Complete Camping Checklist 101: What Should You Bring for Camping?

Whether you’re a seasoned camper or it’s your first time setting your foot into the campsite, you need our ultimate camping checklist to get started.

From the major stuff like your tent to the little extras like books and games, we’ve got you covered!


A Few Reminders Before You Start Packing

Unless you’re wild camping, you should know that most campgrounds have facilities to make your stay a lot more convenient. These include picnic tables, parking areas, and slots to pitch your tent. Some camping parks do have bathrooms and running water. Make sure to do your research before you start packing. This way, you can let go of unnecessary items and lighten up your load, as much as possible.

Camping is all about experiencing the outdoors or what it’s like to live hundreds of years ago. Part of the joy and thrill of camping is needing very little gear to exist. Make this your camping principle and each trip will be something truly memorable and enlightening (if that’s the word).

Lastly, our camping checklist isn’t a one-size-fits-all. There are many, many factors that will determine what should go into your backpack. You could be backpacking solo or going with your friends or family. There could be more than two kids in your pack or you could be taking some elderly with you. 

Feel free to tweak this camping checklist according to your needs. What we can guarantee is that it includes everything that you will most likely need.

Now, you’re ready to pack. So let’s get going!

Camping Checklist

Let’s start with the most important items in your camping gear… those that you can’t go without whether you’re camping alone or with a group.

Camping Shelter

The best thing about camping is sleeping under the stars and watching those spectacles twinkle as you doze off. But there’s nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night in a downpour! You never know when it will rain so make sure your camping shelter is weatherproof. Here are the things you need:

Tent

Tent comes in different types and sizes. Make sure you have enough space for you, your gear, and companions. Check out our guide for camping tents.

Some people prefer to sleep in hammocks. These require some getting used to but hammocks are more comfortable to sleep in. Whatever you prefer, make sure you have the tools you need to set them up, such as:

  • Pegs or stakes
  • Ropes or webbing straps
  • A rain fly
  • Poles

New to camping hammocks? Check out our in-depth buying guide.

Best Camping Hammocks:

Everest Double Camping Hammock

Gold Armour Camping Hammock

Hennessy Hammock - Expedition Series

Sleeping Bag

Sleeping bags are categorized into three: winter, three-season, and summer. Choose what’s appropriate for your trip. If camping in the winter, you might need additional insulation. Check out our list of the best sleeping bags for more choices.

Note: There has to be one sleeping bag for each camper.

Sleeping Pad

Sleeping bags and pads are meant to be used together. The pad provides insulation and cushioning. 

Camping Pillow

This might sound like an extra but if you’re the type who can’t sleep without pillows, you definitely need this. Go for lightweight and compact pillows. Inflatable pillows are ideal for camping because they are portable, easy to use, pack small, and ultralight.

Air Pump

It's worth getting a rechargeable air pump that you can use to inflate your pillows and air mattress.

Extra Tarp or Canopy

This will serve as an extension of your tent especially if you’re camping with a large group. 

Camping Chair

Camping isn’t just about hiking and exploring the outdoors. It also means relaxing and enjoying the beautiful views surrounding you. A chair gives you the luxury to enjoy the outdoors while sitting comfortably. It comes in handy when eating, cooking, or simply taking a break after several hours of hiking.

Go for camping chairs that are lightweight and sturdy. Always check the weight capacity of the chair. Not all chairs (even if they look the same) can hold the same amount of weight.

Best Camping Chairs:

GCI Outdoor Freestyle Camping Chair

Coleman Camping Chair

Kelty Low Loveseat Camping Chair

Folding Table

If you’re car camping or if the campsite doesn’t provide picnic tables, a lightweight folding table comes in handy. You want something big enough for your group and stable enough to resist wind and tension.

Power Supply

A portable power supply is going to make a huge difference in your camping trips. With this device, you can keep your shelter well-lit and your gadgets running even if you're roughing it for several days.

