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12 tent camping equipment essentials for new campers

When I was a kid, my parents took me and my brothers tent camping often. Tent camping is when you pack up your car with camping equipment and supplies, then drive to your campsite. (See my article about 5 types of camping.) My wife and I introduced our kids to camping in 2019 and they loved it. My middle child said, “Let’s sell the house and live at the campground!” Below is my list for 12 tent camping equipment essentials for new campers.

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1. Tent

Obviously, the first piece of equipment that you need to go tent camping is a tent. When I was a kid, the tents were heavy and cumbersome to assemble. Today, tents are light and some assemble in minutes. Below are some quick set up tents that have high review ratings (4 stars or more) to consider. Note, I camp in a travel trailer now, so I don’t have first hand knowledge of using the tents below. But, if I was in the market for camping tents, these two tents would be tents that I would buy because they are reasonably priced and advertise quick set up time.

Coleman Dome Tent with Screen Room | Evanston Camping Tent with Screened-In Porch

Per the manufacturer, enjoy the great outdoors without the bugs inside the Coleman Evanston 8-Person Tent with Screen Room. Great for car camping and extended camping trips, this spacious tent offers enough room for 2 queen-size airbeds and is designed to set up in under 15 minutes thanks to snag-free, continuous pole sleeves and Insta-Clip pole attachments. The tent’s WeatherTec system features patented welded floors and inverted seams to keep the rain off you and your gear; a rainfly is included for extra weather protection. Extended awnings let you keep the windows open for enhanced air circulation without letting in the rain. The tent also comes with a separate screened-in room for extra ventilation, covered storage for your gear, or an extra sleeping area on warmer, dry nights. Remove the included rainfly to let in more sunlight through the mesh roof on dry days or to gaze up at the stars on dry nights.

Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent – 14′ x 9′ –

Per the manufacturer, it is a 14’ X 9’ floor plan can sleep 9 adults in sleeping bags not counting additional gear. It can also sleep fewer campers with lots of luggage. Advanced vents draw cool air in from adjustable air intake vents on the ground and allows hot air to escape through a large mesh ceiling. Enjoy views of the sky through oversized mesh ceiling panels and know that if it starts to rain, we’ve got you covered. With extra wide, thick tape that is heat sealed to the rainfly fabric, wind and rain don’t stand a chance.

2. Tarp

When I use to go tent camping, I always placed a tarp on the ground under the tent to protect my tent floor from being punctured from a stick or rock. Below are some tarps that have high review ratings (4 stars or more) to consider:

AmazonBasics Waterproof Camping Tarp – Multi-purpose outdoor tarp, waterproof, rust-resistant grommets, measures 10 by 12 feet and backed by an AmazonBasics one-year limited warranty.

Link to purchase:

B-Air Grizzly Tarps – Large multi-purpose, waterproof, heavy duty poly tarp cover. Blue, 5 mil thick, 10 x 14 Feet.

Link to purchase:

3. Sleeping bags and pads

As I mentioned previously, my family camps in a trailer, so we don’t use sleeping bags and pads. When I was young, my parents only took us tent camping so I understand the importance having a well insulated sleeping bag and comfortable sleeping pad. Below are some sleeping bags and pads that have high review ratings (4 stars or more) to consider:

DreamGenius Sleeping Bag – Advertised as waterproof and washable, measures (74+12) L * 29 W inches,  comfortable temperature range: 43 – 72 degrees fahrenheit, ideal for three season and has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. 

Link to purchase:

Oaskys Camping Sleeping Bag – Advertised as a 3 season warm and cool weather sleeping bag (Summer, Spring, Fall), lightweight, waterproof, for adults and kids.

Link to purchase:

HIKENTURE Backpacking Sleeping Pad – Advertised as having an upgraded design that ensures better air circulation inside and supportive loft design for comfort in any sleep position. Material is effective against leaks, is waterproof, and wear and slip resistant.  Designed with a unique valve, allows for a quick inflation and deflation.  Offers a full money back guarantee for 90 days and warranty for an entire year.

Link to purchase:

Stoiked Self Inflating Sleeping Pad – Advertised as self inflating, measures 72 inches long, abrasion resistant, waterproof and a lifetime warranty.

