Sleeping bags inside tent with snow outside

Camping Gear, Top 12 Essential Items for New Campers

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we may earn a commission on qualifying sales at no extra cost to you.

Are you new to camping? Not sure what essential camping gear you will be needing? You’re not alone. We have put together a list of the 12 most essential items every new camper needs below. The list is pretty basic and your family needs will come in to play for any additional items.

image depicting a tent as essential camping gear

I have often heard camping referred to as “spending a small fortune to live like a homeless person”. Getting started and acquiring your gear is the most difficult and costly part. It takes time and yeas, money, to gear up so your camping trip isn’t a nightmare.

Let’s start by talking about campsites. If you decide to camp in a state park or campground, many parks have two different types of sites, primitive and pull-up.

Primitive sites are just that, primitive. They normally do not offer any amenities such as water, electricity, or restroom. Just a spot that is often numbered and possibly a fire ring. Restroom facilities may be located in the park, but are usually not very close.

Pull-up sites on the other hand often offer a water spigot and sometimes electricity. These types of sites will normally have a pad for you to park your vehicle nearby as well.

Now, let’s get to the fun part, GEAR. This is where you get to have fun choosing cool things like tents, flashlights, sleeping bags, etc. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the list.


A tent is going to be the most important part of your gear. After all, it is your shelter. Deciding on what size and type of tent to choose will depend on the size of your camping squad. Tents can range in price from $50 all the way up to a few hundred dollars, depending on your needs.

Sleeping Bag

There are also several different types and styles of sleeping bags to choose from, all depending on climate, use, etc. For example, if you’re not hiking, then a rectangular bag would suffice. The mummy type sleeping bags are normally lighter weight for carrying on hiking trips. If you aren’t going to be camping in the winter months, then a heavy down sleeping bag would not be practical. Do some research on sleeping bags and get the best one to suit your budget and needs.

Sleeping bags inside tent with snow outside


A good quality flashlight, lantern, or headlamp are a must. Most campsites do not have any lighting and you will need to see in the dark. Fresh batteries should be added to your checklist as well.

Propane Stove/Campfire Grill

If you plan to cook anything while camping, you will need something to cook on. Years ago, Kellie and I used a steel rack that we could place right over the campfire for cooking. A small propane stove with plenty of propane works well too. If you plan to use the campfire for cooking, opt for cast iron skillets or dutch-oven. They are made to withstand extreme heat.

Cooler/Ice Chest

We always carry two ice chests with us. One large cooler for food and a smaller one for drinks. The smaller ice chest came in handy so we weren’t in and out of the food ice chest, thus keeping the perishable food cold.


If your campsite doesn’t have a table, you might want to consider adding a couple of comfortable camping chairs to your camping gear. This will depend on the level of comfort you want to have while you’re camping.

Cooking/Eating Utensils

A mess kit and cooking utensils are a must. You can raid the kitchen cabinets at home to get started. Be sure to bring silverware and plates.

Sunscreen/Bug Repellent

You will need to protect yourself and your family from the sun during the day with a quality sunscreen and prepare yourself for mosquitos in the evening.

Mosquito biting


A few lightweight items to consider would be eggs, bread, tortillas, cheese, and maybe a pack of sandwich meat. Oh yeah, don’t forget the hot dogs and S’mores.


A hatchet is a must have tool for splitting firewood as well as using the hammer end of it to drive your tent stakes in the ground.

Trash Bags

Leave the campsite the way you found it, if not better. Trash bags should be an essential item in everyone’s camping gear. Be sure to pick up all of your trash and leave noting behind when you leave. Most campgrounds will have dumpsters to dispose of trash on the way out of the park.


Variety of water bottles

Last and certainly not least is water. Be sure you have plenty of water for your stay. Water is a staple of any camping trip.

We hope this list helps out and answers some questions you may have had. Camping is a great way to get outside, see nature, and spend time with your loved ones making memories that will last forever.

If there is anything missed on the list, please let us know in the comments below. For more great posts and websites like this, visit Feedspot. They have a great list of camping/RVing websites to learn more.

Join our Facebook Group for even more interaction with fellow RVers. Feel free to ask questions, post your camping photos, and more.

Sharing Is Caring


Leave a Comment