Huzzah! We are here with what I am sure will be the first of many camping related posts. 😂 Seeing as it’s the new hobby I never dreamed I would actually love–and we’ve already got more camping trips on the horizon!
As you know, we returned from our first ever “camping” trip last week (although I suppose some would consider it “glamping” but we cooked all our meals over a campfire and didn’t have a bathroom…so I feel like that counts?)
Seeing as we knew traditional travel wasn’t happening this year, a few months back we reserved a camper van on Outdoorsy, (which I will write a whole separate review on–I can’t recommend it enough!!), we found a camping location on Hipcamp, and the time had finally come to embark on our first ever camping adventure. (More details on actually PLANNING your trip to come, I just thought it would be most helpful to write my packing list first!)
Let me tell you…if you’re hestitant, don’t worry, so was I, and it was seriously one of the most fun vacations we’ve ever had.
What to Pack for a Camping trip: My Official Packing List
So–what to bring on your camping trip? From clothing I packed to the most helpful accessories we purchased, read on for my 2020 Camping Packing List!
First, a few considerations overall: We camped in Michigan, where it is hot during the day and temps drop at night. We got lucky with weather and it wasn’t 90 degrees either. I basically lived in two pairs of shorts and a few tops our four-day journey. While it was hot during the day, I’m glad I had layers at night because it cools off considerably–make sure to check the weather before you leave and always ensure you’re bringing layers just in case!
Here’s what I brought:
Breezy long sleeve shirts: #1 VIP OF THE TRIP!!
I feel like I never shut up about how much I love gauzy linen long sleeve button-ups in the summer. I brought three with me and wore them a TON. Favorites include the “Prince Eric Shirt” AKA the Lou & Grey gauzy henley 😂 (it’s 40% off today!) and this Outerknown gauzy button-up (this is a new-to-me brand that I ADORE!) I probably wore this top the most! It’s also longer in the back so it worked great for a bathing suit cover-up! Never under estimate the power of having sleeves for sun and bug protection.
I have been a convert of the AGolde Parker jean shorts for a long time now. I wrote a whole blog post on them here! Jean shorts came in as one of the VIP’s of the trip–they’re comfy, durable, and don’t show dirt very easily! They also come in a longer version, called the Dee shorts, which I have been wanting to try as well! I know they’re stupid expensive for jean shorts (like why would they be the same price as jeans when they’re like 1/4th the material?) but they’re the only pair I ever wear, and I’ve had them for years now–so they’ve well been worth it! You can see my full review of them in this post.
Comfy pull-on shorts:
I have a pair of breathable linen pull-on shorts that I wore a ton during the trip and they were the perfect, comfy, breezy basic. (Mine are years old, but J.Crew has a similar pair, as does Nordstrom!) I also really like this pair from Lou & Grey–not linen, but they look perfect for camping but cute enough to wear out and about at home too!
Cute water sneakers:
Water shoes are a must-have for rocky beaches, creeks and rivers. My MIL and SIL are the queens of cute water shoes–so they introduced me to a version I actually enjoy wearing! I’m bringing this pair that my SIL got me for Christmas–they look just like sneakers! Neal also just ordered the men’s version in grey–he was so skeptical at first and now he loves them! They really do look like sneakers!
I’ve officially crossed over to the Birkenstock dark side and these waterproof birks absolutely live up to the hype. I have never been a Birk girl previously but my friends who have say these are even more comfortable than the original kind! They’re made of a foam-like material, so they don’t rub and give you blisters–it’s very soft! Definitely way more supportive than a flip-flop, too! (And most definitely cuter!) I have worn these to the beach several times and they’re easy to wear into the water to protect your feet from rocks too! I ordered my normal size! Many have asked if they wipe clean, and they do! Mine haven’t stained or anything!
Another thing that goes on the list of “things I never thought I’d wear”–I am IN LOVE with my Tevas! 😂 I got the fun deserty cactus colorway and they make me so happy. I basically lived in these and my birks our entire camping trip! If you don’t want water shoes and you also want something waterproof and easy to wear in the water (that isn’t a slip-on)–these are my best all-purpose sandal pick. When I first ordered them I really only envisioned wearing them camping but now I wear them regularly because they just make me smile!
Sneakers are obviously a must if you plan to do any form of hiking–you know I brought my Gerries. 😂 I honestly hardly touched them though, aside from the hour that we took a hike through the woods!
Good to have for any trip where you’ll be walking (or hiking) through the woods. They help protect against scratchy bushes, mosquitos, and ticks! Plus, temps drop a LOT at night no matter where you are–always good to have layers! I don’t think you need anything fancy unless you’ll be doing some real hiking–other than that, any old socks will do–like this J.Crew pack.
A baseball hat is a definite must for a camping trip. It protects you from the sun, and also disguises unwashed hair! Mine are all pretty old (my IU hat is usually my go-to!), but J.Crew makes some really cute non-branded ones!
