In case you didn’t know already, camping requires a lot of gear and accessories. If you’re going on a car camping trip, this is even more true. While you do have a ton of options in regards to what you can take with you, there is a handful of items that you should always bring along to use with your tent.
The tent is the centerpiece of camping, and everything else revolves around it. With that in mind, here are 9 essential tent accessories that you should always have on hand inside your tent every time you hit the campsite. Although some are more obvious than others, each one of these items is crucial to getting the most out of your tent, and your trip as a whole.
Here are your 9 essential tent accessories:
This one should come as no surprise, since a sleeping bag is the second item everyone thinks of after the tent. Still, it’s worth emphasizing. Sleeping bags are largely responsible for the quality of sleep you’ll be getting each night, and help to keep you comfortable during your sleep.
While some may choose to create a sort of makeshift bed using an array of blankets and covers, a sleeping bag provides a more versatile covering that allows you to control your level of warmth, along with the option of fully unzipping it and using it as a blanket itself.
There is certainly a wide range of sleeping bags to choose from, with some more suited for certain types of weather and conditions. In most cases, you can get by with a standard sleeping bag that has a good balance of insulation and softness.
If you are going to be camping in especially cold or hot climates, make sure you choose a sleeping bag that is properly made for the conditions.
Unless you’re okay with sleeping directly on the ground, a sleeping pad will be needed to provide better cushioning and support under your sleeping bag.
Think of a camping sleeping pad as a sort of mobile mattress, that also offers heat retention and added stability.
Sleeping pads are available in a wide variety of types, shapes, and textures, and each offers varying degrees of comfort and mobility. They can range anywhere from lightweight and thin, to heavy, bulky, and plush.
There are three main types of sleeping pads: air, foam, and self-inflating. Air pads are blown up similar to an inflatable raft, foam pads are often thin and lightweight, and self-inflating pads are a mixture of both air pads and foam pads.
Self-inflating pads are widely considered the most ideal for car camping, although you are definitely free to choose whichever you prefer personally -- just as long as you bring one for each sleeping bag.
This may seem like an obvious inclusion, but you’d be surprised as to how many campers either forget to bring a pillow, or simply decide against it, thinking they can just stack up some extra clothes or a blanket. Yes, you can do both of these things, but using an actual pillow is a much better choice.
While ordinary pillows can do the trick, camping pillows are a superior option, as they are more durable and weather resistant. Some are in fact designed to be stuffed with clothing, making them both a pillow and a sort of clothing storage.
Whether you opt for a camping pillow, or some from home, just be sure to bring some along.
Yes, camping is about “roughing it” to some extent, but you still want to get as good of night’s sleep as you can so you can enjoy your trip as much as possible.
First Aid Kit
Even if you don’t plan on being out in the backcountry for days at a time, it’s still essential that you bring a quality first aid kit to keep in your tent.
Accidents can happen anywhere, but things are more dire when you are stuck outdoors and away from the conveniences and features of home and the city.
When acquiring a first aid kit for camping, you can either purchase a pre-made kit, or acquire all of the most important items yourself.
Regardless of which route you take with this, be sure that your kit has most of, if not all of the following items inside:
- Antiseptic wipes
- Antibacterial ointment
- Compound Tincture Of Benzoin
- Assorted Adhesive Bandages
- Butterfly Bandages / Adhesive Wound-Closure Strips
- Gauze Pads
- Non-Stick Sterile Pads
- First-aid manual or information cards
- Medical adhesive tape (10 yd. roll, min. 1" width)
- Blister treatment
- Ibuprofen / Other Pain-Relief Medication
- Insect sting relief treatment
- Antihistamine To Treat Allergic Reactions
- Splinter (fine-point) tweezers
- Safety pins
With a proper first aid kit, you can enjoy your camping trip with the added security that comes from knowing you’re prepared for emergencies if something goes wrong.
Well, it’s going to get dark at some point, and if you plan on being able to see, you’re going to need some sort of lighting. Flashlights are all well and good, and obviously recommended as well, but lanterns are a much more efficient way to illuminate your tent and camping area.
Lanterns are preferred over flashlights because they offer a more encompassing light source, rather than a targeted light that only illuminated whatever it’s aimed at. With a lantern, the light is dispersed in a 360 degree manner, which is much more conducive for campsites.
Sitting a lantern on a table, or hanging it from a tree or post is an easy way to give your campsite sufficient light to be aware of your surroundings, or to simply relax and enjoy the site with your friends and family.
There are a variety of choices with lanterns, each with their own advantages. Battery-powered lanterns are a popular version, allowing you to use the lantern inside of your tent, usually by hanging it on the ceiling in the center.
Propane lanterns are often the most bright, but they are not able to be used inside of your tent. In some cases, it’s probably best to have one of each if you are able to.
A footprint is a certain kind of tarp that is intended to be used under your tent. The footprint can be folded or unfolded into whatever size best matches your tent.
There are several reasons for doing this. The most common reason is to provide the tent with some added stability and better padding when pitched on soil, which is usually uneven, and may have some rocks and tree roots that can cause discomfort.
Another reason is to keep the tent off the ground in case there is moisture from rain or snow. The added layer keeps the bottom of the tent drier, along with all of your gear and personal items inside.
Moisture from morning dew can actually soak through the bottom of the tent as well, something many novice campers don’t realize until they wake up with a damp tent the next morning. Footprints provide a barrier between the tent and any condensation that may form under the tent.
In addition to a footprint tarp, a standard tarp is always a good idea to bring along as well. Tarps can be used for wind and rain protection, for setting your other camping gear on, or even as a sun shield if you are lacking sufficient tree coverage. Make sure you at least have a footprint tarp before heading out.
Stakes And Mallet
While nearly every tent comes with stakes to keep it properly grounded, it doesn’t hurt to bring some extra stakes with you as well, or even some upgraded ones. This can ensure your tent remains grounded even in case of high winds.
If you want to have a much easier time setting the stakes in the ground, a rubber tent stake mallet can make all the difference. These mallets can help you drive the stakes in, even when the ground is hard.
Hey, sometimes things can happen. And sometimes, those things involve a giant rip going down the wall of your tent, or along the floor. Tents aren’t exactly the most durable shelter. Tent repair kits give you a way to patch things up in a hurry, which is more than appreciated if you are camping in cold or rainy weather.
Most repair kits have patches, glue, extra fabric, and a sewing kit as well. This is one of the most inexpensive items you can get for your tent, and one that may very well be the difference between a bad camping trip, or one that still ended up being great despite some accidents.
Unless you plan on sitting on the floor of your tent throughout the duration of your camping trip, chairs are always a great idea to bring with you. Camping chairs are often very light, and are also able to be compacted down to a smaller size and kept out of the way when not in use.
Whether your tent has a screened in porch, or just some extra room on the inside, camping chairs are a great way to relax in comfort, both inside and out.
So there you have it, now you are filled in about the most important accessories to use inside your tent for your upcoming camping trip.
While some of these items are more important and more utilized than others, leaving home with all 9 of these will go a long way in ensuring that you and your fellow campers have a successful, enjoyable, and safe camping trip, no matter where you plan on pitching your tent. Enjoy!