Torch

Let there be light! A camping torch is your best friend, whether you're rummaging your backpack, setting up your hammock, or taking a stroll to the woods in the middle of the night.

Cookware

There’s something special about cooking outdoors. It’s really therapeutic. But it can also lead to a disaster if you don’t come prepared. You’re not looking into cooking gourmet food. You’re just aiming for something simple yet sumptuous enough to be enjoyed by everyone. 

So be sure you have the following essential cookware items:

Cooking Stove

A lightweight backpacking stove that lights easily and cooks quicker is ideal. Stoves come in single- or double-burner arrangements and it boils down to your personal preferences and factors like the number of people to be fed and the dishes you’re cooking.

Additionally, consider the weather. Remember that stoves that use propane/butane blend is not ideal for cold weather because the pressure difference between the two gases causes the propane to burn more quickly than the butane. And butane alone cannot handle the chill. 

In such scenarios, you may be better off with stoves that use liquid fuel or investing in canisters that will protect your stove from the cold temp. More tips here.

Match/Lighter

Of course, you need something to light your stove. Do keep a spare in your backpack just in case. After all, it’s a tiny item so it will take virtually no space in your backpack.

You'll greatly benefit from using waterproof matches. They are inexpensive, compact, and functional rain or shine.

Fire Starter

You can make one or buy one. But a waterproof fire starter is much better. Of course, you need a reliable fire starter especially if you're embarking on long journeys. It should make the process of lighting a fire safe and effortless.

Best Camping Fire Starters:

Superior Trading Co. All Natural Fire Starter

All Natural Starter Pods 10-15 Minute Burn

Fatwood 50 LB Box Fire Starter All Natural Organic

Water Jug or Bucket

Unless you’re pretty sure that the campsite has drinking water available, bringing your own water jug is highly advised. You can go with traditional jugs or if you need more space in your car, a collapsible container might fit the bill. Regardless of what you choose, opt for something bigger (at least 5-7 gallons of H2O).

Plastic silverware

Pack at least two sets of silverware for each person. 

Plates and bowls

Disposable plastic or paper plates are very handy but if camping is your thing, you can invest a few bucks on camping-specific tableware that are simple, rugged, and sturdy, such as the Coleman complete dinnerware outdoor set.

Food and Beverage

You can bring almost any type of food you want. But if you’re looking for something that’s easy to prepare and can last for a little longer, some great food ideas are:

  • Dehydrated foods (ex. beef stroganoff)
  • Instant cup noodles
  • Trail mix, nuts and bars
  • Fruits (fresh or pre-cut frozen)
  • Beef jerky and dried food
  • Sandwiches 
  • Bagels
  • S’mores ingredients
  • Canned beverages

Cooler

A 40-quart cooler is enough for three people on a day trip. But if you’re camping overnight, you can go for a 50- to 60-quart cooler. Try not to use a very large cooler as you need a tightly packed cooler to keep your food colder and longer.

Containers for food storage

Cheap microwavable food containers are fine. You just basically want something that has a lid to keep your food from getting contaminated by bugs and the like.

Cooking supplies

A heavy-duty aluminum foil can have a lot of uses when you’re camping. It can replace some of your cookware by serving as a container for baked foods. Meats and veggies can be wrapped in the foil and tossed into the grill for mess-free cooking. You will also need paper towels, pot holders, dish soap, and an extra bin for washing dishes.

Cooking utensils

Depending on what you plan to cook, some tools you might need are skewers, grill, dish pan, dutch oven, peeler, knife, tongs, and chopping board.

Best Cooking Utensils:

Portable Outdoor Kitchen Utensil

Devico Portable Utensils

21-Piece Camping Cookware Set

Trash bags

You don’t want to leave a trace. Make sure you have plenty of trash bags to properly dispose your waste.

