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7 Things You Honestly Should NOT Bring Camping

7 Things You Honestly Should NOT Bring Camping

When planning a camping trip, you may get caught up in everything you need to bring: beach towels, chairs, pet supplies, dishes, bedding, etc. You may feel overwhelmed. But in reality, there are only a few camping essentials you actually need.

Instead of thinking about all of the things you might need, focus on just the essentials. You probably won’t miss anything that’s left behind. Plus, you can always run out and grab something important at Walmart.

Camping trips should allow you to spend time with family, make memories, and enjoy the outdoors. Nothing can ruin a trip more than breaking, losing, or ruining something that you shouldn’t have brought in the first place. So let’s take a look at seven things you really don’t need to bring camping.

packing a truck camper
Whether you’re packing an RV or a backpack, you should be picky about what you bring.

What You Pack Depends on Your Type of Camping

When heading out for a weekend trip, the type of camping you will do will determine what essentials you need to pack. If you go RV camping, you have more room to pack more things than if you use a tent. If you go backpacking or bike camping, you have to seriously consider weight and how far you’ll carry your load. This will help you eliminate unnecessary items.

Some items like a bear canister and a quality sleeping bag aren’t optional when tent camping or backpacking. In contrast, you won’t need those when you can safely store your food and sleep on bed sheets inside an RV.

Top Tips for Preparing to Go Off-Grid "Boondocking" in an RV - Mondays with the Mortons

Some Things Are Essential, While Others Aren’t

When RV camping, you must have a drinking water hose and an RV sewer hose to connect to a water source and sewer. Additionally, it’s essential to have ample battery power, solar panels, or propane if dry camping.

When tent camping or backpacking, you’ll need a waterproof shelter, a sleeping bag, basic cookware, and a fire starter. Also, pack safety gear like bear spray, flashlights, a weather radio, and a first aid kit.

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Regardless of the camping style, you’ll need to pack food and water. Depending on the season and location, you might also want to include bug spray and sunscreen.

Pro Tip: One camping essential to always have on hand is duct tape. These are 15 Ways Duct Tape Will Save Your Camping Trip.

Camping bag overhead flatay.
When camping, you’ll want to only pack the essentials.

Some Things Are Designed for Camping

Many opt for multifunctional camping gear. It saves space in an RV and weight when backpacking. For example, an ottoman that provides seating around the dinette and storage for the kids’ toys is a perfect option for the RV life. A tool like a Swiss army knife works great for tent camping and backpacking because you can use that one item to open cans, cut small limbs, and pull out splinters.

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You may also want durable and waterproof camping items. This is very important when picking out a tent and sleeping bag. Camping chairs and hammocks are also ideal for outdoor adventures. One last characteristic to consider is efficiency.

When not connected to full hookups, you’ll need to conserve water and power. Don’t forget battery chargers and portable outdoor showers if you go camping for longer periods away from amenities.

7 Things You Honestly Should NOT Bring Camping

Many YouTube influencers have lists of essentials for a successful camping trip. Sometimes they’re great suggestions, while other times, you’re left scratching your head. Let’s look at seven things you should not bring camping and provide recommendations for what you might want instead.

Man using phone in backpack while camping.
Leave electronics behind and use your camping trip as a time to disconnect!

1. Excessive Electronics

Most people go camping to escape and unplug. Whether it’s RV camping, tent camping, or backpacking, many want to connect to nature and not their devices. Eliminate as many electronics as possible.

Additionally, you’ll have to provide a power source for anything that needs charging. Devices and portable battery banks take up more space and make your backpack heavier.

Instead, try to keep the TV off if RV camping. Encourage the kids to play in the dirt and not on their tablets. Spend time staring at the stars or laughing by the campfire. The more electronics you have, the more distracted you’ll be from the camping experience.

Pro Tip: We get it, sometimes you just have to bring your electronics. Here are the best solar generators to bring on your camping trip to generate off-grid power at your campsite.

