Camping essentials: Everything you need for your first time (2024)


By: Kirsty Petrides

If you’re planning your first ever camping trip, knowing what gear you need can be daunting. Plus, a lot of it depends on your budget and how comfortable you’d like to be.

So, we’ve done the hard work for you – whether you’re happy with just the basics, need a few more creature comforts or want a total glamping experience, here's all the gear you need for your first time camping.

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First things first: Standard camping essentials

Regardless of your budget or desired comfort levels, there are some basic necessities that will ensure you have a good time as well as respect the environment- but the good news is they’re items you’ll already have in your house.

So go buy a big plastic tub, write ‘camping gear’ on the lid and fill it with the following:

  • General supplies:Citronella coils for mosquitoes, sunscreen, a water storage tub, and bags or cardboard boxes for your rubbish.
  • Bathroom supplies:A flannel, toilet paper and - if you're going off-grid - trowel or small shovel to dig a toileting hole.
  • Cooking supplies:Matches or lighter, plastic plates, bowls, cutlery, pots, pans, cooking utensils and salt, pepper and spices.
  • Dishwashing supplies: Small bucket to wash dishes in, sponge and a sustainable washing liquid like Wilderness Wash.

Under $400: Smaller budget, but willing to rough it

A good quality tent will likely be the most expensive item on your list, however, there is a caveat. Tents are often expensive because of the features that protect you in harsh weather conditions – for instance, being water-proof in torrential rain or wind-resistant in storms.

So if you're camping in WAwith our mild climate, you can likely get away with a slightly cheaper tent. It would pay to get something with ventilation flaps for air-flow or where you can take the fly off completely and just sleep under the mesh on exceptionally warm nights.

Grab a piece of tarp to lay on the ground underneath your tent – it's very affordable and can be found at camping stores or even Bunnings. Not only does this keep you warmer in case the ground is damp, it also keeps your tent clean, making pack-down a bit easier.

Next, you’ll need a sleeping mat or mattress to make sure you don’t wake up with an aching back. They can start from as little as $65 – but if it's your first time, grab something self-inflating to save you having to pump it up yourself, and something good quality to ensure your first camping trip is a comfortable one.

As with tents, sleeping bags are often pricey because of their technical features and ability to keep you warm. Most sleeping bags are categorised by the minimum temperature they’ll keep you warm at - for instance, a bag categorized as -8 is going to keep you warm at sub-zero temperatures. So if you’re camping in WA, chances are you can safely look at sleeping bags with a higher number and thus a cheaper price tag.

You can get a sleeping bagmade for warm-weather campingthat will only set you back about $120. However, if you think you'll be taking more camping trips to slightly colder spots, you can opt for something more heavy-duty that will take you all the way from the heat in Exmouth to the cooler nights in Esperance.

You’ll need an esky to store your food and drinks, so swing by your local supermarket or Bunnings and grab one for $20.Bonus budget tip: Put the lid on your esky and it doubles as a camping table.

And finally, to make sure you can see everything come night time, a head torch is essential. Head torches are categorised by lumens, which is the amount of light they provide. Two hundred lumens is plenty and would only set you back about $30. Another budget tip: Your head torch can also double as a camp lantern. Wrap it around a water bottle to use it as a table light while you’re cooking, and hang it from the inside top of your tent to act as a ‘ceiling light’ while you’re tucking into bed.

Under $650: A bit more to spend and need some creature comforts

If you’ve covered off the above items and still have a bit more to spend to make your camping trip a comfortable one, grab a camping table and chairs. You can get tables from as little as $30 and decent chairs from as little as $20, and having them ensures you’ve got a comfy spot to read a book and eat your dinner.

If you’re camping somewhere with cooler weather or tend to get cold easily, you can also invest in a sleeping bag liner. They increase the effectiveness of your sleeping bag, keeping you warm and toasty, and start from around $90.

If you don’t want to forgo your morning brew, get yourself gas cannister andcamping stove, which act like your regular kitchen stove-top, just much more lightweight. Pop your favourite ground coffee beans in to astove-top coffee maker, and you’ll have freshly brewed coffee in less than five minutes. If you pack a saucepan from home, you can also use the camping stove to boil water for a cup of tea or for cooking dinner by your tent.

Finally, if the thought of being disconnected leaves you a bit anxious, you can also choose to invest in a power bank to ensure your phone doesn’t run out of charge on your camping trip. Good quality ones that hold more power and thus more charge can be a bit more expensive, but you can find some models for as little as $30.

