8 Items You Should Always Take Camping to Avoid Frustration | Camping Gear

Last Updated on February 12, 2020 by Jody

It’s inevitable. You arrive at your campsite, set up camp, and only after you’ve settled in do you realize that camping would be more comfortable/ easier/ less frustrating if you had brought along a specific piece of camping gear.

It happens to all of us! I’ve been camping for a long time in every way imaginable and have discovered these 8 pieces of camping gear are essential to avoid frustration and have an amazing camping trip.

Must Have Camping Gear

The following list of gear is not meant to be a camping checklist. Depending on the type of camping you are doing- tent, cabin, RV, car, or glamping- you will need very specific items to make your camping vacation enjoyable. These items are what I have found to be essential no matter the type of camping I am doing.

Walkie Talkies

Two way radios are essential when camping with kids!

Yes, it’s quite likely that your mobile phone will work in many places. But there are equally as many spots that you won’t have service.

A good set of walkie talkies (two way radios) will keep you connected to friends and family without the worry of dead zones.

These are an especially good idea if you are traveling with children as they are an easy (and inexpensive) way to keep tabs on them as they roam the campground.

Note: Kids, being kids, will play with two way radios when first given access. Try to find a frequency without too many other people on it to avoid annoying them.

A Head Lamp

BioLite HeadLamp 200
Slim and light weight BioLite HeadLamp 200

I don’t know about you, but I often find myself needing 3 hands (or more!) when I’m camping. Especially when when I’m cooking, walking to a shower house, or digging my latrine at night (then covering/ cleaning it up!).

While a headlamp may not provide that helping hand I sometimes need, it is essential to me for up-close work and walking or cycling along dark paths.

Our new favorite is the BioLite HeadLamp 200! The slim fit of this headlamp makes it perfect for adults and children, and the moisture wicking band is great for my husband (who sweats at the slightest physical activity).

Because it is so light weight I don’t experience the ‘nod and it moves’ issue that I get with many other headlamps.

The BioLite HeadLamp 200 features a max output of 200 lumens, 4 light modes that can dim or brighten, angles forward to get the light right where you need it, and recharges via USB.

A Powerful Lantern

Lander Cairn, our favorite camping lantern- 300 lumens on a snowy night
Lander Cairn, our favorite camping lantern- 300 lumens on a snowy night

You won’t realize how truly dark it can get until you are camping in an area with no ambient light. You’ll soon find that even a good flashlight doesn’t provide enough light to see any distance. A powerful lantern will illuminate the darkest surroundings.

We love the Lander Cairn for its exceptional brightness (up to 300 lumens!) and the fact that it is waterproof. It recharges easily via USB and can be used as a charger to keep your phones, 2-way radios, and other USB devices charged.

It also has an attached cord that makes it easy to hang practically anywhere- in dark bathrooms, from tree branches, and even in your tent.

Pot to Boil Water

You need a sturdy pot to boil water in!

While this seems like an odd essential, take a minute to think about it. If you enjoy a hot beverage in the morning you will want something to heat the water. Would you prefer not to wipe down at the end of the day with cold water? Do you like those MREs warm?

Even if it only heats a single cup at a time you need to bring a pot to boil water.

Clothes Line

The Flexo-Line portable clothesline goes on every trip we take- camping or no!

It may just be a rope to string between trees, but you should always have something you can rig to hang items to dry.

We have been traveling with the Flexo-Line compact clothes line for about 10 years. It has hooked easily from trees, our RV, and even across cabins. The braided design eliminates the need for clothes pins and the 8 foot stretch length is enough for towels, clothes, swimsuits, and more.

First Aid Kit

Don’t forget a first aid kit!

Whether you put yours together or purchase a complete first aid kit, you should never travel without one.

Be sure that you check your kit before every trip to be sure nothing is missing and add any location specific necessities like a snake bite kit or bear spray.

Be sure to read our Camping Safety article!

Fire Starter

You should always have a way to start a fire. Matches, lighter, flint. We often travel with all 3, and highly recommend everyone wear a survival paracord bracelet when exploring away from the campsite.


There are so many uses for a tarp!

As I mentioned in the Camping in the Rain article, a tarp is your best friend in wet weather.

But beyond that, a tarp can add additional covered space, make a clean place to leave shoes outside the abode, cover outdoor items at night, and offer clean outdoor seating.

What are your camping essentials?

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