2. Perfumes or Potent Smells

Anything with a strong smell can be dangerous to bring camping. Bears can smell scents from miles away. Bugs ruin outdoor fun when you have potent smells around the campsite. Perfume is not a camping essential, so leave it behind. 

If you have to bring toiletries like shampoo, deodorant, and soap, try to get scent-free items. Or use a bear canister to stow away those items. Don’t leave things with strong scents in your car or loose around your campsite.

Couple unpacking heavy camping bags at campsite.
Less is more when camping! Remember if you’re hiking to your campsite, you will have to carry all of your things with you.

3. Glass or Other Breakable Items

If you carry a backpack down a canyon, avoid packing glass bottles. But even if RVing, reducing the number of breakable items you bring will make your experience more enjoyable. It makes traveling safer and less stressful. You don’t have to worry about properly storing items when in motion, or arriving to your campsite to find broken glass everywhere.

Also, if you want to reduce your waste and don’t want to use paper or styrofoam dishes, bring plastic ones you can wash. Don’t pack your fine china.

4. Valuables

Tent camping, backpacking, and RVing have certain risks. Don’t bring valuables to avoid them getting lost or ruined. Don’t pack your grandmother’s heirloom necklace or your baseball card collection. These items are not camping essentials.

If you can live without it, don’t bring it. Leave your valuables at home, where you can safely lock them away.

This is another reason to leave excessive electronics at home. You don’t want your work laptop or your game controllers stolen. If you have to bring expensive items, consider how you’ll store them. Have a way to lock them up.

Flat lay of camping gear essentials.
Save space in your RV or backpack by not overpacking clothes.

5. Too Many Clothes

Unless you’re on a cross-country trip spanning time zones, elevations, and seasons, you don’t need a lot of clothes. A weekend trip only requires a couple of sets of clothes regardless of how you camp.

Additionally, you have limited storage when RVing, and you don’t want to fill up all of the shelves and closets with clothes. Whatever you take with you backpacking, you have to carry with you. So the more clothes you pack, the heavier your sack.

6. Fashion Accessories

Next, you don’t need to bring accessories like earrings, neckties, and purses. Pack a hat and a good pair of gloves. Other than that, you don’t need these additions to your wardrobe.

You don’t have the space for them, and you likely won’t use them. Save the fashion accessories for date night, work, and parties.

7. Wrong Types of Food

Food is obviously a camping essential, but you should avoid bringing the wrong types. Some people have to be very food conscious and cook according to dietary requirements. However, most campers can get by with easy-to-make food for the weekend, like hotdogs and hamburgers.

Additionally, don’t plan elaborate, time-consuming meals when camping. It takes a lot of water to clean all of the dishes that can empty a freshwater tank in an RV. Often these types of meals also require special cookware. This increases the number of items you have to pack.

If you’re backpacking, you’ll definitely want to be weight- and preservation-conscious. Check out lightweight options like freeze-dried food instead of heavy foods that need to be kept cold.

If you don’t want to cook outdoors, plan meals in the Instant Pot or ones you can cook in just one pan. They take less time to prepare and less time to clean up. This means more time spent making memories by the campfire.

Pro Tip: Didn’t pack a can opener? Check out our camping hack on How to Open a Can Without a Can Opener.

10 Things We Don't Bring Anymore (Learn From Our Mistakes)

What Can Ruin a Camping Trip? 

If you pack everything but the kitchen sink, you risk breaking an iPad, losing something valuable, or ruining your best pair of pants. If kids don’t bring their devices, you don’t have to worry about charging them or if they get lost, broken, or stolen. Avoiding breakable dishware means you don’t have to worry about wrapping them in towels to secure them on the drive.

Camping with less means less stuff to worry about. So the next time you pack your bags, consider what you can leave behind. Focus on reconnecting with nature and spending time with your family and friends.

Have you ever regretted bringing something on a camping trip? Drop a comment below.

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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