In all the excitement and anticipation of an Outdoorsy trip, it can be easy to forget key camping necessities. And trust us, nothing is worse than getting to your campsite and realizing that you forgot to pack essential equipment like chairs, your stove, or a pillow! Luckily, this problem is completely avoidable if you use a camping checklist when you’re packing.
A checklist ensures that you bring everything that you need, every time you head out on an adventure. It makes packing quick, easy, and painless.
We’ve compiled an ultimate checklist that has the basics of what you should bring on a trip. Keep in mind that this might not have everything specific to your destination or itinerary. Always be sure to plan ahead of time and add any special items you want to bring to your list.
Basic camping checklist
Headed out for a few nights — or weeks — in the great outdoors? You’ll want to make sure you bring all of your camping essentials. The following are useful items to pack, no matter what type of camping you plan on doing.
It can be easy to forget your everyday essentials when you’re worried about tents and sleeping bags. Don’t overlook packing your personal items like:
- Wallet with debit cards, credit cards, and government-issued ID
- National Park Annual Pass or state parks pass
- Permits such as fishing or hunting licenses, if you plan to do those activities
- Cell phone
- Cell phone charger and external battery
- Lip balm
- Water bottle
- Sunglasses and case
No one wants to experience an accident on their trip, but it happens. Safety items should be one of the first things you pack to ensure that they don’t get left behind.
If you don’t have a first aid kit, you can assemble your own with the following items:
Bandages and sterilizing supplies:
- Bandaids of varying sizes
- Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Liquid bandages
- Sterile wipes
- Finger splints
Creams, gels, and medications:
- Over-the-counter pain medications, antacids, antihistamines
- Anti-itch creams or medications
- Eye drops
- Sunburn cream or gel
Other medical tools and supplies:
- Oral thermometer
- Safety pins
- Blunt-tipped scissors
- Emergency blanket
Here are some items that will ensure your safety and wellbeing during your trip.
- Sunscreen and lip balm with sunscreen
- Insect repellent with DEET
- Hand sanitizer
- Spare cash
- A paper map of your area
- A compass
- Jug of water for emergencies
- Water filtration system
- A whistle
- Rain poncho
- Bear mace
- Matches in a waterproof container
Toiletries and hygiene products
Next up are your toiletries products. Just because you’re in the great outdoors doesn’t mean you have to forego basic hygiene.
- Hand soap
- Baby wipes or body wipes
- Bath towels
- Body wash
- Facial care products
- Body or face lotion (unscented is preferable)
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Hairbrush or comb
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Toilet paper
- Facial tissue
- Contact case and solution, if you wear contact lenses
- Menstrual products
- Hair ties
- Nail clippers
- Razor and shaving cream
If you won’t have access to a toilet or shower, you can bring your own portable versions.
Food, cooking, and cleanup supplies
You probably won’t have a drive-thru nearby when you’re camping, so you’ll want to be sure everything you’ll need to prepare, cook, and clean up after your meals.
Be sure to make a grocery list for every meal and snack you’ll want to eat on the trip. In general, you’ll want to bring:
- Ingredients for hearty meals
- Easy snacks to eat throughout the day like trail mix, granola bars, and more
- Coffee or tea for warm morning drinks
Unless all of your meals are pre-made and ready to eat, you’ll need to bring cooking supplies and eating utensils.
- Cooler/ice chest
- A knifes, spoons, and forks
- A knife for cutting ingredients
- Cutting board
- Frying pan
- Mixing spoon
- Oven mitt
- Measuring cups
- Bottle/wine opener
- Can opener
- Coffee percolator
- Food containers like ziplock baggies or tupperware containers
Most of your waste and trash will come from making food at your campsite. Here’s how you can keep your area clean.
- Paper towels
- Dish soap
- Sponge or cleaning cloth
- Plastic basin for washing dishes or clothes
- Trash bags
- Disinfectant wipes
- Clotheslines and clothespins
- Small broom and dustpan to sweep your area
If you want to make the most of your time outside, don’t forget to pack some outdoor furniture.
- Hammock or inflatable chair
- Camping chairs
- Folding table, if your campsite doesn’t provide a picnic table
- Sunbrellas or shade tent
- String lights to put around your campsite.
Prepare to get your hands a little dirty when camping. Here are the tools you’ll want to bring.
- Wood ax for splitting firewood
- Rubber mallet for driving stakes into the ground
- Bungee cords
- Multi-tool with pliers, pocket knife, etc.
- Flashlights or headlamps
- Matches or lighter
- Fire kindling
- Firewood (Always check with your campsite before bringing in firewood. Some sites prohibit outside firewood to prevent invasive insects.)
Now it’s time to pack your clothing. Always be sure to check the weather forecast for the duration of your stay before you head out and pack accordingly.
- Light, base layers
- Jacket, hoodie, or fleece pullover
- Thicker outer layer, such as a coat if necessary
- Thin, moisture-wicking long-sleeve shirts for sun protection
- Socks (wool socks work best)
- Cap or wide-brimmed sun hat
- Beanie or knit wool hat
- Gloves, if cold
- Shower shoes
- Hiking boots
- Flip flops
Camping supplies list by camping type
Your packing list for tent camping versus that of RV camping will look a lot different. To help you out, we’ve broken down your camping supplies list by the type of camping you’ll be doing.
