Camping Checklist: What You Need to Pack Now

Laura Coppola // March 16

Camping checklists… Ahhhhh! What do I need or want? What is a nice-to-have and what is a need-to-have? With camping on the rise, more people are heading outdoors to eat, sleep and play.

Heading out into the great outdoors for a camping trip can be an exciting adventure, but it can also be stressful if you're not properly prepared. To ensure that you have everything you need for a successful camping trip, use this comprehensive camping checklist to help you pack and enjoy your time in nature.

We've got you covered if you’re looking for a camping checklist. You won’t want to forget any items, especially those on the top of the list! 

Shelter and Sleeping Gear

One of the most important things to consider when camping is your shelter and sleeping gear. Make sure to pack a tent that is appropriate for the number of people in your group, along with stakes and guylines to secure it. Don't forget to bring a ground cloth to protect the bottom of your tent from rocks and moisture. Sleeping bags and sleeping pads are also essential for a comfortable night's sleep. Consider the temperature rating of your sleeping bag and choose one that will keep you warm enough for the climate you'll be camping in. A sleeping pad will provide insulation from the ground and add extra cushioning for comfort.

Heading out camping? See our list of 120 camping hacks.
  • Shelter/Tent: There are a number of great brands, depending on your purpose. If you are backpacking, Big Agnes has very lightweight tents. If you want something extra large, Coleman provides it. REI brand tents meet those two in the middle.
  • Tent Footprint: A tarp is an option if you do not have a footprint specific to your tent. 
  • Sleeping Bag: REI has a good selection of sleeping bags to choose from along with experts on staff to help guide you to the perfect sleeping bag.
  • Sleeping Pad: Most sporting goods stores will carry camping pads. The better quality ones will last longer or may be lighter and more compact. The cheaper ones are fine (as long as they don’t lose air in the middle of the night of course). If you want to be a bit more comfortable, cots or a kingdom sleep system will provide extra coziness. 
  • Pillows: Compact camping pillows are great. There are a number of inflatable options and filled pillows that you can roll up tightly. Tip: Although I really like pillows, if I am tight on space, I just tuck my packing cube of clothes into a shirt so it is a makeshift pillow. 
Camping Checklist

{{Outdoor Camping Gear: The Miss Pursuit Guide}}

Cooking and Eating Supplies

When planning a camping trip, it's important to consider what cooking and eating supplies you'll need. A portable stove or campfire grill can be used to cook meals, along with pots, pans, and utensils. Don't forget to bring a cooler with ice. Plates, bowls, cups, and utensils are also necessary for eating. Consider bringing reusable options to reduce waste. And don't forget to pack a can opener and a knife for food preparation.

  • Cookware and Food: The Blackstone is great for cooking meals. If you prefer a burner, a Coleman Portable Grill works just as well. For a smaller option, a Jetboil is great. Don’t forget the fuel! Pack some reusable utensils, coffee mugs, bowls, and plates.
  • Cooler: The cooler you chose will be completely specific to you. RTIC has reasonably priced options.

Clothing and Personal Items

When packing for a camping trip, it's important to bring appropriate clothing for the weather and activities you'll be doing. This may include hiking boots, rain gear, warm layers, and comfortable clothes for lounging around the campsite. Don't forget to pack personal items such as toiletries, sunscreen, bug spray, and any necessary medications. It's also a good idea to bring a first aid kit in case of any injuries or emergencies.

  • Warm Clothes: You want a wool hat and socks for those crisp mornings. A warm, base layer is great for cool evenings and nights. I tend to go for the merino woolIksplor has reasonably priced base layers that are of great quality and cozy. They also have a set for nursing moms which is extremely convenient for nursing at night in the cold.  
  • Bug spray: Sawyer products are a great option.

First Aid and Emergency Supplies

When heading out into the wilderness, it's important to be prepared for any emergencies that may arise. Pack a first aid kit with items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and tweezers. In addition, bring emergency supplies such as a flashlight, extra batteries, a whistle, and a map of the area. It's also a good idea to have a fully charged cell phone and a portable charger in case of emergencies.

  • Portable charger: The Kogalla portable charger holds a charge for a very long time, even in cold temps. It is a bit pricey, but absolutely worth it. Ours goes with us everywhere. We actually have the light too which is perfect for navigating in the dark. 
  • Headlamp: My Petzl headlamp has never failed me and provides settings for brightness. 
  • Flashlight/Lantern: A heavy-duty lantern is really useful for the outside. A small lantern is useful to hang on the inside of your tent as well. I usually hang my headlamp in the tent but inflatable lanterns work too.
  • Tools: Don’t forget a multitool or pocket knife/saw and camp. 
  • Lighter: seems silly to add to the list, but it is easily forgotten.
  • Extra Batteries: you’ll either want to bring extra batteries or make sure everything is fully charged prior to your trip.
Heading out camping? See our list of 120 camping hacks.
Camping Checklist: What You Need to Pack Now

{{Camping Meal Prep}}

Other Items to add to your camping checklist:

  • Camp Table: If you don’t have access to a picnic table, you’ll want a sturdy table at camp. 
  • Camp Chairs: You don’t need anything fancy and you could always sit on a stump, but how great would it be to have a rocking chair by the fire?
  • Dust pan/brush: This isn’t necessary, but it will come in handy to clean up dirt and sand that finds its way into your tent. 
  • Garbage bags: Leave no trace
sunny fell camping chairs

What is on your camping checklist? Tell us what you love and what we missed.

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About the Author

Laura Coppola

As an avid outdoorswoman, I am always up for new adventures. When my husband introduced me to hunting, I was hooked! After six years and hundreds of hours spent hunting, I am now able to introduce our young daughter to all nature has to offer. My family is based on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi so we have the luxury of adventuring through four seasons and the opportunity to hunt an abundance of wild game. I’m excited to be here to take with me through the struggles and triumphs of motherhood and the outdoors.