5 Camping Essentials Every Urban Dweller Needs to be Outdoor Ready

I’m here to tell you, urban dweller, just because you live in the city doesn’t mean you have to let go of your love of the outdoors. You can easily put together all the urban camping essentials you need to have an awesome camping adventure.

5 Camping Essentials every city dweller needs

Urban camping essentials, not just for the enthusiast

Are you a closeted outdoor enthusiast who secretly reads Backpacker Magazine and dreams of hiking the Appalachian Trail one day? Or maybe, you like to virtually plan your next backwoods adventure while slaving away at your corporate job, but never save any of them because you don’t have the urban camping essentials needed for a spontaneous camping trip.

Start prepping now! Urban camping essentials you’ll need when SHTF.

I know what your thinking, you can’t even stuff last year’s winter clothes into your closet, let alone hoard camping equipment you might need once a year! Ok I hear you, but just listen for a moment while I plead my case to you. What if everything you need to make your next camping trip amazing could have more than one purpose? What I mean is, I’m not going to ask you to keep anything in your small apartment that you can’t use for something else. Does that sound like a deal?

You know this famous movie quote?

“Build it and they will come…”

Well I believe if you have what you need to enjoy a night under the stars, just the essentials for an awesome camping adventure, more camping opportunities will come to you, urban dweller. Still mot convinced camping equipment will come in handy while living in the city? Sheesh, your tough! Ok, I want to challenge you with another quote…

“Luck favors the prepared…”

Now I mentioned that, if you have the urban camping essentials in your possession you will more likely receive opportunities to use it (thank you, universe!), but let me throw another scenario at you. We live in a time where both natural and man-made disasters are a reality. As city dwellers we have had to deal with hurricanes, blackouts, snowstorms and even terrorist’s plots to destroy us! Now I don’t want to get all paranoid prepper on you, but damn it, you need to be prepared in case SHTF and have a bug-out plan, good buddy!  Having these camping essentials in your closet is going to put you one step ahead should the Zombie Nation hit your doorstep.

“Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.” -Miguel  de Cervantes

All joking aside, since I’ve lived in cities I’ve been through: blackouts (2 at the time of this writing, major earthquakes (again 2, weird, huh?) and too many hurricanes/tropical storms/snowpocalypses to count and I’ve used at least one of the items in my camping preparedness kit on all of these occasions. Being prepared is never a bad thing, in fact it makes you just a bit ahead of the rest of the herd, if you know what I mean (cough, cough, natural selection).

So what do you say, are you ready to start building your camping kit? You are?! I’m so happy to hear it! Well then, let’s get started.

5 Urban Camping Essentials that Every City Dweller Needs to Own


First things first, you’re going to need to haul this crap to your next camping destination. Granted you may be Uber-ing your way to your next outdoor getaway, but you’ll still need a well made backpack to keep your camping essentials at the ready (not to mention your clothes, bug spray, iPad, etc…).

north face backpack for camping

The North Face Stormbreak 35 Pack

The North Face has been selling backpacks for decades. They make quality outdoors equipment, that’s why you see so many of them on the backs of serious climbers. They’re comfortable to wear and are built to last. The Stormbreak Backpack is the perfect size pack for overnight trips and will hold all your camping must-haves. It has sturdy shoulder and waist straps, a must for carrying heavy loads and has lots of pockets for stashing hiking necessities like water bottles and handy loops so you can attach even more shit.  It’s light enough to use everyday and tough enough to take a backcountry beating. The front panel opens wide for easy loading and has side compression straps so you can reduce bulk.


Why I like it: With The North Face logo behind it, you’re getting a quality backpack that will literally last you forever.

Alternative use for city living: This one is kind of a no-brainer, but if you need one or two: beach bag, you’re next park picnic, commuting over the Williamsburg bridge on your bike, you get the idea.


The good news, you don’t need a tent large enough to sherpa an 8 man expedition through the Himalayas. A sturdy, well made 2-4 person tent will work just fine. I actually prefer a 3 man tent: its big enough to hold you, a friend and your gear comfortably and small enough so it doesn’t take up lots of valuable storage space.


Mountaintop 3 Person Tent

No two ways about it, you need to have something to protect you from the elements. And, while you might be tempted to scrimp and buy the cheapest one, take it from someone who has spent the night freezing underneath a collapsed tent in a freakish torrential rainstorm, save yourself potential misery and spend a little more on a quality tent. Not only will it last longer, but it might just save your life someday.

Why I like it: Its affordable, has strong poles to keep your tent upright during high winds, fits 3 people snuggly or two comfortably, is large enough for an airbed, it weighs only 8 lbs and most importantly, it’s waterproof.

Alternative use for city living: The rain fly can be used as a sun shelter at the beach or park. No more South Hampton/ Central Park sunburns!

