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What to bring camping as a man Man outdoors sitting car with camping gear around him
 /  Lifestyle /  Hobby

What to Bring Camping as a Man: The Ultimate Guide

Joe Niehaus
Expertise:

Style, Skincare, EDC, Fitness, Shoes

Joe is world traveler and brand fanatic. He's been writing about physical goods and the founders behind them for over four years. Beyond his work for The Adult Man, he's contributed to The Quality Edit, Business Insider, Men's Health, Travel + Leisure, and more. He's been around the block, taking his goods across the world to countries like China, Spain, Italy, Thailand, Dubai, France, and Mexico. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Feb 19, 2024
22 min read
Key Takeaways

The five most important things to bring camping are a tent, first-aid kit, food, firestarter, and proper attire. The tent and clothing will protect against insects and the elements. Food and snacks will provide much needed energy and a fire will keep you warm at night. If any accidents happen, the first-aid kit will be essential.

You’re off for a trip out into the great outdoors.

Who knows what’s to come.

It could be raining non stop one day, or so hot you’re drenched in sweat the next.

Making sure that you pack the right equipment is crucial for enjoying your time—and staying safe.

Planning for a camping trip can be quite daunting sometimes, especially with how many innovations exist on the market. Collapsible furniture, water purifiers, lightweight cooking utensils—it can be difficult to wrap your head around it all.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

2 Key Things to Consider Before Packing for a Camping Trip

How Demanding Will Your Camping Trip Be? 

This will determine the quantity and caliber of gear you will need. If your plan is to enjoy a casual weekend on a state park campground, don’t waste your precious bag space with things like bear spray or collapsible axes.

On the flip side, you don’t want to be too comfortable or you’ll be weighing yourself down lugging an inflatable sectional across the steep geography of the Rocky Mountains.

Man in Kuhl on hiking trail

How Long Are You Going For?

If you plan on being gone for over a few days, it would be a good idea to pack dehydrated food that is both light and compact to keep you energized.

Finally, understand what the climate is going to be during your planned trek. Your checklist will be far different on a trip throughout the dry southwest compared to the more forgiving, temperate northeast.

Basically, don’t opt for a hammock in lieu of a larger canteen on your trip to Arches National Park, only to find no trees and the only place to suspend it is on the arches themselves.

With those considerations in mind, here’s what you should be bringing on your next trip in through the Great Outdoors.

17 Things to Take Camping as a Guy

I’m going to break down my recommendations for the essential packing list for your next trip based on the type of use.

These products have been created by some of the best brands in outdoor gear and battle tested to make sure that they’re up to the task.

Cold, hot, rain, or shine, the following will keep your creature comforts in check so you can focus on enjoying nature. 

Things for Sleeping

Rumpl The Original Puffy Blanket

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Getting proper rest is a non-negotiable so you can attack the next day of exploring alert and energized.

Getting high-quality sleep can be tricky while staying overnight in the woods.

Bringing pillows, blankets, and sheets is an unrealistic goal considering their weight and volume. Specialized sleeping gear specifically designed for camping can be the difference between feeling energized or drained the next day. 

I love the Rumpl Original Puffy Blanket because of how much it can do. It’s super compact: the blanket opens up to a 1-2 person size and can be used sleeping in a tent, relaxing in the hammock, or bundled up fireside.

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If environmental impact is something you watch out for, you’ll appreciate that the unique, wavy quilting of the blanket is made of 100% post-consumer polyester. Keeping plastic bottles out of our parks and keeping you and your adventure companions warm. 

The Original Puffy Blanket also comes in a variety of designs ranging from solids, color gradients, and printed designs like the one below, featuring scenes from popular national parks. 

Rumpl The Original Puffy Blanket

I love the Rumpl Puffy Blanket because of how much it can do. It’s super compact: the blanket opens up to a 1-2 person size and can be used sleeping in a tent, relaxing in the hammock, or bundled up fireside.

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Gear Doctors Apollo Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress

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Let’s be real, sleeping in a tent on top of the flattened ground of a campsite is not ideal for catching Zs unless you’re glamping in Big Sur, outfitted with fluffy mattresses and all.

Packing a compact air mattress like the Apollo Air Mattress from Gear Doctors can be a convenient solution to a common challenge with camping. Set up requires nothing but the included pump sack and when collapsed, the whole thing is the size of a water bottle. 

