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.
Here are some camping-related words that describe the area where you set up your camp.
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!”
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.”
Depending on the type of camping experience you want, there are some different options for sleeping arrangements.
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.”
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?”
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.”
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.”
Equipment and supplies
Here are some words associated with the camping gear you’ll need to bring on your camping trip.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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!”
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!”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Below are some popular camping activities for you to enjoy.
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?”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.