Summer camping might sound easier than pitching a tent in January, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to skimp on supplies. Remember, any trip to the great outdoors requires appropriate preparation, no matter how nice the weather is.
We’ve put our experience to use making a list of summer camping essentials for you, including recommendations for perishable items and equipment. Use these suggestions as the basis for your packing checklist, then find your campsite and enjoy your excursion!
What Makes Summer Camping Different?
Summer camping comes with its own unique challenges, though they might not be as obvious as those you’ll face in other seasons. Here are a few factors you’ll need to consider when packing for your trip:
- Bright sunlight: Summer tends to feature more clear skies than other seasons, but too much sunlight can be bad for you. You’re going to want appropriate eye and skin protection for everyone on your trip.
- Higher temperatures: Hot weather can raise your body temperature and make you lose water more quickly. You’ll want clothing that helps you stay cool, and a way to keep yourself hydrated. Food can also spoil more easily in the heat, so bringing a way to preserve it is a smart decision.
- Insects: You don’t have to worry about bugs in winter, but summer camping means dealing with various tiny bloodsucking pests.
- Wildlife: Animals tend to be more active during the summer, which means you’ll probably need a way to store your food items and anything else that could attract them more securely.
- Fire Hazards: Summer tends to be dry—and while that makes it easier to find kindling, it can also make it easier to accidentally start a forest fire if you aren’t careful. You’ll want to take cooking gear along that reduces that risk.
10 Pieces of Summer Camping Gear Worth Packing
Here are 10 pieces of camping gear to help you prevent or solve the problems above. Use these ideas to keep your next summer camping trip safe, comfortable, and fun.
You still need to dress warm when camping in summer, because temperatures can plummet overnight—even after warm days. That means your clothing needs to be able to keep you cozy, but it also has to be breathable so air can get in and cool you down when the temperature rises.
Speaking of cool, taking a cooler on your trip and filling it with ice is a great way to extend the length of perishable food in hot weather. A cooler also helps keep food away from wildlife because it’s harder to open than a bag and keeps the smell inside.
We tend to move more in nice weather, which means you’re likely to sweat more during a summer camping trip than in other seasons. We recommend keeping water on your person at all times when you’re camping in the summertime—but don’t settle for disposable plastic bottles, which can break easily and contribute to littering. Instead, consider purchasing a durable and reusable canteen.
A Ventilated Tent
4 season tents are designed to prevent heat loss, which makes them ideal for winter trips. They can be used during summer too, but they may be less comfortable on hot nights than a tent with better ventilation. Consider a 3 season tent if you’re camping in a region where conditions vary, or a summer tent if you know you can count on warm temperatures for the duration of your adventure.
An Energy Efficient Stove
When you’re camping in winter, you want a tent that disperses a significant amount of heat during use so it can keep you warm. But in summer, this can make meal preparation uncomfortable—and it can even become a fire hazard. We recommend bringing an energy efficient camping stove that uses propane or liquid gas.
Knives are essential for every camping trip, but in summer you can worry less about features like padded grips, which can help prevent your hand from getting cold in the winter. Instead, focus on bringing a knife that is sharp enough, long enough, and easy to pack. You’re going to use it for everything from whittling wood to cleaning and gutting fish.
Whenever you’re outside for more than a few minutes, it’s smart to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays. We recommend bringing sunscreen with SPF 50 or above and reapplying it every 30 minutes while you’re outdoors during daylight hours.
Your skin isn’t the only thing you’ll want to protect from sunlight; UV rays can also damage your eyes. Lower your risk for eye disease and prevent the sun from blinding you during outdoor activities by packing a pair of sunglasses that offer 100% UVA and UVB protection.
Summer camping offers many natural delights, but ticks and mosquitoes are not among them. Bring along mosquito repellant and apply it often during outdoor activities—and be sure to check yourself and other campers for ticks after walking through tall grass, bushes, or heavily forested areas!
We hope you’ll never need to use this one, but it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Containing red pepper derivatives that cause significant discomfort to a bear’s eyes and respiratory system, making it an effective deterrent about 90% of the time. Make sure to carry your bear spray in a holster on your person instead of putting it where it can get lost or be difficult to access (like a mesh pocket or deep inside a backpack).
Protect Yourself and Enjoy Your Next Summer Camping Trip
Taking the right gear on a summer camping trip can keep you safe from sunlight, heat, wildlife, dehydration, and more. Make sure to take these items next time you camp in warm weather, and check out our guide to packing for winter camping trips next!