Camping Equipment or Gear Checklists

Car Camping

Car camping where weight is not as much a consideration. Gear to take to a campground


Equipment Details

Pocket Knife

A good quality pocket knife is a tool you should have on your person at all times. One that has a can opener and slotted screwdriver can prove to be a lifesaver. Avoid bulky knives with too many gadgets or cheap multitools. My personal preference is for Victorinox Swiss Army Knives but there are many other good knives out there.

Flashlight and extra batteries

Buy a good quality one if you can. It should be at least weather resistant or preferably waterproof. Nothing is more disconcerting than to drop your flashlight in a puddle at night and to have it stop working. Avoid flashlights that use exotic batteries or 6 volt lantern batteries. Some of the better LED lights will double or triple the useful life of a set of batteries .

Area Lights

A gasoline or propane lantern will produce a greater light output than an electric lantern but they are not safe to use in a tent. Candles are a poor and unsafe choice for camp lighting. Kerosene or oil lamps will leak if tipped over

If you are camping with children, it is a good idea to have a fluorescent or led lantern to take inside the tent to help get everyone situated for the night or to hunt down the inevitable moth or other insect that has somehow found its way into the tent.

A Cyalume light stick though not of tremendous value as a light source will however make a pretty fair nightlight should it be necessary to have one.


For the most part matches are a minor expense however you will never know how badly you need them until you forget to bring them. For camping, you must have wood matches, paper matches are easily soaked, burn out quickly and perform poorly in the wind. At least some of your match supply should be stored in a waterproof container such as a match safe.

You can purchase water proof matches which have the head coated with water proofing agent or you can water proof ordinary wooden matches by dipping the heads in melted paraffin wax, just be sure to scratch off the wax before striking on the box.

I generally will bring along a few books of paper matches not because they are the best tool for the job but because they take up very little space and I have a drawer full of them. If I can use them instead and save my wooden matches then I will. The larger kitchen matches are preferable to the small boxes. Strike anywhere matches are another option. They have a special mixture on the tips of the match head which ignites when rubbed on rough surface. They can be very convenient, unfortunately some manufacturers use so little of the priming compound on the tip that you still will have to strike them on the box to get them lit. They are not permitted on military or commercial aircraft. Care must be taken that they don't accidentally rub against a rough surface or each other Matches, Water Proof

An option for extreme weather situations are the so called "NATO" or lifeboat matches. They use a special pyrotechnic compound, usually containing magnesium. They will remain lit until the compound is burnt away even if immersed in water or blown by the wind. Too expensive for daily use, they are also somewhat hazardous should not be used indoors.

Sleeping Bags, Pads and Matresses

You might be tempted to forgo the pad however, the insulating value of a sleeping bag is in the air trapped within the insulating material. When compressed that air space is lost and so is most of the insulation value. In addition, without a pad or air mattress, even minor irregularities in the ground under a tent become evident when you are sleeping on it.

Water containers

In the picture on the left are a two quart U.S. Military canteen and case, commercially made austrian 1 liter canteen, nalgene water bottle, and in the foreground a 1 quart U.S. Military canteen.

The dark green, olive canteens in the picture above are standard Plastic U.S. Military canteens. Their quality is fairly good and they are inexpensive but they do tend to leak a little on the threads.

In the past few years, there have been a number of aluminum water bottles introduced by Sigg and other companies that look very much like the stove fuel bottles. I am frankly concerned that some one might inadvertently take a swig of white gas particularly at night. I personally would avoid them if only for that reason.

Items to leave at home

Axes, hatchets or machetes

My observation is that most people lack the skill and patience to sharpen them properly and likely won't need them anyway. Rarely will there be an opportunity to cut firewood or to hack your way through the jungle.

As purchased from the store, these tools are never properly sharpened, their blunt edges crush wood rather than cut it. Many times, I have come across a poor sapling that some jackass tried to cut down with a dull tool but was only able to hack an inch or two into the tree before they got bored and gave up.

In the interests of full disclosure I will admit that often I will bring a half hatchet when car camping but it is properly sharpened and I find that I use it mostly for pounding tent stakes into the ground.

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