I want to begin this post about camping gear essentials by admitting that I’m not a camper! I’m not even a camping beginner. I know lots of people move to Australia with grand plans of enjoying the great outdoors because the weather and the landscape here is so incredible and I totally understand that need to get outside into nature. I absolutely love getting out in the fresh air and wilderness but I much prefer coming back to the comfort of a hotel room, a holiday home or even a caravan or glamping site. But as I know so many of you love camping and are excited to dive into your new outdoor lifestyle by getting started with camping in Australia, I wanted to collate a post to help you get started.
For this post about camping for beginners and setting yourself up with camping gear essentials in Australia, I needed to consult a raft of travel bloggers that DO love camping in Australia so I could pick their brains about what’s on their essential camping gear list.
This post contains affiliate links. See the full disclosure in the footer.
Camping for beginners
If you’re moving to Australia and want to set yourself up for camping around Australia or just taking weekend camping trips with your family, there are certain basics for camping that you’re going to need to buy.
Camping in Australia is definitely a lifestyle opportunity, and you’ll find there are endless things you can buy to make your camping experience more fun and more comfortable.
First up, some things to think about before you start hunting for cheap camping gear online. While it’s a good idea to begin with some cheaper items so that you can try camping out and see if you like it, you’ve also got to balance the fact that cheap camping gear isn’t going to last and it might actually hinder your first experience of camping in Australia (cheap tents are definitely not worth the effort as I’ve slept in enough where the poles broke, the material ripped or the tent leaked back in the UK on holidays to Cornwall!).
Before you invest heavily in lots of brand new camping gear (especially if you’re a beginner camper), you might be better off borrowing the essential camping equipment, checking out camping gear hire or shopping around for second-hand camping gear so you can try camping out in Australia first before you spend too much on your new hobby.
If you know with certainty that you’re going to love the experience of camping in Australia, then it’s well worth investing in the right set up from the start so your camping gear essentials are solid and will last you a long time. You don’t need to buy EVERYTHING brand new right off the bat so work out your own equipment list for camping and prioritise which bits are the most important to get you started and then you can continue adding to your camping kit over time.
If you’re interested in camping in Australia, you might like to read this post about driving on sand in Australia.
Camping essentials Australia
Let’s jump into the camping gear and camping equipment recommendations…
A large family-sized tent
John from Your Destination is Everywhere recommends…
‘Although hiking footwear is not an “essential camping item”, most people will do some kind of walking/hiking when they camp. Here in Australia, there are plenty of good trails to explore from easy beach walks to intense scrambles over rocky terrain.
With so many brands, features, and designs to choose from, it can be overwhelming when it comes to choosing the right pair. The most important question to ask yourself is whether you should go with mid-cut or high-cut shoes. Each style has its own advantages and disadvantages so let’s quickly go over them.
Mid-cut shoes are sturdier, heavier, and they completely cover your ankles. Because they provide more support, they are great for multi-day backpacking trips or trails with challenging terrains. They also keep your feet dry and warm for a longer period of time.
Low-cut shoes (trail runners), on the other hand, are lighter and more flexible. They are great for hikers who value efficiency over stability. If you are planning to camp or hike in Australia, I would definitely recommend these. Since the climates here are generally dry and hot, your feet won’t be comfortable in those high bulky boots.
After every hike, I recommend loosen all the laces and taking out the insoles. This is very important as it will help your shoes to dry quicker and prevent them from cracking (and also bad smell).’
John also goes on to recommend another piece of kit…
A pocket knife
‘When going camping, it’s always nice to have a small multi-purpose pocket knife on hand. I never leave without my trusty Gerber US1 Pocket Knife. It’s a versatile item that can be used for slicing food, opening packages, making kindling, cutting cords or any number of things.
When looking for a good knife for camping, always check to see if it’s foldable. This is an important and obvious feature, but you’d be surprised to know how many of my friends have overlooked it.’
As recommended by Jan from Budget Travel Talk
A comfortable camp chair is essential to enjoy an Australian camping holiday. Sitting on the ground can be very uncomfortable. Depending on the campsite, it could be rocky, have prickles or other obstacles. This is especially so when free-camping.
