A city girl’s camping must-haves

There’s an outlet for my Clarisonic, right?


Growing up, my mom’s habitual proclamation of “I camp in a hotel” restricted my sisters’ and my outdoor adventures to tents in the backyard and occasional hikes in Yosemite. As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the great outdoors more frequently, and have realized that there are few experiences as rejuvenating as sleeping under the stars.

That being said, I am a city girl at heart and definitely could not survive indefinitely in a tent in the woods. Still, adventuring in the wilderness has transformed my understanding of what “essentials” actually are (and that it does not include three different shades of red lipstick).

While the following list may be scoffed at by hard-core backpackers, city girls can’t just go cold turkey after all. With that said, we can all survive a week without hair mousse and gold infused eye serum.

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Sunscreen moisturizer

Sunscreen is essential for braving the outdoors, and coupled with moisturizer, it becomes a practical two-in-one product that is pretty much the only skincare item you’ll need. Neutrogena offers a great non-greasy, fragrance-free option.

Tip: pump however much you’ll need into a travel-size tube to save space.

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Vaseline/Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly is multi-functional- it can serve as chapstick, moisturizer for dry skin, and healing agent for small cuts and scrapes. Plus, the Mini version is pretty adorable and the perfect size for camping.

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Bug repellant and anti-itch cream

Mosquitos are the devil and mosquito bites are devil babies- bring bug spray and spray everything. When mosquitos inevitably start sucking your blood, use anti-itch cream. Scratching bites excessively can cause further irritation and scarring.

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Biodegradable soap

This item functions as an all-in-one body soap, face wash, and shampoo and is more practical than carrying these items separately, as they can be too heavy and too complicated. Additionally, a good soap should eliminate the need for body sprays or perfumes (big no-no as scented items attract bugs and bears), and even deodorant if you’re brave (if not, make sure to opt for something natural and unscented).

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Hand-pumped water filter

Drinking lots and lots of water is essential for staying healthy and hydrated while camping. Using a hand-pumped water filter is a safe and easy way to drink water from rivers and streams.

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Long sleeves and pants

If you are camping in a mountainous region, especially at or above 10,000 feet in elevation, it will be super cold at night, even during the summer. Falling asleep or sleeping comfortably can be nearly impossible if you are freezing cold. Besides a good sleeping bag, make sure to have a long sleeve top made of synthetic fabrics, such as fleece or polypropylene, both of which are lightweight, quick to dry, and terrific for insulating body heat.

Make sure to also bring long pants. Pants can protect your legs from scrapes from rocks and prevent contact with irritating plants, like poison ivy or poison oak. Trust me, walking through three-foot high grass in shorts is uncomfortable and itchy af. You can, of course, buy legit hiking pants, or just wear a pair that you already own.