Camping Checklist And Essentials for Family Trips

Camping allows family and friends to take a break from the daily pressures of life. It acts as an avenue for family and friends to connect and reconcile. Moreover, it helps shift our perspective and see the world differently. A basic checklist of camping gear that you should take with you on your next adventure. Check this out to find a camping checklist.

Family Camping with kids is one of the best ways to get away from the usual routines of life and just vent off, relaxing your mind and body. Hopefully, you’ll get sound sleep, too. Amid all the fun and excitement, one or even a few days of camping will provide several benefits to one’s health and wellness. This includes stress relief, a good dose of exercise, fresh air, more sunshine exposure, and adventure experiences. The camping setting also allows you to socialize, make new friends and improve your relationship with your loved ones or colleagues as you explore nature and even gain new life skills.

The Perfect Camping Checklist - Outdoor Packing List

This can be is an enjoyable experience, but only if you prepare your camping trip adequately. Any and every self-proclaimed camper will confess that they are always armed with a list of camping essentials. Camping essentials are important as they ensure that your camping trip is an overall success.

This then begs the question; what camping essentials should one consider? Of course, camping tents are always at the top of the list, among many others. Let us take a look at the essentials that would make the best camping checklist.


The Perfect Camping Tent

It goes without saying that you cannot go camping without a tent. However, buying the perfect camping tent for you and your family can make a big difference. So, what should you look out for when purchasing one?

• Size

Size is dictated by the number of people coming along for the camping trip. If the camping trip involves your family or a large group of friends, then you’ll need a large family tent. The best option would be the 6-person tent.

6 person tents are obviously big enough for a large number of people. Purchasing such a tent will mean less luggage, and less stress when packing. If you have an SUV, you could even buy a special SUV tent that can attach onto the back of the vehicle – if this is something you might be interested in, you can learn more here about how these tents work so you can decide if an SUV tent could be a good option for your camping trips.

• Quality

Quality is a major factor to consider before purchasing a tent. The tent will act as your shelter for a couple of days. Hence, you want to make sure that it protects you and everybody else from the harsh conditions.

So, what makes a good quality tent? Look out for the ones that are made out of polyester. Ensure that the polyester tent indicates that it has been coated with Polyurethane, making it waterproof. Look out for the quality of stitching as well.

Good and excellent quality equal durability and functionality.

• Features

There are some camping tents that come with special features. Of course, this entirely depends on the buyer’s preferences. If you would a few special features, there are some 6 person tents, or even smaller ones, that come with them.

Special features include a mesh top for ventilation, storage compartments, and so forth.

The Perfect Camping Checklist - Outdoor Packing List

A Sleeping Pad

This is absolutely essential, as this is what you will be sleeping on. There are a variety of sleeping pads available in stores. Choose one that suits your preferences. However, be sure to buy a pad that is good quality, soft, and one that will protect you from the ground as well.

Just like bread goes with butter, so does the sleeping pad goes with a tent! Camping has made many people discover sleeping bags, be it for scouting or with schools. Sleeping pads play the role of the blanket as well as the mattress. While camping, it would be really frustrating to put on layers and layers of clothes just to keep warm while you can simply invest in a sleeping bag.

Sleeping Bag

No camping packing list would be complete without a sleeping bag. But you want one that’s warm and comfortable without weighing a ton.

Opt for a sleeping bag that provides maximum insulation no matter how cold it gets. Some even promise a toasty night’s sleep in 30-degree temperatures.


Experienced campers feel that one of the most important things for a camping trip is a tarp. Tarps are available in various sizes and are made of sturdy materials. They are used to remove dirt and debris out of the tent, and under the tent to protect it from ground moisture. If poles are included, a tarp can also be used as a lean-to.

Camping Chairs

Thank the heavens for the invention of camping chairs, which are foldable and occupy less space. Your back needs some comfort as you sip from your favorite drink while playing your favorite board game with pals. Choose a light one. We all hate to feel like we have been carrying heavy bags all day, don’t we?

