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12 camping essentials for fall

Here are the things you need for an easy weekend vacation

senior couple camping
Photo (c) AzmanJaka - Getty Images

Now is the time to take full advantage of the cool weather to get out and explore. Even if you've never camped before, you can have a fantastic experience with just a little bit of gear and some preparation. Below are some of our favorite camping essentials to get ready for a few nights away from it all.

1. Quality tent

Let’s start with the obvious — the tent is important, especially if you’re camping in the fall. We like that the Marmot Limelight has good wind protection and steep walls. Depending on where you use it, it could be suitable through the winter.

marmot limelight tent
Photo (c) Backcountry
  • Waterproof floor
  • Built-in mesh to keep bugs out

Buy on Backcountry

2. Camping chairs and table

A good table makes for more convenient cooking, card games and happy hours. In addition to camping, you can use it for tailgating, cookouts or any other occasion that calls for a convenient outdoor setup.

thule tepui camp lounge kit
Photo (c) Backcountry
  • Chairs have built-in cup holders
  • Includes adjustable-height bamboo table

Buy on Backcountry

3. Cozy sleeping bag

There’s nothing better than snuggling into your sleeping bag after a full day of outdoor adventures. We like that this Rogue bag has a durable cotton-canvas shell on the outside and a soft cotton-flannel lining on the inside.

rogue expedition sleeping bag
Photo (c) Bass Pro
  • Suitable for year-round camping
  • Attached straps and buckles

Buy on Bass Pro

4. Pocket knife

A reliable blade comes in handy dozens of times over a day of camping. If you can, bring a good multitool with at least a knife and scissors. We like that this Leatherman comes with those and more, including bottle and can openers, a screwdriver and wire cutters.

leatherman pocket knife
Photo (c) Amazon
  • Stainless steel with nylon sheath
  • 25-year warranty

Buy on Amazon

5. Compass or map

Even if you bring your smartphone, it’s a good idea to have a compass or map on you. You can find a quality compass for around $20 or less, but we like how the pocket compass below has a little more style. You could get it as a gift if you’re camping with a sweetheart. That way, they have a sentimental reminder of your trip together.

brunton vintage pocket compass
Photo (c) Backcountry
  • Swivel-style lid and mirror
  • Classic turn-of-the-century design

Buy on Backcountry

6. Firestarter

If there’s not a fire, are you even really camping? We like that Western Red Hot Fire Starters are made with food-grade wax and dried hardwood sawdust. They’re suitable to use for campfires and wood stoves for cooking. Whatever you do, just don’t forget the campfire safety rules.

western red hot fire starters
Photo (c) Bass Pro
  • Includes 4 starters per pack
  • Safe, convenient and nontoxic

Buy on Bass Pro

7. Versatile light source

A lantern or flashlight is handy to have to light up your campsite at night and during early mornings before sunrise. Just remember to stock up on fuel or batteries.

We like that the Goal Zero Lighthouse battery can be charged by USB, hand crank or solar panels (not included). You can also use the USB port to charge small electronics.

goal zero lighthouse lantern
Photo (c) Bass Pro
  • Provides up to 400 lumens
  • Collapsible legs and built-in handle

Buy on Bass Pro

8. Water bottle and extra water

Even as the temperature gets cooler, it’s important to stay hydrated. Bring at least 1 gallon per person for each day you plan to camp.

We like that this Hydro Flask is made with a slip-free design that’s easy to hold while hiking. You can also use it to carry coffee and other beverages. It keeps liquids cold for up to 24 hours or hot up to 12 hours.

hydro flask water bottle
Photo (c) Backcountry
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Available in a variety of colors

Buy on Backcountry

9. Toiletries and meds

Nature can get dirty, sweaty and sticky. That’s part of the fun, but you don’t want to be totally uncomfortable over your weekend getaway. Be sure to bring toilet paper, a toothbrush, toothpaste and any over-the-counter or prescription medications you’ll need while you’re gone. Combat Wipes are an excellent multipurpose cleansing cloth that you can use on your face and body.

combat wipes
Photo (c) Amazon
  • Eco-friendly and 100% biodegradable
  • Made with natural aloe and vitamin E

Buy on Amazon

10. Insect repellent

Don’t underestimate what a nuisance mosquitoes can be into the late summer and early fall; those pesky buggers are enough to ruin your weekend. A good insect repellent can help keep your campsite free of pests.

sawyer insect repellent
Photo (c) Bass Pro
  • Odorless spray for clothes, tents and bags
  • Repels mosquitoes, ticks and more

Buy on Bass Pro

11. Camp cookware

Even a simple camp cookware set can make your meals a lot more interesting with soups, steaks and coffee. The GSI cookware set below comes with a pot, frypan, strainer lid, two mugs, two bowls, two tops and a folding pot gripper. The welded stuff sack can also double as a sink.

backpacker cookware set
Photo (c) Backcountry
  • Durable, scratch-resistant aluminum
  • Lightweight plastic is dishwasher safe

Buy on Backcountry

12. First-aid kit

Sure, this one might seem like a no-brainer -- but don’t forget to pack a first-aid kit for the scratches, falls and other minor scrapes that will inevitably come with a weekend camping trip.

adventure medical kit
Photo (c) Bass Pro
  • Good for 1 to 2 people
  • Lightweight and waterproof

Buy on Bass Pro

group of friends hiking
Photo (c) Viktorcvetkovic - Getty Images

Getting out of the house might seem like a lot of work, but a weekend camping trip might be exactly what you need to recharge. Whether you want to do some hiking, go fishing or just hang out, now is the time to take full advantage of the new season.

Check out our tips for glamping if you like the idea of nature but want to spice it up with a few more amenities.

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