Photo by Lesly Derksen on Unsplash

Camping near the lake


It’s that time of year again, folks! The nights are getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and the idea of spending a weekend in the wild is beginning to sound like fun. Maybe you’ve already begun sorting through your camping gear and are planning your first getaway of the year. We have put together a checklist of camping essentials to ensure you don’t forget any of the items that are going to make your trip relaxing and enjoyable. We have divided all of the essentials into larger categories to help keep you ultra-organized. Be sure to print a copy before your next adventure!

Items You Need for Shelter

blue and orange dome tent in forest during daytime.

Tenting in the woods

Photo by Triston Dunn on Unsplash
  • Tent or hammock
  • Tent poles
  • Stakes
  • Rainfly
  • Tent footprint or tarp to place under the tent.
  • Tent repair kit

Items You Need in Order to Sleep While Camping

blue sleeping bag on mountain during daytime.

Sleeping under the stars

Photo by Felix M. Dorn on Unsplash
  • Sleeping bag or quilt
  • Sleeping pad or air mattress
  • Air pump if required
  • Pillows
  • Extra blankets to make the tent extra cozy

Pro Tip: if using a down sleeping bag, don’t place blankets over the top of it. The blankets will compress the down, causing the bag to lose its insulation properties.

Kitchen Equipment and Food You Need While Camping

selective focus photography of camping stove on lug with cooked egg on pan.

Outdoor cooking

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  • Stove and fuel
  • Lighter or matches
  • Food containers
  • Pots and pans
  • Plates, bowls, cups
  • Cutting board
  • Eating utensils
  • Cooking utensils
  • Bottle and can opener
  • Cooler and ice
  • Food and beverages
  • Water bottles
  • Biodegradeable soap and sponge
  • Dishtowels
  • Camp table and chairs (if no picnic table at the site)
  • Trash bags
  • Wash bin

Pro Tip: When packing kitchen items, place them in a large plastic bin or box. The bin can be used to wash items at the campsite if there is no designated sink for dishwashing at the campground. Be sure to follow each campground's guidelines and policies. If in an area where bears are present, be sure to store food, dishes, soap, and anything that has an odor in a bear box if there is one provided. If facilities are primitive, be prepared to pack out all of your trash and practice Leave No Trace principles.

Toiletries You Will Need While Camping

white and yellow plastic bottle on brown wooden shelf.

List of toiletries you need

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  • Soap (face and body)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hairbrush
  • Tweezers
  • Toilet paper
  • First aid kit
  • Tampons/pads (if applicable)
  • Bath towels
  • Shoes to shower in
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray

The number of toiletries you bring may depend on the type of campsite you will be staying at. Many campgrounds have shower and bathroom facilities, but other campgrounds are more primitive, and may only have pit toilets. Be sure to research ahead of time so that you can be fully prepared. Place all scented toiletries in a bear-proof container with your food and other items if you will be in a bear-populated area.

What Type of Clothing and Footwear You Need for Camping

person in gray hiking shoes

What to wear camping

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
  • Moisture-wicking shirts
  • Moisture-wicking pants
  • Underwear
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Socks
  • Down or fleece jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • Rain pants
  • Hat
  • Sleepwear
  • Swimsuit
  • Hiking boots or sneakers
  • Sandals or flip flops

What Personal Items Do You Really Need While Camping?

person using smartphone.

Your Camping list of personal items

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
  • Medication
  • Phone and phone charger
  • Wallet with ID and credit/debit cards
  • Campsite reservation information
  • Eyeglasses and sunglasses

Additional Items You Will Need While Camping

lighted kerosene lantern.

More things you'll need for camping

Photo by Vladimir Fedotov on Unsplash
  • Headlamp
  • Lantern
  • Extra batteries
  • Portable charging bank or solar charger
  • Firewood and fire starter (If fires are permitted at your campsite)
  • Multi-tool
  • Books and/or games
  • Dog gear if bringing your four-legged pals
  • Dry bags or plastic bins to store items
  • Backpack or hiking pack
  • Bear canister (if no bear box at the campsite and you are in an area with bears)

Time to Get Packing

Everyone’s camping checklist will be different depending on the time of year it is, where they’ll be camping, how many people will be going, what type of campsite they’re going to, and many other factors. This list is a great starting point for anyone trying to stay more organized while packing for their next camping trip. Remember to research your campsite before packing to expertly tailor your list. Happy camping!

Photo courtesy of Erkin Athletics

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