10 Must-Haves for Beginner Campers


They say to survive you need three things: food water and shelter. And when it comes to travel, we’ve mastered the art of efficiency and basically following the same guidelines that I do with writing – KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Don’t take everything including the kitchen sink, just know what essentials are necessary. Here are my eight must-have components to going camping/hiking/into the great outdoors. Plus, they’re just good to have on-hand – for anything, like a go-bag, or if the electric goes out for days…. or the heat! You get it – these essentials will have you (somewhat) prepped for surprise circumstances.



You need somewhere to sleep, but why carry and set all that up? Unless you like sleeping under the stars (I prefer at LEAST a liner between me and bugs at night). Have them do it for you. These are already pre-set camping sites on private land and they are BEA-UUUU-TIFUL. Really all you need to bring with you is a blanket and you’re set. If you really want to get close to nature but don’t have the space to own a tent (or want to carry and assemble) this is brilliant. 

Don’t believe me? Just see my recent TENTRR trip to the Catskills here



You need to stay warm, and this is the most light weight, easy to carry that will keep you toasty through a cold night blanket there is. It’s also water-resistant, folds up into a tiny, light, portable ball and get this – it’s good for indoors and outdoors. That means it’s good for tailgating, picnics, camping, sofa tents, balcony cuddles and beyond. It’s our multi-purpose blanket and we love it. PS – There’s a reason we got the black one. #steelernation AND even bought a second one (cause we’re bona-fide tree huggers). 



That’s dirt and waterproof – as a mom of a toddler, this is a godsend. I even took this with me on a beach trip with three – THREE boys. From salt water to sand, this thing withstood the elements. Actually, I was the worst element – I literally dropped this phone in Lake Champlain in Vermont, and you guess it – it’s still working! I actually use this as my backup phone aka “burner phone.” It’s good to have when you travel that has emergency text and phone plan and wifi. I leave my non-waterproof phone on land. 



Listen, take it from someone who’s been there and anyone who hikes will tell you – don’t go cheap with boots and invest in a great pair. I recommend trying them on – actually go INTO a store and find what’s best. Just like running shoes, they aren’t all one size fits all. You will learn what you like – a higher ankle support, more toe room, etc. These OBOZ are like walking in pillows. I can hike for miles and miles everyday and not get a blister or sore feet. That’s what you want to feel like at the end of the day.

Just remember to take them WITH you. Nothing was worse than arriving on top of Smuggler’s Notch, opening the trunk and realizing I left then back in the hotel. Face palm. 



Water is the most important element of them all, so you want something that can carry A LOT. I love the large size of these plus HELLO EFFICIENT! IT’s a roller. There is nothing better than knowing you can roll out those tired legs and back after a hiking trip at the end of the day. Bonus – IT FLOATS! So yes, take this with you in the kayak – it won’t sink to the bottom of the river like your Ray Bans (true story).



If you are a doomsday prepper, get anxiety from your phone dying and being disconnected from the world, or just like to have a way to charge your electronics besides the vehicle in the great outdoors, this will change your life. This can charge two different devices at once as long as it’s in sunlight (read – cloudy days aren’t good for your phone life). You can even strap it on your backpack and charge WHILE you’re hiking. And if the great blackout of NYC happens again, well, let’s say – you won’t be without your Facebook access.


Okay, I probably rank this right behind water because bugs LOVE ME. They love me so much I basically wear a layer of bug spray year round even when I’m walking in Times Square (roaches stay clear!). Okay, maybe not that bad, but you want a solid bug spray you can depend on. You also don’t want chemicals you don’t need soaking into your body. We all know deet isn’t the best but it deters – but this Guardian bug spray is my saving grace. It is deet-free, doesn’t smell bad, isn’t sticky and it puts a full protection layer up against anything trying to bite me that even bubble boy could use it. Trust me, I’ve had deer flies for days swarm me on hikes and those bad boys know better than to land. Come home itch-free.


Something has to carry all your crap. So do your research on this too – find something that is comfortable on your back but holds everything you need. Make sure it has room to hold a water bottle or you strap one on without it swinging and annoying you. Make sure it’s waterproof. There are lots of options out there, but I have two favorites. My go-to Fjallraven Kanken (listen I know it’s hipster, but it was made in Sweden by a guy who NEEDED a hiking bag years ago – you know that shit stands up to the elements). Another I love is Alpine because they’re super lightweight and waterproof.


Photo Jul 29, 2 12 00 PM

You guys, I saved this for last because it’s seriously amazing. These little bad boys will allow your phones to work – OFF THE GRID. Basically you install an app, and you can “chat” with people who also have the app/MESH in a five-mile radius. So if you get lost, or your son wanders off the trail, you can find him. You can even join the public group chat too – so if you’re really lost, you can reach out to others with devices in the area. Or just to say meet up for a beer. They also allow for mapping to still activate without ANY CELL SERVICE. Trust me, I have put these to the test miles away from any cell towers and we were able to communicate with each other and pin point our locations. Sometimes technology really is a game changer for the better. 

10. Other little things to keep on hand:

Listen, you are never going to be fully prepared for anything, you just can’t carry a five-star resort around with you, so know what it is that YOU need. Personally, I love my morning coffee, so I love to carry a couple little Starbucks VIA in my book bag so I can just boil water and get my fix. As you get out more, you’ll realize what you need and what you wish you had, but here are just a few other little items you might want to add into your Amazon cart:

Ready to go hiking? See my latest trip to the Catskills here for an inside look at me actually using these products.

Disclosure: Some of these products have affiliate links AND some products I was sent to test out personally. These mentioned above did pass my camping test, and all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Football Food and Motherhood.

By | 2017-11-18T05:59:49+00:00 August 10th, 2017|activities, Brand collaboration, Favorite Things, Going Green, Motherhood, things to do, top products, Travel, What's New|Comments Off on 10 Must-Haves for Beginner Campers

About the Author:

Stephanie Barnhart is an award-winning blogger, columnist, and outdoor enthusiast writer featured in the Huffington Post, New York Times and other media outlets. She is also the NYC Editor for MommyNearest.com.