Family camping is an enjoyable way to spend time outside. Use this list with our Outdoor Essentials list to make sure you have all the gear you need to ensure a fun, safe and comfortable experience.

Tent  Set up your tent in the backyard before your trip to become familiar with the process and to make sure you have all of its components.

Ground cloth  Protects the bottom of your tent. Make sure the edges are tucked under the tent to prevent water from pooling.

Sleeping bags  Make sure you choose the correct temperature rating for your area. 20°F bags are generally the most versatile. Wear a wool or synthetic hat to prevent heat loss while sleeping.

Sleeping pad/mat/cot  Test inflatable pads for leaks prior to packing. Silicone spray is ideal for quieting squeaky cot frames. A patch kit is recommended in case your pad springs a leak.

Pillow/pillowcase  A down jacket stuffed into a pillowcase makes a cozy pillow and takes up less space.

Stove & fuel  Test and retest your stove before your trip. Bringing a spare tank of stove fuel is always a good idea.

Cookware & utensils  Nesting pots and using aluminum foil for a lid take up less space. A spoon, spatula and sharp knife are a must. Pack one cup, plate and bowl for each member of your group. A mesh bag is a great way to store and dry your items.

Can opener  While most pocket knives have one, there's no substitute for the real thing.

Cooler & ice  Block ice lasts longer than cubes. A damp, white towel placed on the top of the cooler will help the ice last longer.

Clean-up supplies  Keep sponges and scouring pads in a plastic zip bag. They'll stay wet, and a bit soapy. A dishcloth and roll of paper towels will come in handy. Use biodegradable soap if possible.

Water container  A folding water jug and plastic milk crate make a great combination for holding and transporting water.

Trash bags  Look for brands that feature straps for hanging the bag from a tree. To avoid attracting animals, never leave your trash unattended or out overnight.

Camp furniture  Folding and reclining chairs give you a comfortable place to sit at the campsite.

Hand sanitizer  Quick-drying hand sanitizer makes for easy clean-up.

Games/books  Cards, board games and books can help pass the time in the tent during rainy weather.


Whether heading outdoors for a few hours or a few days, L.L.Bean strongly recommends having these essential items with you at all times:

Water  Use these minimum guidelines to ensure you stay hydrated: one quart for a couple of hours, two quarts for four hours and four to six quarts for a daylong hike. Make sure you are well hydrated before your hike. Drink early and often. Bringing a water treatment system along to treat any water needed beyond two quarts will help save weight. All water found on the trail should be treated.

Food  Next to staying hydrated, keeping “fueled” is crucial to safely enjoying your adventures. Regular small snacks keep your energy going throughout the day. Before heading out, eat foods that are rich in calories and that take a while to digest. On the trail, eat sports bars and gorp (“good old raisins and peanuts” &ndash often supplemented with chocolate) to provide quick energy throughout the day.

Map and compass/GPS  Always carry a detailed topographic map of the area you are visiting. An updated trail guide or description will help you stay on the right trail. Your compass can be a simple dial style, although one with a base plate is quite helpful when using with the map. GPS units are helpful but you must know how to use your map and compass should the GPS fail. Always carry spare batteries for your GPS.

Lighting  Always carry a headlamp on a hike in case you stay out longer than planned. Hiking in the dark without a light can be very dangerous. Always have spare batteries and a back-up light. For the campsite, it’s a good idea to have a lantern or flashight.

Fire starter kit  This is necessary for starting your stove to cook or in an emergency when starting a fire is critical to stay warm. Your kit should include waterproof matches with striker in a waterproof container and fire starter such as candles or steel strikers that work when wet and produce a high-temperature spark. A small amount of tinder kept in a waterproof container is also helpful. Dryer lint, wax-soaked cotton balls and wood shavings are three examples of good tinder.

Sun protection – apparel  Sun-blocking apparel is a convenient way to protect yourself from the sun. It won’t wear off during the day like lotion. We offer a comprehensive assortment of sun blocking apparel, including hats, shirts and pants.

Sun protection – lotion  Waterproof sunscreen is key. Apply before you head out and reapply a couple of times according to directions. SPF lip balm is also recommended.

Sunglasses  Sunglasses and a brimmed hat will protect your eyes and help keep you comfortable.

First aid kit  We offer several good first aid kits that pack small if you don’t want to make your own. We recommend a supplemental blister kit with moleskin and blister-specific adhesive strips, as this is one of the more common outdoor issues. Also, make sure members of your group have all their required prescriptions.

Warm clothing and rain gear  Pack the layers you would need to survive the night in the worst possible weather for the location and season. This may be as simple as a raincoat for a sudden summer thunderstorm to several layers and a waterproof jacket and pants for a winter adventure. All base layers should be synthetic or wool.

Knife/multitool  From cutting off the end of an errant strap, to making a fuzz stick for fire starting, a knife has lots of uses on the trail. A multitool with small scissors, tweezers, screwdrivers, etc., solves even more problems.

Cell phone  A fully charged cell phone can be a great way to get help in an emergency situation, but you may not have service in remote areas. Don’t rely on a cell phone as a substitute for being prepared.

Repair kit  Handy field repair items include duct tape, nylon repair tape, wire ties, safety pins and parachute cord. A needle and thread is also good to have for a quick fix. A space blanket or small section of poly can be used in a pinch for an emergency shelter.

For more ways to learn about the outdoors, check out our free in-store clinics along with our Outdoor Discovery Schools trips, tours and classes at
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