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Camping Checklist: What You Need for Survival

If you plan on camping or exploring the great outdoors, you have to be prepared. Here are the essential survival tools to bring with you, and why.

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woman hiking and carrying water bottle hiking backpackAlter-ego/Shutterstock


This one is obvious, but you absolutely need to bring plenty of hydration for any camping trip. Take more water than you need in case things go awry. The National Park Service recommends drinking two liters per day (about half a gallon), so bring enough to cover several extra days as well as for cooking and cleaning. Another option is a mini water filtration system.

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campfire camping hackPhoto: Karin Hildebrand Lau


Again, obvious. There are smart ways to pack extra food for your trip without taking up an absurd amount of space. Consider dehydrated food as well as small snacks that don’t require preparation or cooking.

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Large Camping TentMorten Falch Sortland/Getty Images


Always be prepared for the worst when picking appropriate shelter for your camping trip. Check local weather forecasts to see if rain or extreme conditions could impact your shelter needs or your return home.

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Fire Starter/Matches

A campfire lets you cook, provides warmth at night and much more. There are lots of fire starters you can choose to bring for your trip from a survival tactical lighter, heavy duty long safety matches, fire starter kits and more.

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ItemImage_584_7198Z first aid kit

First Aid Kit

Regardless of how long a camping trip you’re planning, always have a first aid kit on hand in case of emergencies. If you’ve had the same kit for several years, check expiration dates of the products inside and replace old ones. This kit available on Amazon comes with 299 essential first aid supplies.

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There are lots of lighting choices, and it’s best to bring several in case one fizzles out. Options include flashlights, lanterns, headlamps and more. Before you leave, make sure all the batteries are fully charged, including backups.

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Bring a fully charged cell phone, wireless radio and GPS. Also consider a power bank in case any of those devices lose their charge.

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Ax or Hatchet


A small hand axe can be a important tool for survival, whether for protection, cutting branches to start a fire or something else. It’s also smart to bring a compass or map in case you get lost.

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Sleeping Bags/Blankets

In addition to your regular sleeping bag, an emergency blanket will protect you from the elements. This one from Amazon will keep you comfortable in damp, wet, rainy and cold environments.

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hiking bug sprayDudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock

Bug/Sun Protection

If you’ll be in direct sun for an extended period, bring sun screen. Remember to reapply as directed on the packaging instructions. Also bring spray to ward off mosquitos and ticks.

Alex Shoemaker
Alex is an avid DIYer but had little experience before purchasing his first home in 2019. A Family Handyman subscription was one of his first purchases after becoming a homeowner, and he's been hooked ever since. When he’s not working, he can be found fixing up his 1940s Florida home or relaxing on the beach with his family.