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Essential Camping Checklist

Updated on May 21, 2015

The top ten basic accessories (excluding the tent) that you will need on a camping trip include a mallet, pegs, guy-ropes, mats or beds, sleeping bags, water holder, utensils, rope, torch, tarp.

You will need a rubber or wooden mallet to hammer in the pegs. If you don't have a mallet, you can use a hammer but you will need a block of wood as you hammer in the pegs or you'll simply hammer them out of shape each time you hit them.

Remember to take plenty of pegs with you. Always take more than you need - it's really likely that some will be left behind, some will get completely damaged as you bash them into hard ground and there always seem to be some extra bits flapping around when the wind gets up which need pegging down. I prefer basic metal pegs to the plastic ones, but I do have a few plastic pegs that have little lights in the top of them, handy for showing where you're going at night time so you don't trip over the guy-ropes.

Remember to hammer your pegs in at a 45% angle facing into the tent for the greatest anchorage. Don't try to hammer your pegs inside the tent; go outside and put your hand under the tent skirt to make sure you get the tension nice and tight. The fabric needs to be as taut as possible to make sure that the rain drips straight off and doesn't gather in pools of water, which is what will happen if the tension is too slack. Hammer them completely into the ground as far as they will go, to make sure that the tent is well secured and also so that you don't trip over them.

Take plenty of guy-ropes with you to help you secure the tent as taut as possible. You can get fluorescent guy-ropes, which are handy at night time so you can see where they are and not trip over them.

There are a range of sleeping accessories to choose from, depending on your budget and also on the size of your tent or car. If you are hiking on foot, you will need basic roll-mats that are lightweight. They provide a layer of warmth to keep out the cold and a layer of softness for comfort. Other campbeds can either be inflated or assembled and come with canvas on a steel frame.

There are a wide range of styles of sleeping bags available that come in different shapes, sizes and budgets. It depends on the type of camping that you will be doing as to what type of bag you choose. You need to check the tog rating if the temperatures are likely to be cold, the higher the number, the warmer the bag will be. Sleeping bags can be envelope shaped (rectangular) or Mummy-style, which have a hood and taper towards the toes, for extra warmth and less weight. You can also buy double-sized envelope style bags for the two of you.

You will need a water holder to fill up with water that you can use for drinking. This can be a simple empty soda bottle or you can buy collapsible water carriers that will hold a large amount of water so you don't need to keep re-filling it. Store it somewhere so that if it does drip or leak a little, it won't make your bed or clothes damp.

It is a joke my father often makes to me when we are going on a family camping trip, "don't forget the tin opener". I remember well the holiday he's referring to, when I was a child and we camped in a basic site where there wasn't a shop for miles. Fortunately, my parents had gone prepared with lots of tins of food that wouldn't perish. Unfortunately, they forgot to take the tin opener. Every meal-time would see my father struggling to break into tins with various keys, tent pegs, screwdrivers that he could lay his hands on to wrestle open the tin. One of the handiest gadgets you can have on a camping trip is a Swiss Army knife or multi-tool, so that if you need a tin opener, bottle opener, corkscrew, screwdriver, it's all readily available in one place and you can keep it in your pocket so you don't get caught out.

The next important accessory is a piece of rope or string. This will be useful as a washing line for all the wet socks and towels that seem to appear on any camping trip almost as soon as you arrive! If you forget the pegs, fix the rope around two trees or poles so it's double and twist it around itself, you can then push your garments into the twists and they will hold them in place. You can also use it to make makeshift repairs or adjustments when bits don't seem to fit properly and need securing. Useful for tying round your roll mats, rugs, or any large piece of fabric you have to keep it secure.

The next thing you will need is a torch or lamp. These are really useful if you are parked a distance from the washrooms and you need to make your way across the field in the night. A good camping lamp will make it easier to see what you're doing once it starts to go dark, if you want to read, eat or play a game. There are lots of devices available now that are rechargeable or solar powered, so that you don't need to remember the right-size batteries.

I always like to take a tarp, tent extension or wind break on a camping trip. The tent porch we use on our dome tent is huge and makes an extra room that we can put up the next day if we arrive late in the evening. It's useful for storing wet shoes and coats that need to be kept away from the sleeping area so that the beds stay clean and dry. We put a table and chairs and boxes of food in ours too, so that we can stop food and drink from spilling onto the beds. The best part of having a separate shelter that can be free-standing from your tent is that it's useful to store your things under if on the day you have to leave, you need to pack everything away in the rain - it keeps your things dry while you pack the car up. They provide shelter from the sun, wind and rain and give you more room to store your things.

These are the main 10 accessories that you will need on a camping trip. If you are taking a family trip with a large vehicle or a trailer, you will probably want to take even more home comforts like camp chairs, a camping table, a camp stove, coolbox (electric or non-electric) a stand for washing and storing dishes, pans, plates, kettle, cups, cutlery. On the other hand, if you are hiking, you need to pay attention to the weight of your equipment and make sure you are taking the bare minimum of essentials.


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    • favouriteperfume profile image

      favouriteperfume 5 years ago from Malvern, UK

      Hi freecampingaussie - mmm, making me feel hungry now! Wish all this rain would stop and I can get my camping stuff out again.

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 5 years ago from Southern Spain

      We went camping a lot with our kids and love it - Agree on extra pegs !! Always liked to cook on the open fire + roast marshmallows !

    • favouriteperfume profile image

      favouriteperfume 5 years ago from Malvern, UK

      Hi Brett - thanks for your comment - have to admit, have been teased before now for having a multi-tool in my handbag with my keys and lipstick, but only from those types who don't do camping!!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Good advice as well as suggestions. The multi-tool can be an absolute life saver!!

      Shared, up and useful