camping trip checklist

The Only Camping Trip Checklist You’ll Ever Need

Nothing will ruin a camping trip like a forgotten tent, empty matchbox, or dirty water bottle. If you’ve been there, you know exactly how that feels. But with so much to pack for a trip, how do you remember it all? Scientifically, lists are the most effective way to stay organized, create new ideas, and never forget another camping essential again. The best part is, lists cost no more than a pen and paper.

So, what exactly do you need to put on your camping trip checklist? Lucky for you, everything’s been sorted out and listed below.

1. Safety First

Before you begin your camping trip packing, you need to consider your safety first. Your location may make it hard for police officers or paramedics to reach you quickly. In the case of an emergency, you’ll need to be prepared to help yourself or others in the meantime.

A situation like this is why you need to pack a first aid kit with basic first aid equipment and any additional medications you need for yourself. Another thing you need to consider is the weather. If there is a chance of flooding or severe storms in your area, you’ll need to plan accordingly with equipment and escape plans.

If you’re going to an area filled with unfamiliar wildlife, do your research and get to know them. During this process take note of any precautions you may need to take against them. These measures could look like placing food in certain locations and learning how to protect yourself during an unlikely attack.

2. Shelter

If you take an RV or van on your camping trip, you have your housing figured out. But if you plan on sleeping in a location outside of your car, you’ll need to pack adequate shelter. This may sound like an easy enough step, but certain conditions can change the kind of shelter you need.

If it’s cold outside, you’ll need to pack:

  • Thermal sleeping bags
  • Your tent
  • Wool blankets
  • Sleeping pads
  • Chairs.
  • Thermal pillow

If the weather is warmer than usual, you may only need:

  • A sleeping pad
  • Thin blankets
  • Hammock
  • Pillow

If there’s a chance of rain, make sure your shelter is covered and waterproof. If you are unsure of the weather conditions do your research on the area and pack accordingly.

3. Food Supplies

Next to shelter, the most important thing you need to ensure you pack is food. This includes plenty of clean water, condiments, and nonperishable food. If you plan on cooking food, you need to bring:

  • Pots
  • Pans
  • Boiling water
  • Utensils
  • Skewers
  • Napkins
  • A place to put your trash
  • Cookbook
  • Grill

Make sure your kitchenware is clean before you leave and bring eco-friendly ways to wash them if needed. Along with cooking supplies, you’ll need to bring something to eat on. A folding table and chair should work perfectly for dining, but can always spice it up with something more your style.

4. Recreational Equipment

Normally, you don’t just go camping to sit in your tent. You want to be one with nature, explore the area, fish, hunt, etc.). You’ll need to bring any supplies necessary for your recreational activity.

If you plan on fishing you need to bring:

  • Fishing poles
  • Bait
  • Life jackets
  • Boats
  • Tackle boxes
  • First aid
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Swimsuit

If you want to go on a morning hike alone or with your family brings:

  • Walking sticks
  • Backpack
  • Food
  • Water
  • Flashlights
  • Bug repellent
  • Hiking shoes
  • Protection against wildlife

The longer you spend camping, the more activities you’ll have time to do. Make sure you bring everything you need to have a successful recreation day. To make things easier, try packing all of these items at once.

This method will lessen your chances of forgetting anything important.

5. Lighting

Except for lightning, there is no electricity in the woods. This means the only lighting you’ll have is the stars and whatever you brought along with you. Flashlights are great for direct lighting, but they will not light an entire campsite.

Instead, you need to bring lighting that can cover large areas such as:

  • Lanterns
  • Spotlights
  • Torches
  • Glow sticks
  • Generators
  • Strand lights
  • Headlamps

Starting a Fire

Fires are another good source of lighting in the wilderness. They will keep your campsite lit and provide you with warmth as the night grows cold. Some campgrounds provide fire supplies but they often cost extra.

To avoid any extra fees, take a second to collect and pack your own. The fire supplies you need to bring are:

  • Matches
  • Flint
  • Logs
  • Coal
  • Fire extinguisher
  • 2 Buckets (one for water and one for ashes)
  • Firestarter
  • Kindling

Remember, starting a fire is complicated for untrained campers. If you plan on using fire as a source of light, learn how to set one while supervised.

6. Toiletries

For some people, a break from civilization also means a break from showering. Who cares when you’re in the woods? If you feel the same way, you have nothing to worry about.

But if you want to stay clean during your camping trip, you need to bring your:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Hair supplies
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Towels
  • River shoes
  • Disposal container

Before you begin packing the listed essentials, make sure they are environmentally friendly. Your regular toiletries could contain chemicals unsafe for local wildlife and ecosystems. If they’re bad for the environment, go to your local store and find products designed for camping.

Camping toiletries will keep both you and the environment clean during your trip.

7. Shade

On sunny days, especially during the summer, a nice shade will come in handy. Usually, local trees provide adequate shade for campers. But if your location is short of shade trees, you’ll have to bring your own.

There are many ways to create shade, but the easiest is by anchoring a tarp in between two trees with ropes or cords. You can also purchase a sunshade or screen house before going camping.

8. Maps

If you know the land like the back of your hand, a map is probably unnecessary. But if you’re new or unfamiliar with the land, you need to bring a map/diagrams of the area. This could be a paper map you marked your route on or a digital GPS.

Either way, your map will ensure you do not get lost in the woods. Your cellphone may not work where you’re staying and that map will be the only help you have.

9. Technology Essentials

If you plan to bring a camera, phone, GPS, laptop, etc.) camping, you’ll need to pack something to both power and protect them. This includes chargers, cases, protective bags, and batteries. Just remember that these items take up space and tend to be a liability when camping.

If you do not have time to use them or don’t want to carry them around, do not bring them. Additional technology will just get in the way.

10. Sunscreen

Sunscreen is essential for everyday life, but it is extremely important when camping. During your trip, you will find yourself in direct sunlight more than usual and your skin will begin to show it. Do not forget to grab a strong sunscreen and reapply it often.

You should also bring:

  • Sunglasses
  • SPF shirts
  • Aloe Vera
  • Hats
  • Cooling towels
  • SPF lip balm

Additional items like the ones above will keep you protected long after the sunscreen wears off.

11. Pet Supplies

If your furry friend is tagging along with you, they need a checklist of their own. Their list should include the following essentials:

  • Pet food
  • Bowls
  • Doggy bags
  • Leashes
  • Collars
  • Beds
  • Pens
  • Treats
  • Water

If your dog requires any special items, put them at the top of this list. They will not be able to get their medications or toys out in the woods if you do not bring them. You should also make sure they’re well trained.

Barking, chewing, or running off may not settle well with fellow campers and wildlife.

Before You Go

Before you head out on your next camping adventure, recheck your list. Rechecking will ensure you did not miss anything and keep you from feeling that “I forgot something” feeling. You’ll also get the satisfaction of checking every box.

If multiple people are going on this trip with you, help them double-check their camping checklist. Reading their lists will give you one final opportunity to check for any missed items. After this step is complete, you and your friends are good to go.

Finishing Your Camping Trip Checklist

Once you tick the last box on your camping trip checklist, you’re good to go. All you need to do is hop in the car and head to the camping location of your choice. But if you need any additional camping trip advice or more, check out more articles like this at Camping Buff.

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