5 not-so-obvious items you should never forget when camping, according to an outdoor expert

If you thought you'd packed everything for your camping trip, think again...

A group of women camping in the woods
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Every camping trip requires the essentials: a tent (obviously), sleeping mat, sleeping bag, flashlight, etc. But then there are those other essential items, the ones that aren’t at the forefront of your mind, but will often leave you saying: “I wish I hadn’t forgotten ‘X’”. These items aren’t revolutionary by any means and are often small, but can make a big difference to your camping trip –  whether that be getting you out of sticky situations, making things easier, or more fun. 

As we know these items aren’t that obvious to think of during packing, we called upon Wild Camp Specialist, Daniel Jones, to share the top five items that he never forgets that make a big difference to his camping trips. Now, make sure you jot these down so you don’t forget… 

1. Duct tape

An air mattress with a hole that's been patched up with duct tape

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Not the most glamorous item by any means, but it’s certainly one that can help you out of trouble. “Duct tape is great for making those last-minute repairs on your tent or camping gear,” says Daniel. Need to rescue a hole in your waterproof jacket, or your air mattress? Duct tape is the answer. “It can also prove handy in a first aid kit too,” he adds.  

2. Reflective map

If you don’t carry a paper map as a backup and solely rely on your phone, take this as your sign to invest in one. But you don’t just want any old map, you want a reflective map. “Not only is it a great way to help protect your inflatable sleeping mat from the floor, but also to boost the warmth of your mat on those cold, wintery nights,” says Daniel.

3. Pocket knife

A person cutting eggs using a camping knife

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A pocket or camping knife is definitely one of those ‘better safe than sorry’ items, as you may rarely use it, but it can be really useful when you do. “A small pocket knife can come in handy when making repairs on your camping gear, or simply opening food packaging,” says Daniel. It can also be used to light fires, for first aid (cutting bandages), and chopping up food.  

4. Entertainment

“You should never underestimate reading a good book or listening to a little music on your camping trips,” says Daniel. “Especially if you're spending long nights in the confines of your tent.” We all know that the weather can be very unpredictable too, so having some simple home comforts is extremely handy for those days you don't want to venture out of your tent. Equally, there's nothing better than reading a good book in your camping chair, is there?

5. Rubbish bag

Another not so glamorous item, but an essential one that many forget. “Often when we go camping, we come across rubbish left by other people,” says Daniel, “so carrying a bin bag is handy to pick up rubbish you find on the trail”. But you can use them for more than just collecting rubbish, they can make great rucksack covers or bag liners, a rain poncho (god forbid your forget your waterproof jacket), and are good for separating dirty clothes. Probably best to pack more than one!

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.