Tent Camping Essentials
Camping shopping lists

Ultimate Checklist of Camping Essentials

It’s always important to use a camping checklist when you prep for an upcoming camping trip. Even the smallest of items, when forgotten, can make a huge impact. Imagine cooking a scrumptious meal over a camping grill, only to discover that you have no utensils. Or what if you build a campfire, only to learn that you have no lighter. The frustration would be monumental!

What Is a Camping Checklist?

So what exactly is a camping checklist? A camping checklist is a list of essential things to bring for camping. Do you have to pack every single thing on a camping checklist? No, of course not! Some essential items listed on a champing checklist may not apply to your situation. For example, if you plan on sleeping on a cot, don’t bother with the sleeping mat. Using a propane camping grill? Then ignore the charcoal that’s listed. Though not all the items on a camping checklist may apply to you, you should still use it as a reference. It’s a great way to make sure you don’t forget any necessities. 

A camping checklist can seem intimidating at first. However, it’s a lot simpler to digest once you group it into broader categories. Our ultimate camping checklist can be condensed into a simple camping list of just 10 categories, as shown below. These categories show just 10 camping essentials needed for a successful camping trip. Continue on to read about each category in detail. 

1. Shelter6. Tools
2. Bedding7. Cloths
3. Cookware8. Personal Hygiene
4. Drinkware9. Weather
5. Emergency Kit10. Miscellaneous

It should be noted, as you go through our camping list, that we’ve included everything that qualifies as tent camping essentials. This is because campers tend to use a tent before progressing to a pop-up trailer, travel trailer, or RV. A checklist for a pop-up trailer, travel trailer, or RV is slightly different than one for tents. We’ve listed some of these differences later in this article.

Shelter

This category includes the tent and all the essential items needed to set a tent up. You’ll notice that our camping checklist includes a tarp. A tarp is to be placed underneath a tent to protect it from rocks, sticks, and other debris on the ground. It can also serve as a door mat and, in case of rain, it will protect the bottom of the tent against leaks.

☐ Tent☐ Hammer
☐ Tarp☐ Small broom and dustpan
☐ Pop-up canopy☐ Outdoor mat

Make sure you know how large or small your campsite is before packing your tent, tarp, and pop-up canopy. If your tent footprint is large, and you’re on a small campsite filled with trees, a pop-up canopy may not fit on the campsite. Imagine working so hard to squish your pop-up canopy in your car only to realize later that you can’t use it! Check out my article the Best Camping Tents of 2022, to get a well-rounded idea of what’s out there.

Camping_Checklist_Shelter

Bedding

This category includes all the essential items to comfortably sleep at night. You’ll notice that our camping checklist includes a fan and the electrical cord(s) to power it. You’ll quickly realize that a fan is vital on long summer days when a tent becomes stifling hot. Check out our deep dive on the Best Sleeping Bags

☐ Sleeping bag☐ Sleeping mat/pad
☐ Pillow☐ Fan
☐ Cot☐ Long electrical cord(s)
☐ Air mattress with pump

Cookware

Cookware is easily the biggest category in our camping checklist. Not only does it include all the essentials for cooking food, but it also includes the food itself! The category would not be complete without also including the supplies needed to wash dishes. If only dishes didn’t have to be cleaned!

☐ Food and ingredients for breakfast☐ Food and ingredients for lunch
☐ Food and ingredients for dinner☐ Bowls
☐ Sharp knife☐ Plates
☐ Snacks☐ Paper Towels
☐ Cooler with ice☐ Aluminum foil
☐ Camping grill☐ Ziploc bags or storage containers for leftovers
☐ Propane☐ Garbage bags
☐ Charcoal☐ Campfire roasting forks
☐ Matches, lighter, or firestarter☐ Bucket for washing dishes
☐ Can opener☐ Dish Soap
☐ Cooking utensils (i.e., large spoon)☐ Scrubbing pad
☐ Eating utensils☐ Dish Towel
☐ Pots☐ Measuring cups
☐ Pans
Camping_List

Drinkware

You can’t enjoy a nicely cooked meal without a refreshing beverage! This category includes all the items you’ll need to enjoy some revitalizing drinks.

