Camping Checklist: What to Bring on a Camping Trip

Camping can be hard work!

Think of the work that goes into getting a reservation for a campsite, organizing your gear, and putting everything together.

On the other hand, you get lasting memories of moments shared, lots of laughter with your friends or family, and some time to enjoy the great outdoors.

But whether you plan to go camping alone, with friends, or with family, you’ll need a lot of gear to make the trip a success.

What Do You Need to Bring on a Camping Trip?

Here’s the good news: you don’t need too much gear to survive outdoors. 

Of course, you probably know that part of the fun of camping is figuring out which items you need for your trip. Planning is an important part of preparing for an amazing camping experience like no other.

A printable camping checklist is the key to preparing for a fun outdoor adventure. With the right equipment and supplies, you can experience a much more relaxing trip – your camping checklist is what helps you organize and prepare for a smooth camping adventure. 

The list varies based on factors like your campsite, planned camping activities, season or time of the year, and the total duration of your trip. You can add or remove items from the list to customize it to your unique needs.

With that said, here’s a comprehensive camping checklist to help you prepare for your next camping trip and ensure that no essential is overlooked or forgotten. 

Clothing and Footwear Essentials 

Choosing the right clothing to bring with you when you go camping can be intimidating. With the outdoors being unpredictable, it’s mandatory to prepare well for surprises. 

Merrell Women's All Out Blaze Water Shoe

Check the weather forecast for your camping destination to help you determine whether you need to pack breathable, light, or layered clothing. 

How often do you intend to do laundry, and realistically, how often will you be able to do it at your campsite? This should help determine how much clothing you end up packing for your next camping trip.

Does the campsite have laundry amenities? Or, do you intend to hand wash your dirty clothes and dry them out in the sun? When going for primitive camping, these are questions you must answer to ensure you pack the right amount of clothing for your trip.

First of all, if you go camping in cold weather, layer your clothes. If you’re going camping in hot weather, layer light T-shirts and undergarments made from ultralight heat technology materials to keep you cool. 

The clothes are well-ventilated to allow free flow of fresh air and insulate you in cold weather. Layering your clothes is a good way to prepare for eventualities, because you can easily add or remove the layers to keep warm or cool.

Don’t forget your outer garments – make sure they’re portable and waterproof to keep your backpack dry in the rain. Consider a rain poncho for camping in rainy weather. Your clothing and footwear checklist should include:

  • Sleepwear
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Swimsuit
  • Hiking boots
  • Dirty laundry bag or a Ziploc bag for rainy weather
  • Multiple pairs of warm socks, with an extra pair for sleeping
  • Wellies boots for wet camping
  • Flip-flops for taking showers
  • Underwear 
  • Bandana
  • Spare pants
  • Beach towels; ultralight options to pack small
  • Rain poncho
  • Hat for sun or cold protection
  • Shorts
  • A jumper or warm fleece
  • Heavy gloves and scarf for winter camping or hiking
  • T-shirts
  • Sunglasses for all-year use

Shelter and Bedding Essentials 

Today, tents are more developed, complex, and inclusive than they were years ago. Even so, you can’t just pick a tent bag and head off to your campsite.

If you’re going to go backpacking or camping alone in summertime, a simple personal tent may suffice. However, if your weather conditions are more challenging, you prefer a traditional tent, or simply want to design your own camping shelter, you’ll have to bring along several other items. 

Tents need a tarpaulin or groundsheet, especially when planning for camping in rainy weather. If possible, bring more than one to keep your tent’s floor dry. You’ll also find extra tarps handy if you intend to build your own camping shelter. 

Bring additional tarp and rope for camping trips in forests or a wood. The items will help you personalize your campsite. For instance, you can create a dry area for socializing, food preparation, and keeping your backpack dry in case it rains. 

This option also comes in handy in sunny or hot weather for the shade you need to shelter from direct heat from the sun. Don’t forget to carry a hammer or mallet if you intend to use a traditional tent. These also help to bend your tent’s stakes when pounding it into the ground, instead of using your shoes.

Additional Camping Items

What homey or luxury items would you like to pack for your camping adventure? They definitely come in handy when camping out for many days, and may include additional pillows, a blow-up mattress, or a rug to protect you from the floor of your tent.

If you’re going camping with your family, make sure you celebrate with each other as a group. It’s an excellent way to make the most of your time together, or add homey touches for an exceptional camping experience. 

Your full shelter and bedding checklist includes:

  • Tent, guy lines, and poles
  • Bedding and sleeping bag
  • Tarp or groundsheet
  • Pillow
  • Door mat
  • Windbreak
  • Flysheet
  • Hot water bottles
  • Air mattress or camp bed
  • A tent floor rug
  • Mallet
  • Dustpan and brush
  • Carbon monoxide alarm
  • Tent pegs, including spares 

Cooking Essentials 

Cooking is an important part of camping, which is why it requires proper preparation. This is one area where you want to make sure you bring everything you’ll need. First, make sure to pack non-perishable foods that will keep your camping group strong and energized for longer when you go for long camping trips. They include health bars and nuts. 

