One of our favorite outdoor activities is camping, especially in the summertime. Sure backyard BBQs are fun and so is the occasional picnic in the park, but if you really want to experience the summer for everything it has to offer, you gotta get out of the city! Sunny days spent canoeing on a lake or hiking to a waterfall, and cool evenings gathered around a campfire – if there’s an outdoor adventure that’ll bring families and friends together, it’s a camping trip. Everyone needs a recharge once in a while; camping removes you from the business of everyday life, reconnects you with nature, affords you quality time with friends and family, teaches you new skills and, once you invest in the gear, is a really affordable way to take a trip.
Now we know that camping’s not everyone (or so they think), but we believe everyone can enjoy camping as long as they pack the right goods, so we’ve compiled a list of 10 Summer Camping Essentials for Women:
A good tent is about as essential as it gets. Maybe one of your friends has a tent of their own and is willing to share, but if you’re looking to get your own there are a couple things to keep in mind. First of all, the tent should be easy to assemble; the less number of poles the better. This is especially helpful when you arrive late to your campsite and are trying to put up your tent in the dark, or if it happens to start raining just as you go to set it up (from our experience, this happens more often than you’d believe). Another thing to be aware of when you invest in a tent is the dimensions and how many people it’ll sleep; we find that they’re usually pretty generous when listing how many people the tent will accommodate, so if you’re two people you may want to get a tent that sleeps 3 or 4, especially if you want room to keep bags or other items in the tent with you. Finally, be sure the tent comes with a rain fly; there might not be a drop of rain in the forecast but it’s better to be safe than sorry – you do not want to get stuck in a tent, in the rain, overnight, without a fly. If you’re looking for a simple and affordable yet reliable tent, we recommend checking out the Coleman Sundome or the Ledge Tarantula. The Eureka Timberline 2 is in the classic A-frame style, while the Kamp-Rite Tent Cot for one or for two is something a little different.
2. Sleeping Bag
A good sleeping bag is another essential. Yeah you’re camping in the summer, but in most places it really cools down overnight. The best sleeping bag is going to be one that’s rated to an appropriate temperature (choose one that’s rated to ~20 degrees colder than the overnight weather you’re expecting to ensure you stay warm), that’s easy to roll up and won’t take up too much space in your pack or car. Check out the Suisse Sport Adventurer if you’re looking for something compact and light or the Teton Fahrenheit if you’re looking for something a little roomier. For something unique, check out the Selk’bag.
3. Sleeping Mat
There are people out there that’ll debate just how essential (if at all) a sleeping mat is. In our opinion, a full-on air mattress is too much work for a camping trip, but a little cushion can go a long way. This is really true if you’re a side-sleeper because the ground can be especially unforgiving in this case. Another benefit a lot of people don’t consider is the insulating property of a sleeping pad; when you sleep directly on the cold ground, the underside of your sleeping bag loses its insulating ability because it’s effectively crushed by your body weight. A sleeping mat will act as a layer between you and the cold ground, provide a bit of comfort and won’t take up much room in your car – perfect solution! Try the Therm-a-Rest Women’s Trail Lite Mattress, the Fox Outfitters Lightweight Series Self-Inflating Mattress, or the ALPS Mountaineering Comfort Series Air Pad.
4. Camp Stove
There’s something of a feeling of accomplishment and authenticity that comes from cooking over an open campfire, but a camp stove will be absolutely essential if your site doesn’t have a fire pit or in the event of a fire ban. It’s also a lot easier to ignite a camp stove in the rain than it is to start a campfire. There are many different options to choose from, you just have to factor in cost, size and fuel source. The BioLite is an ultra-compact, ultra-light wood-burning camp stove that doubles as a USB charger, or you could try the Cuisinart Portable Charcoal Grill if that’s more your cooking style. If you’re looking for something more “luxury” (i.e. built to last), check out this 2-burner cook stove from Partner. Last but not least, it’s hard to go wrong with the Coleman Classic Propane Stove.
4. Water Storage
Potable water is absolutely essential for every camping trip and you should always bring more than you think you’ll need. Not only will you drink it, but you’ll probably use it to brush your teeth, wash up and clean dishes among other things. You can’t get more reliable and sturdy than the Reliance Aqua-Tainer. A water storage container that’s collapsible is really useful – once it’s empty you can squash it down and it’ll take up less space on your drive home. If you’re daring, you can pack the LifeStraw and make use of the lake or stream near your campsite.
So this is probably the “dorkiest” item on our list, but its usefulness should not be underestimated! Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how dark it gets at night when you’re away from the city lights. A headlamp is really useful when you’re cooking after the sun has set, and especially useful when you need to make a midnight bathroom run. Wearing a headlamp means your path will be lit and your hands will be free to successfully carry the bathroom necessities. Additionally, because of the strap, the headlamp doubles as a lantern and can be used to light the interior of your tent! We like this Yalumi headlamp, or this headlamp by Outback River.
7. Hiking Shoes
A good pair of hiking shoes is essential if you want to get out and enjoy the wilderness. Whether you’re going for a walk around your campground or you decide to conquer a 5 mile hike, you don’t want to have to worry about stubbing toes on rocks or rolling ankles on tree roots. We like the Ahnu Montara, which you can read about here. Other great options include the waterproof and super durable Keen Targhee II or the perfect for hot summer weather Merrell Moab Ventilator.
8. Hanging Toiletry Kit
A hanging toiletry kit is especially useful for the camper staying at a serviced campground; while the campsite may have toilets and showers, they’re still going to be pretty rustic. A toiletry kit you can hang will mean you can keep it off the not-so-clean shower floor or countertop, and it’ll also keep it away from bugs and other creepy-crawlies. A hanging kit is also generally useful to have around the site to keep odds end ends you may need. Can’t go wrong with this hanging toiletries kit by Sea to Summit, or this kit by Dakine that comes in a bunch of neat colors and patterns.
Wipes will come in handy so many ways when you’re camping. For their super packable size, we’re a fan of the Wysi Wipes. All you have to do is add water (even better if you can warm it) and they’re instantly turned into a towelette. They can be used to wash your hands or to do dishes, they double as toilette paper and, most importantly, they can be used for a sort of camping-style sponge bath. They’re scent-free with no perfumes or additives, and they’re biodegradable.
10. Dry Shampoo
This is probably the most “luxury” item on our list, but if you don’t have access to a lake, stream or shower facilities, your hair’s going to get dirty. Dry shampoo is a quick and easy way to refresh your hair without water and traditional shampoo – a quick spray and tousle and you’re good to go. Our go-to is the Batiste Dry Shampoo because it comes in a variety of scents and shades.
So, there you have it: 10 Summer Camping Essentials for Women. Camping is a really great way to spend quality time with your friends or family and reconnect with nature. As long as you pack the right gear, you don’t have to feel like you’re roughing it.