One Savvy Mom ™ | NYC Area Mom Blog: Tips for Packing Light on Your Next Camping Trip

Tips for Packing Light on Your Next Camping Trip

How To Pack Light On Your Next Camping Trip

Camping trips are about creating memories and destressing from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

Camping is a time to unplug and simplify; after all, life is too short for a complicated weekend getaway. 

The basics

You can break down camping trip essentials into categories that should be considered:

  • Location: location is an essential factor when it comes to packing light for a camping trip. Wooded areas that experience a lot of rainfall will need additional items to keep all your goods dry. Lakeside campgrounds, where there is never a grey cloud in sight, could require fewer items, leaving you with more space to pack some extra board games.
  • Shelter: Pitching a tent requires a different set of tools than camping with an RV. If you are camping with a tent, you are more likely to need to pack fewer items to make space for your tent and all the gear you need that comes with it.
  • Food: The duration of your camping trip will determine how much food you need to pack for your stay. Non-perishables such as tins are bulky and take up space.
  • Campfire or gas: Cooking your food is another consideration when packing for a camping trip. Campfire cooking is one of the lightest cooking methods to prepare and pack.
  • Sleeping arrangements: Sleeping arrangements are dependant on the level of comfort you expect.
  • Ablutions: Some campgrounds provide shared ablutions where a warm shower and a toilet are available. You still need to pack your toiletries and toilet paper! Check to see if they are open and always pack a camping shower incase the facilities are not clean or are closed for maintenance. 

The ultimate list of what to pack! 

The ultimate list of what to pack for an essentials-only-trip to the wilderness! Stripping down to the bare necessities is an adventure on its own. There is truly nothing better than forgetting about work and taking in some fresh air, the goods you take shouldn't be rocket science, and it shouldn't take up all your time unpacking and repacking to leave. Here is a list of everything you need to bring with you to make sure your trip is all about destressing without the stress of packing! 

The pantry 

  • Pack all goods in a clear container, with flat items at the bottom of the tub. A chopping board, cutting knives, tea towels, and cleaning equipment all go in the box. 
  • Arrange food in a simple meal-by-meal order; plan to use the freshest items first. Pre-prepare any foods in advance, like soups, fillings for pies, and desserts, while at home to save space bringing various ingredients with you on your trip.  
  • Consider purchasing additional items such as bread or milk from local stores instead of packing. 
  • Pack each family member's utensils in their ziplock bags. They will be responsible for keeping clean and together. 
  • Invest in multi-use cooking gear such as cast iron pie irons (Like the ones at Uno Casa) instead of bulky dutch ovens. Pie irons double up as skillets or closed pudgy pie irons. A simple skillet is also easy to pack and not as heavy as other items. 
  • Buy your firewood from local stores to save space in the car and support the local economy. Don't forget, matches, firelighters. When purchasing wood, make sure it isn't too bulky and needs further cutting down. If it does, you might need to pack an ax or a hatchet. 


Camping is about simplicity; you need a lot let clothing than you would think. Here's an essentials packing list of clothing that you should pack. 

  • Quick-dry pants- unless you plan to go through mud or get heavily soiled, you can wear pants more than once. Quick-dry clothing is excellent for overnight washes; in good weather, clothing can be dry overnight or in a few hours. 
  • Neutral colors to mix and match the same few items to save space on packing additional clothing. 
  • Three pairs of undies - wash daily and rotate pairs, so you save packing time. 
  • One warm jacket and a sweatshirt in case of cold weather. Opting for quick dry or water-resistant jackets is the best idea. 

Essentials and toiletries

  • The essential item to pack along with clothing is a mini first aid kit for each pack. If hiking is on the agenda, each group member should patch up a cut or clean a scrape with little to no hassles. You can include a more extensive first aid kit in the camping kitchen. 
  • Pack travel-size toiletries and two in one shampoo. Each member of the group should have a small bag with all their hygiene goods. 
  • A towel per member is the trick to packing light. 

Sleeping gear

  • Tarp and tents - you don't need to be able to fit your house inside your tent. Sometimes two smaller tents work better than a massive seven-man tent that takes up space and means everyone is in each other's area when sleeping. Remember to pack two smaller ground tarps in. 
  • Blow up or roll up mattresses - choose the best for your comfort, needs, and space. If you select a blow-up bed, consider investing in a pump that plugs into a car outlet. If using a smaller tent, check to see if your blow-up mattress fits beforehand.  
  • Pack a sleeping bag that is fit for the weather report! You don't want to be caught sweating in a heavy and bulky winter bag! 
  • Lighting is important. Each family member can pack their headlamps in their packs. 

Needs vs. Wants

Out of all the packing tips, the best advice is: before you leave, lay all your camping gear out on your bed; if you genuinely don't need it, don't pack it. Camping is about wild hair, fresh air, and nature therapy