At only $99 and backed by their lifetime replacement policy, I think this offering from Gear Doctors has great value with minimal long-term risk. 

Gear Doctors Apollo Air Mattress

Packing a compact air mattress like this one from Gear Doctors can be a convenient solution to a common challenge with camping. Set up requires nothing but the included pump sack and when collapsed, the whole thing is the size of a water bottle.

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The Rumpl Stuffable Pillowcase

Camping pillows do exist, but they’re either bulky or inflatable. 

I don’t know about you, but choosing between a good night’s rest or carrying around something cumbersome is not the kind of tradeoff I want to make before my next adventure. 

Rumpl’s Stuffable Pillowcase is a clever solution to this problem.

This pillowcase comes completely empty making it easy to fit anywhere in your camp kit. Using softgoods you already have packed such as shirts or hoodies, you can insert them to add volume and fluff to your pillow, creating a soft cushion for your head.

If you’re camping with a vehicle, you might not be crunched for space, but if you’re seeking something light that will add quality to your rest, I recommend making this part of your essentials. 

Rumpl The Stuffable Pillowcase

This pillowcase comes completely empty making it easy to fit anywhere in your camp kit. Using softgoods you already have packed such as shirts or hoodies, you can insert them to add volume and fluff to your pillow, creating a soft cushion for your head. If you’re camping with a vehicle, you might not be crunched for space, but if you’re seeking something light that will add quality to your rest, I recommend making this part of your essentials. 

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The North Face Wawona 6 Man Tent

The tent is the universal symbol for camping, so forgetting one wouldn’t make this list complete.

The refreshed Wawona 6 Man Tent from The North Face offers a comfortable and spacious design for family camping trips. With a double-wall construction and re-engineered poles, it provides better insulation and durability. The outside vestibule makes storing larger items such as outdoor furniture or fishing rods super helpful.

The color-coded poles make setup so much easier and earns the Wawona my recommendation.

Keep in mind that with it being good for six people, it might not work if you frequently camp solo or with small groups.

To get an additional in-depth look, watch AB Camping’s video diving into setup and overnight use above.

The North Face Wawona 6 Man Tent

This tent from outdoors aficionados, The North Face, offers a comfortable and spacious design for family camping trips. With a double-wall construction and re-engineered poles, it provides better insulation and durability. The outside vestibule makes storing larger items such as outdoor furniture or fishing rods super helpful.

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Things for Cooking

Wolf and Grizzly Campfire Trio

Wolf and Grizzly Campfire Trio from the side 1

You’re in luck, we’ve already reviewed multiple camping grills, so I’ve come to this category prepared.

Our very own reviewer, David, determined that the Campfire Trio was the most compact among the 5 grills he analyzed. 

Wolf and Grizzly Using the Fire Set

Aside from how easy the 4.2-pound grill is to carry, the Campfire Trio also boasts 304 stainless steel construction, making it resistant to degradation from the heat it contains. The ferrocerium rod and striker that’s included is a nice perk and is a nice backup in case your lighter goes empty. 

If you’re the type of camper who is spontaneous or likes to travel light, this grill will make a perfect addition to your camp kitchen. 

Wolf and Grizzly Campfire Trio

Complete with the Fire Safe, Fire Starter, and Grill Kit, the Campfire Trio is everything you need to cook an amazing meal in the woods.

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Snow Peak Renewed Bamboo My Table

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Since 1958, Snow Peak has been infusing Japanese design with high-quality outdoor gear, making their hard goods sought after by campers who seek to upgrade their setup to something more unique and luxurious. 

The My Table comes in handy when you can’t find a good spot to chop vegetables or keep your food off the ground. For throwing together a meal, presenting a makeshift minibar to the camp crew, or a game of solitaire on those solo trail days, the My Table is a handy solution.

Snow Peak products have a higher price point, but this comes with some advanced engineering. The My Table might not be the best option if you’re just getting started with camping as it’s a bit more premium. 

However, they do back their goods with a lifetime warranty, replacing or repairing them free of charge. That kind of customer service is a great value, especially when you consider the abuse that camping gear undergoes.  

Snow Peak Bamboo My Table

The My Table comes in handy when you're camping and you can't find a good spot to chop vegetables or keep your food off the ground. For throwing together a meal, presenting a makeshift minibar to the camp crew, or a game of solitaire on those solo trail days, this bad boy is a really handy and high-quality solution.

