This is our ultimate beach camping checklist
While every camping destination offers a unique experience, there’s just something extra special about beach camping.
After all, what’s not to love about pitching a tent on the warm sand and frolicking in the surf?
But the things that set beach camping apart also carry extra considerations. For example, camping at the beach often means extreme heat, or at the very least, prolonged sun exposure.
Don’t worry – although it sounds like a lot, we’re here to walk you through everything you’ll need for a successful beach camping adventure.
In summary, here’s the full list:
- Water…Lots of It!
- Portable Fire Pit
- Camp Stove
- Mess Kit
- Camping Toilet/Shower Tent
- Sand Stakes
- Beach Towels
- Camping Tarp and Suspension
- Sleeping Gear
- Clothes (Bathing Suit, Hat, Wading Shoes, etc.)
- The Fun Stuff: Frisbees, Football, Paddleboards, etc.
Before we dive right in, let’s briefly clarify something. Though this list looks like a lot, not everything here is essential.
See, beach camping is somewhat more luxurious. You can’t really hike there like a backpacker would. Instead, you’ll most likely be driving to your destination.
Because of this, you have the opportunity to bring a lot of gear, including luxury items. So we created this checklist with that assumption in mind.
All that said, you can of course feel free to whittle down this list if you’re trying to travel light.
Water…Lots of It!
This is number one on the list for a reason: bring lots of water. And then when you think you packed enough, grab two extra bottles.
You may be asking, why all this fuss? Here’s why: it’s frighteningly easy to get dehydrated at the beach.
Thanks to the salt in the air and the extended periods of intense sun, you’ll find yourself drying out way quicker than at any other type of campground.
So to mitigate these environmental factors, we recommend at least 2 gallons of water per person per day.
Now, that sounds like a lot of water, and it is. Keep in mind that not all of it is for drinking. Some will be for washing your hands, cooking, and brushing your teeth.
Regardless, more is always better than less when water on a beach trip is concerned.
Alternatively, if the idea of laying on a blanket is still too close to the sand, opt for a foldable camping chair instead.
Plus, unlike blankets, camping chairs have an added perk. You can carry them out to the surf and stick your feet in the water. It’s the ultimate relaxation!
If this sounds appealing, we’ve got you covered with our piece on the 10 best reclining camping chairs.
Portable Fire Pit
A crackling campfire on the beach is so indescribably cozy! Not to mention iconic. But what isn’t so fun is the work it takes to build said fire.
Enter, portable fire pits, the solution to all your firemaking troubles.
Powered by propane and usually activated by the touch of a button, you can enjoy all the fun of a campfire without the smoke, wood-gathering, and firestarting.
Now, this is definitely a luxury item, but if you decide to spring for it, portable fire pits can add an amazing boost to your campsite’s ambiance.
Not to mention, they can double as a cooking method, if desired.
Sold yet? If you are, head over to our article on the 10 best portable propane fire pits to find the best choice for your trip.
If you didn’t opt for a firepit, a camp stove is a fantastic and even more portable alternative. Yeah, you won’t be gathering around it and singing campfire songs, but you’ll be able to use it to whip up some tasty meals.
In addition, camp stoves are made to be ultra portable. As such, they’re extremely packable and lightweight. Not to mention, they can cook or boil just about anything.
Now you can brew up a mug of something hot and cozy, plop down in your camp chair, and luxuriate in the peace of the seashore.
It goes without saying that you’ll need a mess kit to prepare your meals.
Luckily, mess kits come in as many different sizes as you can imagine. The features and capacities are limited only by your preferences and budget.
If you’re in need of a mess kit, check out our top picks for the 10 best mess kits. You’re sure to find the perfect kit for any camp cook.
It’s always refreshing to have a cold drink, even more so on a blazing hot day.
This is why it’s smart to have a cooler on hand. Now you won’t have to deal with plastic tasting warm water.
Additionally, coolers will keep your perishable foods (such as last night’s leftovers) good to go.
Just remember to bring ice! Have enough with you or know where to resupply.
Camping Toilet / Shower Tent
Ah yes, nature’s call. If you were camping anywhere else, this would be simple: bring a shovel and call it a day!