Camping table

You will need a table in the camp, but sometimes you lack the space to carry bulky tables. That is where backpacking and camping tables come in. Tables like this fold away for effortless packing, they are comfortable and are lightweight for portability purposes. Also, you need to ensure that your camping chairs and tables are durable and can withstand harsh outdoor weather.


When you’re at a campsite, you really can’t expect everything to be nice and clean when you arrive. In fact, most sites are dusty. This is exactly where a tablecloth can be handy.

Aside from giving you a clean surface to prepare, cook and eat your meals, it can also give you a more even surface to keep your kitchen kit and other essential items. If you’ll be bringing a disposable tablecloth, you also need to pack some duct tapes or clamps to make sure that its edges stay in place.

A lamp and Lantern

Remember that when camping, you are pretty much secluded from civilization. You are in the woods, with no source of power or energy. Hence, you will need to carry a lamp or lantern for when it gets dark.

Solar Batteries/Lights or LED

If you have a solar battery, or a means to plug in your electronics, you can plug in the set of lights. When you go camping, lanterns, and campfires I would come to mind. You don’t have to stick to this model of waiting. You could be a little creative. If you get a string of LED lights or even a string of bright Christmas lights, you can illuminate your whole area without using much electricity.

Have a solar battery charging all day, have the LEDs for a few hours, and then call it a night in front of the campfire. The best part of having a string of lights is that it’s highly possible and doesn’t weigh much. It’s not like those old-school steel lamps that way just as much as they cost. A little nylon bag of Christmas lights? That’s the perfect modern solution for the dark wilderness.

Also, don’t forget some of those:

  • Rechargeable lanterns
  • Hand-crank flashlights
  • Batteries


You will need camping mats for everyone in order to keep the cold and dampness of the ground at bay. Any waterproof mat is okay, but if your budget allows, a self-inflating mat is the better option.


Lighting a campfire is the pinnacle of any unforgettable camping trip. The fire provides the right atmosphere for storytelling and bonding sessions. The amount of firewood to pack will depend on the type of wood (hardwoods burn for longer than softwoods), the size of the campfire, and the duration of the fire that you will be setting up.

Always pack more than enough firewood to avoid running out of it in the middle of your camping trip and you should pack a fire pit. If you will be camping on a site filled with dead trees and dry firewood, you don’t need to carry your own. However, you will need to pack a pair of gloves and thick-clothed sleeves. These will protect your arms from thorns and sharp branches. And if you weren’t planning to pack hiking boots or to carry a compass, well, now you may have to.


Waterproof Clothing

Can you imagine walking in the rain and dripping all the way to your tent just to realize you have no extra sweater to keep you warm? The weather is sometimes unpredictable and you would not like to spoil the fun by getting wet. As much as it might not rain, it won’t hurt if you packed a waterproof jacket just in case the sky waters the earth!

Thick Socks

You’ve at some point been out in the cold, especially at night, and felt that you have really cold feet that won’t let you have comfortable rest. When camping, there might be mosquitoes and other flying insects that only need the slightest contact with your skin for dinner. Carry a few pairs of heavy socks when going camping.

Hiking gear and equipment can be useful

Camping is more enjoyable when you participate in hiking, trekking, walking, and other physical activities. There is a wide range of possible weather scenarios out there, different types of terrain, and a host of safety challenges. As such, you need to get your hiking basics in order beforehand. Some of the hiking gear and equipment that you may need include:

  • Hiking pants. They should be sturdy, weatherproof and lightweight so that you can hike all day without needing to change with the changing weather and terrain. They should also give you all the flexibility you need to lift or rotate your legs. Wicking underwear will also come in handy as they will protect your groin area from overheating.
  • Hiking boots and socks. A good hiking boot should fit your foot perfectly, be breathable to avoid overheating and blisters, and have a good shock absorption mechanism. The boot should be spacious enough for the thick technical hiking socks.
  • Hiking backpack. Forget about the huge backpack you brought to the campsite. You will need a smaller one for the purposes of carrying your hiking gear to and from the woods.
  • A lightweight, waterproof rain jacket.
  • A couple of hiking poles.
  • A hiking torch, preferably two: One battery-operated and one heavy power torch.
  • Warm mittens
Female hands packing traveler case on bed, closeup.

