The most basic, and important thing is the tent. Choose the most convenient size and form for your type of trip. Generally, a two person tent can fit two people in it, but if you want to be able to move a bit go for one person size more than you actually are. So for two people go for 3, 3 for 4 etc. Dome tents are quick and easy to assemble and can be easily moved from one place to another.They also give you headroom to stand, or nearly stand, a big advantage when dressing. Make sure your tent has a separate waterproof flysheet, one with a little porch area in front of the entrance is really convenient. Always do a trial set up in your backyard before each trip and check that you have tent pegs and guy ropes. A thick plastic trash bag beneath the tent can protect the waterproof bottom from damage and possible leaks.
A warm and comfortable night’s sleep is essential for an enjoyable camping trip. Purchase the best quality sleeping bag you can afford and a rating which covers most normal camping conditions. Down bags pack up really small and will keep you snug, as long as they don’t get wet. Sleeping pads give you a soft sleeping surface and also isolate you from the ground so keeping you warmer, and for extra comfort go for an inflatable mattress.
Buy a portable stove and an ice chest of a size to suit your needs and camping destinations. If you are going to be backpacking choose small and light, if the car’s going to be close-by, choose something with sufficient space. A folding table and chairs are also really handy if you have room for them. Don’t rely on being able to cook over the campfire, and always have a backup option.
Pack essential cooking pans, at least a frying pan and a couple of pots and consider buying a special camping set with all stack neatly inside each other and are pretty cheap. Take sufficient mugs and large flattish dishes of a non breakable material which can serve as both dishes and plates. Remember spatulas,and cutlery. A big plastic bowl is really useful for doing the washing up, and for keeping all the cooking utensils together.
Purchase a sturdy cooler that can stand up to use in the great outdoors ad with sufficient capacity for blocks of ice, made at home. These last much longer than small store-bought cubes.
LED headlamps are essential, it can be surprisingly dark at night even in popular campsites. A larger LED lamp is also a good idea to provide generally lighting especially if hung from a tree branch or inside your tent.
First Aid Kit
Be sure to pack a comprehensive first aid kit. You can buy a professional box from the Red Cross, or build your own. Remember to include bug spray and sunscreen and any prescription medicines you may use.