No matter where you are going or you plan on doing once you arrive, it is always important to be prepared. This means having the right gear for the weather, the activity, or any scenario that may arrive.
We have compiled the ultimate gear list and the average price of each item for backpacking, camping, and RVing. These things will keep you safe, prepared, and comfortable. Some of them are considered essentials while others are items you may have never thought of but will be happy to have should you need them.
There are a variety of things in each category and they fall into a wide spectrum of prices. It is important to choose the gear that best suits your camping style and your budget.
Many of the items on the list have example products and prices. However, some do not because they are specific to each individual, such as clothing and toiletries.
Be sure to use the table of contents to jump to your favorite section. We tried to cover everything you may possibly need for each section so each section is pretty long.
Backpacking Gear List and Cost
First up on our list is backpacking. Backpacking is a way to explore more than just your designated camping site. You can explore and adventure and see many more sites than a campground may be able to offer.
However, as you won’t have a “home-base” all of your gear must be carried along with you on your back. Some individuals only plan for a short trek and don’t mind carrying a heavier pack. Others, known as ultralight backpackers, may travel far distances with minimal gear.
Even if you are not planning an ultralight expedition, you will want whatever you choose to bring along to be compact and lightweight. If you have companions hiking with you, you will be able to divide the gear up between backpacks.
You can purchase your own gear or rent more expensive items. It is strongly recommended that some items you purchase, such as hiking boots. Select gear will need to be in good condition and specific to you, like boots, so it isn’t wise to borrow or rent these items.
You could rent a tent, a backpack, or hiking poles, however. In addition, friends or family may have camping cookware, headlamps, or even sleeping bags that you can borrow.
If you are not likely to backpack often, you will probably want to rent or borrow most of your gear. Whether you are buying or renting, you will want to make sure that the item is rated for the temperature and climate where you will be staying.
This is especially true for sleeping bags, tents, and outerwear. When backpacking, most of what you will take with you can be deemed essentials, since you will likely not want to carry any more than necessary. Still, the list below is divided into essential and not-so-essential.
Backpacking Camping Trips Essentials
These are the items that you will need to have with you for a safe and successful trip
For backpacking, you will want an ultra-light and compact tent. These tents usually cannot accommodate more than two or three people and are not considered spacious. They can range from $30 to close to $400, with an average price of $150.
For an in-depth look at tents prices, be sure to read this article that we wrote for you.- How Much Do Camping Tents Cost? ( Covers Most Types of Tents )
- Sleeping Bag
Sleeping bags also have to be ultralight and have the ability to be stuffed into a compact space. However, this doesn’t mean that you should purchase a cheap sleeping bag. Because backpacking sleeping bags are a bit more specialized they typically are priced around $100.
We have an article just to help you choose a sleeping bag here.
- Stuff Sack
Stuff sacks may come with your sleeping bag, or you may have to purchase one separately. When they are not holding your sleeping bag they can double as a pillow. The average price of a stuff sack is $25.
A good backpack is something you definitely want to invest in as you will be carrying it for the majority of the time. A comfortable and well-designed backpack will help your trip to be safe and enjoyable. The average backpack price is $125.
- Hiking Boots
Like your backpack, don’t opt for a cheap pair of boots. A well-made pair will save your feet and allow you to hike pain-free. Boots usually go for around $100.
Price: $73.77 – $167.54
Price: $172.46 – $265.99
- Trekking Poles
A quality pair of trekking poles can be found for around $45. However, specialized poles can exceed $150.
A stove shouldn’t be heavy and it should be rather compact. Stoves have a range of prices but usually can be found for around $45.00.
- Multi-purpose tool
- Energy Bars- Price Varies
- Water Bottle
- Water Purification Method
- Jacket (Waterproof, wind, down, or a combination)
- Clothing Items
- Lighter/Fire Starter
- Bug Spray
- First Aid Kit
- Toilet Paper
- Toothbrush and Biodegradable Toothpaste
- Plastic Bags
- Nylon Cord
- Duct Tape
These are items that can be useful on the trail and/or make your adventure more comfortable
- Tent Stakes
- Tent Footprint
Price: $18.61 – $26.99
- Sleeping Pad
You really don’t need a sleeping pad, but they can make a night in the tent more peaceful. Specialized sleeping pads for backpacking can be expensive, cheaper options can be as low as $10; the average price is $30.
- Biodegradable Soap
- Bear Spray
- Water Bladder
- Biodegradable Wipes
Backpacking Safety Guidelines
When you are backpacking, there are a few things to keep in mind. Not only to protect yourself but to protect the environment and wildlife as well.
Safety First. The most vital thing when trekking through the wilderness is your safety. You should be aware of what animals and potential hazards exist in the area where you will be hiking. It is a good idea to have an itinerary and share it with at least one other person who will not be going on the trip.
It is safe to assume that you will not always receive cell phone reception. Therefore, an emergency contact should be aware of where you plan to be and when. You should carry topographical maps, a compass, and one extra day worth of food just in case you do get lost.
