What To Take Camping Series- Part 1: What To Take Camping For Shelter And Bedding

This is Part 1 of the What To Take Camping series.

What to take camping? This has been a question that has plagued most beginner campers, car campers, Dads taking their Sons, Moms taking their Daughters and anybody else who has ever thought that spending the night under the stars would be a good idea since the beginning of time….or at least the mid 20th century.

Click here for a super handy Camping Checklist

With the over abundance of camping supplies on the market today, you need to have a go to source that can really give you a good take on what to take camping so:

  • You won’t be overprepared and have way more stuff than you actually need
  • Go underprepared and don’t have nearly enough stuff that you actually need

The goal here is to provide you with everything that you need, nothing you don’t and the essentials that fall somewhere in between.

In writing this, a few assumptions were made when deciding what to take camping. For the sake of sparing you the boredom of reading a whole lot of information that doesn’t apply to you,  let’s assume you are much like the typical reader of How To Camp Out. You have probably done a bit of camping in your day, not a whole lot of course, but enough to know your way around a fire pit. You also probably envision a camping trip as a weekend getaway where you can hop in you vehicle, get away from it all for a couple of days, relax with the family and enjoy some of what nature has to offer that is hard to get behind a computer screen.

Click here for a super handy Camping Checklist

This is definitely nothing to be ashamed of. Look, it all boils down to this, people enjoy nature and getting out and experiencing all it has to offer. Camping and Hiking can rejuvenate the spirit and give you a increased since of enjoyment in your life. Whatever method you choose to employ when you go camping is awesome. You don’t have to be a hardcore back country survivalist to enjoy this great recreation know as camping….you just have to go.

So with that being said, lets dive into what to take camping!

1. What To Take Camping: Tent

Obviously you are going to need a place to sleep when you go camping. You know you need a tent, but what kind of tent will you need?

You have a lot of different options when it comes to picking out the tent for your certain type of camping. Tents range from a Bivy Sack (one man tent) all the way to 10,12 and even more person tents. You also have a few options for picking out your tent depending on what season you will be camping out. If you’re going to do the majority of your camping in the Spring, Summer and Fall, look at purchasing a 3 season tent. If you will be camping year round, even in the Winter, look into purchasing the added protection from the elements that a 4 season tent can provide.

Backcountry.com has put together an awesome video showing some of the different styles of tents that you have to choose from.

Marmot Halo 6 Person Tent

The Marmot Halo 6 Person Tent offers plenty of privacy, awesome headroom and a lot of space for storage. This is a great 3 Season tent designed for any family looking to get out and go camping.

Sidenote: To keep out the moisture from seeping up through the bottom of your tent, always use some type of footprint that goes under your tent to provide a barrier between the ground and your tent’s floor!

What to take camping

Paha Que Cottonwood Awning

The Paha Que Cottonwood Awning is the perfect escape from the hot sun if you are camping in late Spring through early Fall in areas with sparse trees. These are especially handy if you are camping with toddlers or infants which will require a cool place out of the sun to nap.

What to take camping

Kelty Screenhouse

If you are looking to get out of the tent, but still be protected from the bugs, the Kelty Screenhouse is the absolute way to go!

Actual Customer Review from Will S.: Very effective at keeping out the bugs. And quick to set up – it took about 10 minutes to set up the first time, would probably be under 5 minutes in the future.”

What to take camping

2. What To Take Camping: Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Bags, much like Tents, are definitely going to be a necessity when it comes to what to take camping. Sleeping bags come in many different shapes and sizes and also have different season ratings and purposes.

Sleeping bags are typically sorted by their temperature ratings. The typical range of temperature ratings can range anywhere from the -40 degrees F to 55 degrees F (this is a general guideline, some brands and models may vary from these ranges). One good rule of thumb is that always go 10-20 cooler than what you typically think the conditions will be.

A couple of things to keep in mind when choosing a sleeping bag:

  • Statistics tell us that women tend to need additional warmth while sleeping to remain comfortable
  • Mean on the other hand tend to get hot during the night, so less warmth will be required.

Also, don’t skimp when picking out your sleeping bag. Often times, nothing can ruin a good camping trip faster than waking up in the middle of the night cold. Take into account quality, type of fill and what climate you will be camping in.

Here’s another awesome video from Backcountry.com that goes into detail on different types of sleeping bags and fills.

The North Face 20 Degree Synthetic

What to take camping

The North Face 20 Degree Synthetic Sleeping Bag is really a great all around bag. While it might not be enough for camping in the dead of winter, it will surely get you through early Spring to mid Fall. This is a synthetic fill bag so you will stay dry and warm throughout the night. If you will be using this bag in the middle of summer when the nights are still quite warm, this bag will allow you to unzip it all the way down and use it as more of a blanket then an actual bag.