Sleeping Bag

This is one area where you can spend a little or a lot. I’m not going to lie to you and say you need the top of the line model to get by, frankly unless your camping in the winter or a remote area at high altitude, you can get by with a cheaper model of sleeping bag. Now I know I will get emails saying I’m wrong and you may be right, but I will defend my choice with this response, the better quality of sleeping bag you have the higher your comfort level will be. I’ve slept with only a blanket to keep me warm in summer months and I’ve frozen my ass off in Walmart sleeping bags during late summer camping.  So what I am saying is, if you enjoy being warm and cozy all the time, spend a little more in this area. If, like me, you’re part mountain goat on your mom’s side and can endure a cold night or two, spend what you can afford. In general, if you choose to purchase a sleeping bag, look for something that is graded for AT LEAST 45F degree weather.


TETON Sports TrailHead +20F Ultralight Sleeping Bag

This sleeping bag is lightweight enough to carry on a long trek, but bulky enough to protect you from weather up to 20F. It’s your typical mummy bag, a cozy cocoon with not a lot of space for cold air to seep into.  It comes with a handy compression bag so you can stuff it down to the size of a watermelon and weighs just 2.87 lbs.

Why I like it: It’s should be at the top of our urban camping essentials list, but we’re not concerned with hierarchy. Lightweight, with it’s own compression sack, this sleeping bag travels nicely. It’s also certified to keep you warm should the weather unexpectedly drop to below freezing.

Alternative use for city living: Extra bedding for guests, outdoor movies, extra protection should your heating go out in the winter and you can’t reach your landlord.


Camping Stove

Now this one could be considered optional since most folks can simply rip open a package of processed something or other and be done with it. However, I challenge you to go beyond your local bodega turkey sandwich and embrace the marvelous feeling than comes with preparing food outdoors. Perhaps it’s in our DNA, that primal urge to secure and prepare the sustenance needed to live outdoors or it could be it’s just plain fun to cook outdoors. If you’re going to collect even one of these urban camping essentials, let it be a camp stove.

coleman stove_edited

Coleman Butane Instastart Camp Stove

I own one of these and let me tell ya, I love it. It comes with its own carrying case, which also make a nice cutting board in a pinch, it runs on a $2.50 can of butane which stores nicely inside the unit. It’s small, but works like a professional gas stove and it has a built-in ignition so you don’t have to worry about burning your fingers lighting it!

Why I like it: Lightweight, works really well in all sorts of weather, it’s compact and comes in a plastic carry case with a handle. You can easily store it anywhere and it’s ready to cook on in a snap.

Alternative use for city living: You can take this anywhere you might need an extra burner. Think emergencies, during one blackout I couldn’t use my electric stove, this baby came in real handy (just be sure to use in a well ventilated area. I’ve also used this thing at so many BBQs I’ve lost count.


This category should be more than one thing, but if I had to pick just one, it would be a sleeping pad. While I admire all of those rugged folks who sleep on the ground with no buffer what-so-ever, I am sadly not one of them. I like a little lot of cushion underneath my body.

Klymit Static V valve detail

Klymit Static V Self inflating Sleeping Pad

You’ll write me a thank you note after  one night on this pad. It’s super compact, self inflates and though it’s thin, it provides you with a nice buffer between your bones and the solid ground. It gets lots of great reviews online because it’s durable, easy to repair and it WORKS. If you want to wake up without feeling like you’ve been hit by a Mac truck, buy this pad.

Why I like it: It’s about the same price as an inflatable mattress, but without the bulk and slips nicely into your sleeping bag.

Alternative use for city living: When you live in the city, you always have out-of-town guests. If the sofa is full and you don’t have room for an airbed, this is a nice alternative. Oh and did I mention, the beach, the park, yada, yada…


Well, that’s the list. I could add to this and include a lot more, but when it comes down to it, this is all you really need to get by on a short camping trip. There are many nice to haves: a cooler, mess kit, camping chairs, I could go on, but if you’re really serious about spending some time outdoors, you’ll soon amass those items. This is simply a list of urban camping essentials must-haves to get you started. At the very least i hope I have encouraged you to get outdoors this summer!

Did I miss something on this list? What would you suggest I add? Tell me in the comments below! 

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3 thoughts on “5 Camping Essentials Every Urban Dweller Needs to be Outdoor Ready

  1. HA!! Us paranoid preppers don’t mind being called that. We get used to it. People only look at us funny till they need to borrow tool or something….

    My last camping trip I brought EVERYTHING. Or so I thought. But what I forgot to bring was cooking utensils. Making eggs and bacon in the morning is much more difficult without a spatula or tongs. 😐

    Totally agree about the sleeping pads. They are worth every penny!
    Marc´s last blog post ..F-1 Firearms BDR-15-3G Review

  2. Tracy at - Author

    I’m always overprepared for camping trips, Marc, so I definitely feel your pain. 🙂 Never underestimate a good sleeping pad, am I right? 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  3. Pingback: Festival Chair is the Perfect Coachella Music Festival AccessoryModern Urban Living

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