Are you going on a little camping trip? Let’s talk about essentials. Sure, a visit to the wilderness calls for much less in the clothing and footwear departments than other trips, but there are a few camping necessities you won’t want to forget.

On most vacations, if you forget to bring something, you can probably buy it at a store nearby. In the wilderness, however, it’s a different scenario. If you’re miles away from home and realize you forgot to pack something crucial (say your extra batteries or fire starter), there’s not much you can do about it.

So, before you text the group chat and confirm the trip, consult our camping checklist to make sure you have everything you need for a nice, unforgettable camping trip.

Things to Bring Camping – Camping Packing List

camping packing list

While this camping list may look intimidating at first, you’ll find that most of these items can be found around your house. Start by gathering the basics like your bedding and shelter first, then go from there.

If you’re on a limited budget, you can always rent or borrow expensive items to save some bucks. Your camping supplies will upgrade as you go on more trips, so if this is your first time, it’s okay not to have the best of everything.

SHELTER/BEDDING

  • Tent (w/ stakes + guylines)
  • Sleeping bag or quilt
  • Sleeping pad or mattress
  • Camping pillow

OPTIONAL

  • Tent footprint/ground cloth (adds durability to tent floor)
  • Mallet (for tent stakes)
  • Door Mat
  • Sunshade, tarp, or screen house
  • Duct tape + Tenacious tape (repairs)
  • Small broom + dustpan
  • Tent lights
  • Cot
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Extra blankets/sheets
  • Air pump for mattress

SITE GEAR/FURNITURE

  • Camp table (if no picnic table)
  • Camp chairs
  • Lantern (w/ extra batteries)

OPTIONAL

  • Hammock + accessories
  • Outdoor rug
  • Tablecloth +clips
  • Clothesline + clips
  • Clear plastic bins to store items
  • Insect-repellent (or Thermacell)
  • Sit pads for insulation on chairs

PRIMITIVE SITE GEAR

  • Water filter/purification
  • Potable water containers
  • Trowel/shovel 

OPTIONAL

  • Portable power (battery bank or solar charger)
  • Paracord + food hanging bag (for bear country)
  • Portable camp shower

CONSUMABLES

  • Water
  • Ice
  • Beverages (juice, milk, beer, wine)
  • Coffee
  • Condiments
  • Cooking oil/spray

CAMP KITCHEN

camp kitchen

  • Coolers (1 for food + 1 for drinks)
  • Large water jug/dispenser
  • Stove + fuel
  • Lighter or matches
  • Cook pots w/ lids
  • Frying pan
  • Potholder
  • Food containers, bags + foil
  • Bowls/Plates/Cups
  • Eating utensils
  • Cooking utensils
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife(s)
  • Dish-washing basin (or plastic bin)
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Sponge
  • Quick-dry dish towel
  • Garbage + recycling bags

CLOTHING & FOOTWEAR

clothing and footwear

  • Quick-dry pants/shorts
  • Wicking shirts/tanks
  • Wicking underwear
  • Light fleece or jacket
  • Hiking shoes/boots
  • Wicking socks
  • Hats 
  • Sunglasses
  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Rain jacket + rain pants
  • Base layer top + bottom
  • Warm insulated jacket 
  • Fleece or wool pants
  • Gloves or mittens

OPTIONAL

  • Swimsuit
  • Sandals or water shoes
  • Camp shoes/slip-ons
  • Sleepwear
  • Umbrella
  • Bandana or Buff

OPTIONAL

  • Paper towels
  • Bottle opener/corkscrew
  • Can opener
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Coffee pot or French press
  • Griddle
  • Grill rack (to cook over fire)
  • Dutch oven

PERSONAL GEAR

  • Headlamp (batteries)
  • Daypack
  • Water bottle(s) or hydration pack
  • Lightweight knife or multi-tool
  • Whistle
  • Lighter
  • Map + compass or GPS
  • Phone (w/ charger + case)
  • Camera
  • Cash or credit card
  • ID
  • Permits/reservations/fees/licenses
  • Check weather forecast
  • Duffle bag + stuff sacks

FIRST AID KIT

first aid kit

  • Bandages
  • Moleskin or tape (for blisters)
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • OTC medicines + vitamins
  • Ibuprofen (headache reliever)
  • Antacids (stomachache)
  • Antihistamine (allergic reactions)
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Aloe (for sunburn)
  • Small multi-tool (w/ tweezers + scissors)

CAMPFIRE (OPTIONAL)

  • Hatchet or folding saw
  • Fire starter
  • Matches or lighter
  • Firewood (if unavailable near campsite)
  • Tarp (to cover wood + protect car)
  • Roasting forks for s’mores

HEALTH & HYGIENE

  • Prescription Rx
  • Toilet Paper
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush, paste + floss
  • Lip Balm
  • Menstrual/urinary products
  • Toiletries (soap, shampoo, etc.)
  • Quick-dry pack towel

FUN & ENTERTAINMENT (OPTIONAL)

  • Games (dice, cards, etc.)
  • Music player (speaker)
  • Reading material, notebook, pen
  • Hiking guides/maps/field guides
  • Binoculars
  • Dog gear (dishes, tether, pack, bed)
  • Sports/fishing gear

Keep Things Organized

It’s super easy to stay organized while on a camping trip by using clear plastic bins instead of giant backpacks and duffle bags. You can see what’s inside the clear containers at a glance – and slide them effortlessly in and out of the truck. Additionally, these clear bins keep your items contained and protected from dirt and wild critters. Plus, as an added benefit, your things will always be in one place in your vehicle.

Camping Food

camping food

The kitchen and the camping food you need will vary depending on how much or little you plan on cooking on your trip. Some campers like to bring prepared foods and lots of snacks and beverages, while others enjoy putting together gourmet meals.

Determining whether you’d prefer to bring snacks, cook on a camping stove, or over an open fire will help you decide what to bring and what kind of food to pack. Taking the time to meal prep before a trip will make your role as assigned camp cook much simpler and more fun.

Storage

Let’s talk about storage. A quality cooler, like the Yeti Tundra, usually has adequate insulation to keep it cool for extended periods. But even the best performing coolers will lose their cool after a couple of days on summertime trips. To make sure your cooler performs at its best, pre-chill both your food and your cooler(s) before you load it for the freshest start.

The more packed your cooler is, the warmer it is, so get one that isn’t too big. To maximize your storage capabilities, categorize your drinks and your food into two smaller coolers instead of one big one for everything.

Keeping the water bottles and beer cans separate will significantly reduce the number of times people open the cooler during the day. Lastly, covering your cooler or keeping it in the shade at all times will improve its performance considerably.

Trash

Wherever you are in the wilderness, it’s always good to keep your campsite tidy and litter-free to control rodents, birds, bears, and other wild, hungry critters from getting to the garbage. When out in the wilderness, follow the Leave No Trace protocol – it will improve the experience, and you’ll officially be cool in Nature’s book.

Dispose of trash in campground containers and store food items in your truck. If you’re taking a trip to bear country, it’s a good practice to keep your food in a bear locker, stash it in your car, or get a proper food bag like the Ursack.

First Aid Kits

Unless you’re a veteran camper with decades in the game, you can’t be prepared for absolutely everything, but as long as you have the essentials, you should be fine. That being said, you should have the tools you need to take care of minor cuts, sunburn, scrapes, bug bites, headaches, and upset stomachs. The Ultralight Adventure Medical Kit from REI is light enough to carry with you on trips and hikes away from your campsite.

Takeaway

Never get caught in the wild unprepared. Take the time to get familiar with the list above before you head out. We hope you have a successful camping trip.