Watch CBS News

How To Pack Lightly For Your Camping Trip

Photo Credit: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images
Camping can be a fun and exciting time that offers you the opportunity to step away from day-to-day responsibilities. The last thing you want to have to worry about while camping is leaving something behind or having to carry multiple pieces of luggage in addition to all of your camping gear. Depending upon your method of camping – backpacking, tent or RV – you could be limited to what you can bring with you. This is why it is important to master the skill of packing lightly for camping trips.

Here are some of the top tips to help you pack lightly for your camping trip:

Camping Style

How you plan to camp will determine what items you have to have with you. Determine your method of camping and make a list of all the gear that you will need for it. For example, if you are tent camping at minimum you will need the tent, sleeping bag, pillow and a tarp to lie down on the ground. However, if you are going by RV, you will not need the same items you would when tent camping or backpacking, and you will have additional room to bring a few more essentials.

Related: Best Camping Sites Near San Francisco

Photo Credit: Thinkstock
Camping Gear

If you are tent camping or going by RV, use plastic bins to store and carry your camping gear with you. Packing all of your camping gear in a plastic bin will keep it dry and stored in a single place. This includes tents, sleeping bags, flashlights and cooking essentials. Limit yourself to one box for sleeping gear, one for cooking gear and a small one for first aid supplies.

Priorities And Clothing

Make a list of things you need to bring with you and prioritize the list. If you plan to swim every day, swim suits are a must. It is also important to keep your head, body and feet covered, so clothes, hats and shoes should also be a top priority. If camping during cooler months, a priority should include a jacket and a warm blanket.

Only pack essential clothes, such as a few T-shirts and a few pairs of pants. Bring one top for each day you will be camping, plus one extra and only bring half the amount of pants, because you can wear the pants two different days during your camping trip. Do not forget to bring enough underwear for each day, plus one additional.

Plan to bring only one pair of shoes with you, unless you expect rain or hiking in areas where your shoes might get wet. If that is the case, consider bringing a second pair to wear while your first pair dries out.

Roll clothing to keep it wrinkle free and to help get as much clothing in the backpack as possible. The best way to do this is to fold the item in half and then roll it up.

Related: Guide to Yellowstone National Park

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Plan out your camping menu before you leave. This will help you keep the amount of food you bring down to a precise minimum. You will know exactly what you are going to cook and what ingredients you need, making it easier to cut out unnecessary food and ingredients.

Other Essentials

In addition to food, camping gear and clothing, you will need a few additional essentials. Items such as sunscreen, bug spray and aloe are necessary items when camping.

Rethink what cosmetics and accessories you will be bringing with you, including makeup, body wash and deodorant. You will want to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant and body wash, but anything else you need to ask yourself if you truly plan to use it. For example, ask yourself if you will really want to apply foundation and makeup every day of your camping trip.

Packing light for an upcoming camping trip will help you easily get to and from your campsite and could also make it possible to carry everything you need in a single back pack. The best way to pack light is to gather everything you think you will need during a camping trip and put it out on your bed, dining room table or living room floor. Take a good look at every item, picking it up in your hand and asking yourself if you will need this item during your getaway. If you are not 100 percent sure you will need it, then you probably should not pack it.

Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions - writing and travel - to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.