Tools and Repair

Repair work is almost inevitable when camping. That is why you need to pack some extra spare parts and all the relevant repair tools. Here are some ideas to start you off:

  • Sewing kit – Contains things like threads, needles, and spare buttons, among others.
  • Tent repair kit – Seam sealer, tent patching tape, pole splicer, etc.
  • Camp tools – Hammer, saw ax, sharpening file, pliers, screwdriver, etc.
  • Stove kit – If you pack a liquid fuel stove and lanterns, you will need a stove/lantern generator, a stove/lantern pump, some lantern mantles, etc.
  • Others – Duct tape, mattress repair tools, fuel filter, and if you will be using a canoe or an outboard motor, pack all the appropriate repair tools for them.

Survival Knife

Camping should be as adventurous as possible. This is what makes it more fun. Think of lighting fires as early man did by rubbing sticks, playing treasure-hunt in the bush, having game meat for dinner, and so on. In many of these scenarios, camping knives come in pretty handy. Get a knife that can cut, slice, chop, pierce, and tear… an all-purpose knife that will handle all your cutting needs.

A sharp tool can provide nigh endless functionality when outdoors. You can use an outdoor knife to open food wrappers, peel off wood shavings, cut your food, sharpen sticks, and much more. Remember always to keep it away from children. Alternatively, you can get a multitool that provides several tools into one compact form.

Emergency Blanket

An emergency blanket is a small foldable foil that can easily fit inside your backpack. They weigh next to nothing and are incredibly cheap, as well. Why have an emergency blanket when going on an outdoor trip? These are excellent ways to keep warm and dry. Since emergency blankets are made from foil, the chrome side can also act as an emergency signal in the dark.

Security stuff

Camping is supposed to be fun and merry, but sometimes your safety can be threatened by intruding animals or thieves roaming around the area. That is why you need to be prepared for the unexpected. These tools will help you protect your camping territory:

  • Outdoor GPS tracking device gives you a complete solution of tracking, locating and off-grid communicating.
  • Headlamps, lanterns, or flashlights. These will scare away wild animals and in the case of any unfamiliar sounds, you will easily check for any potential threats.
  • A small radio to make it appear as if you are in your tent so that thieves cannot get in.
  • Compass and GPS. to prevent you from getting lost.
  • Night vision binoculars for night surveillance. Sometimes you will hear sounds in the woods at night or one of your fellow campers loses their way at night, so you will need good binoculars to boost your night vision.
  • Solar and portable power. The last thing you want is to have to switch off your phone and lighting system because of power scarcity. A good solar panel and portable solar power station will allow you to run all your security systems without any worries.
  • Cell phones in case you are lost in the wild and you need to call out for help.


What you pack for your camping kitchen depends on whether you will be car camping or backpacking. So, out of the list below, pick the items that you think will help you set up your perfect camping kitchen.

