When I camp overnight I have several items I like to pack to keep myself safe and comfortable outdoors. Thanks to the fact that I have camped overnight many times already, I have a bit of an idea on what conditions to expect at different times of the year. This will help you greatly when planning your overnight camping trip. The time of year of your overnight experience will determine a lot of what you may or may not need.

To make it simple, I have broken down the overnight camping needs into a handful of simple categories. They are as follows: clothing, shelter, food, water, comfort items and anything else you may need. I’ll break them down further for you below.

Clothing

As I mentioned above, the time of year will have a great deal to do with what you pack. This is particularly true with clothing. You want to have the right items to keep you warm during your hike as well as when you bed down for the night. However, you also don’t want to overdress as it may impact your daytime activities. Here are the items I would pack as clothing to camp overnight.

Three Layers of Clothing – A base, mid and outer layer. By dressing in layers you can add or subtract clothing easily depending on your needs. The base layer is your lightweight underwear. The mid-layer is your insulating layer. This can be shirts and pants that are made of lightweight by insulating fabrics. The outer layer could range from a light windbreaker all the way up to a heavy parka, depending on the season of your camping trip.

Don’t Forget – Pack extras just in case. It should include fresh underwear at the very least. This means extra socks, a hat or two, gloves, sunglasses, and naturally, a change of clothes if you can pack it into wherever you are going.

Shelter

Even if you think you can sleep on a small patch of grass and use a rock as a pillow, there are better ways of spending the night under the stars. Think weather and you should consider that although how nice the day was when you got there, it could get wet overnight. Here are the essentials I pack for shelter.

Tent/Tarp – Either of these can make a great shelter to protect you from wind and rain (or snow). There are many lightweight models to choose from that roll up and take hardly any space to haul into camp. I like the Emergency Shelter Tent as recommended by Giftwits.

Sleeping Bag/Pad – Again, lightweight is the rule of thumb but don’t let that fool you. You can still find a great deal of comfort in even the lightest of bags/pads. Think insulating properties that will trap your body heat and you’ll be golden.

Food

This is the most important part of your packing regimen. You can’t depend on the flora to keep you fully satisfied while camping. This means that you need to plan your meals around how long you plan to be camping and the amount of activity you intend to include in that excursion. Here’s what I do:

Meals – plan a cookable breakfast, a cold lunch, and a cookable supper. Even if the best you can put together is MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) all you have to do with many is just add hot water, stir, and you instantly have a hot breakfast or dinner.

Snacks – You will need some high protein, easy to store and eat snacks to fill those holes between your three main meals.

Don’t Forget – Cooking essentials (dishes, utensils, cups, cookstove (and fuel), storage containers for your food (animal-proof).

Water

As important as food is for your overnight camping experience, water will keep you hydrated and prevent you from becoming worn out from the elements. You can pack in bottles of water or use a water purifier at any source of water you come across on your hiking trip. Regardless of your choice, the Kool8 Water Bottle is the perfect hiking companion. Not only is the water bottle durable, but it also has a double-walled construction that will keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot for hours. That can make a real difference on any hike. Plus, they come in stylish designs and can easily be attached to your backpack.

Comfort Items

There is no doubt that what you may consider comfort items are likely going to differ from what I consider them to be. But that’s okay. Here is a shortlist of those extras I like to pack when I hike.

  • Sunblock/Sunscreen
  • CBD Oil
  • Bandana
  • Biodegradable hand soap/toilet paper
  • Small shovel/multi-tool
  • Headlamp (with fully charged batteries and spare batteries)
  • First-aid supplies (a basic kit with bandages will do)
  • Something to read like a pocketbook
  • Fishing pole and assorted supplies (only if you intend to fish for your dinner)
  • Camera
  • Fully charged cell phone (in case you find a signal and need emergency help)
  • Bear spray

In Conclusion

There’s a reason why the Boy Scouts’ motto is “Be Prepared”: because when you are prepared, regardless of what you are getting prepared for, you are better equipped to deal with whatever situation comes your way. Overnight camping is a fine example of how you can benefit by being prepared. Camping overnight in the wilderness means you will not have access to the comforts you are accustomed to having at home.

However, if you pack smartly and logically, you will not only be able to enjoy your overnight camping trip a lot more, you will learn the value of being prepared. I trust that my list of gear to pack gives you at least a better idea of what is required to stay warm and comfortable hiking and camping in one of Washington State’s premier outdoor venues.