I get asked a lot about what sort of equipment you should bring along on camping trips. My reply always starts with the same question, “What sort of camping are you doing?” A lot of people don’t understand what I mean, so allow me to explain some.

There are two very different types of camping: backpacking and car camping. Backpacking is when you hike through the woods to get to your campsite, or you hike and choose a site along the way to camp at. This is also known as wilderness camping. Car camping is when you drive your car or RV right up to your campsite and don’t have to lug any equipment to your site.

The type and quantity of equipment you can bring on a camping trip depends greatly on the type of camping that you’re doing. If you’re car camping, bring along anything and everything that you want. Big tent, comfy sleeping bag, several camp chairs, camp table, a cot for sleeping on, you name it. If it’ll fit in your car, why not bring it? Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it, right?

On the other hand, if you’re going backpacking, the amount of stuff you’re going to be able to bring is greatly reduced. You’re definitely going to need a lightweight tent and sleeping bag, maybe one change of clothing, and a few other essentials. You can also check into bringing a lightweight camping chair, as these often weigh only a pound and won’t take up much room in your pack. To me, it’s worth a little bit of extra weight to not have to sit on the cold ground in the evenings. Some people say they do not need them, but I like to bring them along any way.