Choose a Campsite Wisely. Picking where to set up camp goes hand in hand with safety. On the first day, you can choose a site that isn’t too far out from your starting point, as it is not a good idea to overexert yourself right off the bat. Choose a spot that isn’t likely to attract animals and is safe from natural hazards like falling dead trees.
Pack your Backpack Correctly. Knowing how to pack the right way is essential for a safe and comfortable hike. You want the weight to be evenly distributed with heavier items on the bottom and lighter items towards the top. Keep all of your essentials and frequently used items, like a multi-purpose tool or water bottle in an external pocket that is easy to access.
“Take only photographs, leave only footprints”. Finally, leave no trace. Don’t litter, stay on designated trails or paths, and be sure to put out all fires. Your goal is to keep the space clean, natural, and pristine; with no evidence that you have been there.
Tent Camping Equipment Cost
Next up is camping. Camping is very similar to backpacking with the exception that you will not be responsible for carrying all of your gear. Therefore, you can afford to take more items along.
Like backpacking, you should make sure all of your stuff is rated for the weather and climate where you plan to camp. Unlike backpacking, there is a broader range of items which should be fine to be rented or borrowed.
You will probably have a tent, your vehicle, and the facilities at the campground. Still, you will not have access to many of the creature comforts of home. Therefore, you should plan for nearly every possibility and try to pack so that you can be prepared.
Meal planning is an important part of camping. You may be cooking for just yourself, or a large group. If you are camping with a group, it can be helpful to split up the meal prep and cooking duties.
Before you leave you will want to have created a meal plan. Meals should be easy to prepare, cook, and clean up. You will also want to choose items that share ingredients so you will have to pack fewer food items.
Box, canned, pre-prepared, or fresh items are all great at the campsite. Don’t forget to pack plenty of snacks and beverages as well.
Below is a list of essentials for camping as well as a few items for fun and/or comfort.
Bring these things for a great camping trip!
Tents have a wide price range depending on their size, season rating, and specialties. Below are a few different options. You can find tents small enough to accommodate two people or large enough to fit twelve. Furthermore, they can be rated for favorable warm weather or arctic expeditions. Make sure the tent that you select is large enough for everyone to easily fit inside and that it is rated appropriately. Usually, a decent tent for four people can be found for $160, but they can range from $30-$500.
The North Face Stormbreak 2 Tent (3 season)
Caddis Rapid 6 Tent(six person)
Big Agnes Flying Diamond 8 Tent (4 season)
CORE 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent (12 person)
HemiPlanet Cave Tent (specialized tent)
Price: $759.95 – $789.95
Be sure to check out our in-depth article on tent prices here.
- Tent Stakes
Hopefully, they will come with your tent. However, they may not or you may want a few extras. The average price is around $20.
If your tent doesn’t come with a rainfly, you will probably want one. They will block the wind and moisture to keep you warm and dry. The average price is $25.00.
- Sleeping Pad
Again, not a necessity but they can give you a better night’s rest. The average price is around $30.
- Sleeping Bag
If you are camping in mild weather just take a few blankets and sheets from home and your cost is $0! Still, a good sleeping bag is essential on almost all camping trips as you are bound to experience a bit of inclement weather. The average price is around $50 for a standard camping sleeping bag.
A pillow from home is free! But a camping pillow or inflatable pillow’s average price is $25.
These backpacks don’t have to be as specialized and a traditional backpack will do. Average price: $30.
If it is just you or you and a friend you can get away with a smaller stove. For families and groups you will want a large multi-burner stove. For larger stoves, the average price is around $50.
- Multipurpose Tool
- Cutting Board
When camping with a group, you will want a sturdy but lightweight set of pots and pans. These can range from $30 to $100 but usually can be found for around $50.
- Cooking Utensils
- Paper towels
- Dish soap
- Garbage Bags
- Energy Bars
- Water Bottle
- Large water dispenser
- Jacket (Waterproof, windproof, down, or a combination)
- Clothing Items
- Camp Chairs
You will definitely want a durable camp chair for relaxing at the campsite. On average, they sell for around $40 but a luxury or specialized model can be upwards of $100.
Investing in a heavy-duty cooler with excellent refrigerating properties is essential. However, they can be more expensive with an average price of $120.
- Lamp or lantern
- Bug Spray
- First Aid Kit
- Toilet Paper
- Toothbrush and Biodegradable Toothpaste
- Plastic Bags
- Nylon Cord and/or Bear Canister
- Duct Tape
These will likely not make your break your trip but can help to make it more enjoyable
-Bear Spray (essential depending on where you are camping)
-Screened shelter or house
Price: $102.81 – $169.65
-Broom and dustpan
-Extra blankets and pillows
-Camp table (if there is no picnic table)
-Music and speaker
-Activity gear (fishing, hiking, snorkeling)
How to Keep Everything Organized
Investing in a few plastic storage bins, especially clear ones can be a great way to keep your campsite organized. You have a lot of gear to take along, and unlike at home, there will be no storage cabinets or pantries.
Clear tubs can be filled with all of your items grouped by their intended uses. For example, cooking essentials in one and outdoor recreation activities in another. Because they are clear you will be able to easily peer inside to see if the bin contains what you are looking for.
