Here it is – my checklist from years of car camping! Every time I forgot something, the missing item gets added to the list. Just last weekend, I forgot the propane adapter for my camp stove, so I added it to the list.

Camping checklist!

I don’t bring each item on the list each time I camp. It would be a little silly to bring sleeping pads, cots and an air mattress. :)

I simply print out the checklist and cross out the items I don’t need. Once I gather all my camping gear, I check off all the items that I am bringing.
printable camping checklist

Here are two downloadable versions of the list:

Printable camping checklist
PDF Camping Checklist
Printable camping checklist
MS Word Camping Checklist

Also, check out my matching Camping Menu Planner.

Here’s the complete list, along with my tips and recommendations.

Before you leave:

  • charge air pump
  • charge rechargeable batteries
  • charge camera battery
  • charge led lantern
  • freeze blocks of ice
    I use a food storage container to freeze several blocks of ice for my cooler. Then I release the blocks by running hot tap water over the container. These blocks take forever to melt and make it easier to pack the cooler.
  • get cash
    You’ll need smaller bills to pay for firewood, entrance fees and your campsite.
  • grocery shop

Buy near campsite:

  • firewood
    To avoid spreading Emerald Ash Borer (and breaking the law), buy firewood near your campsite.
  • more ice
  • cold beer
    Things that start cold, stay cold. We like to drink local beers when we’re traveling. On our last camping trip we picked up some New Glarus and Potosi brews.

Nearby in the car:

  • directions
    My phone’s GPS has a meltdown when we’re driving on country roads. Print directions as a back-up.
  • guidebooks
    The tent camping guides from Menasha Ridge Press are great. I can’t recommend them enough.
  • reservation info

Lounging:

  • chairs
  • blankets
    Billy gave me a camp blanket like this for Christmas. It’s great for snuggling up around the campfire and we also throw it over our sleeping bag on cold nights.
  • book/kindle
  • clothes line
  • clothes pins
  • canopy
    We have a Eureka! Northern Breeze Screen House. It seems like it will last a lifetime, and it is great when the bugs are bad or when there are few trees to block the sun.
  • canopy poles
  • canopy stakes

Chilling food & beverages:

  • beverage cooler
    The beverage cooler gets opened (and left open) a lot. Bring a separate cooler for food.
  • food cooler
  • ice
  • water jug
    I use my parents’ Coleman water jug from 1984. The camping tradition continues…

Campfire:

  • torch lighter
  • matches
  • newspapers
  • shovel
    To pull hot coals out of the fire for cooking.
  • tarp
    To keep your firewood dry.

Shelter:

  • tent
    I love, love, love my tent. It has huge windows, so I never feel claustrophobic. I have the older version of this tent. And just so you know, a 4 person tent will only fit two people and a dog comfortably.
  • tent footprint
  • tent poles
  • tent stakes
  • hammer/mallet
    We picked up this mallet at Menards a while back. It’s lighter than a hammer and makes hammering and removing stakes a lot easier.
  • sleeping bags
    We got a double sleeping bag recently, and we love it. For warm-weather camping, it’s a lot better than being twisted up in a mummy bag.
  • pillow cases
  • pillows
    Mini pillows are big space savers in the car. Or, you can just bring pillow cases and stuff them with clothes.
  • sleeping pads
  • cots
  • air mattress
    We have been through a lot of air mattresses. The cheap ones get holes really easily. It may be best to avoid air mattresses if you have a dog.

  • air pump
  • sheets
  • entry rug
    I use an old rag rug. Great for taking off shoes and keeping dirt out of the tent. Plus I can just throw it in the wash when we get home.

