Camping at the beach is a great way to enjoy the summer sun and ocean waves. Spending a few nights on the beach can provide a unique and rewarding experience that is different from camping anywhere else.
The sound of waves crashing against the shore and sand between your toes are some of the bonuses of camping by the coast! But before you head out, make sure you pack everything you need.
Pack what you need and nothing more, and you’ll be all set for an enjoyable beach camping trip. This beach camping packing list will help make sure you have everything you need for a fun and relaxing trip.
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The Ultimate Beach Camping Packing List: 32 Essentials To Bring With You
Here are the 32 most important items to bring with you on your beach camping trip to ensure you have everything you need for a seamless adventure.
1. Sun canopy
Even if the forecast isn’t especially hot, being exposed to direct sunlight all day at the beach can drain your energy (and cause sunburns!).
When packing for camping on the beach, a pop-up sun tent is a must-have for sunny days.
All of these options allow breezes to flow through, which is a great feature to have on hot days.
Some people swear by sleeping out in the open, but we recommend sleeping in a tent for privacy and protection against the elements (dust, dirt, bugs, etc.).
Plus, camping at the beach doesn’t mean it’ll always be hot! Case in point: the beaches on the eastern and western coast of the USA.
My absolute favorite 4-person tent is the REI Co-op Base Camp 4 Tent! This tent combines sturdy geodesic-dome architecture and rugged materials to create a roomy and robust home away from home.
Now, if you’re a budget traveler/adventurer and don’t already have a tent, I recommend getting something that is both affordable and easy to set up and take down.
The Coleman Cabin Tent was designed with a super cool feature in mind– instant setup within 60 seconds! If you want to share a tent with your friends, the 6-person tent offers enough room for two queen size air beds.
There are a few ways you can anchor your tent in the sand. You can purchase stakes that are actually meant to stay in the sand, buy tent weights, or bring your own DIY bags to fill up with sand.
4. Air mattress / inflatable sleeping pad
For maximum comfort, go with an inflatable air mattress paired with a blanket or two. This is a good choice if you are not going to be camping with that many people and have more room for a larger tent.
For a more compact option, bring your sleeping bag paired with a lightweight sleeping pad.
Whichever option you choose, these will be good investments as you can often use them in your own home, on future camping trips or even on backpacking trips.
Pro Tip: While sleeping mats are nice and will provide you with that added comfort, you may not need it in the sand. This all depends on your body and sleeping preferences.
5. Sleeping bag
Depending on where in the world you’ll be doing beach camping, you will either need a super-warm sleeping bag or a basic sleeping bag. I personally own a Big Agnes sleeping bag that I love–it’s lightweight and works for every season there is.
If you’re looking for an all-season sleeping bag that you plan to use for future camping trips, I’d invest the money and get one that has a quality down filling. These typically will cost $200+.
If you’re just looking for something decent for mostly summer camping, here are a few affordable options on the market:
- Coleman 30°F Palmetto Sleeping Bag
- Marmot Voyager 55 Mummy Sleeping Bag
- Double Sleeping Bag – sleeps 2 (and comes with 2 pillows)
6. Camping chairs
You’ll want somewhere to sit when you’re not in your tent or laying out under the sun. Camping chairs are perfect and simple, but make sure they have cup holders for your drinks!
Alternatively, you can bring tufted floor pillows if sitting on the ground is more your thing.
Another option for seating is to get an inflatable couch. In fact, you might want to bring both for yourself just so you have multiple seating options. These things provide even more relaxation because you’ll feel like you’re resting in a hammock (as opposed to sitting up straight in a camping chair).
The Chillbo Shwaggins Inflatable Couch comes with elastic anchor loops to allow you to stake down your couch when it’s windy. It also has large side pockets to hold books, glasses, snacks and an ice cold beer! Plus, they come in a lot of fun, unique colors.
7. Foldable table
While many standard campgrounds come with built-in picnic tables, you’ll be extremely lucky if you’re able to find a picnic table while camping at the beach.