Tent camping checklist
Plan on sleeping in an old-fashioned tent? Don’t forget to pack the following items.
- Sleeping bag and liner
- Sleeping mat, air mattress, or cot
RV camping checklist
Your RV needs may even vary a bit depending on the type of RV you’ll be traveling in. Here’s a general list, but keep in mind that you may need more (or less) depending on what features your RV has.
- Electrical adapters
- Sewer hoses
- Water pressure regulator
- Drinking water hose
- Leveling blocks
- Wheel chocks
- Battery jumper cables
- Emergency road kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Documents like registration, inspection, etc.
Keep in mind that your RV will likely already be equipped with these items if you are renting from a platform like Outdoorsy! Always be sure to check with the RV owner to ensure that you bring all of the necessary items.
Items for inside the RV:
- Bed linens
- Additional kitchen appliances
What you need to bring glamping largely depends on what the glampsite you’ll be staying at provides. Some places are fully furnished and have on-site staff much like a hotel, so you won’t need to worry about packing anything other than your personal items and clothes.
Children’s camping checklist
Camping is a great way to impart a love for nature to your children. It allows them to unplug from technology, connect with family and friends, and spark their curiosity in a unique way.
Items for young children:
- Toys for inside and outside
- Crib or bassinet
- Playpen or play mat
- Wearable baby carrier
- Outdoor high chair
- Baby monitor
- Diapers and baby wipes
- Baby food
Items for older children:
- Entertainment for the road (e.g., toys, books, etc.)
- Small backpack
- Binoculars and other exploration items
Though nature certainly provides plenty of entertainment, you may want to pack a few things to add some extra fun to your trip.
- Outdoor games, like cornhole, horseshoes, or badminton
- Football or frisbee
- Musical instruments such as guitar or ukulele to play around the campfire
- Deck of cards
- Your favorite book
- Puzzle book
- Bluetooth speaker or radio to (respectfully) listen to music at your campsite
Pet camping checklist
If you want to embark on your journey with your four-legged friend, you’ll want to take time to pack the right stuff for them as well.
A dog travel box
Prep a “doggie box” before you go that has all of your pup’s essentials.
- Water and food bowls
- Dog food and treats
- Collar and leash
- Bags for poop
- Brush or other grooming supplies, if needed
- Blanket or dog bed
- Chew toys
- Old towel for swimming, rain, or cleaning dirty paws
- Booties or sweater, if traveling to a cold climate
- Copy of health and vaccination record
- Any medications that your dog takes
- A recent picture of your dog, in case they go missing
Pet first-aid kit
Even the best-behaved dogs can get into trouble out in nature, whether it’s getting too close to a prickly plant or curiously investigating a wild critter or insect. Because of this, it’s important to create a first-aid kit for your dog. You can make your own kit with the following items:
- Dishwashing soap for bathing
- Medical tape
- Blunt-end scissors
- Disposable gloves
- 3% hydrogen peroxide for inducing vomiting
- Oral syringe
- Styptic powder
- Small flashlight
- Absorbent gauze
- Antibiotic ointment
Keep this packed altogether in your RV or vehicle. If you plan on venturing out on a hiking trail, it’s also a good idea to pack a smaller bag that has items like gauze, medical tape, and tweezers, just in case you need to administer aid on the trail.
Recreational activities checklists
Planning on doing recreational activities like hiking, swimming, or biking on your camping adventure? Here are some additional supplies and gear you’ll want to bring.
Hoping to take some day hikes? Be sure to bring a daypack to carry the essentials.
- Water bottle
- Map of trails
- Small first-aid kit
- Knife or multi-tool
Kayaking and canoeing
Kayaking or canoeing can be a great way to get a new perspective of the locations you’re exploring. If you want to hit the water, you’ll want to pack accordingly.
- Kayak or canoe
- Life jacket
- Throwable floatation device
- Water bottle
- Dry bag with sunscreen, snacks, extra water, etc.
- Bailer, bilge pump, or sponge
- Tow line
- Small first aid kit
- Paddle float
- Extra paddle
If there’s a lake, river, or ocean near your campsite, swimming may be on your mind.
- Life jacket or other floatation device
- Waterproof sunscreen
- Umbrella or shade tent for when you are relaxing onshore
Biking is a popular activity among campers. Many parks offer bike trails that can take you where no vehicle ever could.
- Bike rack
- Water bottle
- Tire pump
- Spare tube or tubes
- Tire patch kit
- Bike multi-tool
- Rear bike light
- Visibility vest (if you bike on roadways)
- Eye protection
- Small first-aid kit
Prepare ahead of time
Packing for a camping trip is an art. There’s a fine line between packing too little and overpacking, and it may take a few trips for you to find the perfect balance.
These camping packing lists here are meant to be a guide or starting place. Before setting out, consider where you are going, what you will be doing, the time of year, and what the weather will be. Packing for a summer camping trip in a cabin in Florida will look a lot different than a winter mountain trek in Montana.
After an outing, you may discover that your camping needs are much different, and that’s okay! The important thing is that you write down what you need so that you pack it every time. Keep your list with you on the trip, and if you think of something you’re missing, be sure to jot it down for the next time you set out.