When you're knee deep in camping gear, it's easy to forget some of the most important items like flashlights or band aids. Before your next trip, create a must-bring bag with all ten of these camping essentials so you're never without that one thing you forgot to bring.
First Aid Kit
Burns, scratches, cuts or bumps—one of these is bound to happen on an active camping trip, making a first-aid kit one of the most important camping essentials you could bring. Don't arrive at your campsite without it, and be sure to take it on your excursions, as well.
Pack of Matches
Unless you're a veteran boy scout, chances are you need some sort of flame to start a fire. Without a fire, you have limited food options and nights become a whole lot colder. Don't risk it, and buy matches in bulk. You can leave them in your camping essentials bag for years at a time.
Rope has so many uses at a campsite, especially if you can tie a variety of knots. Make a clothes line for wet garments, hang your coolers from a branch at night, create a shelter, or tow people out of a tight situation on a hike or swim. Bottom line: don't go camping without one.
Whether you're using it to protect the bottom of your tent or as an extra shelter at your campsite, tarps are essential. They're easy to fold, and only take up a small amount of space in your camping bags.
A Jar of Peanut Butter
Peanut butter has a long shelf life, and can be used in more ways than you can count. As a versatile source of fat and protein, this should be with you on every camping trip. In a bind, you can schmear it on bread, remove gum from your hair, or just enjoy it in spoonfuls.
Portable Spice Rack
You wouldn't dig into an under-seasoned dinner at home, so why would you suffer at the campsite. A plastic, portable spice rack is perfect to throw into your camping essentials bag; most of these are small, easy to pack and hard to break.
Lantern, Flashlight or Headlamp
Whether you're stumbling to the bathroom after dark or sneaking a midnight snack, you should always have a lantern and/or flashlight in your camping essentials box. Be sure your light source is easy to reach in the car, in the event that you arrive at your site after dark.
Maps and Compass
You have GPS on your phone, and you may even have a GPS system sitting in your car console. Unfortunately, you may not get a signal in remote camping spots, or as you disappear into the forest to go hiking. Have your navigation essentials, such as a map and compass, with you at all times in case your GPS is less than reliable.
Alternate Weather Wear
You've checked the weather forecast for weeks—no rain, only sun. Unfortunately, the weather can change at the drop of a dime, leaving you stuck in the rain or huddling around your campfire. With an extra set of clothes, you won't have to worry about sudden weather changes; you can swap out wet clothes for dry ones or layer during a cold front.
Most commonly known as a Swiss Army Knife, this tool is a camping essential that takes up almost no space in your bags. With a knife, corkscrew, saw, small scissors and more, you'll have a variety of camping essentials in an easy to pack, compact size.
Jessica Sanders is the Associate Online Editor for ReserveAmerica.com. After many years of camping and hiking in the Northeast, she's exploring what the West has to offer and sharing all of her knowledge with you. She's a s'mores master, campsite connoisseur, writer, runner and lover of all things outdoors. Follow her on Google+.