This camping checklist printable will have everything you need for your next adventure.
Whether it’s camping with my family or my son’s Boy Scout Troop, I have always enjoyed these trips. Now, this does not go without saying that I have “learned” some tricks and changed what I pack when it comes to my gear.
Some of these changes have come from seeing what other campers bring and some came from being simply uncomfortable.
I hope you find the gear and tools from our camping checklist printable helpful when determining what to pack. I have included some specific gear I use and recommend. We have used most of these items for at least 1 camping season and they held up great and I would expect several more seasons from them.
Shelter and Comfort Gear
In this section of our Camping Checklist Printable, I breakdown my tips and recommendations on shelter and comfort gear for camping.
Look for a tent that can fit everyone plus your essential gear. My family and I use a Ten Person tent for our family of four. This will comfortably hold our essential gear and give us room for our air mattresses. When I camp without my entire family, I bring a three-person tent that allows me to set up a cot and keep my bag inside.
When a tent says it sleeps a certain amount of people, it means just that. For example, a two-person tent has just enough room for two people to fit with little room for gear or personal space.
I also recommend a tent that has external pole clips instead of pole sleeves. Your tent needs to have a ground barrier or footprint to help prevent moisture from coming in underneath your tent. One last feature I use and recommend is to get a tent where the rain fly has a quick connect to your tent in the four corners.
Here is the tent I use:
There is nothing worse than having your tent and rain fly come loss during a windy night or rain shower. Spend the extra money and get some heavy-duty stakes to anchor your tent and rain fly in the ground. Be sure to bring a mallet or hammer.
By far, hammock camping is my preferred way to camp. At 6’4” and 225 lbs., Sleeping in my hammock is more comfortable than sleeping in a tent (even with a cot).
I highly recommend a hammock that has an attached bug net and don’t forget the rain fly. Even if there is no rain in the forecast, the early morning dew or the “surprise” rain that your local meteorologist says was only at 10% can really ruin your camping trip.
My first hammock was for a single person, and I felt like I was a burrito. Now, if you’re not as big as I am, then a single person hammock is fine. I ended up with a two-person hammock that has a built-in bug net (this is a great feature…….no need to run a separate line to hang your bug net on) and the ends had a nylon cover to help prevent air and moisture out. Below are links to what my son and I use.
Down Sleeping Bags give you the most efficient insulation and it’s also to most compressible when packing. However, they will be the most expensive.
Synthetic Sleeping Bags can be fluffier, which can be more challenging when packing. My son and I use Synthetic Bags made by Swiss Gear and they are easy to pack in your hiking backpack or a compression bag.
Camping Hack: I would recommend that you stuff your bag into a compression bag or into your backpack instead of rolling your bag. Rolling your bag in the same direction each time can create creases in your bag that will eventually turn into a hole.
Sleeping pads can help provide you with some much-needed extra comfort in your tent or your cot. Sleeping pads are also a great idea for hammock camping.
This can serve as a barrier between you and the air flowing underneath your hammock. Layering is just as important when setting up your sleeping quarters as it is when putting on your outer wear.
When room doesn’t allow your everyday pillow, look into a small camping pillow. You can get small camping pillows that have synthetic or cotton material or you can get one that inflates.
When space is a premium, I would recommend the inflatable that is easily compactable. However, these pillows are not as comfortable. Here’s an inflatable I use and recommend:
Cots can offer more comfort when tent camping and can be easier to transport and set up than an air mattress. However, an air mattress offers more comfort. You can also consider a pool float that can be easily packed and inflated.
Blankets can offer additional layers for warmth and it can be used as a barrier underneath your sleeping bag. I like to keep blankets in a bag to help stay dry.
Areas with high humidity and the occasional morning dew can make your blankets wet and not practical for bedtime.
Next, I cover my recommendations on campsite gear and tools you need to make for a fun camping experience. These recommendations are listed in the camping checklist printable below. Most of these items are designed to have during a traditional camping trip and not a backpacking adventure.
Since you can’t drag the couch and lazy boy with you on some of your camping trips, invest in a good chair. For backpacking trips, you want a lightweight and compact chair. Look at chairs where the frame can be disassembled, much like tent poles. For your regular camping trips, I would suggest a chair that has a heavy frame that keeps you comfortable for long periods of time.
Use a table that fits the size of your group and keep in mind the weight and space the table has. I use a table that can fold up and has straps for easy carrying. Also consider if you will use table clothes and clips so you get the correct size. Avoid wood top tables since they are heavier, and they don’t last as long as plastic top tables.
Bring enough for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.
Axes are typically all you will need for cutting up wood. A Machete will allow you to clear paths and cut up small branches.
I recommend bringing different options for getting a fire started.
Shovels are great to have when setting up a grease pit for cooking waste and a primitive bathroom site.
Lanterns provide you with a lot of light at your campsite. Lanterns can have different power sources, and you bring what fits your style. There are battery, solar, and gas options. I would recommend battery or gas as they provide the most illumination.
An assortment of tools such as a hammer, multi-purpose tool, and rope will solve most of the problems you may encounter while camping.
