What Are The Most Forgotten Camping Items According to Campers?

By Ryan Wilson

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What Are The Most Forgotten Camping Items According to Campers?

Most forgotten camping items

With summer quickly approaching, camping season will be upon us before we know it. Now is the perfect time to start pulling together our camping gear and planning for the summer adventures ahead.

A problem everyone has encountered while camping is forgetting different pieces of camping gear. While some items can be annoying to forget, like trash bags (a top forgotten item of mine), others can ruin your entire trip.

Planning ahead is the best way to avoid forgetting gear and potentially ruining a long-awaited trip.

I’ve reviewed camping forums (e.g., Reddit, Facebook) to find the 10 most forgotten camping items as reported by actual campers. I also offer suggestions for what to do if you forget some of these items!

Most Forgotten Camping Items

The ten most forgotten camping items according to real campers listed from the most frequent to least frequent response:

  1. Tents
  2. Sleeping bag / Blanket
  3. Different items of clothing (e.g., rain gear, boots, underwear)
  4. Pillow
  5. Stove / Fuel
  6. Utensils / Plates / Bowls
  7. Toilet paper / Toiletries
  8. Matches / Lighters
  9. Sleeping pad
  10. Food

Forgetting any of these items could put a damper on anyone’s trip. But items like tents and sleeping bags are definitely things not to forget when camping!

At best, you may need to spend extra money at a nearby store (if there is one), or at worst, the need to cancel a long-awaited trip and drive home with your tail between your legs.

With some advanced planning, you can ensure that even if. you forget a critical item, you have a viable backup that can work in a pinch. In the sections below, I’ll provide some tips on items that you can always have in your vehicle or camper that you can use to get by, even if not ideal.

Not only will these ensure you always have a minimal amount of gear to camp, they’re also great safety items in case you find yourself stuck somewhere due to weather or an accident.

Things Not to Forget When Camping

1. Forgotten Tent

If you’re a tent camper, a forgotten tent or poles could lead to a quick end to your trip! Here are a couple of options of gear to have in your vehicle that you could use in the event you forgot to pack a tent or tent poles.

camping tarp

Option 1: Waterproof Camping Tarp

These are lightweight and easy to pack and store long-term in your vehicle.

They provide shelter from the weather, and can be a great addition to your campsite for cooking/eating even if you don’t forget your tent!


Option 2: Bivvy Sack

A bivvy sack is kind of like a super tiny tent, just big enough for your sleeping bag. They’re definitely not as comfortable as the tent you left behind, but it will get you through in a pinch.

The nice thing is that they are small and easy to throw into your vehicle until you need it some day.

2. Forgotten Sleeping Bag

Of all of the things not to forget when camping, a sleeping bag is rightfully near the top of the list. Depending on the weather, a forgotten sleeping bag can potentially be the end of a camping trip. But if you’re camping during a warm summer evening, you can likely get by. One possible solution is to use a partner’s sleeping bag as a quilt.

According to Backpacker magazine, most insulation under you gets compressed in a sleeping bag, so opening the bag and sharing it as a blanket doesn’t result in much lost warmth.

emergency blanket

Option 1: Emergency Blanket

An emergency blanket is a thin sheet of reflective material that can help retain body heat in cold or wet conditions. They are lightweight, compact, and inexpensive, making them a useful item to have on hand in case you forget a sleeping bag.

These will probably only work during warmer nights, and you definitely won’t be as comfortable as you would be with a sleeping bag

small sleepingbag

Option 2: Lightweight Sleeping Bag

This might not be your ideal sleeping bag, but carrying a small, lightweight sleeping bag in your vehicle at all times will ensure you can at least have a comfortable night camping.

I always carry sleeping bags in my vehicle as a safety item for the cold weather driving I do in Alaska.

3. Forgotten Clothing

Clothing is a trickier item to plan for because there are so many different types of clothing you could forget. Clearly, if you’re planning a winter camping trip and you forgot your winter jacket, you probably just need to head home and attempt the trip another weekend. But if you forget your sandals for a summer trip, no problem!

But one simple piece of equipment you can carry in your car or camper that could at least help if you forgot rain gear, is a simple poncho.



A poncho can be a great item to carry in your vehicle that can ensure you have something to protect you from the weather. So it’s great for camping and emergency roadside issues.

Additionally, a poncho can be used an emergency tarp shelter, or ground cloth. So, with one item, you could cover up to three potentially forgotten items.

4. Forgotten Pillow

I was actually a little surprised how many people forgot pillows and how important these seemed to be to people. When I backpack, I never bring a pillow, but instead use a stuff sack filled with extra clothes. So, a pillow is an easy item to find an alternative to.


2 in 1 Stuff Sack

If you simply use a stuff sack that can convert into a pillow to store your sleeping bag (or the spare you now carry in your car), you’ll always have at least something to rest your head on at the end of the day.

