Looking for a camping packing list for the family? We’ve compiled a list of 50 things to include in your camping packing list to make sure you’re prepared for a fun weekend of camping!
Are you looking for a basic must-have list of camping essentials? This list covers the basics you need to get out and go camping.
I am a gear and gadget nerd. I love all the different gear and gadgets that are borderline gimmicky. When I put our family camping checklist together every year, there are always one or two new items I bring to test out for the first time. I could easily write an entire post of fun camp gadgets, but I figure you need something more precise.
But I realize novice campers don’t want or need all those gadgets. This camping gear list is simple and includes items you need to make your camping trip more fun and enjoyable.
If you don’t have some of this stuff, don’t panic and think you need to run out and buy all of these items. Some of the items can be substituted with creativity. Most you probably already have and the rest can be bought at a garage sale.
What should you not forget when camping?
What you should bring camping is a different list than what should you NOT forget when camping. There are a lot of things that will make camping easier and more fun, as listed in the next section, but this list is what you definitely need on your camping packing list.
- Shelter—You need something to keep you out of the elements. The camping tent is the obvious answer here, but if you forget to pack it (don’t do that), your car will work in a pinch.
- Water—A lot of campsites have potable water, but if you aren’t sure, or are dispersed camping, be sure to bring enough drinkable water to last your entire trip.
- Food—Unless you’re practicing your foraging and hunting survival skills, pack enough food to get you through the trip. I have a complete camping food list for you that details meals and snacks to pack!
- Warmth—Pack plenty of warm clothes and the ability to start a campfire. Have backup clothes in case you get wet/dirty. Check this out for what to wear camping in any season.
What Should I Bring for Camping?
Now that we’ve covered the must-have items, let’s talk about what you should bring camping to make it more fun and enjoyable. This list covers most of the major items necessary for a successful family camping trip.
Camping Packing LIst For the Tent
- Tent—There are so many types of tents, including instant tents, multi-room tents, and glamping tents. Find one that works for your family.
- Hammer—A hammer will help you nail the tent stakes into the ground. You’ll be happy you did this in case it gets windy. Substitute a hammer with a good multi-tool or rock.
- Sleeping bag—It’s important to get a good sleeping bag. A sleeping bag rated for colder weather keeps you warm on those cold mountain nights. Don’t go to cheap on this item.
- Pillow—Just bring an extra pillow from home. No need to get a fancy camp pillow. If you forget to bring one, it’s not the end of the world, just roll up some comfy sweatshirts and make due.
- Blankets—Blankets are necessary if you’re camping in a cold environment. I recommend 100% wool for its water resistance and total warmth. If you don’t have a wool blanket, an old comforter will do just fine.
- Air mattress—Ok, this is definitely not an essential item. But I’m getting older, and I like getting good sleep. For that reason, bring a good air mattress and air pump or old pillowtop. If you are young enough, you’ll be fine roughing it sans air mattress.
camping packing list for the Kitchen
A lot of these items depend on what you are planning to cook and eat while camping. Be prepared and plan intentionally. If you need some help with planning your camp meals, check out our camping food list.
- Water—Most car camping sites have potable water available, but sometimes you need to bring your own. If you are dispersed camping, you will definitely need to bring your own. Just remember you need water for cooking, cleaning, drinking, and washing your hands.
- Lantern—A good lantern isn’t exactly required, but it makes life easier. There are some great propane and gas-powered lanterns that will last the entire trip. Here is a great list of campsite lighting ideas that includes battery powered and rechargeable camp lights as well.
- Ice Chest—If you are super creative with your food planning, you can avoid an ice chest. Otherwise, you’ll need the ice chest to store your eggs, milk, meat, and beer. I recommend bringing one ice chest for your food a separate ice chest for your beverages. Check out the best coolers made in the USA if you need a new one!
- Camp stove—If you’re tough enough, cook all of your food over a campfire. I’m not always in survival mode though, so I enjoy a high-quality propane camp stove. I have found over the years you get what you pay for in this category.
- Propane cannister – Propane cannisters are required for camp stoves and most lanterns. Bring a four-pack of the one pound propane canisters, and that should be enough for your weekend trip.
- Skillet—If you need to fry anything, the skillet is your friend. Cast iron is my favorite, but it is a heavy piece of equipment (so keep it to car camping and dispersed camping only).
- Stove pot—The partner to the skillet, the stove pot. A stove pot is needed if you cook up anything soupy or liquid.
- Dutch oven—A good dutch oven is heavy, so keep this cast iron dutch oven to car camping and dispersed camping only. You can have some really creative and fun meals via a good dutch oven.
- Kitchen knife—The knife is the most versatile tool on any list. Bring one big enough to be your primary kitchen camp knife.
- Charcoal chimney—Charcoal chimneys work great for your BBQ briquettes. Make sure you have a way to light the initial briquettes, like twigs and pine needles. I haven’t needed lighter fluid since acquiring a charcoal chimney.
- BBQ Grill—A lot of family camp sites have BBQ grills that you can use, but in case they don’t, bring a small BBQ to grill up burgers and trip tip.
- Tongs—It’s amazing how useful tongs are. Throw in two pairs for good measure.
- Spatula—The spatula is great for cooking eggs, pancakes, burgers, and more.
- Kettle—Warm water is great for washing dishes and washing your hands. If the evenings are cooler, you’ll be happy you have a kettle. Your stove pot could be a substitute in a pinch.
