment of your outdoor adventure.

Tent Equipment

Depending on the tent you buy, it may be advisable to pick up a few extra items before hitting the road for your campsite. For example, rigging a tarp above your campsite will provide extra protection from the sun and rain. Also, you may want to pack extra ropes and stakes to tether your tent in the event of strong wind.

Sleeping Bags

Your sleeping bag needs to keep you both warm and comfortable. The filling is what provides the warmth. You can choose between natural down and a variety of synthetic insulations. Ounce for ounce, down is the warmest, but many synthetic fillings are highly rated for warmth, and they also offer better water resistance than down. When it comes to comfort, the style of the bag plays a major role. Your choices range from the snug mummy bag to the relaxed open-barrel bag to the quite roomy rectangular bag. 


Some people find it difficult to get a good night's rest when sleeping on the hard ground. Fortunately, you can easily bring along an air mattress and place it underneath your sleeping bag. It’s important to buy a mattress that will fit comfortably in your tent. Some models include a manual or electric air pump, but check before leaving! The better electric pumps are so quiet you can turn them on at night to adjust the firmness of your mattress without waking other members of your family. 

Bug Protection

Bug jackets and head netting are a good defense against insect bites. For the ultimate protection, you can get full-body bug jackets, but they're not always practical to wear. You can also choose from a variety of bug repellents, the most effective of which contain DEET. Look for products with no more than 10% DEET if you're protecting children. Natural repellents such as lavender oil or soybean oil are also available, but their effectiveness is shorter in duration than products containing DEET. For nighttime protection, consider suspending bug nets over your tents or sleeping bags.

Sun Protection

Appropriate sun protection and a sun hat are the best defenses against sun damage to your skin. When buying sunblock, choose broad-spectrum products as they protect against both UVA and UVB rays. The well-known SPF factor relates to a sunblock's ability to prevent sunburn caused by UVB rays; the higher the SPF ratings, the longer the protection. It’s best to choose products with SPF ratings of at least 30. If you plan on swimming during your camping trip, get waterproof sunblock. 

Lights & Lanterns

Dependable lighting from flashlights and camping lanterns is fundamental to both safety and convenience on a camping trip. Simply place your lantern on a table or hang it from a branch to light up a wide area. This allows you to have both hands free for cooking, doing chores or reading bedtime stories to the kids. When purchasing a lantern, be sure to choose a battery-powered model as they're safer than the gas variety. There are three choices of electric lanterns: LED, fluorescent and incandescent. The LED type has the longest battery life, with good light output. Whichever you choose, pack extra batteries.

Camping Furniture

Back to nature doesn't have to mean comfort-free. Your family will enjoy themselves more during meals and relaxation time if you outfit your campsite with basic camp furnishings, such as a folding table and chairs. Camping furniture is lightweight, durable and designed for easy storage. You'll find a wide range of options to fit every type of outdoor getaway and family budget.

Camping Clothes & Footwear

Make sure you pack appropriate attire for your camping vacation. Choose loose, comfortable clothing that allows you to move around easily and safely. Also, check the weather conditions of your destination before leaving. For cold weather camping, pack extra sweaters, socks, toques and gloves, and don't forget your insulated boots. In warm weather, especially when rain threatens, bring rain jackets, ponchos, nylon pants and waterproof boots with good grips.

Types of Camping Gear 2


Camping Stoves & Appliances

Your family's outdoor chef will require a dependable camping stove during your camping trip. There are two basic categories of camping stoves: gas and solid fuel. You should consider buying a model with at least two burners to ensure everyone gets fed in a timely manner. Make sure to bring extra fuel so you don’t run out. Other appliances you should consider bringing include a camp heater and a camp coffee maker.

Camping Cookware & Flatware

Camping cookware and flatware has come a long way in recent years. You can easily find options that are lightweight and affordable. When shopping for pots, pans, dishes or cutlery, consider buying nested sets to save space and help you stay organized. Camping cookware and flatware is available in a range of durable materials, including aluminum, stainless steel and titanium. 

Camping Coolers

It’s wise to take two good-sized campsite coolers with you when camping — one for food and one for beverages. That way, you can let the kids help themselves to cold drinks without worrying that a lid left open could spoil the food. It’s also a good idea to choose coolers with hinged lids. They're easy for the kids to open and close, and tend to shut more securely to lock in the cold and keep wildlife out. For hikes and other excursions from camp, you'll also want to bring along at least one easy-to-carry portable cooler

First Aid Kits

A first aid kit is a camping essential, especially for families with young, active children. Your first-aid kit should contain the following:
• bandages
• sterile wipes & rinse solutions
• antiseptic creams
• pain medicine
• tweezers & scissors
• sunburn relief spray or lotion
• sinus medicine
• anti-diarrhea medicine

Knives & Multi-Tools

At some point during your camping getaway, you will almost certainly reach for your camping multi-tool — or wish you'd brought one with you. These versatile, compact devices feature a range of useful tools, including knives, scissors, tweezers, screw drivers, pliers and can openers. There are many models of multi-tools, some of which can be customized with different tool configurations. You should also consider packing a pocket knife or utility knife to sharpen wooden tent pikes, and an additional kitchen knife to be used only for cutting raw fish and meat.  
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



Store details