5. Forgotten Stove / Fuel

Usually forgetting a stove or fuel during camping is not a deal breaker as you can usually just start a campfire and cook directly over that. But if campfires aren’t allowed, or there is no wood to burn, you might want to have an alternative option to fall back on.

emergency stove

Emergency Stove

An emergency cook stove is not going to allow you to cook a gourmet meal, but it will get you through your weekend.

While this particular model used fuel tabs, you could also use charcoal or wood/sticks if available.

Because of its compact design, an emergency cook stove can be easily packed in your car or camper and be part of your roadside survival kit.

6. Forgotten Utensils / Plates / Bowls

You’ve got your food and stove, but you’ve forgotten gear to eat and cook with. One option is to just ensure you have some paper plates and bowls packed with your camping gear. That’s how I generally avoid forgetting stuff to eat my camping meals with.

Alternatively, you can keep a campfire cooking kit (check out our review of the best campfire cooking kit) in your vehicle that will also help in case you forget a stove and need to cook over an open fire.


Campfire Cooking Kit

If you’re frequently forgetting utensils, plates, bowls, or cooking gear, consider buying an all-in-one cookset. These kits are compact and easy to store in your vehicle in the event you forget gear to eat or cook with.

7. Forgotten Toilet paper / Toiletries

Here’s another example of an item that would be hard to deal with in advance. While you could certainly pack a toiletry kit ahead of time, if you need medications you probably don’t want to keep those stored long-term in your car.

If you’re truly in a bind, there are a number of natural methods for brushing your teeth. And luckily, most campgrounds have a pit toilet that you can use, or “borrow” some toilet paper from.

8. Forgotten Matches / Lighter

I wasn’t very surprised that these items were in the top 10 most forgotten camping items. Small items are often the easiest to forget. But without fire, it’s likely going to be hard to cook or warm up near a campfire.

The most obvious answer is to just put a book of matches in your glovebox so you’ll always have some on hand. Here are two other ideas for how to avoid this ever being a problem.


Option 1: Fire Starter

Having a fire starter attached to your car, truck, or RV’s keychain, you’ll never be without a supply of sparks to get a fire started. But you may want to always pack some campfire starters (see our review of the best campfire starters) to help catch the sparks.

You also don’t have to worry about them getting wet or breaking out of a box and rolling all over your car.


Option 2: Leatherman Signal

If you’re like me, I never forget to bring my knife or multi-tool camping. That’s why I love the Leatherman Signal. They have a built-in fire starter. I just purchased one a couple of weeks ago, and I love it. It definitely produces a nice shower of sparks.

9. Forgotten Sleeping Pad

These days I usually camp in our A-liner camper, but if you are sleeping on the ground, a forgotten sleeping pad can not only lead to an uncomfortable night, but a cold one too! Unless you want to pack a separate sleeping pad in your car all the time, there are not a lot of other good options.

I do have one suggestion though based on my life in Alaska.

wool blanket

Wool Blanket

I always carry a wool blanket in my truck in the event I get stuck on the side of the road, especially in the winter here in Alaska.

A wool blanket can be used if you forget your sleeping bag, or as a sleeping pad if you forgot one of those. They’ve also great for sitting around campfires because of their flame resistance.

10. Forgotten Food

The final item in the top ten list of most forgotten camping items is food! While I’ve never forgotten all of my food, I’ve certainly left behind items, especially things I was keeping in the freezer.

But forgetting some food items is different than forgetting all of your food. Experts recommend people have a 3-day supply of emergency food on hand in case of a natural disaster. And a convenient place to keep the shelf-stable food is in your vehicle so it’s read use in case you left your camping food at home.


Emergency Food Supply

Alaska is an earthquake-prone region, so I have a survival kit, including a 3-day supply of dried meals for each of my family members.

Dried food can also be convenient if you forgot a stove as you just need to add boiling water. And you can eat directly from the bags if you forgot plates or bowls.


There are certain things not to forget when camping that can either lead to a miserable trip, or force you to return home. Hopefully, by reviewing the most forgotten camping items, I have given you some ideas for how to prepare for the inevitable forgotten items.

What do you always forget camping? Preparing in advance will ensure that you’ll be able to enjoy weekend away even when forgetting some gear.

If you’re planning on camping in Alaska or other rural locations, take a look at our list of essential Alaska camping gear.

Photo of author


Ryan is an avid outdoorsman who loves camping, hiking, and backpacking. He was initially reluctant to join the camper world, but after his first camping trip in one, he became a convert. He especially loves how camper ownership extends the camping season and makes it easier to be more adventurous with young kids. When not enjoying his free time, he works as a professional wildlife biologist studying the ecology and conservation of large mammals in Alaska.