A single night of camping can be a great way to take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It’s also easier to pack for a shorter trip and you’ll have less set up to do once you reach your campsite. Knowing exactly what to bring camping for one night is a fine art in itself.
When camping for only one night, you’ll want to bring food, water, toiletries, a change of clothes, a tent, and a sleeping bag at the minimum. Make sure not to overpack during this trip so that you can make the most of your time without worrying too much about your items.
Read on for some recommended camping essentials for one night of relaxation in the woods.
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What to Bring Camping for One Night?
Here is a cheat sheet that can help you to easily and quickly pack for a single night of camping:
Essential Items for One Night of Camping
- A Tent, Hammock, or Car: You’ll need a shelter to sleep in unless you are experienced with outdoor camping in a sleeping bag. Instant pop-up tents are a great option for quick setup and takedown to save you time on your trip.
- Sleeping Bag & Pillow: You’ll need to choose what type of sleeping bag you want to purchase based on the weather conditions. A pillow is always nice for comfort and support when laying your head down at night.
- Toiletries & a Towel: You’ll need these items if you plan on showering before bed, brushing your teeth, taking care of hygiene needs, or just keeping yourself clean.
- Food: You’ll need to pack everything you plan on eating for your trip, plus any snacks or drinks you might want throughout the day. Try to stick with easy-to-transport items that are lightweight and require little clean-up afterward.
- Water & Food Storage Container: Keeping yourself hydrated is important when camping by carrying water with you and making sure that your food is stored securely in a cooler to avoid animals getting into it.
- Clothes: Bring plenty of layers for warmth throughout the day and night, including socks, hats, gloves/mittens, scarves or face masks (if needed), sweaters, or jackets if required by weather conditions.
- Heat Source for Cooking: If you plan on cooking anything, make sure to bring fire starting supplies, a mess kit with a propane stove, or an electric cooker if electricity is available.
- Lighting & Lanterns: You’ll want to have ample lighting for your campsite at night. The best option for packing lightly is using a headlamp, flashlight, or lantern.
Additional Items to Bring for One Night of Camping
These items aren’t necessary for 24 hours or less in the woods. You can get by with less than you think! However, in case you want to bring more, here are some ideas:
- Cell Phone & Chargers: It’s always best to be safe if you’re camping alone and keeping your cell phone accessible at all times is important in case of an emergency. Bring chargers with you so that it can stay powered up for the duration of your trip.
- First-Aid Kit: Bring a standard first-aid kit with you for any injuries or accidents that might happen. If something is serious, it’s best to contact emergency services instead of trying to handle the situation yourself in case there are complications.
- Toilet Paper & Paper Towels: Bring extra rolls of toilet paper and paper towels for clean-up and other tasks.
- Extra Food & Water: You can never bring too much food and water on your trip if you’re going somewhere further from civilization or for a longer period of time.
- Gear for Activities: If you plan on doing more than just sitting around the campsite by yourself, bring any equipment that you might need for your planned activities. This can include a swimsuit, fishing supplies, or a bike for riding around.
- A Chair: It doesn’t have to be fancy, but having a way of sitting around while you enjoy your time camping is always nice. A small foldable table is a good idea if your campsite doesn’t come with a picnic table.
- A Sleeping Pad: If you plan on using a hammock, this is essential. Otherwise, a sleeping pad is nice to have for comfort and insulation from the ground if sleeping in a tent.
- Bug Repellent & Sunscreen: You’ll want to have these on hand in case the bugs are biting or the sun is too intense.
- A Book or Other Entertainment: You’ll want to have something to keep yourself busy and entertained if the weather isn’t cooperating or you’re just feeling restless. This can be a book, knitting supplies, cards for games with friends, etc.
Efficiency Hacks and Tips for One Night of Camping
These are some general hints about how to be efficient when packing, planning your trip, and getting set up once you arrive.
Use Multi-Purpose Items
If possible, use multi-purpose items instead of bringing several different things that can do the same thing or serve a similar purpose. Some examples of this include a flashlight with a radio built into it, a dish soap that doubles as body wash and shampoo, or a pot that you use for heating water or washing dishes in.
