Island Camping Essentials | Must-Have Gear and Tips

Whether you plan to camp on a remote island with no electricity or a more built-up island with civilization, you have to consider that supplies will be non-existent or expensive. This article informs you of all the essentials you need to pack or get a hold of before you go island camping.

Pack a first aid kit, medicine, enough water or water purifying tablets, food that will not get spoilt by the weather, and appropriate clothing. Other essentials include sunscreen, fire tools, a swiss army knife, bug spray, trash bags, and kitchen supplies. 

Some of these essentials may already be familiar, but others may not be as obvious. It’s always handy to check if the island you plan to camp on has shops available. This will make it simpler to pack only the essentials you need.

22 Essentials You Need for Island Camping

Read below and discover why we’ve picked these 22 items as essentials for any island camping trip.

1. First Aid Kit

A first aid kit should be at the top of your island camping essentials checklist. Ensure your first aid kit is fully stacked with plasters, antiseptic cream, tweezers, adhesive bandages, and safety pins.

2. Medicine

Medicine can be expensive or scarce depending on what island you plan to camp on. Pack ibuprofen (or another pain medication), antihistamines, and tummy salts.

This can be packed into your first aid kit to keep everything organized.

3. Bug Spray

Wherever you plan to camp, you must always pack bug spray. Especially when camping on an island where the sea is likely to be close by, the risk of mosquito or sand flea bites can be higher.

Bug Spray

4. Shelter

Pack the right shelter for your trip. Pack a shelter with a rain cover if it’s likely to be raining. If there are likely to be many bugs, ensure you have a mosquito net door.

If you plan to build a shelter, check what you’ll be making your shelter out of. Some varieties of flora are protected.

5. Sleeping System

Sleeping bags and sleeping mats are an essential part of your island checklist. Also, make sure you pack a sleeping system appropriate for the weather on the island.

Do check out my article on the best camping sleeping bags for some awesome recommendations.

If you’re staying on a more exposed part of an island, you may want to pack a thicker sleeping bag or a sleeping bag liner.

6. Water

Some islands will have limited or no access to a freshwater source, so you must pack enough water for your camping trip.

On the other hand, if you are certain you can source water on the island you intend to visit, then ensure you pack water-purifying tablets.

7. Layers

Packing clothes for an island trip is essential. What is more essential is packing the right clothes. Whether it’s likely to stay hot or dip colder during your camping adventure, packing layers is always important.

Ensure you have a base, mid-layer, and outer shell. These will keep you warm!

8. Fire Tools

Fire tools are extremely important for island camping, especially when isolated. Pack matches, a lighter, or flint stones. We’d even recommend packing more than one!

Fire Tools

9. Kitchen Supplies

Kitchen supplies include anything you’ll need to make a meal; saucepan, cooking stove, gas canister, cutlery, eco-friendly cleaning supplies, and anything else you can imagine.

Make sure you’re storing your camping gas canisters safely to avoid any fire hazards.

Remember, once you get to the island, you might be unable to get hold of anything you forget. 

10. Swiss Army Knife

A swiss army knife is extremely useful in more ways than one. It’ll come in handy when you need to saw wood, cut tent ropes or even open a beer.

Especially for island camping, where your trip could be unpredictable, a swiss army knife is your best friend.

11. Food

Depending on your camping trip length, you’ll need to decide what food you will pack. If your trip is longer, pack dry food that won’t spoil, such as beef jerky or dehydrated food patches.

You can take some fruit, bread or pre-made fresh meals if it’s shorter. 

12. Hunting Tools

It can be handy to learn some hunting skills before you set off on an island camping trip, just in case of emergencies. Then you can pack hunting tools such as a hunting knife, nets, or a fishing rod.

Hunting Tools

13. Trash Bags

Some island camping may not have a rubbish dump, so ensure you take a trash bag where you can pack in and out.

Leave no trace of where you camped, which will keep the island in the same condition you found.

14. Sunscreen

Sunscreen is such an obvious essential that you may forget. Pack enough sunscreen for your trip, as this may be difficult or impossible to get hold of on the island.

15. Sun Glasses

As well as sun cream, sunglasses are also essential for any island camping trip. Even if the weather doesn’t look particularly sunny, having a pair of sunglasses for when the sun pops through can be handy.

16. Solar Lights or Torch

On remote islands, there may be limited or no light once night falls. Make sure you pack adequate lights or a torch, so you can find your way around camp.

Solar lights will charge during the day and keep your camp lit in the evening.

17. Book

A book is a great way to wind down before bed and a better way to relax without technology. Since island camping can be so quiet, it’s the best time to chill out and get into a good book.

18. Power Supply

Depending on what other equipment you plan to take camping, you may need a power supply. This can support electrical appliances you plan to take, such as lights or an electric stove.

Power Supply

19. Tent Repair Kit

If the island you plan to camp on is isolated, finding tools to repair a hole in your tent or a puncture in your air bed could be non-existent.

Tent repair kits can be small and compact, perfect for any camping trip. Pack some duct tape if you can’t source a repair kit before you leave.

20. Waterproof Bag

Camping backpacks may appear waterproof, but you must be certain they’ll keep your belongings safe and dry if the rain starts.

If you’re unsure how waterproof your bag is, it’s not a bad idea to pack a rain cover.

My guide on how to pick the right camping backpack will help you choose a good one based on your needs.

21. Cool Box

If you’re planning a longer camping trip or want to take fresh food with you, you’ll want to make sure you take a cool box.

Cool boxes don’t need to be huge. You can find small compact ones if you need to pack light for the island.

Do check out this camping food ideas guide to eliminate any uncertainties about what will you eat.

22. Activities

Lastly, you can pack any essential activity gear you may need. If you are likely to be hiking, pack your hiking boots. If you want to birdwatch, pack your binoculars.

Depending on which island you’ll be traveling to, check what activities are available and how to pack to prepare for them.


Final Thoughts

Whichever island you plan to go camping on, double-check you have everything you need to feel as prepared as possible.

Especially on islands where there are limited people or shops, make sure you pack for all scenarios. We hope this list has given you some ideas and pointers for your next adventure!

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with his pet bunny when not out in the woods, exploring the infinite beauty of mother nature.

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