A large foldable table is a must-have for beach camping. This is where you will place all your food and drinks.
If your group plans on playing games, it’s best to have a separate table to do it on so you’re not all straining your backs playing on the floor.
8. Sand-free beach blanket
A beach blanket is crucial for any beach camping excursion. There’s so much time for lounging, and there’s no better place to lounge than in the sand and under the sun.
This beach blanket was engineered to be both sand-free and waterproof, meaning you’ll always have a dry and clean place to escape the sand! Plus, it’s super large meaning you can fit up to a whole family on there.
9. Lanterns / headlamps
While it is usually really sunny and bright at the beach during the day, it gets pretty dark at night. If you need nighttime lighting for your campsite, bring something like this battery-powered LED camping lantern.
Bring a personal headlamp too in case you need to build your campsite late at night, look for something at your campsite at night, or if you need to use the bathroom at night. Being hands-free while doing these activities is crucial!
10. Solar-powered battery pack
Depending on how you like to camp, you’re either going to completely tuck your phones and electronics away or totally embrace them. If you’re the latter, you’re going to need some battery juice during your trip.
Beaches are known for their sun, so why not take full advantage of those conditions by packing some solar operated charging devices?
If you’re camping with a large squad, bringing a solar-powered generator will provide more than enough green energy to power all your devices for hours and hours.
If you only need a bit of juice during the day, you will likely be able to get by with a portable solar power bank.
Pro Tip: Bringing a solar-powered generator with you? You could also bring a set of portable power banks that you can charge off of your solar panels. This allows you to take your recharged power banks with you when you’re out hiking or adventuring for the day, meaning you can recharge your phone, GPS, and other devices while out and about.
11. Solar shower
If you are camping at the beach and you have decided that showering every day is a must, it may be worth it to invest in a solar shower. With a personal camping shower, you’ll be able to wash off the dirt, sand, and saltwater from your body any time, any day!
The Advanced Elements Summer Solar Shower is an affordable option that has a large 5-gallon capacity and is designed to heat water fast in the warm sun. You can even fill up the shower with the melted water from your cooler for an extra refreshing shower!
For something that provides a bit more privacy, invest in the Green Elephant Camping Shower Tent to pair with your solar shower. You can even use this when not showering, for changing purposes! While this is not a beach camping essential, it does provide added privacy and comfort.
12. Portable fire pit
Being able to enjoy a good ol’ campfire is one of the most enjoyable aspects of camping. However, when camping at the beach, you’ll have to take certain precautions to help ensure that you follow the Leave No Trace guidelines to minimize the impacts of campfires.
While many beaches do not allow campfires, depending on where you are, you may be allowed to have a fire on the beach below the high tide line.
(Why below the high tide line? Having a fire past this point means that the fire scar left behind in the sand will be washed away by the ocean within 24 hours.)
If you’d rather not deal with all the logistics and rules that come along with creating a fire in the sand, consider a portable camping fire pit.
Bringing a pop-up fire pit with you ensures that you can enjoy a campfire without the concern of damaging the environment or breaking beach regulations.
If you do want to bring a fire pit, don’t forget to pack tinders, lighters, and firestarters, too. That way, you can enjoy a fully-fed fire during your nightly wind-down hours.
13. Portable speakers
You will want to bring a high-quality pair of portable speakers, something that will be loud enough so that you can hear the music while outdoors and next to the ocean.
We like the JBL Charge 5. Its long-lasting battery delivers up to 20 hours of playtime and the built-in power bank lets you charge your devices without taking a break!
14. Beach entertainment
You can really go crazy here! Think boogie boards, kayaks, surfboards, snorkeling gear, frisbees, footballs, beach balls, pool noodles, and pool floaties.
For those that are looking for more relaxation, you can consider bringing a deck of cards, books, and mentally-stimulating activity booklets.
And if you’re camping with young children, don’t forget to pack the sandcastle-building kit.
