25 essential camping words you should know

25 essential camping words you should know

by Andrea Byaruhanga

Updated September 16, 2022

If you’ve ever been camping, or even thought about going, you probably know it takes a lot of preparation. You have to pick a spot you want to visit, think of everything you’ll need, pack and organize all of your supplies—the list goes on. 

Below, we’ll go through a list of essential camping vocabulary words in English. Whether you’re a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or a complete newbie, a backpacker or a car camper, this list will provide you with the camping terms you need to plan your next trip, and help you grow your English vocabulary at the same time.  

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Surroundings

Here are some camping-related words that describe the area where you set up your camp. 

1. Campsite

Meaning: The area in which you set up your tent, cooking equipment, etc.

How to use it: “Make sure you choose a campsite that’s close to the lake so we don’t have to walk far when we want to go swimming.”

2. Fire pit

Meaning: A designated area where you can build a fire

How to use it: “Don’t put your tent too close to the fire pit or it might catch on fire!”

3. Outhouse

Meaning: An enclosed outdoor toilet that usually has no water and does not flush; also known as a pit latrine or pit toilet

How to use it: “I love camping but I really hate using outhouses. They’re so smelly.” 

4. Picnic table

Meaning: A table with attached benches that is used for eating outdoors; also known as a picnic bench

How to use it: “Why don’t we bring our lunch to the park today? There are some picnic tables under the trees.”

Accommodations

Depending on the type of camping experience you want, there are some different options for sleeping arrangements. 

5. Tent

Meaning: A portable, collapsible shelter made of fabric

How to use it: “I bought a waterproof tent because it seems to rain whenever we go camping.”

6. Cabin

Meaning: A small house-like structure, usually located in a rural area

How to use it: “The campsite we’re going to offers cabin rentals! Doesn’t that sound more comfortable than a tent?”

7. RV 

Meaning: A large vehicle that typically includes beds, cooking and eating areas and a washroom; a recreational vehicle

How to use it: “I’d love to have an RV to go camping, but they’re so big—they must be hard to drive.”

8. Trailer

Meaning: A wheeled structure with no engine that is towed by a car or truck and that includes sleeping, cooking, eating and sometimes washroom facilities

How to use it: “We’d love to borrow your trailer for our road trip so we don’t have to keep stopping at hotels and restaurants.”

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Equipment and supplies

Here are some words associated with the camping gear you’ll need to bring on your camping trip. 

9. Backpack

Meaning: A bag worn on your back to carry food, supplies, etc.

How to use it: “When we go camping, we don’t drive to our campsite. We carry all of our stuff in our backpacks and hike in.”

10. Bug repellent/bug spray

Meaning: A chemical sprayed on the skin to protect oneself from insect bites

 How to use it: “This area has lots of mosquitoes. I hope you bought bug spray!”

11. Camp stove

Meaning: A small, portable stove used to cook while camping

How to use it: “Oh no! I forgot to bring the camp stove. We’re going to have to cook our food over the fire.”

12. Compass

Meaning: A device with a needle that shows you which direction you’re going

How to use it: “If you’re going to walk in the forest, a compass is a good idea. Your GPS might not work in there.”

13. Cooler

Meaning: An insulated box that’s filled with ice to keep your food and drinks cold 

How to use it: “Please close the cooler after you take your drink out or else the ice is going to melt.” 

14. Dehydrated food

Meaning: Food that has been dried so that it’s lighter, smaller, easier to carry and longer lasting

How to use it: “When I go hiking, I usually bring dehydrated food because it saves room in my backpack.”

15. Firewood 

Meaning: Wood that you use to fuel your campfire

How to use it: “The fire is getting smaller. Can you please add another piece of firewood to it?”

16. First aid kit

Meaning: A bag or box containing supplies such as bandages and antiseptic spray to treat injuries

How to use it: “He fell and cut his knee on a sharp rock. Get the first aid kit!”

17. Flashlight

Meaning: A portable light used to see in the dark

How to use it: “Be sure to bring a flashlight if you need to go to the outhouse in the middle of the night. It is dark out here!”

18. Lantern

Meaning: A portable light that can stand on a surface or be hung up

How to use it: “I prefer using lanterns over flashlights because I can set them down and have my hands free.”

19. Propane 

Meaning: A bottled fuel source used with camp stoves, barbecues and other equipment 

How to use it: “I brought five bottles of propane so we definitely won’t run out this weekend.”

20. Sleeping bag 

Meaning: A large fabric bag to sleep in with a zipper along the side

How to use it: “I don’t think I’ll be warm enough tonight—I only brought my summer sleeping bag and it’s really thin.”

21. Tarp

Meaning: A large, waterproof piece of material used to protect items from rain and moisture

How to use it: “It looks like it’s going to rain. We should hang the tarp above our picnic table so our food doesn’t get wet.”

Activities

Below are some popular camping activities for you to enjoy.

22. Canoeing

Meaning: An activity in which you paddle a long, thin boat called a “canoe” (pronounced “cah-NEW”).

How to use it: “This lake is so calm. Do you want to go canoeing after lunch?”

23. Fishing

Meaning: An activity that involves catching fish, usually with a pole, for fun or for food

How to use it: “When we were young, our dad used to take us fishing every summer.”

23. Stargazing

Meaning: Looking up at the stars in the night sky

How to use it: “My favorite thing about camping is stargazing; you can see so many more stars than you do in the city.”

24. Roasting marshmallows

Meaning: An activity where you put a marshmallow on a stick and cook it over a fire

How to use it: “A perfect camping trip always includes roasting marshmallows and making s’mores.”

25. Hiking

Meaning: The activity of taking a long walk through a forest or on a trail through the countryside

How to use it: “Before you go hiking, you should always tell someone where you’re going in case you get lost.”

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Get ready for your camping adventure

Before your next camping trip, try writing down and reviewing the words above. Looking through this camping vocabulary will not only help you ensure you’re prepared for your adventure, but it’ll also help you learn a few new English words


Andrea is a Canadian freelance writer and editor specializing in English, e-learning, EdTech, and SaaS. She has a background as an ESL teacher in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. In her free time, Andrea loves hanging out with her husband and children, creating recipes in the kitchen, and reading fiction. She also loves camping and jumping into lakes whenever possible. Learn more about Andrea on LinkedIn or check out her website.

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