What To Take On A 3 Day Camping Trip?

what to put in a day pack for hiking

What to take on a 3 day camping trip? Is it your first time going camping? Let’s chat about how to pack for a trip. Sure, a trip to the woods generally requires less clothing and footwear than other vacations, but there are a few must-haves you should not overlook. If you forget something on most trips, you may usually get it from a local shop. However, in the wilderness, things are a bit different. If you realize your backpack is missing something fundamental (such as water filtration), there is not much you can do about it while camping. 

What should you pack for a three-day camping excursion? The answer is that you should bring everything you would for a one-day backpacking trip, with the exception of more food, gasoline, and toilet paper. It does not matter if you go on a 24-hour trek or a two-week expedition; you will carry the same equipment and clothing every time.

What is included in the bundle? It is simply the 10 essentials and a backpack, after all. Here is what I would recommend bringing on every backpacking excursion, regardless of length or distance. I have also included suggested equipment that is a good value if you are just getting started or that will give you an indication of the type of gear you will need.

white and black dome tent setted up beside brown boulders overlooking mountain under white sky


If you are going on a backpacking excursion, every ounce counts. When it comes to clothing, choose lightweight fabrics that will allow you to reuse the same top and bottoms several times. Other things to bring include:

  • Lightweight hat
  • Packable waterproof and breathable jacket
  • Wool socks
  • Hiking Boots or Trail Runners
  • Sunglasses (Polarized shades are ideal for blocking the bright sun)
  • Long pants & long-sleeved shirts
  • Water shoes or sandals with good grip
  • Swimsuit
  • Storage Compression Cubes
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Sun protection

  • Always: small tin of chapstick, suntan lotion for your sunglasses and lips.
  • Essential wear convertible (zip-off) long pants, the long sleeve shirt, and a hat for the sun and insect prevention

Eating And Drinking Essentials

beige and orange dome tent near trees during golden hour
what to take on a 3 day camping trip

It is likely that you will have to cook your own meals (there are not many sit-down restaurants in the woods), so reserve some room in your luggage for a portable kitchen. Portable kitchens include:

  • Backpacking stove with fuel—be sure it is suitable for camping in the woods.
  • Cookware
  • Utensils (Both for the cooking and eating)
  • Lightweight, reusable water bottle
  • Water treatment (You may need to obtain water from nearby lakes or ponds, and it will need to be filtered.)
  • Lightweight towel and soap
  • Small cutting board
  • Food (Pre-packaged packed munchies—such as trail mix and bars—as well as dried-freeze camping meals that you may cook on the go if you are backpacking)
  • Bear Bin if backpacking (check with the local forestry department)
  • Check out The Essential Packing List for a Traveling Kitchen for more information

Personal Items

Unless you are going “glamping,” stick to the basics when packing your personal effects and only bring the fundamental necessities:

  • Toilet paper
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Itch-relief and Bug spray (like topical antihistamine)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • First aid kit
  • Toiletry kit (with a toothbrush, hairbrush,  toothpaste, soap, and so on)
  • Medications prescriptions that you may need to take
  • Painkillers (like ibuprofen or aspirin)

Insulation, Including Additional Layers

  • Always (wearing): one pair of socks, one short-sleeve performance top, one synthetic pair of long hiking pants, one pair of underwear, one billed cap
  • Always (packed): A lightweight (top and bottom) long john, fleece sweatpants, warm gloves/mittens, trekking boots with gaiters for when it rains or snows
  • Always: The ideal sleeping bag or quilt for these temperatures is a winter-rated model with a sleeping pad to keep my body from being chilled by direct contact with the ground
  • Always: rain mitts, fleece beanie hat, synthetic glove liners.
  • Always: To keep my insulation dry, I will need a groundsheet, plastic sheeting, or a waterproof bivy bag.
  • Sometimes: If you are caught outdoors in the cold, a synthetic vest or a lightweight down or jacket will keep you toasty.
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If you will be visiting many locations or intend to go on a hike during the day, it is vital to bring equipment that can assist you and guarantee a safe journey. Here is what to bring:

  • Portable GPS
  • Compass and map (It is a good back-up for the GPS)
  • Chargers (If you will be traveling near any charging stations. However, before you depart, ensure that all of your gadgets are fully charged.)
  • Maps or a guidebook
  • Pen or pencil
  • Two-way radios (If you will be in a larger group)
  • Flashlights or headlamps (And extra batteries)
  • Travel lantern

Camp Necessities

Here is what you will need to sleep as safely and comfortably as possible:

  • Tent (Be double sure you have all the necessary poles and stakes)
  • Mallet (For securing the stakes in the ground, if you are car camping)
  • Sunshade or tarp
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pads or a light air mattress
  • Travel pillows
  • Folding chairs and table (if car camping)    
  • Pocket knife for any quick cutting needs


Camping is about spending quality time with your family and friends without the usual high-tech diversions getting in the way. Using these ideas, you can make the most of your experience:

  • Binoculars
  • Camera    
  • Travel-sized board games
  • Playing cards
  • Fishing gear (Poles, reels, line, lures, tackle, and so on)
  • Kayaking gear (paddles, Life jackets, and repair kit)
  • Bikes (Do not forget locks!)
  • S’mores ingredients (You did not think we would let one go camping without the most essential outdoor treat, did you?)

This is a thorough list, and you may certainly get by without some of it — it simply depends on the sort of trip you are planning. For example, if you intend on walking most of the days with a tent set up in various locations each night, leave the board games at home and stock up on hiking supplies instead. If you are staying in one place, put the bikes on the rack and bring along as many games as possible for a lot of fun overnights in nature.

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