Essential Camping Checklist

I didn’t grow up going camping with the exception of an ill fated, freezing night at Lake Dillon Colorado. However, I have come to appreciate the bonding experience that a night outside creates with our children. You don’t need to travel far to go camping in many state and national parks, at private campgrounds, in the backcountry or even in your own backyard.

Most campsites include a picnic table, a place to park your car and a spot to pitch your tent. Many also have shared bathrooms and running water. As always, check the amenities in advance so you aren’t unprepared.
Essentials

Essential Camping List
At a minimum you will need the following items!

  • Tent
    Sleeping Bags
    Sleeping Pads
    Plenty of Food
    Weather-appropriate Clothing
    Hygiene & Medical Essentials
  • Don’t bring too much as you will have to carry it and it’s fun to thrive using very little.

    REI provides this handy, comprehensive list of supplies which is helpful while packing.

    Mess Supplies

    This mess kit will help you serve five star camp meals!

    In and Around Camp
    Tent (with stakes and guylines)

    Coleman makes a great tent for any level of camper!

    Tent footprint
    Tent-pole repair sleeve
    Sun shade, tarp or screen house
    Sleeping bags (with optional liners)

    Keep warm and cozy with this sleeping bag!

    Sleeping pads
    Air mattresses
    Pad/mattress repair kit
    Pump for air mattresses
    Pillows
    Multi-tool or knife
    Daypacks (see our Day Hiking Checklist)
    Trekking poles
    Child carrier
    Rolling jogger
    Folding chairs
    Folding table
    Cots
    Mallet or hammer (for tent stakes)
    Headlamps (with extra batteries)
    Flashlights (with extra batteries, bulbs)
    Lanterns (with mantles, if needed)
    Lantern fuel or batteries
    Water filter or treatment tablets
    Bikes
    Bike trailers
    Inflatable boat with paddles and PFDs
    Fishing gear (and license)
    Canoeing/kayaking gear

    Clothing & Footwear Packing List
    If chilly nights are possible, come prepared.

    Moisture-wicking T-shirts
    Moisture-wicking underwear
    Quick-drying pants/shorts
    Long-sleeve shirts (for sun, bugs)
    Sun-shielding hats
    Swimsuits
    Bandanas or buffs
    Boots or shoes suited to terrain
    Socks (synthetic or wool)
    Long underwear
    Sleepwear
    Insulating jacket or vest
    Insulated pants
    Gloves or mittens
    Rainwear (jacket and pants)
    Clothesline with clips
    Water sandals
    In-camp sandals or booties

    Kitchen Supplies
    Select according to personal tastes and needs:

    Grill Coleman propane grill
    Stove
    Windscreen
    Fuel
    Fuel bottle(s) with fuel funnel
    Matches/lighter
    Charcoal (with fire starter)
    Firewood sourced near campsite (if allowed, plus saw or axe)
    Grill rack
    Frying pan
    Cook pots
    Pot grabber
    Dutch oven
    Portable coffee/espresso maker
    Hot-cold vacuum bottle
    Hand-crank blender
    Bottle opener/corkscrew
    Can opener
    Recipes
    Marshmallow/wiener roasting sticks
    Food-storage containers
    Resealable storage bags
    Trash bags
    Tablecloth and clips (or tape)
    Coolers
    Ice
    Water bottles
    Plates, bowls, mixing bowls
    Mugs/cups
    Measuring cups
    Measuring spoons
    Utensils
    Paring knife
    Spatula
    Whisk
    Kitchen organizer
    Cutting board or cutting surface
    Funnel
    Foil
    Egg holder(s)
    Biodegradable soap
    Pot scrubber/sponge(s)
    Collapsible water container(s)
    Portable or standing camp sink
    Drying rack
    Quick-dry towels

    Food
    For more options, see our Camp Kitchen Checklist.

    Coffee
    Cereal/granola/oatmeal
    Eggs (freeze-dried or fresh)
    Breakfast bars
    Batter mix
    Syrup
    Butter/margarine
    Jelly/jam
    Bread/bagels
    Meat (fresh and jerky)
    Soup mixes/bouillon cubes
    Prepared or freeze-dried meals
    Cooking oil/spray
    Salt/pepper
    Tea
    Milk (powdered or fresh)
    Cocoa
    Drink mixes
    Bottled/canned beverages
    Energy food (bars, gels, trail mix)
    Fruit (dried and fresh)
    Vegetables
    Cheese
    Crackers/chips
    Chocolate/sweets
    Marshmallows
    Spice kit
    Herbs

    Personal Items
    Tip: To more easily locate gear, keep similar items in a single duffel.

    Toilet paper
    Sunscreen
    Lip balm
    Insect repellent
    Hand sanitizer
    Alcohol or antiseptic wipes
    Spare eyeglasses/contact lenses
    Mirror
    First-aid kit (see First-Aid Checklist)
    Prescription medications
    Toothbrush, toiletry kit
    Menstrual and urinary products
    Cosmetics
    Brush/comb
    Eyeshades; earplugs
    Biodegradable soap
    Shower water bag

    Other Items to Bring
    Camera
    Camcorder
    Memory cards/film
    Binoculars
    Campsite reservation confirmation
    Maps
    Guidebook
    Interpretive field guides (flowers, insects)
    Star chart/night-sky identifier
    Pet tent
    Pet bed
    Paperbacks/DVDs or e-Books
    Notebook and pen/pencil
    Sketchpad with art supplies
    Radio or music player with headphones
    Two-way radios
    GPS receiver
    Cell phone
    Travel alarm clock
    Umbrella
    Pet food (with favorite bowl)
    Pet toys (such as Chuckit!)

    Fun Stuff
    Browse Games and Toys for more ideas.

    Playing cards
    Rolling ice cream maker
    Kick-around foot bag
    Kites
    Geocaching materials (with GPS receivers)
    Paddle ball set
    Glow sticks
    Flying discs
    Puzzles (crosswords, etc.)
    Board games
    Water toys
    Electronic toys
    Boomerang

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