Make a Grab-and-Go Camping Box
It can be a pain to gather all of the small items needed for a camping trip, especially when you’re only going for one night. A great solution and time-saver involves creating a camping box that holds all of your supplies for the trip. This ensures that you only have to pack once and avoid forgetting anything at home.
You’ll include essentials in this bin, such as a headlamp, matches, paper towels, plates, cutlery, a knife, rope, firestarter, a tarp, and a first-aid kit.
You’ll also want to include some miscellaneous items like bug spray, sunscreen, toilet paper, tissues, hand sanitizer, and a lighter.
Each time that you return home from camping, take 10 to 15 minutes to organize your camping bin and clean any dirty items before storing them once more. This way, it’s ready to go for the next trip.
Keep Meals Simple
Cooking meals while camping can take up a tremendous amount of time, space, and energy. When you’re taking an overnight camping trip, it’s best to keep things simple.
Try to prep any of the food you will be bringing on the trip at home. For example, if you want to cook a medley of vegetables on an open fire, cut these up at home and put them in a Ziplock bag or a Tupperware container. Preseason them beforehand to make things even easier.
Take some time to season or marinate any meats that you’ll be bringing in advance as well. This will make it easy to throw them on the grill or on an open fire.
Use Tin Foil
Tinfoil is a wonderful way to prep, cook, and store food while camping. You can wrap up vegetables, meats, fish, and potatoes in tin foil packets to place directly on the grill or inside of the fire. This one item could replace all of your plates, pans, pots, and bowls.
Pack Snacks and Meals for Quick Consumption
If you don’t want to spend too much time cooking, pack some snacks and meals that you can prepare quickly. These include pre-cooked sausages from the supermarket or a bag of trail mix. Fruits such as bananas, apples, and oranges are great snacks that don’t require a cooler or heat source.
Sandwiches are a great option since you can prepare them at home and eat them once you’re ready.
Likewise, salads are another quick meal option that usually only requires the addition of dressing before eating.
Eat Out Beforehand
If you’re not attached to preparing your food at your campsite and are near civilization, consider eating out beforehand or the morning after you leave your campsite.
This will allow you to enjoy a nice, hearty meal and avoid any of the time or energy it takes to cook and clean up after a meal.
Don’t Overpack Clothing
Most people who camp overnight will pack one additional outfit for the morning as well as an extra layer in case it gets cold at night.
However, this isn’t necessary. You can actually wear the same outfit both the night of and the morning after your camping trip. Since you are headed home, you can shower and put on a fresh pair of clothes once you make it back.
Consider Skipping the Campfire
Campfires are often the centerpiece of an evening at the campsite. However, they can be challenging to build, difficult to maintain, and take up a lot of time.
If you’re just camping for one night or prefer that your evening be spent on other activities, consider skipping the campfire.
You could instead enjoy the stars that evening. If you’re in a dark area, not lighting a fire can help to illuminate even more stars in the sky.
Take a Hammock Along
A hammock is a great idea for an overnight camping trip because it can be used as a chair, a sleeping shelter, and a place to store gear.
Since your hammock will be strapped to trees or posts in your campsite, it’s a great way to feel nestled in your environment.
Plan Your Trails or Activities Beforehand
You won’t have much time to plan your trip out once you arrive at the campsite. It’s helpful to have a general idea of where trails are located or what activities you’d like to partake in.
This way, you’ll be able to hit the ground running and get started with your activities right away so you have enough time for them.
Don’t Plan Too Many Activities
In addition to planning your activities in advance, make sure not to plan too many! One or two activities are the best for an overnight trip. One can occur the day you arrive, such as some late afternoon fishing. Then, the following morning, you may choose to wake up early and take a long hike.
Limiting your activities to a couple per day will help you to enjoy them more and ensure that they get done.
If you’re not able to spend several days or a week in the woods, an overnight trip is a great way to get a taste of camping. You’ll be surprised by how much quality time you can get out of a 24-hour trip.
Make sure to pack carefully and make some plans before you head out. You’ll be able to enjoy your time in the woods even more if you spend less of it worrying about what you’re forgetting.