Tools & Survival Gear

Multi-tool or Tactical Knife

A tactical knife is a trusty tool for camping. It can be used for a variety of tasks, from cutting to whittling tent skates, prepping food, etc. This tool comes in so many types. Check out our list of the best tactical knives.

Saw or Axe

This is used for cutting firewood.

Repair Items

You may need extra cord, a duct tape, a tent-pole repair sleeve, and a mallet or hammer for hammering tent skates.

Clothing

If camping in the summer, wear clothes that will keep you cool without exposing too much skin. These include moisture-wicking T-shirts and pants, and breathable underwear. As to how much clothes to bring, the rule of thumb is to pack one top and one extra for one day, and only bring half the amount of pants as you can wear them on different days.

  • Shoes/boots
  • Jeans/pants
  • T-shirts
  • Socks
  • Sweatshirt/jacket
  • Hat
  • Bandana
  • Underwear
  • Sleep clothes
  • Rain gear
  • Laundry Bag

Personal Care (Health & Hygiene)

Pack toiletries in a small bag. Preferably, one set of toiletries per person. 

  • Mosquito repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Body soap and shampoo
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Cleanser/antibacterial soap
  • Alcohol and sanitizer (at least 60%)
  • First aid kit (antiseptics, bandage, tweezers, safety pin, cotton swabs, etc.)
  • Toilet paper
  • Comb/brush

Entertainment (Camping Extras)

It’s always a great idea to bring some source of entertainment on your next camping trip. 

  • Portable music player. The smallest one will do.
  • Books/reading materials
  • Board games of your choice
  • Toys (if camping with children)
  • Notebook and pencil

Looking for fun game ideas? Take a look at our list of the best camping games.

Best Camping Board Games:

Giant Tumbling Timber Toy - Jumbo JR. Wooden Blocks Floor Game

5 in 1 Chess, Checkers, Dominoes, Backgammon, Cards

Lucy Hammett Games Camping Bingo Board Game

Personal Items

  • Cash (don’t always rely on credit/debit cards)
  • Mobile phone
  • IDs
  • Sunglasses

There you have it! Our ultimate camping checklist. Here’s a summary for easy note-taking:

Camping Shelter

  • Tent/hammock
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Camping Pillow
  • Air Pump
  • Extra Tarp or Canopy
  • Camping Chair
  • Folding Table
  • Power Supply
  • Torch

Cookware

  • Camping Stove
  • Match/Lighter
  • Firestarter
  • Water jug or Bucket
  • Plastic Silverware
  • Plates and Bowls
  • Food & Beverage
  • Cooler
  • Cooking Utensils (skewers, grill, dish pa, dutch oven, peeler, knife, tongs, and chopping board)
  • Trash Bags

Tools & Survival Gear

  • Multi-tool or Tactical Knife
  • Saw or Axe
  • Repair Items (extra cord, a duct tape, a tent-pole repair sleeve, and a mallet or hammer)

Best Camping Survival Kits:

100 Pcs KOSIN Survival Gear and Equipment

500 Pcs KOSIN Survival Gear and Equipment

EVERLIT 250 Pcs Survival First Aid Kit

Clothing

  • Shoes/boots
  • Jeans/pants
  • T-shirts
  • Socks
  • Sweatshirt/jacket
  • Hat
  • Bandana
  • Underwear
  • Sleep clothes
  • Rain gear
  • Laundry Bag

Personal Care (Health & Hygiene)

  • Mosquito repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Body soap and shampoo
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Cleanser/antibacterial soap
  • Alcohol and sanitizer (at least 60%)
  • First aid kit (antiseptics, bandage, tweezers, safety pin, cotton swabs, etc.)
  • Toilet paper
  • Comb/brush

Entertainment (Camping Extras)

  • Portable music player.
  • Books/reading materials
  • Board games of your choice
  • Toys (if camping with children)
  • Notebook and pencil
  • Personal Items
  • Cash
  • Mobile phone
  • IDs
  • Sunglasses

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