15. Board games
You’ll have a lot of time to kill while camping, which is half the fun of it! Bring board games to keep yourselves entertained (when you’re not doing beach activities). We recommend the following:
If you have more space in your cars, you can even bring things like:
16. Propane Stove or Camping Griddle
Cooking your own food is part of the camaraderie and fun of beach camping! Planning the menu with your family members and friends can be really fun, not to mention it’ll help the group save a ton of money collectively.
For a simple 2 burner option, go with the Coleman Triton Gas Camping Stove.
If your group is serious about meal-making, go with something more standalone such as the Camp Chef Explorer which comes with detachable steel legs and a 3-sided windscreen.
Along with your propane stove, you’ll also need to bring along any pots and pans you plan on using.
Pro Tip: To keep your dirty pots and pans to a minimum, try to concoct some one-pot meals!
If you’re doing a hike-in beach camping trip, you’re going to need something smaller, like a backpacker’s stove. The hands-down best option here is the Jetboil Flash Cooking System.
For camping trips where you’ll be under the sun most of the time, you’ll really want something with the power to really keep things cool. In particular, you’ll want to look for a durable cooler with thick insulation to help keep your stuff as cold as possible over multiple days.
For us, this is the YETI Tundra 35 Cooler. Nothing beats this beast of a cooler!
This cooler is an item that many outdoor enthusiasts yearn for in their lives, but not many pull the trigger on due to its heftier price tag. Bue one thing is for sure, with this cooler, your drinks and food will stay cold for days no matter where you are. It will most definitely hold up in the heat and save you money on having to replace the ice.
A Yeti Cooler might be expensive, but they are so worth the investment. Given their durability and high-quality build, you’ll be able to use them in your everyday life for many years to come.
Pro Tip: If you’re going to need to walk a longer distance to get to your beach campsite, consider getting the YETI Tundra Haul Portable Wheeled Cooler instead. Being able to roll your heavy cooler over rocks and sand will be a lifesaver.
The best things to stock your cooler with are as follows:
- Fruits – pre-cut watermelon, tangerines, frozen grapes
- Pasta salads
- Cold cuts, cheeses, charcuterie meats
- Yogurt, spinach dip, hummus
- Vietnamese sandwiches – our personal go-to lunch meals
- Coconut water
- Vitamin water
- Frozen water bottles – to keep cooler cold for longer
- Form of caffeine – pre-brewed cold brew served on ice in the morning is amazing
- Beers / Hard seltzers
- Any perishable foods you plan on cooking up (butter, eggs, meat, etc)
- A few extra long-lasting ice packs – helps keep your food/drink as cool as possible
Aside from the food you’re planning on cooking, don’t forget to pack some snacks for midday munching! Some of the best snacks to bring on any camping trip are chips, cookies, crackers, trail mix, King’s Hawaiian rolls, Rice Krispies bars, etc.
Don’t forget to pack the s’mores sticks!
Basically, anything that won’t melt from the warmth of the sun. Not the healthiest, but it sure will be nice when you’re drinking and relaxing during the day!
19. Plates, utensils, cooking tools
Utensils, paper towels, napkins, cups, etc.
If you can help it, avoid bringing paper plates, plastic utensils, and excessive rolls of paper towels. They create a bunch of avoidable garbage.
Alternatively, you can go with a compostable meal kit as it’s still better than all the plasticky options out there.
20. Trash bags
Bring a few sizes and a few extra of each. You never know, and extra trash bags are always handy.
Remember to respect the beach and throw everything away before leaving. Don’t bring in what you can’t bring out!
21. Reusable Water Bottle
To combat dehydration during your beach days, do not forget to pack water as well as reusable water bottles to drink with.
For something more durable that keeps your water cold for hours upon hours, Hydroflasks are my favorite for everyday use. These will probably be your best option because you will most definitely crave ice-cold water while in the hot blazing sun!
Pro Tip: If you happen to have those 5-gallon water jugs at home, pick up an affordable automatic water bottle pump so you can easily dispense water when you don’t have your at-home dispenser!