As for cooking supplies, they include everything you need to prepare food, store leftovers, and keep your camp hygienic. 

Consider a disposable BBQ or a stove for car camping. These supplies help prepare food for everyone in your camping team. Pack extra coal or fuel to ensure you don’t run out of cooking energy before your camping trip ends. 

In addition, think about what you need to start a fire effectively, especially when you’re going to require extra warmth in cold weather. Pack all the basics if you’re planning for primitive camping or looking forward to an adventurous experience. 

You’ll need rolled paper, matches, or kindling to start fires. Make sure you’re knowledgeable in how to start a fire when camping to avoid frustrations when you could be doing something more interesting like storytelling around a campfire. 

Your camping checklist acts as a reminder of all the items you need to prepare food and eat outdoors, including storage of leftovers. The essentials make up your camp kitchen. Picnic chairs can save you from eating on a log or the ground.

Other cooking essentials for your camping kitchen include:

  • Plastic bags
  • Cutlery and plastic crockery 
  • Beverages and drinks
  • A tin opener and corkscrew 
  • Condiments
  • Trash bags
  • Potholder and oven gloves
  • Stove with enough fuel supply
  • Pots and pans with lids
  • Scrubbing sponge
  • Tupperware
  • Cooking utensils such as measuring cups and cutting board
  • Tablets for water purification 
  • Camping bucket
  • Container for water storage
  • Peeler
  • Kettle
  • Thermos flask
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Tea towels
  • Spatula
  • Jug
  • Cooking oil
  • Bin bags
  • Can opener
  • Folding table and chairs
  • Aluminum foil
  • Tablecloth
  • Napkins
  • Barbecue and charcoal
  • Mixing bowl and colander
  • Paper towels
  • Newspaper or fire starters
  • A lighter or matches
  • Freeze blocks and cool box
  • Cookies and marshmallows 

Toiletry Essentials 

Packing enough toiletries can make all the difference in your camping adventure. Insect repellent and sunblock are must-pack camping essentials. 

Failing to prepare for bug bites from insects such as mosquitoes can lead to a nasty surprise of bites – and camping with sunburns on your skin isn’t fun. A portable camping shower is handy for camp sites without shower amenities. 

The idea of showering outdoors in nature can feel totally liberating, not to mention the freedom of choosing your ideal campsite (not necessarily those with all amenities). 

A hanging or drawstring toiletries bag can be suspended from a tree as you do your laundry or general cleaning. It can also hang in your shower from a suction cup instead of holding it.

Pack enough medication – and if possible, bring a full supply with you, including backup boxes. Plasters and bite cream are handy for a family camping trip. Depending on the kind of electric hookup available at your campsite, you could bring with you an electric razor or a hairdryer. 

Your toiletries checklist should include:

  • Tissues and toilet paper
  • Shampoo and air conditioner
  • Wet wipes and/or hand sanitizers
  • Medication
  • Camping shower
  • A small mirror
  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Contact lenses and cleaning solution
  • Insect repellent
  • Shower gel or soap
  • Sting and bite cream
  • Cosmetics and towels
  • A hanging toiletries bag
  • Towels
  • Lip balm
  • Comb or hairbrush
  • Sunscreen and after-sun creams or lotions
  • Deodorant
  • Clips and/or hair ties
  • Hygiene products for females such as menstrual pads or cups 

Lighting Essentials 

Lighting is also important in camping. Despite the inspiring experience of real darkness for exceptional stargazing, you’ll still need lighting at night. Without lighting, you could easily fall into a hole, trip on your tent ropes, or even stumble over a log or tree stump at night. 

Bring with you a fully-charged phone or a torch for lighting purposes in the evenings. Whether you’re planning for a camping trip in a remote area or a large campsite, you can easily lose sight of your tent without proper lighting.

Battery-powered lights can help you get to your tent easily, especially after a long day of trekking or engaging in any kind of tiresome activity. Lighting gear is often lightweight, which will add minimal weight to your backpack for great times ahead at your campsite. 

Lighting can also add ambience to your campsite atmosphere, both indoors and outdoors, for a more enjoyable time. Pack a generator or additional batteries on your camping trip to maintain lighting at your preferred level. 

A citronella candle can save your camping group from endless mosquito bites as you enjoy spending your time outdoors. Imagine sharing a fire-lit dinner with your camping mates in late evening or at night, and not having to worry about the bugs!

Some items to include in your lighting checklist include:

  • Torches
  • Fairy lights running on batteries
  • Citronella candles
  • Headlamp 
  • Spare batteries and bulbs
  • Wind-up/battery lanterns

Entertainment Essentials 

If you’re planning a group or family camping trip, entertainment is an integral part of your outdoor adventure. Playing in streams and climbing trees may not be enough to keep your entire family engaged and entertained.

Plan for sporting entertainment such as Frisbee, ball games, and baseball. You can pack your kid’s best board games for car camping to play in the evenings when everyone is back at your camp. The games can make great times pass while preparing dinner or for after dinner just before you get to sleep.