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Things for Cleaning

Sierra Dawn Campsuds Outdoor Soap

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Whether it’s yourself or your gear, washing proves itself to be a challenge in the wilderness. 

Cleaning supplies typically aren’t high on the priority list of things to be. Plus, you have to be conscious of the soap you’re using if you plan on rinsing things in natural water.

Sierra Dawn’s Campsuds check every box. The soap is gentle enough for skin yet tough enough for greasy cookware. Its concentrated formula makes bringing a small container sufficient and best of all, it’s environmentally friendly so you can wash up outdoors guilt-free. 

Sierra Dawn Campsuds Outdoor Soap

This outdoor soap is gentle enough for skin yet tough enough for greasy cookware. Its concentrated formula makes bringing a small container sufficient and best of all, it’s environmentally friendly so you can wash up outdoors guilt-free.

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Rachel Nagle of Adventurous Heart on YouTube uses Campsuds in the cooking/cleanup portion of her backcountry cooking series and shares some handy pointers on handling leftovers, dealing with hungry wildlife, and leaving no trace all the while. 

Camp Chef Chainmail Scrubber

I’m sorry to break it to you, but you’ll still have to do the dishes on your camping trip. 

Fortunately, Camp Chef is a knight in shining armor for meal cleanup with their sturdy Chainmail Scrubber.

This tool is perfect for cleaning commonly used cooking equipment such as cast iron pants, grills, and burners. The large gauge makes quick work of cleaning the scrubber itself once cookware has been tidied as well.

The main reason I recommend this is because it is just so simple. Made of only stainless steel, it will likely last you a lifetime, meaning you can keep it as part of your essentials for years. 

Camp Chef Chainmail Scrubber

This tool is perfect for cleaning commonly used cooking equipment such as cast iron pants, grills, and burners. The large gauge makes quick work of cleaning the scrubber itself once cookware has been tidied as well.

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Things to Wear

The Free Radikl Pants from Kühl

Man on a hike

Kühl is no stranger to outfitting even the most seasoned adventurers. 

These pants made it into ourb best outdoor clothing roundup, and I think they’re well worth another mention. 

As broken down in our review, what I love most about the Free Radikl Pants is how adaptable they are. For the summer months, their breathable construction and UPF 50+ protection make them comfortable without sacrificing protection. Throwing on a pair of Long Johns for added warmth will make them useful during fall and winter too. 

The strategically placed double knees and ample pocket space make them a shoo-in for the list of camping essentials. 

The Patagonia Baggies Shorts 

man climbing

If you already own a pair of Patagonia Baggies, then they don’t need any introduction. 

Recently the Baggies have exploded in popularity, and for good reason. Between the quick-drying nylon, flexible construction, and a wide array of color options, these shorts are tremendously versatile and are a must-have on any summer camping trip. 

If you’ve ever spent a week exploring a place like Maui, then you’ll know that Baggies almost never came off. They keep you covered with snorkeling, cliff jumping, hiking, and dining (I know this from experience as seen in the above image).

Patagonia Baggies Shorts

Recently the Baggies have exploded in popularity, and for good reason. Between the quick-drying nylon, flexible construction, and a wide array of color options, these shorts are tremendously versatile and are a must-have on any summer camping trip.

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The Vuori Ripstop Climber Pants

model wearing vuori ripstop climbing pants and white sneakers

Vuori’s line of apparel strikes a balance between lifestyle and athletic performance, lending to their southern California roots. 

I recommend their Ripstop Climber Pants if you don’t want to invest in specialized hiking attire yet or you want something equally dressable for the city or trail.

These pants from Vuori offer a gusseted crotch and pretty much indestructible fabric, which makes them well suited to all the outdoors adventures you can throw at them. 

Vuori Ripstop Pants

Vuori Ripstop pants are excellent for outdoors adventures. With a gusseted crotch and nearly indestructible fabric, these pants both look great and will last for years.

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Things for the Bathroom

Rumpl Everywhere Towel

If your camping trip involves any swimming or generally wet conditions, staying dry is a must. 

Regular towels are bulky and take up precious space on multi-day hikes, so I recommend grabbing a packable Rumpl Everywhere Towel.

These towels are great if your trip takes you along aquatic settings. The Everyday Towels fold down into a small size that can fit into the water bottle holder of your backpack, and their quick drying time is a big plus so you don’t have to carry it with things meant to stay dry. 

