Camping Must-Haves: The Gear You're Probably Forgetting to Pack

Camping Must-Haves: The Gear You're Probably Forgetting to Pack

Does packing for a camping trip seem overwhelming? You're not alone. Despite our best intentions, checklists, and forward-thinking, it's bound to happen that you'll show up at the campground and experience that "uh-oh" moment, where you realize you forgot to pack that one tiny yet important item. No camper experience is immune to this - whether it's your first time camping or your hundredth. If you're looking for someone to act as your safety net before you hit the road, keep reading. We'll provide you with our list of easily commonly forgotten items so that you can learn from our mistakes.

A person handing another person toilet tissue

Hygiene and Personal Products

Toilet Tissue

It only takes forgetting this once to ensure you'll never forget it again. It doesn't matter if you're headed to the backcountry or to the most glamorous campground and staying in a micro-cabin - you should always pack your own toilet tissue. Most established campgrounds will have janitorial services to keep it stocked, but it's never worth it to pass this up and assume it is guaranteed. 

If you're not a fan of bringing a bulky roll from home or are headed on a hike, pack along Coghlan's Tissue-on-the-Go. It's lightweight, compact, and comes in an easy-to-use plastic dispenser to keep the tissue protected from the elements.

Hand Sanitizer

For the same reason you'd want to bring your own toilet tissue, you never want to bank on there being soap or hand sanitizer stocked in the outhouse. Not only is hand sanitizer helpful for the bathroom, but it's also great to have at your campsite when cooking. Just because you're camping doesn't mean your safe food-handling practices should be left at home. Bringing along hand sanitizer makes it easy to disinfect your hands after handling raw meats and eggs, or simply to clean your hands before prepping your meal.

Shower Towel

Sure, a beach towel might cut it. But if you're using your beach towel for a few days' worth of drying off after swimming in the lake, it will get funky fast. Instead, we recommend that you pack an extra towel and facecloth for hygiene purposes only. Strive for a fast-drying, compact, and anti-bacterial Microfiber Towel as it will dry fast, stays fresh after multiple uses, and is super absorbent.

Male putting towel on a clothesline

Campsite Tools


Something so simple, yet so useful (and easily forgotten). Clotheslines make it easy to dry shower towels, bathing suits, beach towels, dish clothes, and more. Without them, you'll be forced to convert your picnic table or vehicle into a makeshift drying rack.


If you've ever tried starting a fire with a halved log, you'll appreciate why a hatchet is required. Building a bonfire (the easy way) requires that you start small and work your way up to larger logs. This means starting with kindling (smaller pieces of wood that catch fire easily). Making your own kindling is best completed by using a Hatchet.


With flashlights integrated into smartphones, it's unlikely you'll find yourself without a source of light. But phones run out of battery, especially if you're at an unserviced campsite with no way to charge it. It's far easier and more enjoyable to have a dedicated lantern or headlamp that illuminates your tent, campsite, or path to your vehicle. Always remember to charge your light sources or pack extra batteries before heading out.

campsite with man opening pop-up trash can

Camp Kitchen

Trash Bags 

So often people arrive at their campground and realize they didn't plan for how to dispose of their trash. It's easy to understand why we take this for granted - at home, it's as simple as opening the trash can lid, tossing your trash, and resuming whatever you were doing. Without the visual cue of a trash can, it's easy to forget about garbage bags altogether. 

Our recommendation? Get yourself a Pop-Up Trash Can that you always carry three garbage bags in. This way, you'll have a dedicated place on your campsite for your trash without the unsightly look of hanging the trash bag from a tree, and you'll always have a visual reminder when packing to check to see if you have your trash bags.  

Pro Tip: Having multiple garbage bags is a good idea since you'll want to start fresh with a new trash bag more often. If you leave the same trash bag too long (especially in the heat), it'll start to smell and attract bugs and animals. 

Dish soap 

Often, the focus for campers is to plan their meals and ensure they have the appropriate cookware and utensils. It's easy to forget about the cleaning up aspect. Although some campgrounds have washing areas for dishes, they typically don't supply soap, so you'll need to bring your own. We recommend opting for a compact Camp Soap that stays in your camping gear bin year-round so you don't have to think about it each time you go camping. 

Paper Towels 

The undisputed camp kitchen workhorse. Whether used as napkins, the first cleaning device to tackle a sticky roasting fork, wiping up spills and messes, or as a washcloth – paper towels are always in high demand when camping.  

Cooking Oil 

Easily overlooked for camping due to being so common in a kitchen, cooking oil is a top culprit on this list. Unless you're planning to cook over the fire with roasting forks exclusively, you'll want to ensure you take a tightly sealed container, such as a Coghlan's Contain-all, with cooking oil.  

Our final tip is to create a checklist on your phone or laptop. Anytime you find yourself at the campsite wishing you had remembered an item, immediately add that to your checklist. In the meantime, we hope this list helps you save yourself some headaches next time you're off to go camping!