Complete Camping Essentials Checklist

Family camping vacation
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You want to go camping, but you aren't sure what to pack for your trip and if you've been camping before, you might forget something. Don't worry we have you covered with a complete list of what to pack for camping. This is a checklist of essential and optional camping gear to consider packing for your next camping trip. Not every camper will need every item on this list. Our camping gear checklist is intended to be super complete, so consider the items and make decisions about what camping gear is right for you. 

Shelter and Bedding (Essentials)

The camping shelter is what will protect you from the elements while sleeping in the great outdoors. And your bedding will keep you warm and cozy while you sleep. These are the basic essentials that you'll need for your camping shelter and bedding. 

  • Tent
  • Tarp
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad

Shelter and Bedding (Optionals)

The basics are listed above, but there are a few extra things you might like for your shelter and bedding to be more comfortable when you go camping. 

  • Blankets
  • Cot
  • Comforter
  • Throw rug
  • Pillow

Cooking and Dining (Essentials)

Cooking at the campground is one of the best parts about going camping. Or maybe eating is, but you'll need a few things to cook with and to have a comfortable and enjoyable camping trip. 

  • Water
  • Food
  • Cooler
  • Camp stove
  • Mess kit
  • Can opener
  • Charcoal or wood
  • Matches

Cooking and Dining (Extras)

You can keep your camping kitchen simple or bring a few extra cooking utensils for the type of meals or cooking you enjoy. Extras are just that, unnecessary items, but things you may want to consider packing. 

  • Charcoal chimney
  • Smoker
  • Dutch oven
  • Hot dog sticks
  • Pie irons
  • Folding chairs
  • Folding table
  • Table cloth
  • Butane lighter
  • Screen room
  • Chuck box

Chuck Box Items

The chuck box, or camping kitchen pantry, contains the basic ingredients and supplies you'll want to bring for a camping trip. Read this list closely, and check your packing twice because these are some of the items you'll most likely forget to pack and really wish you had once you're camping, especially if you think of yourself as an outdoor chef.

The environmentally conscious camper will want to forgo the disposable plastic and paper items and bring silverware, metal camping plates, metal coffee mugs, and glasses (or hard plastic). If you do this, add in two tubs, a sponge or dish rag, a dish towel, and some biodegradable dish washing liquid for washing up.

  • Salt and pepper
  • Herbs and spices
  • Cooking oil
  • Pot holders
  • Paper towels
  • Napkins
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Tongs and spatula
  • Aluminum foil
  • Measuring cups
  • Plastic silverware
  • Paper plates/bowls
  • Plastic cups
  • Zip lock bags
  • Knives
  • Cutting board
  • Cork screw

First Aid Kit

With the wonder of the great outdoors come a host of things like bee stings, scraped knees, cuts, and burns. A first aid kit can come in handy for small cuts, stings, and injuries. Here's the basics of first aid and what you'll want in your kit if you're going camping.

  • Personal medication
  • Bandages
  • Aspirin, Tylenol
  • Medical tape
  • Sterile gauze
  • Elastic wrap
  • Antibiotic wipes
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Burn ointment
  • Sunburn lotion
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Eyewash
  • Snakebite kit

Personal Hygiene

A few basic personal hygiene items can go a long way while camping. There's no need to rough it. Pack the basics and feel great even when camping in the great outdoors. 

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Washcloth(s)
  • Towel(s)
  • Soap and shampoo
  • Comb/brush
  • Small mirror
  • Nail clippers
  • Razor
  • Toilet paper
  • Sanitary napkins or tampons

Cleaning ItemsĀ (Optional)

Keep your camp clean and tidy with some cleaning items for your campsite. You'll definitely want to bring cleaning items for your camp dishes. Some of the other items come in handy to keep your tent clean or your camping area nice. If you are disposing soap into the environment, be sure to use biodegradable soaps and wash all dishes away from streams, creeks, and lakes. 

  • Broom
  • Dustpan
  • Whisk broom
  • Lawn rake
  • Laundry detergent 
  • Pot scrubber


Of course, you'll need clothing to go camping. Check the weather and pack your bags according to the forecast and climate. An extra warm layer for nighttime outside is always nice. And rain layers can come in handy for wind or wet weather, even if you aren't expecting storms. Remember to keep sun protection in mind while you are packing since you'll be spending more time outdoors. 

  • T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Jeans/pants
  • Socks
  • Shoes/boots
  • Camp shoes
  • Hat/cap
  • Sweater
  • Rain poncho
  • Underwear
  • Swimsuit
  • Laundry bag

Miscellaneous Items

There are plenty of items you might wish you had once you get to the campground. Is there a fishing stream or great birding? Maybe you'll want to go on a hike or go kayaking. Research the region where you'll be camping and take a look at these miscellaneous items to see if there is anything you might be interested in packing. 

  • Binoculars
  • Bird guide
  • Bug spray
  • Bungi cords
  • Camera
  • Candles
  • Cards, games
  • Cell phone
  • Clothespins
  • Compass
  • Duct tape
  • Fishing gear
  • Flashlight
  • Frisbee
  • GPS
  • Kites
  • Knife
  • Lantern
  • Pen and paper
  • Rope
  • Shower bag
  • Sunblock
  • Tools
  • Water filters
  • Whistle
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