To top it all off, it’s treated with an anti-microbial finish to fight off odor and has a corner loop so you can dry it wherever the path takes you. 

Rumpl Everywhere Towel

This towel is great if your camping trip takes you along aquatic settings. It folds down into a small size that can fit into the water bottle holder of your backpack, and their quick drying time is a big plus so you don’t have to carry it with things meant to stay dry.

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Geologie Natural Deoderant 

Geologie Natural Deodorant Moab on white background

I’ll go out on a limb and say that anyone who is an avid outdoor enthusiast also cares about the environment—fair assessment?

With that in mind, I suggest Geologie’s Natural Deodorant to keep the underarms fresh and whoever’s behind you on the trail happy. 

Geologie keeps harsh compounds such as phthalates, parabens, and artificial fragrances out of their vegan deo sticks. The woodland creatures you meet along your journey will also admire the company’s cruelty-free pledge.

Their fragrance options are even named after popular exploring destinations such as Hana, Moab, and Big Sur—go figure. 

Geologie Natural Deodorant
(Get 20% off with code TAM20)

Since Geologie's Natural Deodorants aren’t made with baking soda or talc, which typically thicken the formulation, they’re lighter, easier to apply, and don’t leave any white residue. I enjoy knowing that every time I apply this, I’m blocking the foul smells my body is so apt at producing, without the use of heavy metals like aluminum, or other harmful chemicals.

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Extremus Rainbow Falls Camping Shower 

If bathing in a stream with your eco-friendly soap isn’t your speed, don’t panic.

The Extremus Rainbow Falls Camping Shower is a life-saver if you enjoy a quick rise after a day of getting to know Mother Earth. 

The portable shower uses nothing but gravity to provide a steady stream of water to rinse off dirt and sweat. The 6.6-gallon capacity is enough for multiple shower sessions to keep you going back and forth to the nearest water source, too.

Best of all, the black PVC exterior allows water to heat up in direct sunlight and it even has a thermometer to gauge how warm your shower will be. 

Extremus Rainbow Falls Camping Shower

This bad boy is a life-saver if you enjoy a quick rise after a day of getting to know Mother Earth. The portable shower uses nothing but gravity to provide a steady stream of water to rinse off dirt and sweat. The 6.6-gallon capacity is enough for multiple shower sessions to keep you going back and forth to the nearest water source, too.

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Things for Entertainment

Pendleton Backgammon Board 

This Backgammon Board from Pendleton is both compact and stylish. Good for two players, the board wraps around the main storage compartment and stays fastened with brass snap hardware.

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Just make sure you’re playing on a stable surface since the pieces are not magnetic and might slide around if the playing surface is disturbed. Either way, the fun design and ease of use give it a spot in my camp kit. 

Pendleton Backgammon Game

This backgammon board is both compact and stylish and a great add to your luggage for a camping trip. Good for two players, the board wraps around the main storage compartment and stays fastened with brass snap hardware.

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Bicycle Prestige Plastic Playing Cards

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For hundreds of years, the 52-card deck has been an instantly recognizable source of competitive fun with countless games to play with them. 

Bicycle, the most widely used brand of playing cards in the world, makes just the right product for the outdoorsman: The Prestige Plastic Playing Cards.

I like that this deck maintains the signature paper-like feel their standard cards are known for but are made of 100% plastic. That way, it doesn’t matter if you’re playing go-fish on the beach or a fireside game of solitaire, these cards will resist the elements to keep boredom at bay for many trips to come. 

Bicycle Prestige Plastic Playing Cards

Perfect for the outdoorsman, I like that this deck maintains the signature paper-like feel their standard cards are known for but are made of 100% plastic. That way, it doesn’t matter if you’re playing go-fish on the beach or a fireside game of solitaire, these cards will resist the elements to keep boredom at bay for many trips to come.

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Things for Survival

Garmin inReach Mini 2

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Garmin’s reliable GPS devices have made their company name synonymous with navigation. Golf maps, cycling watches, commercial-grade marine satellites—you name it. Garmin likely has a product to guide you. 

Their inReach Mini 2 packs a lot of functionality into a small device. If you’re a more advanced camper who tends to wander off the unbeaten path, a communicator like this can put your mind at ease knowing you’ll be able to send out an SOS in areas with no cellular connectivity. 

