Minimalist Camping

We live in the city and thoroughly enjoy getting away from the noise and busyness of city life. Camping and fishing is a perfect answer for us!

There are so many cool camping gadgets, that it would be easy to get carried away and have a huge collection.

But really, I wouldn’t even want to go camping if we had all that stuff. Why? Because we’d have to pack the car with it, unpack and set it up at the campsite, take it down, pack it back into the car and then put it away again when we get home. That’s moving a whole lot of stuff 4 separate times! 

Minimalist Camping Equipment:

Tent (We have 1 large for Mom, Dad and little people and 1 dome tent for 3 teenage boys)
1 sleeping mat or air mattress per person
1 sleeping bag per person
1 pillow per person
1 hot dog roasting stick, per person (depending on the area, you may be able to find branches and make your own)
1 fishing pole per person, and tackle (minimal tackle: just what you need, no fancy lures)
Folding chairs or stools (we only have 4 chairs and share or sit on logs/rock)
1 picnic basket (with paper plates, napkins, etc)
1 large cooler
BBQ tongs (for removing foil “ovens” from fire pit)
Camp shovel (Like this one)
Hatchet (Used for cutting wood and hammering in tent pegs)
Bear Spray (If camping in bear country)
First Aid kit
Bug spray/Sunscreen (Click here to find the type I use)
2 Hand towels
1 wash cloth per person
Aluminum Foil
Salt & Pepper
Deodorant (Here is what we use)
All Purpose soap (Campsuds)
Toilet Paper
Clothes for each person

Keep meals as simple as possible.

  • Use paper plates, cups, plastic utensils (paper products can be burned after use, please do not burn plastic, pack it back out and put it in the trash)
  • Aluminum Foil for any cooking. Butter the foil, place food in, make “pockets” and place on grill over the fire pit.
  • For fruits and veggies, pack things that can be easily snacked on: apples, bananas, sliced cucumber, sliced bell peppers, carrots, celery, lettuce & tomatoes.

Example menu:
Breakfast: granola
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: hot dogs or fish

If we go for longer than 1 weekend, food takes a bit more thought, but if we need to cook anything, we put it in foil and lay it on the grill over the fire pit. I’m not generally a fan of aluminum foil, but I don’t wish to have a whole set of camping pots & pans or wash dishes while camping.

We store our sleeping bags and mats in the basement, we use them frequently throughout the year, when we visit friends and family.
The rest of our camping supplies we store in a locker in our garage.

To keep toiletries to a minimum, each person can wash with a bucket of water and their own washcloth. Washing hair when needed. Please avoid taking shampoos, conditioners, body washes, etc. and instead, use an all purpose soap like Campsuds.

I do not keep separate supplies just for camping. For example: for all the cooking supplies, I take from our kitchen and put it back when we get home. Because we use most things at various times of the year, the designated camping-only supplies are: tent, roasting sticks and camp shovel.

I realize this isn’t the most minimal camping equipment list. My husband was in boy scouts, when they would go camping, they would have a knife, a match and an egg. But for me, it’s about enjoying myself, not the challenge of it all. 


About the author, Rachel

Hi there! I’m the Joyful Space Specialist. it’s my desire help others create a joyful space of their own and enjoy their time spent at home.


  1. The Brocks on 07/29/2013 at 2:22 PM
  2. Amy on 06/25/2014 at 9:14 AM

    GREAT article! This type of camping has been my goal since we started camping! Our gear is overwhelming me. The work involved in preparation, packing, set-up, take-down, and put away has robbed much of my joy in camping. (I wonder why!!) My list is massive. I am inspired to rethink it all. I went thrift-shopping and bought an entire 2nd kitchen for our pop-up. Ugh. The pop-up has its own propane stove, but I always pack a second one so I can cook outside! What am I doing to myself? Thanks for sharing your refreshingly simple approach to camping, which really shouldn’t be such a cluttered outing! Got any advice for beach trips and day trips? Please don’t stop writing! I need this encouragement for my family’s sake!

    • Rachel on 06/27/2014 at 2:55 PM

      Oh Amy, that does sound exhausting! I hope you can weed out the items you don’t need so you can find joy in camping again!
      I’m working on the others. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

  3. Susan on 08/15/2014 at 4:32 PM

    lol, that would be too much for us! Camping is the one thing we have always done simply. If its just my hubby and I we have a few wool blankets, matches, and food we can bury in coals or heat on a hot rock, tp, first aid kit, toothbrush, hairbrush (me)….and that’s about it. With kids (ages 14, 5, 2) we add a tent, pillows, marshmallows, and flashlight. Our rule is if you can’t carry it in one trip from the car you shouldn’t bring it 🙂

  4. Garland on 10/09/2014 at 1:43 PM

    I camp lightly.
    Flashlight, sleeping bag with water proof sleeping bag cover, lighter, double blade half ax, large metal cup, 100 feet parachute cord, hammock, pruning shears, wash cloth, tooth brush.
    For food ramen noodles, pastas, dried corn, dried peas. That’s it.

    Flash light, lighter, self explanatory.
    Sleeping bag cover is a bag that you put sleeping bag in and sleep in it instead of a tent, right on the ground.
    Double blade half ax, unless you are really country you might not heard of it.. Two blades, half the size of regular ax. Much better than a hatchet.
    Large metal cup to heat food in.
    Pruning shears or the full size ones that are the two handed jobs. You can survive with just these. You can cut small saplings, limbs, etc and actually build emergency shelters.
    Hammock is a luxury item but very nice to relax.
    Parachute cord mostly for emergencies. Use it to make, build anything. Splints, litters to drag things out, etc.
    Food is simple, dried pastas, ramen noodles, dried veg. I usualy make it my dehydrater. Simple, cheap.
    I always take my ipad with books downloaded on the nook app, with a little battery pack to recharge once.

  5. Seven on 01/27/2015 at 11:18 AM

    I go camping a lot.
    The only idea that I don’t like on your list: discardable utensils and cups. A cheap metal camping set (cup, bowl, cutlery) can be used many, many times. Thus it reduces waste, and saves money.

  6. Gina on 06/19/2017 at 4:16 PM

    Camping is actually what made me realize that we could do without so much stuff. We camp at the beach for a week every year (in a camper). The fact that we can live for a week with the minimal amount of stuff that we keep in our camper made me realize that we have too much stuff. I packed minimally really only bringing what I thought we beeded and we still really brought too many clothes and shoes, toys and even food.

  7. Michelle Davidson on 03/02/2018 at 1:38 AM

    We are trying to become MORE minimalist in our camping. We have a popup and 6 of us filling it gets really full really fast. We use a shampoo bar as our toiletry soap but we do pack in some dishsoap to wash things.
    We will be using some paper plates this time around instead of washing our plates each time mainly because we broke a few and I have not gotten any of the graniteware ones to replace them.

    The kids now have a sleeping bag and travel pillow and that is it instead of the blankets/pillows/sheets we used to carry along. I am hoping it will keep the popup more organized too.

    I hate how long it took us to pack up and break down and put away the last time we went camping,

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