Take the time to relax in nature and put your life back in perspective. Meditating outdoors can renew you spiritually. Pack a novel or your favorite reads such as poetry to help you relax outdoors.

A pack of cards is a simple but perfect entertainment option for adults. It’s compact, so it takes up less space in your backpack, but is sure to save your group from boredom. Add your favorite songs collection to your phone or any other portable device to keep you entertained when planning a camping trip alone.

Later on, you’ll be able to associate the songs with your excellent nature experience at your campsite. The songs may even bring back the invigorating feeling you had while camping. Your entertainment essentials include:

  • Puzzles and bikes
  • Board games
  • A guidebook for your local campsite area
  • Kids’ toys
  • A pack of cards for adults
  • Sporting equipment such as balls
  • Bikes
  • Magazines and books
  • MP3 player and tablet
  • Adult or kids coloring books
  • Camp chairs
  • Musical instruments 

Transport Essentials 

Outdoor adventures are spontaneous and exciting. Getting into your car and hitting the road for your campsite is just as exciting for the adventure ahead. However, if you don’t know your campsite terrain, you may be in for a nasty surprise. 

Therefore, be sure to set off for your camping trip with the right documents, gear, and prior preparation. Don’t assume that your phone is capable of doing everything, especially when it comes to things you haven’t used it for yet. 

You may find your phone useful for camping trips or hikes not too far from your home. In such a case, you simply download maps from the internet into your mobile phone. Availability of strong signals on your phone may make it viable for such camping trips. 

But this is key: never depend only on your phone when camping outdoors. You may lose cell reception in remote or mountainous areas. What’s more, it’s likely to lose charge in a matter of hours. You need to bring a compass and paper maps with you so you can continue navigating your campsite, even if your phone powers off.

Make sure that you know how to use the navigation gear before setting out for your camping adventure, or else you’ll be frustrated out there. 

Pack a copy of your recovery protection breakdown, including emergency supplies for your RV or car maintenance. Don’t forget to carry your driver’s license – you don’t know when you’ll need it.

Extra fuel is recommended for camping trips to back country areas because such places sometimes lack gas stations. You wouldn’t want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with no signs of a gas station around. 

Even just the thought of getting stuck is pretty scary… so prepare well! Here are some items to include in your transport camping checklist:

  • A whistle
  • Insurance
  • Maps and directions
  • A funnel and additional fuel
  • A mobile phone and a compatible charger
  • Sat nav
  • Breakdown of recovery information
  • A compass 
  • Leveling chocks
  • A driving license
  • Confirmation of your booking
  • Child car seats
  • Jump leads
  • Travel games and candy 

Other Camping Checklist Essentials

The categories above will help you organize your camping gear and essentials for your next outdoor adventure. However, there are some extras that don’t fall under any of the categories, but that you’ll still find handy.

For instance, if your campsite lacks a laundry facility, you need to plan well how you’ll wash your dirty clothing. You may want to bring along additional rope and string for whatever need that may arise. 

Tahoe Gear Manitoba Family Outdoor 14-Person Camping Tent with Rainfly

Before setting off for your long-awaited camping adventure, consider the following extra items for your camping trip. They include:

  • Scissors and a sewing kit
  • Pens and a notepad
  • A trowel and folding space
  • Earplugs and string
  • Safety pins
  • A small ax or saw
  • Clothesline and pegs
  • A camera and backpack
  • An umbrella
  • Tweezers
  • A first aid kit with all supplies for a medical emergency 
  • Duct tape and water bottles
  • Binoculars for stargazing at night 
  • A multi-tool or knife
  • An electric pump or foot
  • A blanket or fire extinguisher 
  • Cash or credit cards
  • An electric hook up cable 

Examples of Camping Gear

No two camping trips are the same. Whichever type of camping you’re planning, there’re some must-have gear to pack. Whether you’re a beginner camper or have been to a few outdoor adventures, bring the following with you when you go camping:

  • Sleeping bag and sleeping pad to get quality sleep each night
  •  Water bottle to keep your body hydrated
  • A multi-tool
  • Flashlight
  • A tent
  • Camp stove
  • Tweezers
  • Water purifier
  • A map for navigation
  • An emergency first aid kit with all the basic medical supplies


With the ultimate camping checklist, you can prepare well for your outdoor adventure. Everything you’ll need on your outdoor trip – ranging from emergency medical supplies to cooking essentials – are included in the list. 

Whether you’re planning to go car camping and need to transport heavier camping kits, or you just need a daypack for a day or night out, this comprehensive checklist has all your needs covered.

The only thing you need to do is review the camping checklist to ensure that you’ve got all your essentials packed and nothing has been forgotten. It may also help to brainstorm everything you plan on doing at your campsite – you can always also add some extra items to your checklist in order to customize it to your needs.

Check out various camping checklist ideas on Amazon to find your ideal essentials and gear to bring you to your next camping trip.

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