Unfortunately, the beach isn’t like the woods, I’m afraid.
See, the microbes present in soil are much less prevalent in sand. As a result, human waste takes much longer to decompose.
Want to learn more about these specialty tents? We give you the low-down when we analyze the 9 best camping shower tents.
You can opt for any tent, but we’d specifically recommend a no-fuss popup tent. After all, you’re here to relax, not mess around with tents.
(Sound interesting? We analyzed the 11 best instant tents so you don’t have to.)
Furthermore, look for a tent that’s UV treated, if possible.
This accomplishes two things. UV treatments help keep the tent from breaking down over time from the harsh sun exposure. It also protects you from the sun while you’re in the tent.
Finally, a tent with a mesh top is an added bonus. At night, you can remove the rainfly and be treated to spectacular views of the stars.
Clearly, the loose sand of the beach greatly differs from the hard-packed dirt of most campgrounds.
Because of the beach’s unique composition, regular ol’ tent stakes won’t cut it. They simply aren’t beefy enough to handle the tension exerted by the tent in unsupportive ground.
Instead, you’ll need to pick up a set of sand stakes.
These are much more hardy than the flimsy stakes that typically come with tents. Plus, they’re specially designed to grip and stay put even in looser conditions like sand.
Going to the beach means plenty of time in the water, right? Make sure to pack accordingly by grabbing your beach towel!
Actually, we suggest bringing a spare or two. This way, you’ll always have a fresh towel on hand while your others dry out.
Blankets are great for lounging around camp without getting sand in every nook and cranny.
Sure, you could get a sand-free experience inside your floored tent, but what fun is that?
If at all possible, choose soft, comfortable blankets. Or if you don’t want to sand up any of your fancy blankets, just bring a specially designated towel that you don’t plan to use after swimming.
Packing sunscreen is kind of a no-brainer if you’re going to the beach. But regardless, we thought we’d include it if only to re-emphasize its importance.
Seriously: don’t underestimate the sun, especially if you’re beach camping. It’s already been said several times, but it can’t be said enough.
Camping at the beach means you’re likely spending a day or two directly exposed to the sun. This differs from a day trip to the beach, where you’d only stay out for a few hours.
We’ve all heard the saying: “pack it in, pack it out.” The beach is no exception to this, so be sure to bring plenty of trash bags.
You’ll be doing everyone (including the marine life) a favor by hauling your junk out with you.
Camping Tarp and Suspension
A camping tarp isn’t strictly a necessity, but it can be nice to have an awning of shade that extends beyond the bounds of your tent.
If you do decide to spring for this, don’t forget to bring hiking poles or some way to rig up the tarp. After all, there’s no trees on the beach!
By the way, we’ve got a list of the 8 best tarps if you’re considering it!
Similar to several other items on this checklist, your sleeping gear will depend on your trip type.
For instance, if you’re trying to keep weight down, you’ll probably bring sleeping bags.
But if you’re able to get a bit more luxurious, you may consider opting for an air mattress instead. The choices are truly up to you and your creativity!
Clothes (Bathing Suit, Hat, Wading Shoes, etc.)
The clothes you’ll pack for a beach trip are pretty much the same as what you’d bring on any summer camping trip.
There are of course several important additions. First, your bathing suit is a no-brainer!
Aside from your regular clothes, remember a wide-brimmed hat to protect your neck from the sun.
Wading shoes and sunglasses are also a plus.
Lastly, if you have sensitive skin, consider stashing a rash guard shirt. These have long sleeves and are made of lightweight “slinky” fabric.
This makes them cool enough to wear while also protecting against sunburn.
The Fun Stuff: Frisbees, Football, Paddleboards, etc.
Beach trips are fun! Unlike backpacking expeditions, beach camping isn’t just about hauling yourself up a mountain or through hundreds of miles.
So feel free to bring plenty of toys! This can be anything, but as a starting point, consider packing a football, sand buckets, or frisbee for land-related activities.
Or when you’re ready to take a dip, remember your pool noodles or paddleboards.
Since you made it to the end of our list, you know now that there’s a lot to consider when packing up to hit the beach.
We hope this list has been helpful for your planning. Now go soak up the sun!