  • Portable stove. A good camping stove should easily close up for easy storage. If your budget is tight, a fire pit and a grill on top of it will help you cook comfortably using a cast-iron pan.
  • Hot-water heater. For your coffee making, bathing, drinking water, and dish cleaning needs, a hot-water heater will come in handy.
  • A cooler. You will need a cooler to keep your groceries, fruits, and other foods cool. You can also use it to cool your sunscreen on hot days and when closed, as a temporary prep station when cooking.
  • A refillable water carrier. You will need adequate water storage, especially if you will be camping deep in the woods where running water isn’t available. Of course, the importance of water in your camping life cannot be overemphasized.
  • Cleaning apparatus. These include dishwashing soap, sponge, pot scrubber, and dish towel.
  • Cooking apparatus. Pack anything that you will need to prepare and cook meals. We are talking pans, pots, pot holders, cooking spoons, roasting forks, a knife, tongs, etc.
  • Serving apparatus. Carry a serving spoon, spatula, paper towels, cups, paper plates, bowls, etc.
    Openers for your bottles, cans, etc.
  • Matches
  • Food, of course, and food containers. Your containers should be able to keep out moisture, insects, and rodents.
  • Ice or a rolling ice maker
  • Storage containers for the utensils
  • Trash cans
  • Water bottle It’s a necessity to have water – you just can’t survive long in the wild without it. Hydration helps in cultivating the body, keeping it energetic and active. We all go for getaways to have fun, not to look unhappy and thirsty. Pack as much water as you can, and don’t forget to bring a handy water bottle.

Non-perishable Food Supply

When you pack non-perishable foods, you won’t have to worry about your supply going bad. Remember to pack lots of snacks for your kids as there can never be enough snacks to go around. Read the rules and regulations of the campgrounds before packing food to avoid penalties and fines.

Consider putting away your garbage in a secure place – not in your tent or backpack. You shouldn’t burn excess food or waste on the campsite as the smoke can draw wildlife to you.

Stovetop kettles are important 

A stove-top camping kettle is a great replacement for those expensive specialized camping kettles. It’s cheaper and doesn’t need electricity to work. Although it can require more effort when it comes to cleaning, it’s still a convenient choice for campers.

Health & Hygiene

First Aid Kit

This is absolutely essential, especially if you’ll be camping with a large group. Some camping activities, such as hiking, may lead to unwanted injuries. A first aid kit will help treat those minor injuries adequately.

We cannot stress enough how important it is always to consider the worst-case scenario whenever you are camping or hiking. First aid kits come in compact boxes that barely take up space in your outdoor backpack. Having these essential medical kits can help you considerably in the event when accidents do occur.

Cases of gas poisoning, malaria due to mosquitoes, and other safety threats are very common in the wild. For you and your family’s safety. Here are the essential first aid items that you should bring with you when camping:

  • Sterile wipes
  • Antiseptic ointment
  • Painkiller medicine
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tourniquet
  • EpiPen for allergic reactions
  • Additional Key Camping Equipment to Consider
  • Portable Gas Stove
  • Water Filtration and Treatment Tablets
  • Compass and Maps
  • A personal medical prescription. Even if you don’t have any, it is good to seek advice from a travel doctor for any pre-trip prescriptions and self-treatment instructions, particularly if you will be camping far from your home country/state.
  • Bandages, band-aid, cotton balls, elastic wipes, and medical tapes
  • Cold compress in case of intense cuts
  • Mosquito & other insect repellents and snake bite kit
  • Aspirin and painkillers
  • Antibacterial wipes and sterile gauze
  • Eyewash.
  • Antibiotic cream, anti-blister cream, sterile dressing, surgical cutting tools, and gloves.
  • Hydrogen peroxide. It will help you treat insect bites and kill infections in case you are wounded.

Personal hygiene

Camping isn’t supposed to condemn you for days without a bath, greasy hair, and unpleasant body odor. For your own sake and for the sake of your camping buddies, don’t forget to carry the following camping hygiene items:

  • At least 2 outfits so that you can wash and wear them alternatively. As for the underwear, socks, and bras, pack as many as possible. While at it, pack wicking clothes instead of cotton clothes because they don’t soak up sweat.
  • A biodegradable soap
  • Shower Water, carry enough water at least for your face, underarms, and groin area.
  • Baby wipes, tissue paper, or bio wipes for your nature calls.
  • A microfiber towel. These towels dry faster.
  • Unscented dry shampoo for your hair. Scented shampoos, hair sprays, and perfumes can easily attract wild animals and bugs
  • A portable toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss
  • Brush, comb, and a small mirror
  • Menstrual products

Sun and bug protection essentials

Because sun rays can damage skin cells, you will need to pack appropriate sun-protective clothing. Your eyes, on the other hand, are one of the most fragile parts of your body and as such need all the protection they can get. Also, there are many proven ways to repel bugs while camping. Here are some basic items for this purpose:

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Bug spray
  • Long-sleeve, moisture-wicking shirt



One of the essential elements when camping is where you will be placing all essential gear. You will need a reliable bag that can accommodate all necessary outdoor equipment while also being able to handle the harsh elements and rough terrain of the outdoors.