At 30-minute tracking intervals, the inReach can last up to 30 days with a full view of the sky and up to 10 days with moderate tree cover. The 60% reduction is a bummer, but the ability to exchange text and email (with the $11.95 monthly subscription) to keep others in the loop makes up for it. Still, 10 days should be more than enough for most people. 

Hopefully, you’ll never be in a situation where you must call out an SOS, but as the saying goes “better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have.”

Garmin inReach Mini 2

The Garmin inReach Mini 2 packs a lot of functionality into a small device. If you’re a more advanced camper who tends to wander off the unbeaten path, a communicator like this can put your mind at ease knowing you’ll be able to send out an SOS in areas with no cellular connectivity.

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Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7 Medical Kit

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Rounding out the list is a true essential for any extended period of time spent outdoors, a first aid kit.

Adventure Medical Kits has been manufacturing their namesake specialty since 1975 alongside tick repellent, sunburn treatment, and other remedies for common outdoor nuisances

Their Ultralight/Watertight series is specially designed for activity in various different environments. Their interior and exterior bags are waterproof which makes them effective against snow or rain.

Whether you’re exploring by yourself or with others, the .7 carries enough supplies for 1-2 people on a 1-4 day trip. I recommend this kit because the contents prepare for situations ranging in severity, which makes it good for novice and experienced campers alike. 

Hopefully, you’ll only need to use the minor bandages should annoying blisters arise from breaking in a new pair of hiking boots. 

Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight Medical First Aid Kit .7

Whether you’re exploring by yourself or with others, the .7 carries enough supplies for 1-2 people on a 1-4 day trip. I recommend this kit because the contents prepare for situations ranging in severity, which makes it good for novice and experienced campers alike.

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Get Packing

Camping is one of the best methods of escaping the digital noise of our modern lifestyles. 

Despite the easygoing nature of spending a few days in the wilderness, it’s super important to pack appropriately.

Ensuring you’re set up for sleeping, cooking, cleaning up, emergency situations, being properly dressed, and staying entertained during downtime will allow you to get the most out of Earth’s beauty. 

So get out there and enjoy!

FAQs

What four essential items do you need when camping?

While the list here contains a lot, there are five things that are the bare minimum. 

  1. A tent: Can you even call it camping without one? Shelter is one of our most basic requirements for survival. If we didn’t have it, we would be defenseless against insects, predators, and extreme temperatures. Don’t forget one!
  2. First-aid kit: Accidents happen and in unfamiliar terrain, not having one can escalate a cut or sprain into a serious situation 
  3. Food: Unless you’re a master forager, the importance of bringing enough food to keep you fueled throughout your trip cannot be overstated. 
  4. Firestarter: Between keeping you warm and cooking animal protein to make it safer to eat, you must have a way to start a fire. Even the Mojave desert dips below freezing at night, therefore there’s no place too warm to not need fire. 
  5. Proper attire: What you choose to wear will be a crucial part of how successful your camping trip is. To be a successful camper, one must dress the part. 

What not to pack for camp?

It is best to not bring anything fragile, heavy, sensitive to the elements, or objects that have sentimental value such as family jewelry or wedding rings. 

What is the best food to bring for camping?

Dehydrated food is typically the easiest way to bring food on a camping trip. The convenience of pre-packaged camping meals that don’t perish quickly is great, but it isn’t always the most economical way to do it.

Your options widen by packing a cooler, but trips that cover a lot of ground on foot are not the best for this. 

Bringing along dried or preserved food that is not specifically labeled for camping is a more cost-effective way to keep you satisfied during your time away. Good examples include oats, peanut butter, rice, trail mix, jerky, and canned tuna.

What are the most forgotten camping items?

Commonly forgotten items vary for everybody, but make sure these items aren’t overlooked while planning what to bring. 

  • Insect repellent 
  • Waterproof tarp
  • Rope
  • Personal medication
  • Extra socks
  • Duct tape
  • Toilet Paper (preferably biodegradable)
  • High SPF sunscreen

What is the best way to manage waste while camping?

Managing waste occurs at every step of your adventure.

Before you leave, see what kind of packaging can be left behind for things you know you’ll use.

For example, instead of bringing individually packaged servings of trail mix, consolidate them into one reusable container for your trip.

Packing small disposable bags will keep all of the litter you create in one place. Following the previous step will help keep bags as empty as possible as well, making them less to carry around.

Finally, ensure all of your food scraps and recyclables are properly disposed of when you return. Leaving no trace of your visit to the wild will maintain the beauty for years to come.