Camping Essentials Checklist

The Ultimate Camping Essentials Checklist

Some of my best memories growing up involved camping across the U.S.! The stories and experiences are unforgetable and it gave me such an appreciation for nature! Now I am so excited to be continuing those traditions and creating new memories with my own family!  

There are many different ways to camp! Tent camping, RV camping, cabin camping, “glamping” and backpacking.   I like to keep in classic with some good old tent camping! Below I am sharing my personal checklist that we bring with us for our all of our trips! 


Campsite Setup

  • Tent – you want a tent that is sturdy, durable, water resistant, easy to put together and has a rain tarp. 
  • Extra tarp – lay this down under your tent. It provides an extra layer of protection from any rain or muddy ground conditions. 
  • Inflatable mattress & pump
  • Sleeping bag 
  • Pillows & blankets 
  • Lantern & Flashlight 
  • Travel cot – this is great for little ones!
  • Canopy tent / mesh tent to put over your picnic table
  • Fold-up chairs 
  • Hammer or mallet 
  • Batteries – check the sizes of your lanterns, radios, etc. 

Cookware & Tableware

  • Firepit grill grate or tripod – if you plan to cook over the campfire, you might need this. Not all firepits are equipped with grates. 
  • Gas stove & propane – if you don’t want to cook over the fire, bring a gas stove. (Mine is still working after 20 years!) 
  • Cooler & ice packs 
  • Water container 
  • Pots & Pans 
  • Tableware setup – rather than using plastic plates & utensils, I recommend a set that you can dedicate just for travel. 
  • Cups / water bottles 
  • Lighter / matches / fire starters
  • Spatula
  • Spoon 
  • Knife
  • Strainer 
  • Tongs
  • Can opener
  • Bottle opener
  • Aluminum foil
  • Potholders 
  • Tablecloth & clips
  • Napkins or paper towels 
  • Dish pan, soap & sponge 
  • Cleaning spray 
  • Tupperware – I pack small condiments, instant coffee and creamer packs inside the tupperware


Avoid using anything that has a heavy scent – mosquitos love it when you smell good! Ladies – camping is a great time to give your hair a rest from all of the products and heating tools! 

  • Face wash / mosturizer
  • Toothbrush / tootpaste 
  • Body wash / lotion 
  • Razor 
  • Deodorant 
  • Hair brush
  • Hair ties
  • Sunscreen / bug repellant 
  • Water shoes / flip flops 
  • Wash cloth / towels 
  • Chapstick 

Emergency Items

  • First aid kit 
  • Jump starter – I am paranoid about my car stalling in the middle of nowhere. Keep a fully charges jumpstart battery pack in your car just in case. 
  • Umbrellas/ ponchos 
  • Road Atlas – (my mom is going to love seeing me include this on my list – Mrs. “I-told-you-so!”) when you are out in the middle of nowhere and you don’t have cell service, you don’t want to get lost! 
  • Battery pack for cell phones – again, not all campsites have electricity, so it’s nice to keep this with you for an emergency phone charge!
  • Cash & Quarters – bring about $50 worth of small bills and quarters. Yes, many places are still cash only and sometimes you need to pay for showers in state parks! 

Miscellaneous Items

These are certainly not necessities, but always great to have on hand!

  • Citronella candles 
  • Radio – not all campsites have electric, we like keeping a small battery operated radio 
  • Fan 
  • Wasp spray – I really hate using any form of chemicals, but if you’ve ever been to a campsite that was infested with wasps (NOT BEES-please research the difference before spraying!) these are not the bugs that you want around, especially if you have children with you.  
  • Outdoor games (cornhole, ladder toss, cards) 


  • If you are bringing foods that need to be kept cold, cook those during your first night of camping. Coolers are great to keep drinks cold and keeping ice on hand, but unless you have the super duty Yeti-type coolers, the tempatures inside the basic cooler don’t maintain a temperature that keeps your food from spoiling, so it is best to cook those foods first.
    Bring some non-perishables! Something about cooking your food on a campfire just makes it so delicious! 
  • Create a dish washing station. Purchase a cheap dish pan, fill it with soap and water and clean your dirty dishes. This is more friendly for the environment than using disposable utensils. You can also use the dish pan for storing all of your cookware in once you are done!  
  • If you are traveling with a smaller child, bring your training potty. This is great for convenience on the road or on your campsite. 
  • Do not leave garbage laying around! Dispose of it often into a secured garbage can! As fun as it sounds, you do not want hungry wildlife rummaging through your campsite! 
  • Chose your camping equipment wisely! Not all sites offer electricity, and if all of your equipment is plug in only, you won’t be able to use it. 
  • Keep a dedicated storage bin for all of your camping goods. Rather than trying to figure out what you have and don’t have for each trip, you’ll have everything already stored together and ready to go! 

I would love to hear your camping experiences and favorite places to camp! 


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