There are three primary outdoor backpacks in the market: day packs, overnight, and long haul. As the name implies, the day packs and overnight bags are designed for lightweight and overnight use. The long-haul outdoor backpacks are considerably larger and are designed to carry equipment and ration to last for more than a couple of days.

Base your decision on which backpack to buy or bring on how long you are planning on staying out. Prices also vary, so consider your budget when hunting for an outdoor pack. Fortunately, there are popular brands out there that offer budget-friendly outdoor backpacks that are still well-made and sturdy.

Filter Straw

One of the new staples of camping is the filter straw. Ever since it was introduced about a decade back, it is the premier means of securing water in an emergency. Granted, you’re not supposed to use it As a primary source of water right off the bat. But if you’re in a situation in which you are completely out, you can use a filter straw in a stream and be sure that it takes up the majority of dangerous pathogens.

If you are in the continental United States, the major risk for drinking river water or stream water is Giardiasis. Now, as much as Giardia Isn’t particularly life-threatening, the subsequent dehydration due to diarrhea is. To avoid the potential danger loop use a filter straw in the stream. If you get some kind of pathogen, the major risk of diarrhea is a gamble you should not be willing to take.


Communication is very important when going camping with kids. You must have the capability to instantly talk to them wherever they are on site. Walkie-talkies enable you to establish that method of communication capability. On top of that, walkie-talkies are handy when anyone in the group gets lost in the wild or the forest. Walkie-talkies are also fun with kids. You get to exchange jokes and silly stories when you’re not close to each other.

Fishing gear

If you wish to add a little more adventure to your camping trip, why not go fishing? This can even be a good source of your meat for the entire camping duration. You will need to apply for a fishing license beforehand, but if you already have one, go ahead and pack the following:

  • A rod, reel, and line
  • A waterproof backpack with a hard, formed bottom for carrying fish and fishing gear.
  • Bait and hooks if necessary.
  • Needle-nose pliers or scissors for removing hooks.
  • Small bobbers for easy fish detection.

Campsite Extras

These are things that you can survive without but if your budget and/or space allow, they can be great additions to your camping experience. They include:

  • Portable clothesline. If you are going for an extended camping trip, hanging your clothes on railings and tree branches may not be feasible. Get a good portable clothesline that folds away easily, weighs less than 5kgs, and can hold a weight of 20kgs or more. The frame material should also be able to resist bad weather.
  • Candles for, well, romantic candle-lit dinners
  • Table cloth
  • All-weather pen and notebook. If you love writing down points and marking spots on the map as you hike, you will need an all-weather pen and a book because normal stationery may fail you under harsh weather conditions.
  • Camp playing cards or board games.
  • Camp rug
  • A broom
  • Cutting board for your kitchen
  • Corkscrew for your wine.
  • Portable coffee maker

Night-sky identifier

  • Charcoal
  • Music player and headphones
  • Toys for your pets and kids
  • Reading materials
  • Portable camp shower
  • Identification and credit cards

Outdoor Miscellaneous

  • A camera. If you are into outdoor photography, then a camera will be a great addition to your camping gear. For starters, a good camping camera should be water-resistant, have multiple memory card slots, have good image stabilization, and weigh 2lbs or less.
  • A kayak and kayak carrier, canoe, and/or mountain bike. Remember to carry their repair tools and spare parts as well.


Last Updated on March 4, 2023

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