Your choice of camp chair could make or break your camping experience. I recommend the Dune Nomad II Delux XL camping chair.
The square frame is solid and stable. I particularly like the padded seat and back plus the eight reclining positions. It is possible to lay flat out in this chair. It’s perfect for an afternoon nap.
A handy foldaway table attaches on the side to hold drinks or food. It also comes with a drinks cooler for the other side. We have removed this as we don’t use it. We have a larger separate cooler to keep drinks cold.
While there are cheaper chairs, their design makes it impossible not to slouch, causing backache when used for a lengthy period. We have some ourselves, to use for a couple of hours at the beach or a picnic. These cheaper chairs are light and have a carry bag.
However, for camping or caravanning we use our Dune Nomad chairs exclusively. They each weigh 8.5 kg and fold flat for easy storage in a car boot.
We’ve owned the same chairs for ten years and although slightly faded, they are still as sturdy and comfortable as the day we bought them.
A head torch
Tess from Tessomewhere recommends…
‘A head torch is an essential item to have when camping. Whether it be when cooking, looking for something in your tent or needing to make that night time bathroom trip, having a head torch will make life so much easier than a handheld torch. You can keep a head torch on you at all times with the band hung around your neck or on your head so you won’t misplace it when you need it the most.
When camping with others, make sure not to shine it in their eyes – keeping the torch slung around your neck pointing down during these times is recommended instead.’
Tess goes on to recommend…
‘Mosquitoes are prevalent in most of Australia but can be particularly bad in places in the north like Far North Qld or Broome in Australia’s North West. In these areas, a mosquito (or mozzie) dome comes in super handy on those hot summer nights when you want to sleep out of the swag or tent but not get eaten alive.
A mozzie dome provides protection from bugs, insects and mosquitos and most are an instant pop up style that can be set up in just a few minutes. Perfect for both bush and beach camping, a mozzie dome will allow you to sleep undisturbed. Be careful with the domes as the netting can tear, but small patches can be made with duct tape or similar to prevent those bugs from getting in when you are on the road.’
A portable blower
Melissa from Queensland Camping recommends…
‘Camping can be messy business, so if you’re a bit of a clean freak like I am, an essential piece of camping equipment is a cordless leaf blower.
While we always have a good camping mat down at our site, leaves and dirt still manage to find their way into your site, so with a cordless leaf blower, you’re able to keep your camping site nice and clean. Each morning and afternoon, you’ll always see me out with the blower, blowing away the debris that’s either blown in or been brought in by foot.
If you use an air mattress for sleeping, a cordless blower is also a godsend for quickly blowing these up. Plus any other blow up stuff you might bring along like inflatable kids water toys, kayaks or SUPs.
When it comes to choosing a blower, I recommend going for the best you can afford. They come with all kinds of price tags, but we use the Makita 18v blower because the rechargeable batteries are interchangeable with our other Makita tools. You can buy petrol or electric blowers– but the rechargeable batteries blower is the better way to go – particularly for camping trips.
Talking about batteries, one fully charged battery should be more than enough for a camping trip. However, it is a good idea to bring along a fully charged spare battery. If you have other Makita gear, just bring along the battery from one of these tools. Otherwise, it’s best to purchase at least one spare.
While a cordless leaf blower might not be the first thing you think about when it comes to camping – for a super tidy and debris clean campsite definitely take one along.’
You can grab Melissa’s handy camping checklist here.
A camping fridge
Louis from Outdoor Explorer recommends…
‘If you’re going camping for the first time, you’ll likely be keen on exploring and getting back in touch with nature, yet missing a few of the modern conveniences that we take for granted at home.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way! A camping fridge is one of those items that should be on everyone’s packing list – it lets you get out and explore without worrying about questionably refrigerated food (does this chicken smell strange to you?).
You’ll be able to keep all of the food and drink cool without having to make repeated trips to the service station for more ice, which means more time spent doing the activities you love!
These aren’t delicate units either. Modern camping fridges are rugged enough to handle the rough and tumble of a typical Australian camping adventure yet they run efficiently and use very little power. They can run all day off a 12V battery and can even be kept topped up with some small, folding solar panels.
