staying warm in a tent

The Ultimate Guide to Camping Essentials for Women

There are camping essentials and then here are camping essentials for women. I’m going to include both in this massive guide.

This is basically my personal camping checklist based on what I’ve whittled down as absolute must products for my experience while car camping.

I’ll start with the top camping essentials for women and then I’ll share with you all of my other items that I take with me camping.

Top Camping Essentials for Women 

There are a few things that have made my entire camping experience as a woman a whole lot more enjoyable. Here are a few camping essentials for women to add to all of your packing lists.

How To Stay Warm In A Tent 1
Photo by: Marquis Matson

Hygiene Products 

First up is hygieneeee. When you’re out in the wilderness, maintaining personal hygiene can be a bit challenging, but it’s absolutely essential. Here are some products that will help you stay clean and fresh:

Menstrual Disc

This eco-friendly alternative to tampons and pads is a 👏 game 👏 changer. It’s reusable, easy to clean, and perfect for those long hikes where you can’t dispose of waste properly. Plus, it saves space in your backpack!

I first started using menstrual cups when they came out years ago and loved them back then. However, they were awkwardly shaped, stiff, and weren’t always that reliable. So I switched to period underwear, which is another interesting solution.

I loved these for awhile too but after a (too short) while, they uh, never smelled right again. 🤮 And plus, knowing how those things are, I wouldn’t recommend packing them for a camping trip.

The ✨ new ✨ design of the menstrual disc is actually shaped like our cervix, is made of soft, flexible plastic, and DOESN’T LEAK. It blows the menstrual cups out of the water.

Portable Douche

feminine hygiene while car camping
Photo by: Marquis Matson

A portable douche can be a lifesaver when you’re camping. It helps you maintain personal hygiene, even in the most remote locations. Just fill it up with clean water, and you’re good to go.

Then when you’re done with it, tuck the spout inside the bottle and store it away until your next camping trip.

Antimicrobial Personal Cloth

This cloth is perfect for wiping sweat, cleaning your face, or even as a towel. It’s quick-drying and prevents the growth of bacteria. Most women use them as a pee rag, which is helpful when you can’t wash yourself. They work well as a sweat rag too! But just not at the same time as you’re using it as a pee rag 😂

You can also just use toilet paper, which is what I do. Remember the whole “pack it in, pack it out” thing and be sure to store your dirty toilet paper in a bag until you can throw it away properly in a garbage bin.

Moisture-Wicking Undies

These undies are designed to keep you dry and comfortable. They’re perfect for those hot summer hikes or any sweaty outdoor activities. That means no more wet undies drenched in sweat! They’re also specifically designed to be anti-odor 👌

First Aid Kit 

A well-stocked first aid kit is a camping essential. It should include band-aids, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, medical tape, pain relievers, any personal medication, and a first-aid manual. Remember, it’s always better to be over-prepared when it comes to first aid.

I really like this kit:

lightweight emergency medical kit

Navigation Tools 

Even if you’re planning to stick to well-trodden paths, having navigation tools is crucial. A physical map and compass are reliable old-school tools that don’t rely on batteries. This is more of an in-case-of-emergency thing, which I talk about in my post about hiking alone as a woman.

orienteering compass

However, a GPS device or a smartphone with downloaded offline maps can also be very convenient and useful. Just remember to bring a portable charger!

I really like using the paid version of AllTrails. You can download maps and keep track of trails. Otherwise, I use The Dyrt for all of my camping planning.

Personal Safety Items

When it comes to camping, your safety is paramount. Here are a few items you should consider:

  • Whistle: A whistle can be heard over long distances and is a great way to signal for help if you get lost.
  • Bear Spray: If you’re camping in bear country, bear spray is a must. It can deter a bear from approaching you.
  • Multi-tool: A good multi-tool includes a knife, can opener, scissors, and more, all of which can come in handy in various situations.
  • Flashlight or Headlamp: Essential for those late-night bathroom trips or if you need to set up camp after dark. Opt for a headlamp to keep your hands free.
  • Emergency Blanket: Also known as a space blanket, it can help retain body heat in case of an emergency.
  • Personal Alarm: This is a small device that emits a loud sound when triggered. It can alert others if you’re in danger. I have the Garmin inReach Mini. This is the single most important safety item that I bring with me everywhere I go.

Women’s Camping Gear Recommendations 

Read through my guide on how to stay warm in a tent to learn all about my camp setup (or my car camping tips if you’ll be car camping).

Otherwise, here’s an overview of a few things I bring with me when camping.

