Packing up for a camping trip is a massive chore. You practically need to go ahead and pack up your entire house, most specifically your garage and kitchen. After all, you are preparing the live in the wilderness over the course of however many days. For most campers, this means preparing and cooking all of your meals. For those staying in hotels, this is rarely the case. Hotel trips usually consist of a lot of eating out and it’s easy to get by just packing a duffel bag. Not when you are camping though. You are going to be chopping wood, building fires, setting up tents and tarps, preparing your meals, etc. You have to be prepared. While there are a number of items that need to be on your packing list, for this post I am just going to focus on those must-have, can’t-live-without items that I would have been lost without on our last camping trip. If there is anything you accidentally leave behind, make sure it is not any of these items.

The first thing on your list should be an outdoor cooler of some sort, preferably a large one. I prefer a Yeti cooler because they are sure to keep your foods and beverages cold for days on end. While they aren’t cheap, they are super worth it and you can often find some yeti coolers on sale. Without a cooler, you are pretty much s*** out of luck. You are stuck with nothing to keep your food refrigerated and nothing to keep your beer cold. If you plan to do any hunting or fishing, obviously your catch will need to be kept on ice. If you forget this item, you might as well turn around and head back home for find a Walmart nearby where you can pick one up.

Another item that may seem silly to most but I never leave without is a box of sanitizing/baby wipes. And no, this just isn’t for the women and children. When you find yourself out in the middle of nowhere without toilet paper, you will be thankful for having some wipes on hand. When showers aren’t an option, your baby wipes will leave you feeling powdery fresh. When running water is nonexistent and you’ve had your hands all over chicken breasts that you’re preparing for dinner, you can clean off that salmonella with the help of your sanitizing wipes. Over and over again, you will reach for those wipes and be so thankful that these were on the top of your packing list.

While this may go without saying, a large skillet is essential for any camping trip. How else are you going to cook your food? Unless you have grills available for use at the campground, you will be eating beans straight from the can if you leave this item at home. A skillet is the perfect cooking utensil. Whether you are frying up some bacon and eggs in the morning, or sautéing some peppers and onions to douse on your hotdogs, no camp meal is complete without the use of a skillet. While any skillet is recommended, having an extra large skillet is even better so that you can be cooking multiple items simultaneously rather than only one part of your meal at a time.

You might think this only applies to the ladies, but you’d be surprised how many men find the whole idea of dry shampoo completely irresistible. Yes, dry shampoo. You can wash your hair without ever actually getting it wet. If you have that really fine hair that gets greasy in just a day, or that wild and crazy afro hair that is nearly impossible to control, get yourself a bottle of dry shampoo from your local salon or Walmart. Dry shampoo was my lifesaver while camping when we had no showers or way to wash our hair. Baby wipes are great for a quick wash of the body, but what about that hair of yours? Simply spray some dry shampoo in there, work it in there with your fingers, let it dry a little bit, and then brush it through. Poof! Your hair is like new. It’s a miracle.

Think you’re ready for your trip yet? There is just one thing you forgot. Bug spray. You NEED this item like you’ve never needed anything ever before. If you are in the wilderness, there will be mosquitoes. They are practically everywhere these days, and one thing that can quickly ruin your time is being eaten alive by these blood-sucking pests. Bring some sort of mosquito repellent, whether its actually a spray you put on your body, a citronella candle, some concoction you found on Pinterest, etc. Just make sure it works. And make sure it is packed away.