I promise you that at the end of a long day of outdoor activities, nothing goes better with dinner than chilled drinks and delicious ice cream for dessert!’
Camping cooking equipment
‘A great set of camping cookware is essential for any camping trip. While you are out exploring the beautiful outdoors around Australia you will need to cook for yourself and the great thing is that you can still cook delicious meals while you are camping. A set of camping cookware can be anything from a simple pot to a full set that includes multiple pots, pans, plates, bowls and cutlery.
It is recommended to buy a set that includes quite a few pieces so that you can actually cook some good food while you are out on your adventures. It’s brilliant to be able to cook a big breakfast to start the day or a gourmet dinner to end it. Having a belly full of good food really makes the camping experience more enjoyable.
There are lots of excellent bundles of camping cookware that you can buy, and they usually pack away quite small and are relatively lightweight. The GSI Pinnacle Camper is a great choice as it comes with lots of different pieces so you should have everything you need to cook up a storm in your camp kitchen.’
A solar shower
Also recommended by Victoria from Guide Your Travel…
Zoe from Breastfeeding Mama suggests…
‘Whenever I go camping I always bring solar lights with me – they are absolutely a must-have. Twinkly fairy lights add a glam vibe to our tent area as well as providing ample light. We love simple solar fairy lights as well as the Luci inflatable lanterns. The Luci lanterns come in a range of styles, but I love the multi-colour options, which make it easier to find your tent in a camping ground – you can set it to whatever colour you want.
As for the fairy lights, we string them around the entrance to our tent – which makes it look very Instagram worthy and actually makes the whole area seem cozy.
The main thing to remember with solar lights is to charge them the day before using. This usually means putting them out in the sun at your campsite, or in the dash of the car while driving. Anywhere that they will get full sun on the solar panel. The other thing to remember is to turn them off when you go to bed.’
Recommended by Kelli of Vanabond Tales…
‘Possibly the most important piece of camping gear in our camping arsenal in 2021 is an app.
WikiCamps Australia is a crowd-sourced database of campsites and camping-related points of interest. With over half a million downloads and an active community, it provides the most up-to-date information on Australian camping locations.
Users can mark points of interest including free and paid campsites, caravan parks, national parks, day-use areas, local attractions, and a range of other helpful waypoints. A sophisticated system of filters allows you to include or exclude sites based on over 70 features such as cost, accessibility, amenities, and even telephone reception. Users can rate spots, leave reviews and provide helpful and up-to-date information about each site.
WikiCamps Australia is for every type of camper. This essential camping app is a must-have whether you are a total camping newbie or a veteran. It is for any length of trip, from a weekend to the beach or a lap of Australia. And it is for every camping style, whether you enjoy hitting popular caravan parks, or prefer remote national park locations.
With a wealth of helpful and put to date information, WikiCamps Australia is something we use for camping on a daily basis. At only $7 it will not only be one of the most helpful bits of gear in your kit, but it will also be one of the most affordable!’
It’s important to choose sleeping bags for the environment – if you’re sleeping in a tent in Australia in summer you’ll need something very different to if you’re planning on going camping in winter, so definitely consider the climate and the time of year you’re going to camp!
A portable BBQ
Taking your own portable BBQ with you means you’re able to cook up a storm without having to wait for the campground BBQs to become available, plus you can clean it in your own time after you’ve eaten. It also means you’re free to cook where you like rather than being tied to the free BBQ locations. It takes up space in your vehicle, but I think it’s worth it. You can read more about portable BBQs in this post.
Maps and navigation tools
Wearing the right clothes for camping in Australia will make the whole experience much better. It gets really hot in summer, and can cool down a lot in winter and different regions can really vary from one place to the next. Layers are always good when camping at cooler times of the year. Being sun safe is essential too (don’t forget to pack your sunscreen!) The right clothes are just as important in summer as in winter – think rash vests and sun safety shirts!
Find the best camping gear Australia and write your camping gear list
I hope you’ve found this round-up of the top camping gear for beginner campers useful. Now it’s time to write your own camping equipment list so you can start shopping for your next camping trip in Australia!