Camping has always been a big part of all of our epic adventures. Whether you are backcountry camping or just doing a quick weekend car camping trip, you want to make sure that you have all the essential camping gear to get through that trip in comfort.
We have found that the best way to do that is to have a comprehensive camping checklist. This is the list we have used when camping on 5 different continents, so you know it has been tested. We recommend that before you head out on your next camping trip go through this checklist and make sure you have all of these camping essentials.
The Essential Camping Checklist
Table of Contents
Before you can start compiling your list of camping gear you should ask yourself these questions as it will determine what gear is necessary. You don’t want to be loaded up with items that you can easily find at the campground and you don’t want to be missing items if you are heading out off the grid.
Are you camping at a campground or in the backcountry? If you are going to a campsite, they may have facilities you can take advantage of that are not available to you if you are in the backcountry. Things like electricity, picnic tables, washrooms, and even swimming pools.
What activities do you want to do on your camping trip? If you are simply going out to relax in the outdoors you may need different gear than if you were planning on doing outdoor adventures like hiking, rock climbing, or fishing.
How primitive or luxurious do you want your camp to be? Everyone has different comfort levels. Some prefer to rough it and others want certain comforts. Camping can be everything basic backcountry trips to luxury glamping vacations. Knowing what type of camping experience you want is key to having fun.
If you determine this before you go camping, you will have all the proper gear to keep you comfortable.
Epic Camping Trips Around the World
- Camping in Africa: The Tour D’Afrique: The Trip That Changed Our Lives
- Camping in Thailand: Sea Kayaking In Thailand And Island Camping With John Gray’s Sea Canoe
- Camping in Mongolia: Essential Tips For Driving The Mongol Rally
- Antarctica: Camping On Antarctica
- Camping in Mexico: Sea Kayaking Baja Mexico – A Remarkable 10 Day Journey
- Ontario Canada Camping: The Wild Coastal Trail Of Pukaskwa National Park
- Camping in Kyrgyzstan: Kyrgyzstan Trekking By Horse – Into Jyrgalan And The Boz Uchuk Lakes
- Camping in Bhutan: Bhutan Trek To Laya – A Himalayan Adventure To The Remarkable And Remote
Planning Your Camping Trip
Every good camping checklist starts off with these essentials. This list of camping gear contains items that should be packed for all camping trips that will directly contribute to both your comfort and fun. You definitely want to be prepared for all weather conditions, from cold weather to rainy weather. Mother Nature can change things up in an instant and being prepared can really save your bacon.
All of these items on our camping checklist are ones that we have personally used. Quality and durability are really important to us especially when it comes to choosing your sleeping bag and your tent. We think it is always a good idea to spend a little more initially to save from re-buying items time and time again.
Probably one of the most important parts of a good camping checklist is having the right tools for campfire cooking and camp kitchen items. It can be overwhelming when trying to decide what to bring and what to leave behind.
Here, we list all the necessities you will need for a great camp kitchen set up.
Note: We left out food as that is really a personal preference. But we do suggest if you are camping in the backcountry to consider some freeze-dried food packages and boil-in-a-bag options to really cut down on weight. It is always good to have a meal plan when you are camping as it helps with bringing the right amount of food.
You can buy camping-specific cooking gear at your local MEC (in Canada) or REI in the United States. We have also linked to our favorite camping gear for cooking in the lists below.
After camping in so many different situations we have gone through a lot of the trial and error for you. We have perfected a personal gear list that prepares you for most situations without overpacking. Everything from toilet paper to baby wipes, are the items that often make the difference in how comfortable you are in the outdoors.
Don’t forget that these are personal items, so if you have something that you know you can’t go camping without, add it to the list.
- Hiking Boots
- Rain Jacket
- Quick dry shorts/pants
- Wicking short sleeve shirts
- Long sleeve shirts for sun and bugs
- Quick Dry Underwear
- Wicking socks
- Hats (one for warmth and one for sun)
- Base layer tops and pants (can double as sleepwear)
- Light sweater
- Bathing suit
- Sandals/Camp shoes
- Fleece Jacket or down jacket
- Bug Jacket
First Aid Kit
A good camping first aid kit can help you be prepared for most minor injuries that may occur at the campsite or on the trail. What we have listed below is the bare minimum that you should have on your camping checklist when it comes to First Aid. See our complete Packing a Travel First Aid Kit For Long Term Travel
If you don’t want to buy all of these things individually, make sure to check out special camping or backcountry first aid kits that include most of the basics. Make sure you keep on top of the supplies in your first aid kit. There are some things that are used more than others for first aid and you will want to re-stock those after each of your camping trips.
Optional Camping Checklist Items
When it comes to making your camping trip fun you might want to bring along a few of these items in your pack. They can help pass the time when you are not out exploring the great outdoors.
We always make sure to pack some games we can play on a rainy night, (travel scrabble is our favorite), a deck of cards, books we can read to relax, and some other things that may come in handy depending on what type of camping we are doing.
Camping doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. In fact, there are so many different products on the market that can help increase the comfort level, you can make your next camping trip as luxurious as you want. Provided you want to carry all the extras that is. This works great when car camping.
Remember, space and weight are usually at a premium when you are camping and your tent and sleeping bag will take up the most room and be the heaviest items you will carry. That doesn’t mean you should cut comfort items out altogether, just weigh their value against the effort to get them to the campsite.
These are a few things that we think should be on the camping checklist, mostly on car camping trips, that have really made a difference for us.
- Camp Mat: Great to put outside your tent so you don’t track dirt and dust into your tent
- Coffee Press: If you love good coffee pack a french press and your own ground coffee beans.
- 100w Solar Panel: Keep all your necessities charged.
- Hanging Fan: Perfect for inside the tent on those hot summer nights.
- Hand Powered Blender: If you love a smoothie in the morning like we do this is a perfect addition.
- Beverage Coolers: Keeping drinks cold is a luxury when camping and a set of coolers can really help. We always pack a few coolers whenever we are heading to accessible campsites
- Drink Cooler and Ice: Ice is like gold when camping, so it is essential to anyone car camping to make sure you have a cooler and some ice to keep food fresh.
We love to camp and making sure that we are well prepared for fun, comfort and safety are things that we have found are vital to making it a successful outing. Truthfully this list could go on forever as packing for a camping trip is really based on your personal comfort level and how much you are willing to carry.
Our advice is to always make a checklist of the items you need to bring and then add on the items you would like to bring. That way you are not caught without any of the essentials and your camping checklist will never let you down.
If you are heading into the great outdoors this year make sure you use this camping checklist as a baseline for your next adventure.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!