Cooking:

  • stove
    Look for camp stoves at garage sales. I picked up a great vintage one for $5, and have seen a few others since then.
  • propane
  • propane adapter
  • grill
  • cooking grate
    An inexpensive grate is useful for cooking over the campfire. A grate is especially useful at more primitive campsites that don’t have a fire ring with a built-in grate.
  • Dutch oven
    You’ll want a camp dutch oven with feet.
  • Dutch oven lid lifter
    This really comes in handy when there are hot coals on top of your dutch oven.
  • pot with lid
    We make pasta a lot when we camp, so I like spaghetti pots with built-in drainers. I have this pot and this insert. I like that I can also use the insert as a colander for fruit or veggies.
  • cast iron pan
    We have this cast iron pan. It’s around $15 bucks at most stores and will last a lifetime.
  • saucepan
    Save your nice cookware for home. Goodwill has tons of saucepans for $3 or $4.
  • s’more roaster/pie iron
    We just tried this s’more makericon for the first time. It’s only $4.88 and it makes perfectly toasted s’mores. We also have this pie iron. It’s an original 1960’s design, made out of heavy cast iron. Don’t forget to season it before you head out.
  • potholders/oven mitts
  • cooking spray
  • salt & pepper
  • hot sauce
  • garbage bags
  • aluminum foil
    Heavy duty aluminium foil works best for cooking in the campfire.
  • tablecloth
    Vinyl without a felt backing works best.
  • paper towels
  • bowls
  • plates
  • silverware
  • cutting board
  • chopping knife
  • can opener
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoons
  • scissors
  • serving spoon/ladle
  • spatula
  • tongs
  • dish pan
  • dish soap
  • dish sponge
  • dish towel
  • storage containers

Beverages:

  • mugs
  • kettle/percolator
  • coffee/instant coffee
    Starbucks Via instant coffee is expensive, but it tastes great.
  • tea
  • sugar
  • milk/creamer
  • hot chocolate powder
  • pitcher
  • beverages
  • bottle opener
  • corkscrew

Clothing:

  • underwear
  • pants
  • shorts
  • belt
  • shirts
  • fleece
  • rain jacket
  • hiking boots
  • socks
  • flip-flops
    Bring some flip-flops that will work as shower shoes.
  • sweatpants
  • sweatshirt
  • pajamas
  • hat
  • sunglasses
  • swimsuit

Exploring:

  • backpack/waist pack
  • first aid kit
  • water bottles
  • bug spray
  • sunscreen
  • cell phone
  • cell phone charger
  • camera
  • camera charger
  • pocket knife
  • binoculars
  • hand warmers

Light:

  • flashlight
    Opt for LED flashlights and headlamps to save on batteries.
  • headlamps
  • batteries
  • lantern
  • mantles
  • candle

Personal:

  • hand sanitizer
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • floss
  • hair brush
  • baby wipes
    I use generic baby wipes for wiping off my hands as well as cleaning. I also like to bring Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes for my face.
  • deodorant
  • towels
  • face wash
  • body wash
  • shampoo/conditioner
  • razor
  • shaving cream
  • chap stick
  • tissues
  • toilet paper
  • nail clippers
  • tweezers
  • glasses
  • contacts
  • contact case
  • contact solution
  • mirror
    Nice to have for putting in/taking out contacts.

That’s my list. Am I missing anything? Are there any other items that you can’t live without?

62 Comments on Camping Checklist

  1. I love this list! It’s my first time going with a group of friends, and without my mom getting everything ready for me! You’re a life saver .

  2. We camped for 30+ years with our kids but now we have a popup camper. Your list still applies in many, many ways. I’m going to print several copies – one for the house and one for the camper. Thanks for the helpful list!!

  3. I like to bring a clothesline & clothes pins.
    Camping in CA usually involves the use of bear lockers, so I pack plastic storage containers with dry food, toiletries & cleaning supplies. The coolers and all the bins go neatly into the locker. We’re camping with 4 children, so our “list” is very, very long! This is a great starting point for me & I WILL be printing it out! Thanks!

    • Hi Jana! I agree, a clothesline and clothes pins are really useful especially when there’s a beach nearby. You sound so organized! The bears won’t be visiting your site. I’m glad you can make use of the list.

  4. Wow what a great checklist…planning a big camping trip with the fam this summer will put it to good use! Thank you for putting it out into the blogosphere!

  5. This list is great and I will be printing many copies to give family and friends! Bug spray is also good to use for bees and ants when eating…also mosquito spray so you don’t come home with bites all over. Love the list! Thanks!

    • Bug spray? How do I not have that on there? It’s definitely a must, especially with all the rain we have had. The Mosquitos are biting like crazy. I’ll add it in the next version! Thank you!