Link to purchase:

4. Camping chairs

You can’t go camping without comfortable and durable camping chairs. You’ll use them to sit down to eat meals, hang out during the day, sit around the campfire, etc. I purchased MAC sports camping chairs probably 20 years ago, but I was not able to find my MAC sports chairs online. So, below are some camping chairs that I purchased over the past couple of years and have been happy with:

Coleman Camp Chair – It is a camping chair with a 4-Can Cooler, cup holder, side pocket, strong steel frame, cushioned seat and back. Coleman touts the “4-Can Cooler” feature, but for me I feel its selling points are that is feels comfortable and sturdy.

Specifications per Manufacturer:

Dimensions: 8.1 x 37.6 x 9.1 inches

Weight: 8.8 Pounds

Weight Capacity: 325 Pounds

Link to purchase –

ALPS Mountaineering Escape Camp Chair – This is a reclining camping chair that I purchased in 2019. If you like to relax and recline like I do, then I recommend this chair for you. It’s relatively light and comfortable, has a powder-coated steel frame, footrest, adjustable armrests and a  shoulder carry bag.

Specifications per Manufacturer:

Dimensions: 32.5″ W x 17″ D x 41.5″ H

Weight: 10 lbs.

Weight Capacity: 225 lbs.

Link to purchase:

5. Camping Stove

Your camping stove is extremely important because the right stove can help you to cook your meals thoroughly and fast, and in sufficient quantities. When I started looking for a camping stove, I noticed comments in reviews about issues with lack of proper heating of pans, lack of range of flame for different cooking temperatures, inability to stay lit under windy conditions (like near the beach), and an inability to handle two 12 inch pans at the same time. So, I used these review comments as my guidelines when searching for a stove.

It was very difficult to find a camping stove that addressed all of these issues, but I finally did and my family has been using the stove since 2019 and have not had any issues or regrets. The stove is the Eureka Ignite Plus 2-Burner Camp Stove. See my real life review of the Eureka Ignite Plus 2-Burner Camp Stove, click here.

Link to Purchase –

6. LED camping lights: lantern, work lights, and stands.

When I was a kid, my family used the 1 lb propane lanterns because they were much brighter than battery powered lanterns. But, they were made of metal and glass and very heavy. They were not ideal for packing and travel.

Now, because of advances in technology, electric LED lights have superior light output, are all plastic, light and easy for packing and travel. We use two different types of LED lights.

First are camping lanterns, we’ve been using for the past year provide a lot of light and we haven’t had any issues with them: LitezAll 2000 Lumen Camping Lantern. Below are some pictures:

Low light setting that I use around the campfire so no one trips.
High light setting for dinners at night at the picnic table.

The lantern has five selectable brightness modes give you a range of brightness from 50 to max 2000 lumens.  In the 50 lumen “night light” mode, LitezAll states up to 115 hours of light (using alkaline batteries), we haven’t tested this claim because we usually have it in the 2000 lumens mode. 

It’s made of white ABS plastic and includes a clear light reflector. Also, the flip up carry handle has a convenient built-in retractable hanging hook. Measurements are 13″ H x 6.5″ W s 6.5″ D (light reflector).  Links to purchase are below.

LitezAll 2000 Lumen Camping Lantern –

Don’t forget to buy “D” batteries. Each LitezAll lantern requires 4 D batteries.

Second, we use work lights. Work lights are typically used by construction workers and they are flood lights. They are best used when you want “daylight” level brightness and I find them useful when cooking. See my picture below.

Work light hanging from a lantern stand.
Work light lighting up cooking area.

See my in depth review of the Sanlinkee LED Rechargeable Work Light, click here. See link below to purchase:

Sanlinkee LED Rechargeable Work Light –

We decided to buy lantern stands because having the lantern elevated allowed the light to be distributed better than when the lanterns were placed on a table. We purchased the Coleman Lantern Stand and it’s worked out great for us, we haven’t had any issues. Links to purchase are below. We also use the stands to hang the work lights and to hold our outdoor shower hose sprayer, see picture below.

Coleman Lantern Stand –

7. Flashlights

When my wife and I started camping with our kids in early 2019, I purchased the cheap multicolored aluminum LED flashlights. I purchased them for 20 for $24. What I learned during our first camping trip was that you get what you pay for. These flashlights started breaking and not working after first use. Nothing worse than your flashlight going out on you when you’re walking in the dark. So, my wife did some research and purchased a 3 pack of Duracell Durabeam Ultra LED Flashlight 500 Lumens. These flashlights are much more substantial and rugged, and much brighter. We’ve been happy with them so far and would recommend without reservation! Links to purchase are below.