Quality Tent 

When it comes to the best camping essentials, having a quality tent is non-negotiable. It’s your home away from home, your shelter from the elements, and your cozy retreat after a day of outdoor adventures. But not all tents are created equal, especially when it comes to catering to the needs of women campers. Here are some top-notch tents that have been tried, tested, and loved by women campers:

The Marmot Tungsten 2P Tent: This tent is a favorite among many women campers. It’s spacious, durable, and easy to set up. The two-person capacity means there’s plenty of room for you and your gear (or a camping buddy). Plus, it has two doors, so you don’t have to climb over anyone for those middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks.

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL Tent: If you’re a backpacker, this tent is for you. It’s ultra-lightweight, making it easy to carry on long treks. But don’t let its lightness fool you – it’s also super sturdy and can withstand harsh weather conditions. The Copper Spur HV UL2 is also freestanding, so you can pick it up and move it around to find the perfect spot.

Remember, the best tent for you depends on your specific needs and the type of camping you’ll be doing. So consider factors like weight, size, ease of setup, and weather resistance when making your choice.

Sleep System

A good night’s sleep is as essential as a marshmallow on your s’more. And the secret to that? A cozy, warm, and comfortable sleeping bag. Here are some top-notch options:

NEMO 20 Sleeping Bag: This is a high-quality, modified mummy-style sleeping bag designed specifically for women. It’s extra insulated in key areas and lightweight.

Sea to Summit Sleeping Pad: This insulated sleeping pad will make your night’s rest a whole lot more restful.

When choosing a sleeping bag, consider the temperature rating. If you’re a cold sleeper or planning to camp in colder weather, go for a bag with a lower temperature rating. It’s always better to be too warm than too cold. You can always unzip the bag if you get too hot.

Also, consider the size and weight of the sleeping bag, especially if you’re going to be backpacking. You want something that’s light and compresses down small to fit in your pack.

Camping Kitchen

Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a newbie, a good camping stove can make the difference between a memorable meal under the stars and a dinner disaster. So, let’s dive into some top-notch camping kitchen setups that are perfect for women campers.

It really comes down to how much space you have, what kind of camping you’re doing, and what you want to prepare. Here is what I use, sometimes combining different things depending on my camp setup.

Jetboil MicroMo Camping Stove Cooking System: This is a compact, all-in-one stove that boils water fast, perfect for a quick cup of coffee or a warm meal. It’s lightweight and easy to use, making it a great choice for solo trips or small groups.

making pour over coffee while camping with jetboil
Photo by: Marquis Matson

I have this and I use it alllll the time. I love making coffee with it or boiling water for pasta (in a bigger pot).

Jetboil MicroMo Lightweight Precision Camping and Backpacking Stove Cooking System

Coleman two burner stove: For those car camping trips or larger groups, this stove offers two burners and plenty of power to cook up a feast. It’s a bit heavier, but the extra cooking capacity is worth it.

full car camping setup
Photo by: Marquis Matson

This is in my car camping setup for cooking a fuller meal. It is super straight-forward, reliable, and folds flat, making it easy to store.

Coleman Triton 2-Burner Propane Camping Stove

Here are a few tips for using a camping stove:

  • Safety First: Always set up your stove on a stable, non-flammable surface away from your tent. Keep a close eye on it while cooking and never leave it unattended.
  • Fuel Up: Make sure you have enough fuel for your trip. It’s always better to have a little extra than to run out in the middle of cooking a meal.
  • Clean Up: Keep your stove clean. It not only prolongs the life of your stove but also ensures it works efficiently.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: If you’re new to using a camping stove, practice setting it up and cooking a few meals at home before you hit the campsite.

I also like taking a travel kettle with me on road trips because then I can quickly boil the perfect amount of water without having to open up my whole kitchen. I do this with my little portable espresso maker mostly, but it could be used for tea, soup, and other things that need hot water (even my little hot water bladder for my cramps!).

Other Camping Tips For Women 

Here are a few other things I’ve learned to do or bring along to make my camping experience a smooth one. Give them a try on your next camping trip.

How To Avoid Tangles

Here are some practical, no-nonsense tips to keep your hair tangle-free and fabulous, even in the wilderness.

Braid Your Hair

One of the simplest and most effective ways to avoid tangles while camping is to braid your hair. Braids are great because they keep your hair secure and out of the way, reducing the chance of it getting caught in branches or tangled in the wind. Plus, they’re versatile – you can rock a single braid, double braids, or even a fancy French braid, depending on your mood and skill level. 

My braided hair on a long backpacking trip through Idaho; Photo by: Marquis Matson

And the best part? When you take out your braids, you’ll have beautiful, wavy hair that looks like you spent hours on it (but I won’t tell!).

Comb Your Hair Twice A Day

It might seem like a hassle, but trust me, combing your hair twice a day can save you a lot of trouble in the long run. When you’re out in the wild, your hair can easily get tangled with all the outdoor activities and the elements. Think: rat’s nest and you’ll lose half of it trying to comb it out.