Lightweight tank tops:
For any daytime activities on a hot day! Go with something with an ultra-lightweight blend, like this Madewell tank, for extra breathability!
A lightweight crewneck pullover is definitely a must, as I said above, nights can get chilly! I don’t know why it’s such a noticeable difference compared to nights in the city, but it is! And I definitely needed my sweatshirt and long pants each night! I brought my favorite old sweatshirt, but if you’re looking for a new classic sweatshirt, I really love the new-to-me sustainable brand, Outerknown, and they have an awesome sweatshirt that has 5 star reviews and comes in some perfect summery colors!
I honestly didn’t think I would need leggings, but I’m really glad I brought them for two reasons: 1. We went on a hike through the woods and my legs would’ve gotten very scratched up if not for me wearing long pants! 2. The aforementioned nightly temperature drops––I’m really glad I had more layers!
My advice would be to go with a legging that doesn’t have a really delicate weave (like Lululemon–which I ADORE but they’re more prone to snagging on rocks, wood benches, etc–and I’d be very upset if I ruined my Lulu leggings 😂) Something more along the lines of a Zella legging, which is a thicker, more durable material, would be better! (Or just wear your old ones so you don’t have to worry about ruining them!)
I didn’t think I would wear my jeans, but they’re a good thing to include if you’re planning to go into town at all. Since it got so chilly at night, I wore them once into South Haven! If you’re just in the wilderness the whole time, you probably only need leggings! Levi’s wedgie jeans are always a great go-to pair that are comfy and good for a camping vibe!
Beauty and toiletry items:
Billie face wipes:
I brought my Billie face wipes for both Neal and I and they were a lifesaver. I kept them in the cooler and they are the most lovely refreshing treat! They’re an all-in-one solution for washing your face without water and they are seriously the best face wipes. (And also compostable!) I wrote a whole review of them here, but even Neal was like THESE ARE THE BEST FACE WIPES! They don’t leave your face sticky or dried out, and I love that they have Vitamin C!
Lots of good sunscreen and bug spray:
I typically get eaten alive by mosquitos–we’re talking like DOZENS of welts from bug bites on my body at a given time––but Kelly (well, Kelly’s mom Cathy actually 😂 hi Cathy!!!) turned me onto Skin So Soft bug spray and I swear it’s AMAZING. Seriously the best bug spray I’ve ever used. It’s MAGICAL. No bug spray has ever worked like this, AND it gets good marks in terms of safety from EWG! I think because the main ingredient is Picardin instead of DEET, maybe that’s why it works better for me? Not sure–but either way, highly recommend!
Of course, I’m also packing lots of sunscreen–I’ve been getting a lot of questions on good sunscreens–so you can see this whole post where I round up my favorites!
Lavender CBD roller
I brought my lavender CBD roller because it’s excellent for soothing bug bites and sun burns (luckily I didn’t get many bug bites thanks to said magic bug spray listed above) but it’s always good to have on hand. This is another thing I like to keep in the fridge/cooler! (I also love keeping this by my bed at home to roll onto my temples at bedtime!) Use code JESSKEYS for 15% off your first order!
Other camping accessories:
Of course you can totally find some cheaper Yeti alternatives, but I am a Yeti brand enthusiast 😂 We use these tumblers for everything from cocktails to wine to iced coffee! They make such a difference in keeping your drink cold!
this awesome chair that looks SO practical and very cute and comfyI actually can’t find the ones we ordered online anymore, but that’s OK because we were kind of lukewarm about them anyway. I did, however, find ! (I like that it doesn’t like tip you forward like a regular camping chair does, and it folds up so fast and can be carried like a backpack!)
Neal actually ordered this unbeknownst to me and I was pleasantly surprised 😂 It’s great quality for the price and was perfect for laying out on the beach and for an extra layer at night hanging out in front of the camp fire!
These are SO cute and were perfect for rolling up (they take up next to no space!) for both the beach and/or the showers!
These were AMAZING to have to get the campfire started in no-time. No yucky chemicals–they’re made with wood shavings and food-grade wax!
This was a big splurge but we don’t own any coolers yet and we will use this a lot at the lake house as well. Yeti coolers supposedly keep ice frozen for THREE DAYS! Isn’t that crazy!?
The perfect way to easily make cold brew! Easy to pack, and it comes with an easy pour spout! I shared my two favorite new-to-me coffee brands in this post, if you’re looking for coffee reccos! Just make sure you’re getting a coarse grind!
Neal got this lightweight backpack for our trip and it was perfect for holding our supplies for a hike, a trek to the lake or creek, and for riding into town on our bikes!
Okay, not an exciting accessory, but we cooked everything in tin foil in the campfire and it was a game-changer because it made for VERY easy clean-up! I can’t emphasize how great in foil is when it comes to camping. 😂
Our water sneakers on the picnic bench
Tevas on the dashboard! (I ordered my normal size!)