Besides, by storing everything in tubs all of your gear will remain dry, and free of animals and insects. When you arrive home the tubs can be stored until your next camping trip after replacing any missing items or perishables.
RV Camping Equipment and Cost
Finally, we have RVing. This is perhaps the scenario where you can bring the most extensive list of gear. RVs and campers can hold plenty of items and have storage for nearly everything you may want to bring along.
The key is not adding too much weight to your rig. It can be easy to overpack, but as you use your RV more and more you will be able to refine your packing list. If you are over the weight limit, you may need to pare down, even if your storage areas still have space available.
It is easiest to pack for an RV trip by looking at each section or area of your camper. For example, kitchen items, bathroom items, etc. Start with the necessities and then move to the creature comfort items.
Unlike camping and backpacking, you won’t have to worry too much about selecting the correct ratings for your gear. Since you will not be sleeping in a tent and have a reliable shelter to get out of the elements, you won’t need as much “outdoor hardy” gear.
Most campers and motorhomes have kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Therefore, you will have to bring cookware but not your own fire starter or fuel burner. Additionally, you won’t be limited in terms of food or water like you would tent camping or backpacking.
If you are boondocking it, there may need to be a slight adjustment to the packing list, since you won’t have access to water or electricity. Below you will find the “must-haves”, the “like to have”, and the “leave at homes”.
Every RV should be equipped with these items before heading out
RV Gear and Mechanical Needs:
The average price of the cords, lines, and hoses for your RV depends on the model, make, and manufacturer.
-Electrical hookup cords
-Auxiliary cable for TV connection
-Mobile hotspot for reliable WiFi or other signal boost equipment
Essential and Non-Essential
The list below can vary depending on your RV capacity, where you are traveling to, and for how long you will be gone. After a few trips in your RV you can revise your essentials and non-essentials lists.
Kitchen and cooking supplies:
Kitchen supplies are a necessity, but you may be able to use what you already have at home. If not, the average price for each is what you would typically find in department or home stores.
-Bowls, plates, and cups
-Pots and Pans
-Matches and lighter
-Food storage containers
-Prepared mixes (Bisquick, pancake mix, etc)
-Fresh fruits and veggies
-Condiments (ketchup, mustard, etc)
-Salt, pepper, herbs, and spices
-Common baking ingredients (flour, baking soda, etc)
-Peanut butter and jelly
-Cooking spray or oil
Clothing and bedroom items:
Like kitchen items, the average price of bedroom and bathroom items mirrors what you would typically spend on these things for your house.
-Towels (hand towels, bath towels, and beach towels)
-Sheets and blankets
Personal items and toiletries:
-Travel map and campground directory
-Recreation equipment (balls, bats,etc)
-Books and magazines
-Laptop and cord
Price: $19.47 – $47.18
-Kayaks, trekking poles, other outdoor gear
Creature comforts, not necessities:
-Throw pillows and blankets
-Rugs and doormats
-String lighting and outdoor decor
-Blenders, mixers, kitchen tools, and appliances
Leave at home items
-Firewood. In most cases, you cannot transport firewood across state lines due to the prevalence of pests and diseases. You are better off purchasing firewood locally when you arrive at your destination.
-An abundance of kitchen appliances. These items can add a lot of weight and take up a great deal of space. Some individuals choose to take only a small blender or mixer. You will not need things like a coffee/latte/espresso maker, instead, just take a coffee pot or tea kettle.
-Bulk food items. Initially, it may seem like a great idea to take food items in bulk. However, the food and the packaging can hog a lot of space. You will probably want to take your essential food items and non-perishables in organized containers. Additionally, you will likely be able to do most of your grocery shopping when you arrive at your location.
Tips on Packing Your RV
Even though it seems like your RV can handle a plethora of items (there is a lot of space after all!), you cannot overload it. Two considerations when packing an RV are max weight and distribution. RVs and trailers that are overweight and/or unstable are dangerous.
You will want to try and pack as light as possible, while still making sure to include all of the necessities. Minimalist packing doesn’t mean you have to forgo all comforts if you choose your gear wisely.
Items that can perform two functions, like a particularly versatile pot or cooking utensil, will help you to conserve space. Additionally, some items are very conducive to the traveling lifestyle, such as nesting bowls or collapsible colanders.
Taking items out of their boxes and packaging can also free up some space. Try to use sealing plastic food containers or bags to store all of your dry goods.
When you pack your items, arrange and store them as neatly as possible so you won’t have to go searching for them. Even though RVs are typically roomy, they can feel claustrophobic when overloaded with gear. Storage bins and baskets can keep your belongings organized and easily accessible.
Making a List and Checking It Twice
It can be daunting to try and determine all the items you may need on your trip. Different types of camping certainly limit what you can and cannot bring. This is due to the space you have available, the weight of the items, and how exposed you will be to the elements.
There are a few items that are important to all three types of camping (backpacking, tent camping, or RVing). These include things like first aid kits, maps, personal items, and a cellphone.
No matter what type of adventure you are embarking on, you will want to create a packing list of gear essentials and go over it more than once. Being prepared for all possibilities will ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable camping trip.