Knives have long been the tool of choice among survivalists for decades. If you have to pick on thing, this is it.
This can quickly make it to the top three things you never leave home without, particularly if you're car camping. Use to light up your tent for a read or dig through your car for that missing item.
Matches or lighter. These are key to starting a fire. Combined with a stove for cooking or kindling and firewood, and you'll be sure to stay warm and fed so long as these guys don't run out.
More: Campfire Starters That Never Fail
. Paper and pen for logging your trip or making notes. As in, "I left for the bathroom" or "do not disturb." You get the idea.
Make sure your cooler is organized
before you leave home. Prepare each meal for the day and place them into a plastic bag, then label accordingly. Sound like too much detail? Try it, then see.
Phone, as in mobile phone.
"That's not camping," some might say. Again, it depends on the type of camping. I've never heard a single complaint from a backpacker who had his phone handy when he needed it.
. Be sure to replenish with more than sodas, candy bars or sweets. Think nuts, dehydrated fruits and berries. Nutrition
is important on the trails.
Bug spray against mosquitoes can make the difference between going outside or not. Pack the brand of your choice, just be sure it comes recommended, as certain varieties simply don't work.
. This means sunscreen and sunglasses. You could also pack long sleeve shirts and pants, depending on the temperature, but a good pair of sunglasses has no substitute.
is a must if you're sleeping outside, though certain times of the year sleeping under the stars is possible.
. You can pack the traditional set, or improvise. Some backpackers swear by the spork, a combination spoon and fork.
. Used to capture those unforgettable moments you'll want to submit for a prize or YouTube views. Advice on bear sightings: make noise, they tend to dislike surprises.
Water. It is more critical than food in terms of survival. Bring your own and pack a filter for cleaning water once you arrive.
More: Hiking and Dehydration
. This cannot be overstated. Pack it with you on hikes and have plenty at the campsite for more hydrating and rinsing-off dishes... and hopefully your teeth, too.
. Yes, even this particular "item" can be forgotten. How? When was the last time you went camping? If your answer is "too long," then this is the most important item on the list.
Zip ties. These are those funky little plastic strips that can be cinched up and used for: repair, attaching items to your pack and creating a loop for attaching things. With this item, attachment is the key.
Find the perfect camping spot.