The Ultimate Packing Checklist for Campers

If you are planning a camping trip, you are going to need some gear. In fact, you are probably going to fill the trunk of your car or the back of your SUV up with camping supplies because there are a lot of items that go with modern camping. While our ancestors may have been able to make do with a bedroll and a hat to shade their face, those of us in the 21st century need more comfort and convenience. Here are the essentials, divided up into seven different categories.  

Camp Clothing Checklist

Make sure you bring plenty of camp clothing, depending upon where you are going, what you plan on doing and how long you plan on being there. For example, in winter climates you are going to need a heavy coat, boots, thick socks and the like while if you are going to a summer locale, you might need a swimsuit and some light, cool clothing.

  • One set of clothing for each day you plan to camp and one extra for emergencies
  • A set of heavy hiking boots for camping
  • Heavy winter coat, hoodie, thermal underwear and a cap and gloves (winter camping only)
  • Flip flops or sandals for wading or hanging around camp (summer)
  • Long-sleeved shirt to protect against mosquitos (again, summer only)
  • Hat to protect against the sun and sunglasses (in the spring or summer)

Camping Gear Checklist

You are going to need some camping gear as well unless you plan on really roughing it and sleeping on the ground (or the opposite where you are traveling in an RV). Here is a checklist of camping gear for standard camping.

  • Tent (poles, stakes, etc)
  • Sleeping bags
  • Air mattresses
  • Camping chairs
  • Pillows
  • Axe or hatched for cutting wood
  • Air pump
  • Air mattress repair kit
  • Storage bags
  • Trash bags
  • Sunshade or tarp
  • Multi-tool/pocket knife
  • Packs for hiking
  • Foldable table for making food or eating at
  • Lanterns, flashlights, headlamps
  • Fuel and batteries
  • Lots of duct tape

Camp Cooking Checklist

When it comes to camping, bringing cooking supplies is essential as is bringing food. It’s not likely that it will be convenient to run to the store if you forget something so make sure that you double check your supplies before you leave. Forgetting one essential item may mean that you won’t be able to use some of your food so every single item on the list is pretty important.

  • Water filtration kit
  • Camp stove
  • Fire starting supplies (matches, lighter fluid)
  • Waterproof case for fires starting supplies
  • Pot
  • Skillet
  • Corkscrew
  • Non-electric coffee maker (or use instant coffee)
  • Kettle or other water heating container
  • Can opener
  • Rack for cooking steaks or hamburgers over the fire
  • Sticks for roasting marshmallows or hot dogs
  • Food storage containers (critter and animal-proof)
  • Cooler
  • Ice
  • Plates, bowls, knives, forks, spoons
  • Trash bags
  • Cutting board and large knives
  • Aluminum foil
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Paper towels
  • Dishcloth and dishwashing liquid
  • Bucket or tub for washing dishes
  • Cooking utensils

Camping Food Checklist

It’s likely that you are going to want to eat at some point during your camping trip and unless you are a skilled (and lucky) hunter and have the proper permits, you aren’t going to be able to live off the land. That means that you need some food, but camping food will differ with each person or family. Here is a list of some general camping food ideas to get you started.

  • Coffee
  • Cereal
  • Milk
  • Granola bars
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Sandwiches
  • Hot dogs
  • Hamburgers
  • Bread/buns
  • Steaks
  • Marshmallows
  • Hot cocoa
  • Fresh fruit
  • Canned beans, soups
  • Condiments
  • Cheese
  • Crackers
  • Chips
  • Veggies
  • Lots of bottled water
  • Soda
  • Fruit juice
  • Cooking spray
  • Jerky
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Butter
  • Syrup
  • Pancake mix

Camping Safety Essentials

Safety is going to be a big part of your camping trip. In fact, safety should be your number one priority and that’s why you want to make sure that you pack plenty of safety supplies so that if an emergency happens you’ll be able to deal with it. Here are some safety essentials that every camping family should have.

  • Flashlight
  • Signaling beacon
  • Flares
  • Solar or crank-powered radio
  • Mobile phones with extra batteries
  • Comprehensive first aid kit
  • Allergy kit
  • A collapsible litter for carrying an injured person
  • Extra flashlights
  • Extra food, water and pet food
  • Rope or twine
  • Extra socks
  • Extra blankets
  • OTC medications for headaches, colds, fevers, etc
  • Anti-snakebite kits
  • Walkie-talkies
  • Maps
  • Binoculars

Camping Personal Items Checklist

In addition to all of the rest of the camping supplies that pertain to the entire group you are also going to want to bring some personal items. These will differ with each person according to need, gender and other factors. Here are some things to make sure that you bring with you when you go.

  • Toilet paper
  • Wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Any prescription medications (more than just enough for your planned trip)
  • Shower shoes
  • Towel
  • Washcloth
  • Personal pillow (if needed)
  • Deodorant (try to avoid cologne or perfume as it attracts animals and insects)
  • Comb or brush
  • Shower supplies like bio-degradable soap, shampoo
  • Hair gel or hair spray
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shower bucket or bag
  • Razors
  • Phone or tablet and extra battery
  • Insect repellent
  • Camera or video camera (or phone if desired)
  • Wind-up alarm clock
  • Sewing kit
  • Umbrella
  • Scissors

Camping Activities Checklist

Finally, you are going to need something to do while you are camping. Some of this may be more suited for personal items (like books, because some people will want certain ones) but the list is designed to make sure that there are plenty of activities for you and your family to stay busy. These are not the only ideas out there for camp activities. Some families will bring along canoes or climbing gear. It depends upon what you like to do.

  • Musical instruments
  • Large screen tablet that is charged (for watching a movie)
  • Kindles or paperback books
  • Water guns, water balloons or other water fight weapons
  • Swimming gear
  • Fishing gear and licenses
  • Canoeing, hiking or climbing gear
  • Hammock
  • Portable radio
  • Cards
  • Games
  • Toys
  • Bikes and equipment (helmets, etc)


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