Under $2,000: Big budget and need total comfort

If you want to camp in comfort, then a slightly bigger tent will be the first thing to tick off your list - you can comfortably stand up, making it much easier to change in and out of clothing, as well as having extra room to store all your gear. Some have an awning at the front so you can relax under the shade, feature heavy duty PVC floor to keep you comfortable at night time and are waterproof – just in case you stumble into some rain. Plus, if you get one with an instant aluminium frame, it basically sets itself up in about 30 seconds.

True comfort means not having to pee in the bush, so get yourself a portable toilet. Depending on how comfortable you’d like to be, you can get a basic foldable camping loo for as little as $35, or a proper toilet complete with flush for $130. And if you want to add some privacy, get yourself a pop-up ensuite to enclose it in – they can be set up in seconds and will set you back about $90.

While you’re setting up your camping bathroom, you can also grab a camping shower, so you can have a legitimate shower in the wilderness.

If you want to cook in comfort, you can invest in a few primo cooking items instead of the basic camping stove attachment mentioned above. A Jetboil is an attachment for your gas bottle that can boil two cups of water in under two minutes, and will set you back about $210. You can also get yourself a portable espresso maker for $110 to save you time and effort with your morning coffee.

For cooking your dinners, you can grab a portable stove or camping barbeque. And if you’d rather not take your everyday pots, pans, crockery and cutlery into the wilderness, you can get a cooking pack that includes a large pot, two plates and two cups for around $170, and camping cutlery sets for around $7.

To keep all your cooking ingredients cool, swap out the esky mentioned above with a camping fridge - the more affordable ones start at around $70 and will keep ice frozen for up to 10 days. If you’re planning a longer camping trip, there are USB or solar-powered options from about $690 complete with an app for you to set the temperature from your smartphone.

And finally, if you’ve got a bit of budget left, invest in a good quality, rechargeable camping light. Some can boast a whopping 600 lumens, have several light panels you can pull out and use as flashlights, with each panel having a built-in magnet - so you can stick them to your car or any metal surface when you need both hands free.

Prefer comfort over camping?

RAC members get exclusive discounts at our nine holiday parks and resorts in iconic locations across WA.*

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*Terms and conditions apply. RAC member discount not applicable on already discounted rates. Discounts available on direct bookings only made online or via phone. Visit our Parks & Resorts website for more information.

Last updated: February 2020

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts


I am an expert enthusiast in camping and outdoor activities. I have extensive firsthand experience in planning and executing camping trips, and I'm well-versed in the gear and equipment necessary for different camping experiences. My knowledge is backed by a deep understanding of camping essentials, budget considerations, and the importance of comfort during outdoor adventures.

Camping Gear Concepts

Camping Essentials: Regardless of budget or desired comfort levels, there are basic necessities that ensure a good camping experience. These include general supplies, bathroom supplies, cooking supplies, and dishwashing supplies. These items are essential for a successful and environmentally respectful camping trip [[1]].

Budget Considerations: The article discusses camping gear options based on different budget ranges, including under $400, under $650, and under $2,000. It emphasizes that the quality of gear can vary based on budget, but there are options available for different price points [[2]].

Tent Selection: The article highlights the importance of selecting a tent based on the camping location and climate. It suggests that for mild climates, a slightly cheaper tent with ventilation flaps for air-flow or the ability to sleep under the mesh on warm nights may suffice. Additionally, using a tarp underneath the tent is recommended for insulation and cleanliness [[3]].

Sleeping Gear: The article provides insights into selecting sleeping gear, including sleeping mats or mattresses, sleeping bags, and the importance of considering the temperature rating of the sleeping bag based on the camping location. It also suggests using a head torch for visibility during the night [[4]].

Creature Comforts: For those with a bit more to spend, the article recommends investing in camping tables and chairs, sleeping bag liners, gas canisters, camping stoves, and power banks for electronic devices. These additions enhance comfort during the camping trip [[5]].

Total Comfort Experience: For individuals seeking a total comfort camping experience, the article suggests investing in a larger tent with additional features such as an awning, heavy-duty PVC floor, and instant aluminum frame. It also recommends portable toilets, pop-up ensuites, camping showers, premium cooking items, camping fridges, and high-quality rechargeable camping lights [[6]].


I hope this information provides a comprehensive understanding of the concepts related to camping gear discussed in the article. Whether it's selecting essential items, considering budget options, or aiming for a total comfort experience, the right gear can significantly enhance the enjoyment of a camping trip. If you have any specific questions or need further details on any of these concepts, feel free to ask!

Camping essentials: Everything you need for your first time (2024)
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