By combing your hair in the morning and before bed, you can prevent knots and tangles from forming and becoming a bigger problem.

Remember to always start from the ends and work your way up to the roots to avoid breakage. And don’t forget to pack a wide-tooth comb or a detangling brush!

I really like using something old school like this:

Wear A Hat

Last but not least, consider wearing a hat. Not only does it protect your scalp from the sun, but it also keeps your hair in place, preventing it from getting tangled in the wind.

Plus, hats can add a fun touch to your camping outfit. Whether it’s a baseball cap for that sporty look, a wide-brimmed hat for extra sun protection, or a beanie for those chilly nights, there’s a hat for every camping situation and style.

camping alone as a woman
Photo by: Marquis Matson

How To Stay Fresh

Here are some practical tips to help you feel clean and comfortable during your camping adventure.

Give Yourself A Sponge Bath

A sponge bath is an absolute simple luxury when you’re camping. All you need is a small towel, some water, a collapsible basin, and a bit of biodegradable soap. Just dampen the towel, add a little soap, and give yourself a quick wipe down. It’s a simple and effective way to freshen up, especially on those hot summer days.

Opt for biodegradable soap, like Dr. Bronner’s.

Dr. Bronners

This soap is safe for the environment and can be used for everything from washing your body to cleaning your dishes.

Pack a quick-dry towel to be ready for any kind of bathing opportunity, honestly. A quick-dry towel is lightweight, compact, and, as the name suggests, dries super fast. It’s perfect for camping trips.

Rainleaf Microfiber Towel Perfect Travel

Use A Portable Douche

If you’re camping in a location with a water source nearby, a portable douche can be a great way to stay clean. They’re lightweight, easy to use, and can provide a quick and refreshing shower. Just fill it up, hang it from a tree, and let gravity do the rest. Remember to use biodegradable soap to protect the environment.

Some people like using a female urination device, like a pee funnel, or at least they seem to be talked about a lot. If you want to pee standing up, then give it a go. I personally think it’s easier to just squat.

Use Moisturizer At Night

The great outdoors can be harsh on your skin. Using a moisturizer at night can help to replenish your skin’s natural oils and keep it soft and hydrated. Look for a moisturizer that’s suitable for your skin type and remember to apply it before you hit the sack.

Personally, I wipe my face down with fresh water and then use my own homemade face oil that I put into a little bottle.

Use Lip Balm

Camping can leave your lips feeling dry and chapped, especially in windy or sunny conditions. A good lip balm can provide much-needed moisture and protection. Opt for a lip balm with SPF for added sun protection.

I really like Palmer’s lip balm because it doesn’t irritate my lips (I have sensitive skin) and it also protects against the sun.

Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula Lip Balm Duo with SPF 15

Use A Natural Deodorant

A natural deodorant can help to keep body odor at bay without the harsh chemicals found in some traditional deodorants. Plus, many natural deodorants come in eco-friendly packaging, which is a win for the environment.

I really like this Salt of the Earth brand, it usually works pretty well.

SALT OF THE EARTH Lavender & Vanilla Roll On

Just be forewarned: you’ll get stinky while camping and hiking around! That’s just sort of how it goes when you’re out in the wild 🙂

Use Wet Wipes In A Pinch

If you’re in a situation where water is scarce, wet wipes can feel great. They’re perfect for a quick clean-up and can help to remove dirt, sweat, and odors. Look for biodegradable wipes to minimize your impact on the environment.

Bring Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is helpful for keeping your hands clean, especially before meals or after using the bathroom. A small bottle can go a long way, so make sure it’s on your packing list.

Use Dry Toothpaste

Dry toothpaste is a great space-saving item. Just wet your toothbrush, pop one of these bad boys in your mouth, and brush away!

Bring Anti-Chafing Products

Some kind of body glide, or anti-chafing product, can be a lifesaver for those long hikes. They help prevent discomfort and skin irritation caused by friction while hiking.

Ready to head out to the great outdoors?

If you’re backpacking, then only pack what you can carry with you. But if you’re car camping? Then you can pack whateverrrrr you want for your campsite. I listed all of my camping essentials for women here as well as a few other things that just make my life easier. Let me know if I missed anything!

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  1. I just sold my travel trailer and I’m going back to tent/car camping. It will be like it was when I was a kid, out in the woods – only now it will be me and my dog. Im 64 and can’t wait to get going. Thanks for some great tips!

    1. omg how exciting, Mary! I hope you have so much fun. I definitely recommend getting the HEST sleeping pad. This one is made for two people so is wider and generally more comfortable if you like having a bit of space. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

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