22. Quick-drying towels
There’s a really good chance that you’ll be swimming, surfing, snorkeling, or just dipping your legs in the water on your camping trip. How are you going to dry off efficiently?
Enter the quick-drying travel/camp towel. These towels are probably one of the best inventions for efficient travelers and campers!
They are light, super packable, and quick-drying. Definitely very useful if you plan on showering or wiping the sand off of your feet at any point during your camping trip!
This large camping towel is a great option if you’re in the market for one.
23. Sunhat / sunglasses
Both of these are so necessary for spending prolonged periods of time in the sun at the beach.
If sunglasses are more your thing, too bad, we still recommend wearing a hat! Sunglasses won’t protect your face and neck from UV rays, but hats will.
24. Eye mask / earplugs
Absolutely necessary to shield your sleeping eyes from the bright sunrises of the coast! An eye mask is also great if you are rooming with others and you like your privacy when you sleep.
A good set of earplugs will also grant you a decent, if not a good night’s sleep! These earplugs by Mack’s are my absolute favorite.
Hint hint: The ocean can be really loud, depending on whether there are crashing waves vs lapping waves. So if you don’t find that it lulls you to bed, it may actually keep you up at night!
25. Baby wipes / body wipes
Body wipes will come in handy for a lot of reasons. First, they are great for wiping excess dust and sand off your body throughout the day. Secondly, they can also be used for post-poop purposes!
Although using a camp shower is also a great idea while beach camping, using body wipes can also be a quick and effortless way to stay clean after a dip in the ocean.
If you want a body wipe that’s actually meant to replace a shower, we highly recommend Goodwipes Really Big Body Wipes. While obviously, it won’t completely replace a real shower, I always feel way cleaner after using these. Plus, unlike baby wipes, you won’t smell like a baby’s bottom after using them.
For the body and butt, DUDE Wipes Flushable Wipes are great for both guys and gals.
Ladies specifically should consider bringing ‘feminine’ wipes! In hot destinations where I know I’ll be sweating a lot, I’ll always carry around a few sheets of feminine wipes. I love Summer’s Eve Cleansing Cloths because they do provide that little oomph of freshness whenever I use them.
26. Shower supplies
If you plan on showering during your camping trip (yes, some people can go days without showering, only relying on body wipe showers), bring along some biodegradable toiletries.
The toiletries that you get at your average drugstore (shampoo, body wash, soap, etc.) contain chemicals that can be really harmful to the environment.
Their biodegradable counterparts are meant to decompose in the soil and won’t break down in the water.
Stream2Sea sells an awesome 3-in-1 body wash, shampoo and conditioner that’s perfect for outdoor activities like beach camping.
27. Shower slippers / casual slides
Bringing a pair of waterproof slides or sandals is smart because you’ll be able to wear them around the campsite when you want to skip the shoes as well as get them wet in case you plan to shower.
The Birkenstock Arizona EVA Sandals are my personal favorite because they’re so comfortable and stylish enough to wear in your everyday life too.
28. Other Toiletries
Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, dry shampoo, hair ties, etc.
Here are some not-so-ordinary toiletries that can help you make your beach camping experience more tolerable:
- Aloe Vera Gel – Soothes that sunburnt skin; always good to lather on after a day of constant sun exposure!
- Evian Facial Spray – Cool your face off when it’s getting too hot out there; use before moisturizer for an extra boost of hydration or use throughout the day to refresh and revive makeup.
- Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo – Absorbs oils and adds lift at the roots. Works great as a pick-me-up when the sun’s been beating down on your scalp all day!
- Neutrogena Makeup Remover Towelette Singles – These are great for removing dirt! And because they’re individually wrapped; you can leave them in a communal area to share among all your campmates.
29. Hand sanitizer
At the beach, it’s nearly impossible to find a sink with clean running water. Even at the portapotties, there are bottles of hand sanitizers in place of portable sinks.