      • Oh, I see it now! Good tip on using it for bees and ants! I haven’t used mosquito-specific spray, but I will keep an eye out for it. Glad you like the list & happy camping!

  6. My husband’s family started camping every summer when he was little, and about ten years ago the tradition got re-started. It includes extended family and friends, and we’ve had as many as 40 people show up, including small children. I’ve found that bringing along glow-stick necklaces and bracelets makes it easier to keep track of them once the sun goes down, and regular glow sticks work well in the tents for night lights. They’re readily available at the dollar store here.

    I’ve also found, thanks to the very Irish genetics most of his family (and therefore our kids) have that sunblock and sunburn gels are a must, as well as Advil to help with the inflammation accompanying sunburns.

    We spend most of our time on the “river” that borders the campground, and since we go in July, dehydration is a big concern. I’ve started bringing along a pitcher and Gatorade powder (takes up less room than individual bottles do and is cheaper), and each kid has their own refillable water bottle that they use.

    • Great idea with the glow sticks. We don’t have kids, but they would definitely help me keep track of our dog!

      I know how you feel with the Irish genetics! I burn easily as well! I’m loving the spray-on sunblock this year. It’s so easy to apply and a lot less greasy.

      Happy camping & stay cool!

  7. Great list. Printed several. I always bring a big jug of home bug spray for ants and spiders. Spray a perimeter around the tent. I have never (knock on wood) had spiders or ants in my tent. I use the stuff that is safe for kids and plants.

    • Hi Heather! I haven’t had problems with spiders or ants, but the gnats and mosquitos are just awful this year. I am not a huge fan of DEET so I’ve been using Badger Anti-Bug. It seems to work pretty well. What’s the name of the product you use for the ants?

  8. I just pulled out our camping list from years of camping and forgetting things also. Mine is not nearly as cute and you have things I hadn’t thought of. We used to tent camp, but have recently purchased a little Scotty camper so our list has changed a bit. How sweet of you to share an editable list!
    Thank you and happy camping!

  9. We line the floor of our tent with foam mats , the kind that fit together like a jigsaw. It’s a thermal layer as well as being soft underfoot. I also have my 3dogs in the tent with Me (2 whippets & a dachshund) so I keep their leads next to me , if I need to go to the ” ladies” during the night they want to come too . Also if a cold snap comes through and we find we are not warm enough at night I will go to a fabric shop and buy a few metres of Fleecy fabric as its always cheaper than blankets or quilts.

    • Foam mats are such a good idea, especially when you are camping with dogs! We made the mistake of using an air mattress while camping with our dog. It’s the worst feeling to wake up in the middle of the night on a half deflated air mattress. I like your idea about the fleece fabric as well. I’m sure they have some cute prints at the fabric store.

  10. I also use a zipped cushion cover as a bag to put everything I would normally have on my bedside table , things like glasses, books, tissues, lip balm , hand cream, nail file, small transistor radio and torch plus foam ear plugs. And my husband has one as well to keep his bedside gear in. Something else I find handy are small battery operated LED lights. IKEA also have a range of solar lights that are very useful

    • I’ve seen those solar lights at IKEA, but wondered if they worked well. I’ll pick some up next time I go there.

  11. Great list, Noreen! One item that always gets packed in my camp tub is a big scented jar candle for the outhouse – one where the wax/wick are well below the rim. Light it and leave it at dusk – never had a problem on 15 yrs. Provides a little light after dark, redirects the bugs from the seat (those bites are no fun), and just might save your olfactory senses.
    Happy camping!

  12. We pack a battery powered fan for the tent when the weather is warm. And we pack and use a solar blanket to keep us extra warm on colder trips.

    • Great recommendations Caroline. I need to pick up a fan one of these days. They’re great for the heat and the bugs as well!

      • I bought a fan a couple years ago and love it. I’m working on my list right now and just put fan/batteries on the list. Thanks for the reminder!