Camping Broom and Pan
Keeping your camping equipment clean will not only keep you and your gear clean but it will keep your gear if great working order for several years. Sand in your tent over time could wear out a spot creating a hole.
In this section from our Camping Checklist Printable, I cover items in your kitchen gear. Meal planning for a camping trip can be fun. Plan your meals with cooking methods in mind. This list of kitchen gear, is meant be a general list that can be found in the camping checklist printable below. I certainly don’t bring a Dutch oven, a camping stove, camping grill, and a campfire cooking grate to one camping trip. However, you may find a need to bring a couple of these depending on your meals.
Consider this to be camping’s version of a crock pot. These are great for making casseroles, deserts (like a cobbler) and other baking meals you would cook in an oven.
A camp stove gives you a lot of flexibility and can save time over using your campfire for cooking. Just install the propane tank and your all set. This is a nice feature for getting the coffee brewing in the morning.
Camping grills are great for a good old fashion barbeque like steaks, hamburgers, and hot dogs. If you’re not up to bring a grill, look into a fire pit grill that you can place on the ground over your campsite fire.
I always recommend that you bring an extra tank just in case you have issues with one.
Once you have your meals planned, be sure to bring all the cookware you need for these meals. We bought a drawer organizer that has several sliding drawers to keep some of our cookware organized. For example, utensils, oils, seasonings, foil, lighters, spatulas, tongs, etc.
Bring enough to cover general hand cleanings and for cleaning your cookware. It’s not a bad idea to pack some hand wipes for quick and easy clean ups.
Having two coolers will prevent any cross contamination. Food in one cooler and extra ice and drinks in another cooler.
Trash Bags/Pop-up Trash Can
Pop Up trash cans are easy to pack and make clean up easy. If you don’t think you will generate a lot of trash, then you can tie a bag to a tree. Don’t forget to put the trash away in a vehicle when going to bed or learn how to hoist your trash up into the air.
ENOUGH SAID!!! Just bring enough for the group.
Use paper towels for small quick cleanups. Use a hand towel for drying things like dishes or items that got wet. Look into a microfiber towel if you want a towel that dries fast. Microfiber towels are also great for showering.
Staying comfortable with the proper clothing can be the key to a great trip. Below are some of my recommendations from my camping checklist printable. Clothing can be compressed and easily packed, allowing you to bring some back up items or that extra layer.
You will need to pack clothes appropriate for the season. When it’s cold, you need base layers. Keep in mind that you may be in areas where minimal clothing is fine during the day, but additional layers are needed at night when temperatures dip. Look for clothing that are anti- wicking for moisture control, especially when it’s cold. Cotton, Polyester, and Wool will provide you with the most warmth.
I recommend a good pair of hiking shoes or boots that are waterproof. Some brands to look at include Merrell, Keen, and Salomon. Try to avoid cotton socks and focus on polyester, wool or other materials to prevent blisters. I also recommend sock liners for blister prevention.
Bringing appropriate outerwear will make your trip much more enjoyable. I always research what the weather predicts during my trips. Some questions you should ask include:
Will it be hot or cold? Will it be warm during the day but cool at night and windy? What are the rain chances? How humid will it be?
Answering these questions will help you pack your outerwear. Consider these items and bring what is appropriate: Jackets, Rain Jackets/Pants, Skull Cap, Buff, Gloves, Glove Liners, and Hats. I would recommend a rain jacket that has a hoodie.
During the cooler months, I wear a pair of 5.11 tactical pants since they are nylon which helps keep the water off your skin and a dual jacket from Eddie Bauer that has both a puffy inner jacket and a rain jacket that clips to the inner jacket. With a pair of waterproof boots, I have stay dried on plenty of rainy camp outs.
Keep in mind that this camping checklist printable can grow as you determine what personal needs you have. For example, personal gear can include a certain knife, compass, earplugs, which names just a few. Make notes during your camp outs on items to bring on the next trip.
First Aid Kit
Bring an appropriate kit for the camping trip. At a minimum, you should always have band aids, bandages, gauze, antiseptic pads/spray, and Neosporin. If you are traveling in a big group, bring a large kit that will treat the whole group. Below is a link the First Aid Kit I use.
For backpacking trips, look for a small compact mess kit that easily fits in your bag. You can find several styles that include collapsible and non-collapsible. Look for a mess kit that comes with attached utensils or a set that can easily fit in your mess kit bag. If you’re not backpacking, you can bring paper plates and utensils.
Look for a water bottle that fits your camping trip. I recommend one that holds 32oz and can be attached to a carabiner for easy placement on your belt or bag. You can also look into LifeStraw’s and other bottles that have a built-in water filter if you are trying to keep the weight on your bag low.
You can grab a small bottle of water purification tablets from most outdoor stores. Keep in mind that these treatments will take time to purify your water.
Solar Power Charger
Not always necessary, but these are great to have for longer trips to charge phones, radios, GPS devices, etc.