Duracell Durabeam Ultra LED Flashlight –

8. Wood splitting axe

Usually campgrounds don’t allow you to forage for firewood, but you can bring your own or purchase at the campground. We typically buy firewood at the campground because it is so bulky and heavy. Firewood usually comes in the form of logs that are around 18-24 inches long and around 6-8 inches thick.

When you start a fire, you need kindling because the logs discussed above typically won’t catch fire from a match, lighter or newspaper. So, I use my axe to create kindling and smaller logs. Smaller logs catch fire faster and burn more intensely that larger thicker logs.

As a result, a quality axe is important. You’ll want an axe that weighs enough so your muscles do less work and ultimately reduces fatigue and accidents. Also, you’ll want an axe that is well made and won’t fall apart after first or second use, otherwise you may get injured while using. Always remember to wear protective eyewear when chopping wood.

We purchased a Collins Splitting Axe to create kindling and smaller logs. The axe has worked out well for us and I would recommend it without reservations. For my real life review of the Collins Splitting Axe, click here. Links to purchase are below.

Collins Splitting Axe –

9. Shovel

It’s a good idea to have a shovel for tasks like emptying ash from a fire pit or removing a rock protruding from the ground. We purchased a Camco Portable Folding Shovel. Camco makes a lot of RV accessories, so we purchased the Camco Portable Folding Shovel because of our good experience with their other products. We haven’t had any issues and would recommend to others. Links to purchase are below.

Camco Portable Folding Shovel –

10. Cooler (ice chest)

When we started camping, we used a lower end cheap cooler. But, we noticed that the cheap cooler didn’t keep the ice very long, usually the ice melted in a day or less. So, I did some research on heavy duty coolers that kept ice solid for many days. We landed on the Lifetime cooler brand because they were relatively affordable and they kept the ice solid for our 2-3 day camping trips. They also have a lockable lid to keep people and animals out and it allows me to secure ice chest with a cord so someone doesn’t walk away with our cooler. Check out my real life review of the Lifetime cooler, click here.

Links to purchase:

28 quart cooler –

77 quart cooler –

11. Portable folding tables

We use two portable folding tables for cooking, they are usually around 4 feet by 2 feet. We set our camping stove, other utensils, seasoning and raw food on our portable table when preparing meals. Most campgrounds have picnic tables for dining and when there are no picnic tables we usually sit in our camping chairs to eat. Below is a portable table that has high review ratings (4 stars or more) to consider:

Lifetime 4428 Height Adjustable Camping Table – Advertised as an all purpose table constructed of powder-coated steel and high-density polyethylene plastic.  4 feet long, 2 feet wide.  Folds in half for easy storage.  Height settings: 24″, 29″ and 36″.  Weighs 19 lbs. Links to purchase are below.

Lifetime 4428 Height Adjustable Camping Table

12. Collapsible garbage can

You could tie a garbage bag to a tree, but we found some campsites don’t have a tree close by or in a convenient location. So, we found having a collapsible garbage can we could move to desired locations helpful. And, at night you can zip it closed and put on top of a table or even hang from a tree to keep the critters out. We purchased the Stansport Collapsible Campsite Carry-All/Trash Can in 2019 and it’s worked out great for us, no issues. Links to purchase are below.

Stansport Collapsible Campsite Carry-All/Trash Can –

Other Equipment You May Want to Consider

PAXCESS Rockman 120W/18V Foldable Solar Panel Review

TackLife P50 Portable Power Station Review

Tacklife P16 Power Station

BigBlue 28W Solar Phone Charger Review

Penn Pursuit III Reel & Rod Combo Review

Hike Crew Advanced Portable Toilet Review

Stromberg Carlson Stake and Grille Review

A-iPower SUA2000i Portable Inverter Generator Review

TEROMAS Tire Inflator Air Compressor Review

Hike Crew Advanced Portable Toilet Review

Hope you found my list for 12 tent camping equipment essentials for new campers helpful! Happy camping!

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Be sure to check out my blog post: Planning for your first tent camping trip: 10 tips

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