  13. Awesome list! Atleast now i’m sure i wont forget over half of the stuff i need! Thanx!! Very cute pictures/drawings btw, where did you find those? :)

  14. Hi Noreen. I have started researching for my eventual camping adventure and I love your list. I used to camp all the time when I was a kid and teen, however that was many, many years ago. I am a caregiver of my elderly father and have been for many years. Well once I am no longer needed as a caregiver (for lack of a better way to put it) I decided that I wanted to see this beautiful country we live in. I love the idea of taking my time and seeing the states as quickly or as slowly as I like. The only reservation I have is that I will be doing this on my own. Since you are clearly very knowledgeable and experienced, I wanted to get any additional tips from you that you think I should take into account.

  15. I like to use the heavy plastic, zippered bags that blankets and sheets come in for storage of things ilk shampoo and conditioner, anything that might leak. They aren’t leak proof, but are square on the bottom so will stand up and can keep the mess to a minimum. Having an 11year old and grandbabies, I like to make sure we have things for them to do or in case it rains. We bring crayons and coloring books as well as a few small games, a deck or two of cards and the Cribbage Board. Anything your family finds fun that isn’t to bulky or complicated will do.

  16. What a great list!! I’d add Christmas lights, a portable fan, and an extension cord if you have electricity… The Christmas lights are just an easy way to have a little light when the sun goes down but not too much to sleep with. Thanks again for posting!!

    • Hey Danielle! Those are great ideas if you have the luxury of electricity! I’ve also seen solar Christmas lights at Ikea and Target, but I have yet to try them out.

      • I’m excited to try the Solar package we just got. 4 panels and 2 batteries to store power. You run those Christmas lights off that!

  17. Hi Noreen could you advise what a “smore” is listed as a smore roaster/pie iron just so i can fix it up on the one i downloaded Thanks

  18. Great list!
    Zip ties and a multi tool are great too. Glow sticks around tent ropes near the entrance to the tent. Makes it easy to find and stops you tripping over them.
    A dish washing bowl and tea towels.

  19. i love this list its great for me to get a head start on what i need and plainning for my honeymoon camping trip in july.. and the teens love the meal planner for camping with there friends.. most is qiuck and easy so thay can do them fast and have fun doing them and even come up with new ones so that can make a recipe book for school..

  20. Thank you! We enjoy camping with our kids & I needed to put together a list so I quit forgetting little things. Thank you for making it editable and sharing!

  21. I you have a dog along,you need things for them as well.Leash,food,toys,flea collar,water and food bowls.For small children you might have certain items as well.Floats,toys,books (for the trip to the camping area) and whatever else you may need for them.Medications.

  22. My husband and I have been hunting and camping for 25 yrs. Our children camped and hunted with us. They are grown with their own kids and we are passing down the tradition and heritage of our family to our grandkids.Our hunting list over the years has grown. your list is point on with the necessities. great job

  23. I take the glowsticks and put them through the tent door zipper ends, you can see the zipper locations at night and it’s cute, also solar lights by the doors. Also put glowsticks around legs of canopy, chairs, and stick one through the swing away grate by the fire so you don’t walk into it., man those hurt.
    On your canopy you can get a tarp just short of the canopy length, different size carbangers, and those tarp straps with the bulb end, you can make a wall out of them. Carbangers go top middle as many need through the tarp holes to clip on canopy frame, on sides the tarp straps wrapped around canopy pole and hooked over bulb end, and bottom tarp strap hooks over the canopy stake. This moves easily to another side by unhooking top carbangers and one side and flipping it to the other side of canopy and rehook.
    Extra carbangers clipped on canopy or inside tent and small bungies hold stuff, lanterns, lines to clip on towels to, etc. And an over the door 3 hook can go in canopy to hang raincoats etc on, also on the stove stand to hang utensils and potholders. I’m going to get a shoe organizer for this to put stuff in and hang, and a closet portable hanging shelf.
    For trash I use a pop up hamper at dollar store with 4 clips and a trash bag. Empty before bed or animals..
    I use totes, at least 3, one for dry food gòods, one for camp stuff, one for outside toys etc, also separate cooler for drinks. The kids love freeze pops so I use them as ice and they get a treat while camping. Put the food totes in car at night.
    Easter baskets with the handles cut off work great for organizing plates, napkins, cups, silverware in cups, etc.

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