Soap, toothbrush/toothpaste, personal medications, pain reliever, Q-Tips, heartburn/nausea meds, eyedrops, etc. Here is a great toiletry bag to bring:
Head lamps are great when moving around the campsite and looking for items in your tent/hammock. Look at one that offers several levels of lighting that include a blue/red light. Bring extra batteries.
Pocket Rocket with Cookware
These are great for backpacking trips. Attach one to a propane tank and you have a burner for cooking. You can get a propane bottle that is wide but short instead of using one that you would use for a cooking stove. These typically come with their own bag that will fit everything including a propane tank.
Camping Back Packs
Camping packs come in several styles to meet everyone’s needs when they take a camping trip. Some options include internal and external frame packs, day packs, hydrating packs, and waterproofing packs.
Finding the right packs for your style of camping is essential. I recommend that you spend time researching packs and whenever possible get some recommendations from friends and/or family.
Perhaps you can try their packs out on a trip before you buy. One feature I like on my packs that I would recommend is to have options on the outside of your packs to strap gear too. Packs can have straps or loops that you can use to secure your gear.
Internal Frame Backpack
These packs have an internal frame that are not exposed to the elements. They are designed to be used on trips that are more rugged and they are more form fitting to your body. You can easily pack these internal frame packs for proper weight distribution for a comfortable hike and most come with an attached rain cover.
I enjoy using an internal pack to help keep my gear contained and because they have easy access compartments. Most come with a large compartment that you can fit your sleeping back into its own compartment, keeping it dry and not damaged. Look for a bag that has wide shoulder straps, and hip straps.
External Frame Backpack
These packs have an exposed metal frame with a lot of smaller compartments that can make organization easier. However, larger items such as your sleeping bag or tent may have to be strapped to the bottom, leaving it exposed to the elements. These backpacks tend to snag onto objects while hiking.
Daypacks are designed to be small and compact with enough room to carry basic gear for a day trip. You want a pack that will carry items such as water, snacks, first aid kit, phone, GPS, a raincoat or poncho, and sun block/insect repellant.
I would look at getting one that can fit into your hiking pack. Most packs can roll up or fold up so it can fit into your backpack.
Hydration packs are great for a short trip. The internal compartment stores a hydration pouch and offers some room to bring a few items. I would not consider this a great bag for an all-day hiking trip as you typically need to have a bag that can store more gear.
Hydration packs are great for a trip that can last 2-4 hours depending on how much water you expect to consume.
These packs are great for your trips involving the water. This includes boating, canoeing, and kayaking trips where it is essential that you keep your gear dry. These packs typically have one large compartment for your gear that rolls up with a latch creating a waterproof seal.
Camping Checklist Printable
DOWNLOAD Camping Checklist Printable for a complete organized list of camping gear for your next adventure!
- Heavy duty stakes + guylines
- Footprint (ground cloth)
- Rain fly
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Tent lighting
- Hammock with tree straps, bug net, and rain fly
- Air Mattress with air pump
- Blankets and bed sheets
- Lip balm
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Body soap
- Camp bath towel
- Hand sanitizer
- Prescription Rx
- Feminine products
- Dry shampoo
- Baby wipes
- Coffee pot/French Press
- Drinking water
- Stove and propane
- Food storage containers/bags
- Coolers (1 for food + 1 for drinks)
- Refillable water bottles
- Plates and bowls
- Eating utensils
- Cooking utensils
- Paper towels
- Prep knives
- Dishwashing bin
- Biodegradable dish soap
- Trash bags
- Tablecloth with clips
- Can opener
- Camp Grill
- Grill rack for firepit
- Dutch oven
- Aluminium foil
- Roasting sticks for marshmallows and hot dogs
- Slow cooker
- Camp chairs
- Camp table
- Lanterns (propane or battery operated)
- Extra batteries
- Duct tape
- Camping broom and pan
- Camping shovel
- Outdoor rug
- Insect-repellant candle
- Storage bins
- Lighter and waterproof matches
- Portable camp shower
- Camping solar charger
- Portable camping toilet
- Camping toilet paper
First Aid Kit
- Bandages (various sizes)
- Antibacterial cream
- Antiseptic wipes
- OTC medicine
- Aloe vera gel
- Cold packs
- Poison ivy cream
- Bee sting relief
- OTC pain relief
- Ace bandage
- First Aid handbook
- Herbs and seasonings
- Cooking oil/spray
- Food (meals and snacks)
Clothes and Shoes
- Wicking shirts
- Quick dry pants/shorts
- Light jacket
- Rain wear
- Underwear and garments
- Base layers for warmth and sleeping
- Hiking shoes
- Flip flops
- Hat (hot/cool)
- Warm insulated jacket
- Water shoes
- Sleep wear
- Day pack
- Hiking bag
- Hiking stick
- Water purification tablets
- Pocket knife/multi tool
- Bear spray/horn
- Cell phone and charger
- Printed driving directions
- Printed campsite reservation
- Compression bags
- Life jacket
- Fishing gear
- Field guide and trail maps
- Playing cards and games
We hope this camping gear list will give you an idea on what to bring anytime of the year. Visit Reserve America for campsites near you.