There's nothing like taking a camping trip. Whether you're packing up for a night or two or are planning something longer, being prepared is vital. Even if you've been camping hundreds of times, ensuring that you have a camping checklist and that you have everything you need before you leave can mean the difference between a great trip and a bad one.
Sure, you can put together your own camping checklist, but you might still forget to add some items. That's why we compiled a camping checklist that includes all the essentials, necessities, and extras you need for your camping trip to be the best possible.
Campsite and Sleeping Gear
Whether camping in a remote area of the woods or at a popular campsite, ensuring that you're comfortable when it's time to hit the hay is critical. Below you'll find some items that will make your campsite and sleeping arrangements more comfortable for you.
Most people want to sleep in a tent when they head out on their camping trip, so you want to make sure you have one that fits you comfortably, is easy for you to assemble, and is easy to transport.
You don't have to have a sleeping mattress for your tent, but if you want to get the best night's sleep possible, adding a mattress is vital. Air mattresses work fine, but they have specific camping mattresses that are worth looking into.
You probably don't want to bring your favorite pillow from home into the woods to get dirty. Buying a specific camping pillow is the best way to ensure your sleeping arrangements are comfortable and you don't ruin your favorite pillow.
Sleeping Bag or Blankets
Using a sleeping bag inside your tent is typical, so you have something to cover you up while you sleep. Depending on the time of year and the weather you'll encounter, you'll want a heavier sleeping bag if it's cold or even a sheet or lightweight blanket if it's hot.
You might want a place to sit and enjoy nature and eat when you're not out exploring the wilderness or sleeping. Camping chairs are the best for this, especially when you don't have a picnic table nearby. They're lightweight and fold up easily.
The woods get dark really quickly, so bringing a camping lantern, which you can carry with you around the camp or a place in the center to keep things illuminated at night, can be helpful.
In addition to your camping lantern, you can get a headlamp to use both hands while navigating at night.
Extra Campsite and Sleeping Gear
The above are things you'll need when camping. That being said, there are a few things you might need or want to bring with you, but you can get by without them in many cases. Some extras that you might want to bring with you include:
- Camping Blanket
- Table (if you don't have a picnic table nearby)
- Sleeping bag liner
- Extra tent stakes
- Hammock (if you're not sleeping in a tent or want to sleep under the stars one night)
Clothing, Footwear, and Accessories
Now we can move on to the clothing, shoes, and other accessories you must pack for your camping trip. Something to keep in mind when looking over and creating your own packing list is the temperatures, weather, and time of year you'll be camping because those all play a role in the type of clothing you'll pack.
When you pack the right type and amount of clothing, you'll set yourself up for a more comfortable camping trip. Besides your shirts, these are the clothing items to consider packing.
Base Layers (Ideally Moisture-Wicking)
Base layers are vital to your camping wardrobe. They help keep you comfortable, keep odor under control, and regulate your temperature so you don't freeze or overheat. The amount and type of base layers you'll need will depend on your camping climate.
Hiking Pants and/or Shorts
Hiking pants and/or shorts are key to camping. Longer pants protect your skin from scratches, insects, and sun exposure. Shorts are great if it's hot or you'll be wading into the water. Either way, packing this clothing item is necessary.
The weather can be unpredictable, and if rain is in the forecast for your camping trip, packing a rain jacket is necessary. It'll keep you mostly dry and prevent your base layers and other clothes from getting soaked.
Synthetic or Down Jacket
If the weather's going to be cold, a down jacket will help keep you as comfortable as possible when camping.
You can't forget to pack your hiking boots or shoes for your camping trip, especially if you'll be further out in the woods or plan on hiking through different trails. They're sturdier and will help prevent slips and falls.
You need to pack your hiking socks along with your hiking boots or shoes. You'll want a few pairs of these thicker socks to help prevent blisters and soreness at the end of the day.
Everyone wears something different to sleep, but you'll want to pack something comfortable to wear when it's time to turn it in for the night. It doesn't have to be anything specific, just whatever you prefer to wear to sleep.
Hats are a great way to protect your hair, scalp, and face when in the woods. We highly suggest shopping American Hat Makers women's sun hats and men's sun hats to find the perfect hat for your next outdoor adventure.
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Optional Clothing, Footwear, and Accessories
Much like with the other optional items on our list, depending on where and what time of the year you're camping, there are a few other clothing items you might want to bring with you, such as:
- Long underwear
- Neck gaiter
Camp Kitchen Essentials
You can't go camping and not eat anything, so considering your camp kitchen is necessary to not only fuel your body but to have a great time in the wilderness.
