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15 Camping Must Haves You Won’t Want To Forget This Summer

Summer is coming up quick. If you haven’t already gone camping for the year, there’s no better time than now to start packing.

But, before you take off, you’ll want to make sure you’re completely prepared. Even when you think you’ve brought everything, it always seems like something got left back at home.

While you’re getting ready for a trip this season, take a look over this list of camping must-haves and see if anything important might have gotten missed.

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1. Bug repellent

Danielle Rizzo

Bug bites are the worst. They just leave you scratching for days, and can even turn into a rash. Bring repellent – lots of it – and you shouldn’t fall victim to pesky mosquitoes, ticks or fleas.

2. Matches (or a lighter)

Meadow Kirk

Camping is just not the same without having a nice, warm campfire to sit by. If you forget to bring a lighter, you can always try the old-school method and rub sticks together until you get a spark. But guaranteed, that will take much, much longer.

3. Your swimsuit

Windy Style

Depending on where you’re camping, there’s usually always a lake or pool nearby where you can go for a nice dip to cool off. But don’t forget to bring a swimsuit – or you may have to resort to some ice cold skinny dipping.

4. A lantern or flashlight with extra batteries

Adventures of the West

A light source is essential when you go camping. But make sure you have one that’s reliable, or bring an extra flashlight with batteries just in case it dies out.

5. Trash bags

Yuyudevil, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Trash bags are so versatile. You can use them to collect garbage and keep your dirty clothes separated from the rest. Bring a roll and you’ll end up finding all kinds of great uses for them.

6. Sunglasses

The Life of Ally

Camping is no fun when you’re blinded by the light every way you turn. A pair of shades is a must if you’re going anywhere outside during the summer.

7. Jugs of water (and ice)

First Camping Trip

Beating the heat also requires staying hydrated. You won’t just want to bring one gallon of water – but multiple jugs to keep your thirst quenched, and a few bags of ice to keep it all nice and cold.

8. A first aid kit


Hopefully, you won’t even need to open this at all. But it is something you’ll want to always have on hand, just in case.

9. Sunscreen (and chapstick)

Lost Girls World

Sunburns are awful, but luckily, it’s not hard to prevent them. Apply a good layer of sunscreen before taking off in the morning (with a high SPF) and you’ll be easily protected from all the harsh UV rays. Bonus points if you can find a sunscreen that also doubles as a bug repellent (like this one on Amazon).

10. Maps, a compass, or GPS


Whether you have a phone with GPS, maps of the area, or even just a compass – you should at least have some idea of where you’re going. Without knowing where you are, it can be easy to get lost and stranded miles away from your campsite. Stay safe, and always keep in mind where you are (and which way you came from).

11. A smaller backpack to take on day trips


You may not need a smaller bag, but one does come in handy so you won’t have to carry things. It can be helpful just to bring a water bottle, maps/directions, and any other necessities you may use during the day.

12. Hand wipes, or napkins/paper towels


At some point, you’re going to need to clean up. Maybe your hands got dirt all over them. Or maybe they’re a little sticky after eating gooey s’mores. No matter the purpose, you’ll be glad to have a way to get them wiped off.

13.  An umbrella, or any sort of rain gear

Ali Express

Depending on where you go camping, you may still get caught in summer rain while you’re out on a trip. In fact, you may even get caught in a windy thunderstorm. It’s definitely not a bad idea to be prepared and bring an umbrella or poncho in case the weather starts to get hazy.

14. A copy of your reservation info/confirmation

Rivers Edge

A copy of your reservation may not be required – but it is nice to have on person just in case there’s any confusion. You never know if there was some kind of error in the system that made your info not show up on their end – but as long as you have a paper with your confirmation, you won’t need to worry about fighting for a spot you thought was already reserved.

15. Ingredients for s’mores

JV Kom

Now this one’s just a necessity. Throw a box of graham crackers in your bag, along with some marshmallows, chocolate and any other ingredients you may desire (here are a few more delicious ideas). You’ll be glad you did.

Hopefully, this list of camping must-haves will help you be reminded of things that might otherwise have been forgotten. So, tell us – what are some other essential things to take on a camping trip during the summer?