What to Bring When Camping in the Desert

Deserts are lands that portray both extremities – harsh, yet scenic. Desert camping offers beautiful views of stars at night due to the reduced light pollution from cities. The polar opposite temperatures from extremely hot during the day to bone-chilling weather as the sun sets in is what sets it apart from other types of land formations. The changing weather also calls for specific measures if you want to camp in the desert.

Camping in the desert can be enjoyable as you can indulge in multiple activities including hiking, off-roading, and horseback riding, or exploring the isolated towns or mines nearby. With the right camping gear for sand, you can turn your camp trip pleasurable as deserts are one of the most unique types of locations for camps. Be sure to check out our tips on preventing bugs and insects from entering your tent if camping in the desert!

Tips for Camping in the Desert

  • Bring plenty of water and ration them accordingly. The extremely high temperatures during the day will not make it easy for you to collect water or go on without having access to water. So carry enough on your camping trip.
  • Protect yourself from the scorching sun with sunscreen, sun hats, and lightweight clothing.
  • A four-wheeled car is preferable for the desert sand.
  • Experience a camel ride if possible. They are referred to as “the ships of the desert.
  • Winters are better for camping in the desert than summers if you prioritize pleasant temperatures. However, if you can withstand extremely high temperatures, the crowd is lesser in the summer.
  • Spend the mid-day in a shaded space.
  • Choose a shaded area to place your tent or place a dark tarp on top of the tent if you are unable to secure a shaded area.
  • Carry extra clothes to layer as it becomes dark. You’ll need them to withstand the low temperatures at night.
  • Carry a map and compass as the working GPS is not guaranteed.
  • Do not provoke or intentionally startle any wildlife you come across.

List of Useful Camping Gear for Desert Camping

  1. Tent
    • A high-quality tent with a zipper is a must when you’re camping in the desert. Depending on your preference you can either go for an opaque tent or a mesh canopy, but both will do the same job of proving you a shelter in the middle of nowhere. Since setting up a tent can be tricky especially if the wind is not in your favor, it is advised to practice doing so before you come to the trip.
  2. Sleeping Bag
    • Any camping trip requires a sleeping bag as it helps you to sleep securely in the outdoors. Since the temperature in the desert is lower at night, bring a sleeping bag that features a Thermolite fiber technology so that you can receive the extra warmth. You can check out the Hyper Cat sleeping bag from North Face.
  3. Sleeping Pad
    • A sleeping pad is a great option if you want a lightweight bed to place on the desert sand and stare at the sky while you fall asleep. Usually lighter than a sleeping bag, you can find these at a weight of about just 12 ounces. Therefore, it’s easy to bring along with all the essentials.
  4. Rechargeable Lantern or Lamp
    • A lantern or lamp is essential to get through the night especially if you’re not used to sleeping in pitch darkness. Rechargeable ones with LED lights with an adjustable dimming switch would be ideal.
  5. Water Cooler
    • If you do not want to carry multiple bottles of water, you can opt for a water cooler. The standard ones store 5 gallons of water or more, which should last you more than 5 days if you’re drinking from it alone. So carry a water cooler when you’re camping in the desert as it will be lifesaving when it comes to beating the desert heat.
  6. Both Lightweight and Heavy Clothing
    • When you’re camping in the desert you will have to deal with hot days and chilly nights. For days, it is advised to wear lightweight clothing preferably full-sleeved light-colored t-shirts and comfortable cargo pants. For nights, you would have to layer up as the temperature drops significantly. So make sure you pack quite a few of these depending on how long your camping trip is.


Deserts have a unique environment. To make a camp trip to a desert enjoyable, you must take extra precautions and planning. As long as you’re prepared with the camping gear that is ideal for deserts, you’ll be able to create wonderful memories under the desert skies.


  1. https://www.active.com/outdoors/articles/how-to-plan-a-desert-camping-trip
  2. https://www.eaglecreek.com/blog/tips-camping-international-deserts.html
  3. https://koa.com/blog/how-to-keep-bugs-away-while-camping-keep-insects-out-of-your-tent/
  4. https://www.mensjournal.com/gear/packlist-backpacking-gear-took-night-desert-winter-camping/

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Daniel has experience camping across California in a variety of environments and parks. His interests in technology lead him to focus on writing about camping innovations.

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