- Percolator or French press—I love having my coffee right after I wake up in the morning. Both the percolator and French press are good options. I’m currently on a French press kick, but have also used the percolator for years.
- Flatware—You could go high-end with some of those fancy camp sporks, but I find that old used forks and spoons work just fine.
- Plates and bowls—Again, you could get some fancy plates from camp outfitters, but old used plates and bowls work great. Avoid fragile glass plates and bowls.
- Cups and mugs—Mugs cover all your bases here. Your mug works for hot and cold drinks, where cold-only cups will only work for cold drinks. I’ve been gravitating away from glass mugs, finding high-quality plastics or metals that work great for that coffee, wine, and more.
- Towels—Towels are handy when cleaning up your cookware and drying your hands. Bring a few extra.
- Cutting board—Toss in an older used cutting board to use for for preparing your meals.
- Sponge and soap—You’ll need a way to clean your dishes and kitchen gear. The soap doubles for hand washing so you can stay nice and clean while camping.
- Matches or lighter—A box of matches or a lighter for lighting the stove, lanterns, BBQ and campfire. Bring a few extra.
- Food—Camping wont be too fun if you’re hungry. Pack your food for the trip in ice chests and totes.
- Garbage bag—I like to minimize waste as best I can, but it’s best to be prepared with a garbage bag when cleaning up after meals. Don’t be a litter bug, especially in nature.
- Rope—Ropes have multiple uses, from hanging a clothesline to dry out your beachwear, to hanging lanterns, to securing your easy up to the ground. Have an extra coil or two just in case.
camping packing list For the Person
Its always a good idea to have a few tools on your body, or in your bag in the tent.
- Pocket knife—I’m a big fan of the multi-tool as my everyday carry pocket knife. The knife is the most useful tool on any camping list, and the multi-tool brings additional support in the form of bottle openers, tweezers, can openers, and more.
- Headlamp—This is a great tool if you need to set up camp at night, are going on an evening hike, or just need to do something in the evening requiring both your hands. A good headlamp is worth the money.
- Clothes—Evenings can get cold, even in the summer. Pack in layers so that you can add or strip as necessary. Be prepared for the elements.
- Backup Clothes—Bring an extra set of just about everything. If your socks and underwear get wet, you’ll be happy you have a back up set.
- Matches or lighter—I know I already said to include this in your kitchen kit. Bring another, and keep it in your pocket. It’s handy to have and is the second most important tool, right after the knife.
- Folding chair—Bring a folding chair to set up around the campfire or to take down to the lake during the day.
- Toiletries—I forgot to pack my toothbrush and toothpaste one year when I was a kid. It wasn’t the end of the world, but I have never forgot to pack toiletries since. Do a mental checklist of toiletries you use on a normal basis. You probably don’t need beauty products or, dare I say deodorant, but that’s up to you.
- Toilet paper—A lot of family camp sites will have toilets stocked with toilet paper, but sometimes they don’t. You do not want to be stuck at camp with no toilet paper. Bring an extra roll or two in your bag.
- First aid kit—I probably should have listed this first. Bring a good-sized first aid kit in case of cuts, burns, scrapes, ticks, or other minor injuries.
- Bug spray—Depending on the location and time of year, bug spray could be very important.
- Sunblock—You’re going to be outside a lot. Make sure to pack sunblock so you don’t get burned.
camping packing list for Exra Comfort
If you like to be extra (I am very extra when it comes to camping), this camping packing list is for you. These items are definitely optional, but can absolutely add to the comfort and enjoyment of camp.
- Table cloth—We all know the cliché red and white checker tablecloth. Bring one to make that picnic table feel even more homey.
- Folding table—A folding table is great if you’re with a group. The table can be your kitchen and water table so that your picnic table is free for meals and card games.
- Hammock—I like those little packable hammocks. String it up and take a nap. If you’re extra adventurous, sleep in your hammock overnight (just be sure to make a plan on how to stay warm)!
- Fishing gear and mud bug traps—Toss in your mud bug traps as soon as you’re setup at camp and go fishing at dawn and dusk. Check your mud bug traps and have a crawfish feast for dinner!
- Easy-up—These are great if you are camping in a very sunny campsite or in the rain or snow. Bring one for your camp kitchen and one for your picnic table.
- Mobile propane heater—There are some really slick heaters on the market. If you are camping in the snow, or in a colder environment, bring a mobile heater. Be prepared though, those things chug propane super fast.
- Totes—I like to have all my gear organized and compartmentalized into totes. One tote for the kitchen, one tote for the tent, and one tote for the food. Staying organized will help things go smoothly.
- Collapsible sink/bowl—Bring two of these for your camp kitchen. They are designed to hold a lot of warm water and are perfect for cleaning dishes.
- Camp Shower – If you like to stay extra fresh and clean, here are some great camp shower ideas to include in your camping packing list.
- Games and toys—You are bound to have some downtime while camping. Bring some card games or other fun activities. For ideas, check out my things to do while camping list.
As you put your family camping packing list together, go over this list and consider your personal needs. There are some things that can be used as a substitute, so don’t panic if you feel like you need to go on a shopping spree to go camping.
Have fun with it. The more you camp, the more you’ll learn what you really need and what you can’t live without. For your first time, its a good idea to over pack a little.
Leave a Reply