Bring one large bottle of hand sanitizer for the group to share. This can be left on the communal table so that everyone has access to it at all times.
Since you’ll be using hand sanitizer so much, it’s best to get a non-drying natural hand sanitizer to prevent flaky, dried-up hands. We love the following:
30. First aid kit
Always necessary for any type of traveling or camping! You can either make your own or buy one that’s premade.
Either way, you’ll for sure want to have a variation of these things:
- ibuprofen (for hangovers or other mishaps)
- alcohol wipes
- allergy pills
- Pepto-Bismol chews
- eye drops
- lip balm
- a sharpie
- extra contact lenses (if applicable)
Think about the ailments you typically suffer from and have to deal with on a regular basis and adjust the contents of the bag as needed!
31. Rolls of toilet paper
The #1 rule of any sort of camping–never assume there will be toilet paper in your porta-potty or bathroom facility. Always bring some with you when you go!
You don’t want to be that person who realizes there is no toilet paper when it’s already way too late.
32. Beach wagon or cart
Trudging through the sand with all your camping gear (especially if your campsite is farther away) just doesn’t sound appealing. And if the heat is already beating down? Even more painful and dehydrating!
Use a beach wagon with large wheels meant for sand to help haul your camping gear. You’ll be able to carry more in fewer trips and save your energy in the process!
Essential Tips For The Perfect Beach Camping Trip
- Pack your clothing and other belongings in a water-resistant duffel bag. Let’s face the facts–beaches are wet. There’s the coastal mist and the ocean itself. Packing your dry goods in a water-resistant bag will keep your stuff as dry as possible.
- Check the weather frequently. Coastal weather can change quickly and dramatically, depending on your camping location in the world. Since beaches tend to be wide open spaces, storms can bring dangerous winds and lightning. Be prepared to leave if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
- Once you pick out the spot to set up camp, smooth out the sand before you set up your tent. This will ultimately create a smoother surface for you to sleep on.
- Use an oversized tarp or beach blanket as an entryway for your tent to prevent sand from getting all up in your tent. This entryway is where you can clean your limbs of all the sand before getting into your tent.
- Have a bucket of water by your tent for cleaning off your feet before entering your tent. This will help keep the interior of your tent as sand-free as possible.
- To extend the life of your ice, get dry ice. From there, wrap it in a towel, cover it with some regular ice, ice packs, or frozen water bottles. This will help keep your perishables and drinks cold for many, many days!
- Bring and drink plenty of water. For an extra boost in hydration, bring hydration packets or even bottles of coconut water (it’s such a refreshing taste when hot).
- Keep your ice chest (and snacks) in the shade. Why try to melt your ice faster than it needs to?
- In addition to your food cooler, consider bringing along an extra, smaller cooler for edible/drinkable ice. You can use this ice for making ice-cold drinks and even use it to replenish your main cooler if the ice in there begins to melt.
- Bring at least one set of warm clothes. Coastal weather means there is a chance that the marine layer/fog can roll in. Always bring something warm for the nighttime. At the very least, bring one hoody and a pair of sweats or leggings.
- Keep track of the tides. Download a free tide tracker app like My Tide Times and keep track of the tides while camping. If setting up camp at low tide, keep far away from the water’s edge to be sure that the water won’t reach you during high tide.
- Firewood may not always be available. While you can often find driftwood, it may not be dry enough to light. Bring your own fire-starting materials to be safe.
- Pack extra towels and leave them in the car for those just in case moments. You won’t regret bringing along extra towels. Towels are great for drying off, showering, and even cleaning.
- Not all beach campgrounds have trash bins. Please, please, please dispose of your trash after your camping trip. Leave No Trace!
And that about wraps up this beach camping packing list!
At the end of the day, one of the best ways to enjoy the beach is to camp directly on it! Lately, beach campgrounds are in high demand, so make sure you start planning your trip early.
I hope you found this packing list helpful–now go and have a great time out there.
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