The Ultimate Camping Essentials Checklist

September 1, 2021 | icebreaker

Make the most of your adventure by packing right for the conditions, from camping cots and lanterns to cozy merino base layers.

“What should I pack for my camping trip?” Great question. The colder months call for all the camping essentials to stay comfortable and warm while enjoying the Great Outdoors. Whether you’re pitching a tent for a week, hiking the backcountry or simply getting away in your car for a couple of nights, here’s our list of the must-haves to take with you.

Sleeping Bag

If you’re sleeping out, you’ll definitely need one of these. Even in a camper, a sleeping bag can be a simpler option than sheets and duvets.

You’ll need to consider a few factors before you buy. Firstly, whether you will be camping during summer or winter. You’ll need to buy based on the coldest conditions you can expect during your trip. For example, a 35° bag is great for summer trips, where you can usually expect the temperature to drop no lower than 35°. Three-season bags are made for spring, fall, and summer, whereas winter sleeping bags are designed for 10° and below.

Other considerations to keep in mind are the weight of the bag, as you’ll likely be hiking with it before you actually use it, the shape of the bag (which also affects weight), and whether it is waterproof and easy to clean.

As a rule of thumb, down filling is the superior material as it is lighter and warmer, but synthetic does offer a more affordable alternative.

Camping Mat

This is a must for a good night’s sleep out in nature. Without one, even the flattest camping locations can mean you’re sleeping on uneven ground and stones or foliage. Importantly, a camping mat will help to insulate you from the ground, which can get very cool overnight, even in summer.

Mats come in a range of options. They can be thin and easy to carry - a great choice if you’re backpacking. Or go for a deluxe option if you can accommodate the bulk - it’ll make sleeping in your car or tent an even better experience, especially after a long day of adventures.

Camping Cot

Did you say extra comfort? A camping cot is a simple yet excellent creation. Much like a lawn chair that folds down all the way, a camping cot is a lightweight item that elevates you off the ground on a strong fabric base. This keeps you off the cold, uneven ground and can give you a much better night of sleep.

You’ll need space to pack it, but if you struggle with sleep in new or uncomfortable places, it can make all the difference. You’ll find a range of types available, from extra-wide to quick-assembly. Here’s an idea - add an air mat on top to really relax into. Crazy talk, or genius? You decide.

Folded icebreaker black Merino Original Long Sleeve Half Zip Top mid layer


If you’re exploring the backcountry, you’ll want a highly portable stove just big enough for what you need to cook. A hot meal at the end of the day or a quick coffee for those early morning starts makes a world of difference when camping.

Some options run on foraged wood, so there’s even less to carry in. For more sedentary trips, there are some impressive stoves that are almost like cooking over a full range.


One of the simplest things you miss when out camping is good lighting. That’s where a lantern comes in handy.

Simply pop it down in your tent during card games, or leave it outside (so long as you’re not inconveniencing anyone) if you want a little extra light for those midnight toilet breaks. It’s your hands-free answer to locating what you need after dark and doubles as instant ambience, whether you’re in a tent or amongst the trees.


No camping trip is complete without a flashlight. You’ll need it for late-night trips to the bathroom, and in case you don’t make it to your campsite before dark. From keyring flashlights to larger flashlight-lantern hybrids, there’s a light source to suit your needs.

Things to consider: Is it bright enough for what you need? Do you want a waterproof one? Is it shockproof - if cold hands accidentally drop it? Does it run on batteries or do you prefer solar-power?

icebreaker hiking socks laying on a rock next to hiking boots and a tramping pack


Base layers are your best friend when it comes to comfort - and safety - in the wild. Our merino base layers are soft and warm and come in a range of fabric weights. Look for the ‘gm’ measure - the higher the number the warmer you’ll be.

What is merino wool made of? We take superfine wool fibers grown out in nature by merino sheep and create breathable and odor-resistant tops and bottoms that sit softly next to your skin. Merino base layers naturally regulate your body temperature and keep you in your comfort zone, whatever the conditions. They even stay warm when wet, which can be a lifesaver if you have to ford a river or get caught out in the rain.

Add socks and a hat and you’re talking cozy comfort head to toe.


It’s amazing how fresh air and stunning landscapes can really work up an appetite. Pack more food than you need, just in case, and match your calories to your camping style.

For adrenaline-packed days, you’ll need extra calories to keep up your energy. Think plenty of carbs such as bread, then things that are easy to cook over a campfire such as sausages, mac and cheese, beans, and soups. Additionally, pack items that are easy to snack on during the day if you aren’t able to stop to cook, such as granola bars, fruit, and trail mix.

Camping is not the time to avoid all the fun foods, so don’t forget to bring chocolate and other treats so you can satisfy those cravings after a day of exercise.

First Aid Kit

Don’t underestimate the falls and scrapes nature can throw at you. It’s part of the adventure, but it pays to have your First Aid Kit on you while camping, no matter how close you are to civilization.

Here are a few things to make sure you have in your kit:
● Band-Aids (in a range of sizes)
● Adhesive tape
● Elastic wrap bandages
● Large triangular bandages (to use as a sling)
● Safety pins
● A small pair of scissors
● Tweezers
● Burn cream
● Saline solution (for flushing, cleaning)
● Antibiotic ointment
● Hand sanitizer
● Instant cold pack
● Antacids
● Aloe vera for sunburn and regular burns


A cozy head is a happy head. And who doesn’t want to be happy when camping? Grab Grandma’s hand knit, or if you want something super soft and warm, choose a merino tuque. Shop a range of options from slouchy to fitted to double-layered for colder conditions.

You’ll need it for chilly mornings and cold nights, and even for when the temperature drops while you’re trying to sleep.

When the wild is calling, get out there and enjoy it - just make sure your gear is up to the challenge.

man hiking wearing orange quantum hoodie and merino tuque

More for you