If you're camping in the backcountry, you will need far less than someone camping in a larger space or at a public and popular campsite. Regardless, these are a few kitchen essentials you'll want to consider packing for your camping trip.
Depending on where you're camping, you might not have access to a public campsite grill or stove. In that case, you'll want to bring a camping stove with you! This way, you can reheat food and cook.
Bringing fuel for said camping stove is another thing to pack. Each stove is different, so you'll want to check what type you need for your stove before heading to the store to purchase fuel.
Cookware and Utensils
It'll be pretty hard to cook and eat without cookware and utensils. You don't need to pack the whole kitchen, but a spatula or whatever cookware you need plus the utensils to eat with. You can bring reusable ones to wash or plasticware.
Food Preparation Supplies
You're probably wondering what we mean by food preparation supplies. You'll want to think about Tupperware to store leftovers in, spices, and anything else you'll need to ensure you have everything you need to cook the meal you want while camping.
The last thing you want to happen to you when you're camping is to get sick due to improperly stored food. Bringing a cooler where you can store water and beverages and your food is vital to avoid getting sick while out in the woods.
Dish Cleaning Supplies
Many campsites don't have dish soap or anything to clean your cookware with, so you'll want to bring that with you if you plan on cleaning things before you get home.
Depending on where you're camping and what you're planning on making, there are a few other things you might want to think about packing with you on your camping trip like:
- An ax or hatchet
- A portable coffee maker
- Water jugs
While personal items aren't always a necessity when camping, many of them will make your trip more comfortable, and some are necessities. When we talk about personal items, we lump other camping essentials into this category as they don't really fit into the other ones we've mentioned. Some personal items to pack include:
- Medications you might need
- A reusable water bottle
- Maps, GPS, or other navigation tools
- Batteries or solar panels for power
- Cell phone
- Cell phone charger
- Portable power pack
- Your wallet
- Book or kindle
- Eye mask
- Basic repair kit
- Campsite reservation proof
- Park pass if required
- Bear spray
Some other things you can include in this category would be activity-specific items. For example, if you're planning on fishing during your trip, you'll want to pack your fishing rod and other things you'll need in relation to fishing.
It's no secret that you'll probably sweat and get dirty while camping in the woods, but that doesn't mean you don't need to bring hygiene products to make yourself more comfortable. Many campsites have bathrooms and shower facilities you can utilize.
If you're heading to an area where you won't have access to these facilities, you'll want to think about additional hygiene products. We've compiled a list to help get you started.
Even when you're camping, you'll want to pack your toiletries. It will make your camping experience much more enjoyable, whether in the backcountry or a more populated site. Some toiletries to include in your packing list include:
- Toilet paper (if you don't have access to a public bathroom)
- Quick-drying towel
- A first-aid kit
- Any medications you might need
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Body wash or soap
Even when camping in a cooler environment, protecting your sun from the sun's rays is vital to your overall health and camping experience. You'll want to pack plenty of sunscreen, clothing that can protect your skin from the sun, sunglasses, and aloe in case of a sunburn.
Besides sunscreen, you can include a sun hat further to protect your face and scalp from the sun. Read our review of the best packable sun hats you might want to think about packing for sun protection on your camping trip.
Bug Spray and Protection
Bugs can be a huge problem when camping, especially in the summertime. To avoid being eaten alive by mosquitos and other bugs, you must bring bug protection. This includes bringing bug spray, citronella candles, and other bug repellents that work for you and whoever you're camping with.
Extra Hygiene Products
In addition to the products listed above, these are a few other things you might want to bring depending on where you're camping and your situation:
- Portable toilet
- Portable shower
- Baby wipes
Other Things to Think About When Packing
While our checklist is pretty comprehensive and covers all the basic necessities, there will be situations where you need other items that aren't mentioned above. For example, camping with children and pets will require additional things that you wouldn't normally need to bring.
With a dog, having a collar and a leash is vital. You'll also need to pack their food, a bowl for water, and a few toys to keep them entertained when you're not off exploring the wilderness.
As for kids, ensuring you pack plenty of toys and entertainment items can make your camping trip much smoother than if you were to forget those.
You'll want to consider the number of people you'll be camping with. Knowing how many people will be joining you on the trip will help you determine how much fuel you'll need, the right amount of food, how many coolers you'll need, tents, and more.
Camping Checklist Final Thoughts
Going camping is an exciting adventure whether you're only going for a few days or an extended trip. Whether you plan on camping at a campsite with amenities or in the backcountry, ensuring you have all the gear and items you need will make your time outdoors far more enjoyable.
Next time you plan a camping trip, follow this checklist as a guide so you don't forget anything essential.