Actual Customer Review from David Hugens: “I’ve had my Cat’s Meow for about 9 years now. It’s been on countless trips in numerous time zones, spending weeks in its cramped little stuff sack, but when I take it out, each time it provides the necessary warmth and comfort that a solid sleeping bag should have.”

The North Face 40 Degree Sleeping Bag

What to take camping

For a more traditional sleeping bag, The North Face 40 Degree Sleeping Bag is the go to choice. This bag will be best suited for the warmer night of late Spring to Early Fall. Again with the North Face brand, you’re not going to have to worry about this bag wearing out on you after the first season.

The good thing about rectangular bags compared to the Mummy bags is that you definitely have more room. If you are slightly claustrophobic or tend to shift around all night, this will probably be a good choice for you. The downside is, they are not as warm as a more tight fitting bag. Keep this in mind when choosing the right bag for you.

Kelty 20 Degree Junior Sleeping Bag

What to take camping

If you are taking the kiddos along, make sure they are properly prepared for the conditions as well! The Kelty 20 Degree Junior Sleeping Bag will definitely keep them warm and allow Mom and Dad to have a good talk by the campfire while the little ones are getting a good nights sleep!

Let’s face it, one of the worst things in the world is having cranky kids in the morning because they didn’t get a good nights rest. Make sure you don’t have this problem by keeping them warm throughout the night by getting them a high quality sleeping bag that will last them for years to come.

Actual Customer Review from Michael Sherwood: “Not too expensive and perfect for the little grommets. My son loves it and uses it on his bed.”

3. What To Take Camping: Sleeping Pads/Air Matresses/Cots

You are connecting with nature, you are camping! This does not mean however that you have to be uncomfortable sleeping the whole time. The truth is, most of us have a job that only gives us a limited amount of time to get out of the office and enjoy nature. Make sure that when you are camping that you at least enjoy it, get a good nights sleep and more importantly, want to come back!

  • Sleeping pads are really a multi-beneficial item to bring with you when figuring what to bring camping. They not only offer a way to maintain warmth by putting an extra layer between you and the ground, but they also offer comfort. Nobody wants to be cold and rolling back and forth all night trying to find a comfortable spot where you’re not getting poked in the back by every rock and twig under your tent! Sleeping pads solve both of these issues.
  • Air Matresses are definitely the most comfortable choice when deciding what insulation between you and the ground you will be bringing. The obvious pitfalls of bring along an air matress is A) they usually require some sort of pump (manual or electric) to air them up and B) they are bulky. The good thing about them though, is that if you don’t have to carry them far, multiple people can sleep on them and they will provide maximum comfort.
  • Cots can be a really good option to bring along if the conditions are right. A few of the advantages to bringing along a cot is that they typically are pretty lightweight to carry, get you the highest up off the ground and make maximum use of the tent space for storage by allowing you to store gear underneath. One big disadvantage to the Cot though is that the air drafting below the Cot will not allow maximum insulation and can really cool you down quickly if camping in cooler weather. Plus, with a few exceptions, most cots are made for just one person.

Nemo Air Sleeping Pad

What to take camping

The Nemo Air Sleeping Pad is a great choice if you are looking for a great nights sleep. One of the biggest concerns most folks have when choosing a sleeping pad is how easy is it to inflate….you definitely do not want to be out of breath before you even have camp set up! This sleeping pad is super easy to inflate and with a few breaths will be inflated to your liking.

Kelty Good Night Airbed

What to take camping

If you’re looking for the ultimate in comfort, then the Kelty Good Night Airbed is what you’re looking for. It comes in 2 sizes: Twin and Queen. The good thing about this air mattress is it is compact when deflated and also comes W/ a foot powered air pump which makes inflating this thing a breeze!

Eureka Camping Cot

What to take camping

The Eureka Sleeping Cot is the ultimate way to get off the ground and get a good nights sleep. Lightweight, easy to pack and durable….Really, what else do you need in a cot. This is definitely the quickest of the 3 options to set up. Again, this is only big enough for 1 person, but it does give you a lot of room underneath for storage so it would be no problem to have 3 or 4 of these lined up in the tent.

Actual Customer Review from Steve Brain: “This is my first cot and I’m impressed. Much bigger than I expected and fold up nicely. score.”

Click here for a super handy Camping Checklist

Hopefully after reading part 1 of What To Take Camping, you now feel a little more prepared to go out there and spend a few nights in the great outdoors.

Check back soon for part 2 of the What To Take Camping series!

2 thoughts on “What To Take Camping Series- Part 1: What To Take Camping For Shelter And Bedding

  1. Those sleeping pads looks great, haven’t actually seen those. Thanks for putting the video in too, much better than just a picture.

    • Thanks Sarah! They are fairly new to the market and quite a bit cheaper than a Therm-a-Rest….and just as comfortable!