Must-Have Camping Gear

The great outdoors, fresh air, and beautiful starry nights. Ahhh, nothing could go wrong. Until that is, you flash forward 5 hours. You’re out of food, your tent’s leaking, and you’re sleeping on a rock. Big yikes. Let’s avoid a Missing 411 situation and learn how to camp the correct way. Below we’ve compiled a list of the must-have camping gear you’ll need for a *survivable* camping experience!

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The Right Tent for the Job

For most campers, the most important item is the right tent. Your tent will be the only thing between you and Mother Nature while you sleep. Mother Nature might be nice, but bears and mosquitos are not so nice. Because if you don’t choose wisely, and the weather turns for the worse, you could be in for a rainy night. Here are a few tips on choosing the best tent for your specific needs.

  • Make sure it’s big enough. A 2-person tent can be pretty tight, even for two people. Also, if you or anyone staying in the tent is tall, a taller tent would be a good idea. No matter how many people you have, check the dimensions of the tent before you buy it to make sure it will be a comfortable fit.
  • Consider buying an easy-to-erect tent. Newer tents come in easier to build models than ever before. One caveat is that they usually cost more than a basic tent. However, if you arrive late at your campsite, it’s raining, or bugs attack, an easy setup tent is a blessing.
  • If you plan to camp for several days, a tent with pockets and storage pockets is essential. That way, you can store your gear inside without cramping your space.
  • Make sure you get a tent that’s highly rated for water repellency, especially if you plan to camp here in the rainy Pacific Northwest!
must-have camping gear

Choose Your Sleeping Bags Wisely

Sleeping bags, like tents, come in a wide variety of styles, qualities, and prices. Combined with a sleeping pad (coming up next), they will be your bed and blanket while camping. This is the first item on our list of camping gear must-have items for a reason! That makes choosing the right sleeping bag critical. Here are a few tips for doing that:

  • Choose a sleeping bag based on where and when you’ll be camping. For example, if it’s summer in Oregon, a mid-weight sleeping bag should be fine. However, if you’re heading out in January, you’ll need a heavyweight sleeping bag to stay comfortable and warm.
  • If it’s going to be cold, choose a sleeping bag filled with goosedown.
  • Make sure you get a longer sleeping bag if you’re very tall.
  • Also, if you plan to camp at different times of the year, some sleeping bags are made for multiple seasons.

A Sleeping Mat is a Must-Have for Camping Comfort

There’s a reason they call camping “roughing it” because you don’t have everyday comforts when camping. However, if there’s one thing most people truly despise, it’s being uncomfortable when trying to sleep. Now, sure, when tired, kids and young adults can sleep practically anywhere. But if that’s not you, a nice camping mat is indispensable. Here are a few tips on the best camping mat to purchase to stay comfy no matter wherever you camp.

  • A self-inflating mat is critical. The last thing you want is to have to inflate it yourself. (It’s more work than you might realize.)
  • Consider a double mat if you’re going camping with your significant other. Larger mats mean less chance you’ll roll off the mat during the night.
  • While an air bed (air mattress) might sound like a good idea, they don’t insulate well. That could be a problem in cold weather. Also, they’re bulky, both in your vehicle and your tent.
must-have camping gear

All the Rest of the Must-Have Camping Gear You’ll Need for a Fun Time

There are quite a few things you need when you go camping, it’s true. Remember, you’re going to cook, eat, clean, go to the bathroom, sleep, and (hopefully) relax. The list of essentials below will help you do just that. (We broke them up into categories to make it easier!)


  • Pillows for sleeping
  • A folding table and folding chairs
  • A Hammock
  • A portable speaker for your tunes

Food Prep and Cooking

  • A camping grill or metal grill for over a fire
  • Camp stove fuel
  • Basic condiments like salt, pepper, etc.
  • Pots, pans, plates, cups, and utensils, including spatulas, tongs, skewers, etc.
  • A cooler for your food
  • A can and bottle opener
  • A cutting board
  • Plenty of water for drinking and cleaning
  • Charcoal
  • Resealable plastic bags


  • Cleaning stuff like cloths, sponges, etc.
  • An outdoor mat to wipe your feet before entering your tent. (Very handy!)
  • Cleaning liquid
  • A portable shovel for digging a latrine
  • First aid kit
  • Bathroom toiletries
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bug spray
  • Towels
  • Garbage bags (Always pack out your trash!)
  • Baby wipes (An all-around great cleanup tool.)

Lighting and Fire

  • Some torches or hanging battery-operated lights
  • Flashlights
  • Dry wood to make a fire and a fire starting kit
  • Matches
  • An ax or saw to cut your own wood (dry wood is much better than live, wet wood)

Miscellaneous Must-Have Camping Gear

  • A mallet for knocking in tent pegs
  • Spare clothing in case you get wet or the weather suddenly changes
  • Tent repair kit
  • An air pump
  • Sunscreen
  • A tarp for under (or over) your tent
  • A battery charger for phones
  • A camp shower
  • Clothesline for hanging wet clothes
  • Duct tape (Super handy for so many things!)
must-have camping gear

These Must-Have Camping Gear Tips Brought to You by Northwest Self Storage

If you’ve come to the great Northwest to camp, welcome! The camping here is spectacular! Even better, there are few restrictions and, in most cases, you can camp wherever you like! (Do check ahead of time to be sure.)
If you need to store your camping gear after you’re done, Northwest can help. We have self-storage centers throughout the northwest. They all feature clean, safe, and secure storage units with on-site managers and 24/7 security cameras.

Chat with us online if you have questions about renting a storage unit in Oregon, Washington, or Idaho. You can also reserve a storage unit online with Northwest, and there’s no credit card needed. Until then, we wish you a fantastic time camping and enjoying the great outdoors! Be safe, have fun and always remember to pack out your trash!

Leave a Comment