☐ Drinks of choice☐ Coffee
☐ Cooler☐ Mugs
☐ Ice☐ Cups
☐ Portable water container☐ Water bottle
☐ Bottle opener☐ Hiking backpack with water bladder
☐ Water filter

Emergency Kit

An emergency kit should be packed in case of an injury or, as the name implies, an emergency. To make it easier on yourself, simply order a pre-packed, emergency kit from the plethora of kits found online. Just make sure that your emergency kit is tailored for camping, includes first-aid, and contains survival tools.

☐ Pre-packed emergency kit (i.e., the Aokiwo 126pcs emergency survival kit from Amazon)

Optional:

☐ Extra first-aid kit☐ Neosporin
☐ Burn ointment☐ Tweezers

Tools

Even cavemen had to have their tools to survive, so make sure you don’t forget your own tools when you go camping! Thankfully, the tools needed for camping nowadays are much more sophisticated than centuries ago. Take, for example, the muti-tool. A multi-tool, like the premium Leatherman® multi-tool, can come in handy for practically any situation. That’s why the multi-tool is listed below along with the other tools that make up our camping checklist.

☐ Hammer☐ Power strip
☐ Multi-Tool☐ Flashlights with extra batteries
☐ Matches, lighter, or firestarter☐ Lantern
☐ Duct tape

Clothes

Hiking is a must when you go camping in the great outdoors. The most exciting trails can take you through the forest terrain and along cascading creeks. What’s even more exciting is that there’s nothing to stop you from going off-road and trailblazing through that cool creek. But wait! You return to your campsite only to realize that your tennis shoes are sopping wet! Without another pair of tennis shoes, you’ll have to cancel all your other hiking expeditions. This is just one example of why you must always pack an extra set of socks and tennis shoes for camping. Our entire camping clothes list is shown below:

☐ Underwear☐ Pajamas
☐ Moisture-wicking shirts for the daytime☐ Swimsuit or trunks
☐ Pants or shorts for the daytime☐ Sunglasses
☐ Extra socks☐ Hat
☐ Extra tennis shoes for hiking☐ Long pants for the evening
☐ Extra set of clothes☐ Long-sleeve shirt or jacket for the evening

Personal hygiene

You certainly don’t have to look glamorous or runway ready when you go camping. No one will judge if you decide to forego the nightly moisturizer or go hiking without mascara! Nonetheless, you’ll probably still want to maintain a certain level of hygiene and self-care. We’ve listed the essential things to bring in camping to maintain your personal hygiene and self-care.

☐ Deodorant☐ Bath towel
☐ Toothbrush☐ Bath soap or body wash
☐ Toothpaste☐ Hair products (i.e., shampoo, conditioner)
☐ Medications☐ Hairbrush
☐ Toilet paper☐ Contact lens solution
☐ Menstruation products☐ Contact lens container
☐ Portable camp shower☐ Shower shoes or sandals
Essential things to bring in camping

Weather

Nothing is worse in camping, in our opinion than getting caught unprepared for rainstorms or plummeting temperatures. That’s why we included a separate category in our camping checklist that covers rainy or cold weather. Simply check the weather before your trip to get a grasp on whether you need to pack any of these essentials.

☐ Rainfly for the tent☐ Sleeping bag liner
☐ Umbrella☐ Warm hat
☐ Poncho or rain jacket☐ Gloves or mittens
☐ Rain boots☐ Long underwear
☐ Towels for mud or leaks in the tent☐ Warm jacket or coat
☐ Menstruation productsWaterproof cover for cord connections

Miscellaneous

The last category for our ultimate camping checklist is a catch-all for all the remaining camping necessities. For instance, you can’t go camping without a comfortable lawn chair to sit back and relax in! And you have to make sure to pack mosquito repellant, like the Thermacell portable mosquito repeller. Otherwise, you’ll be spending too much time scratching at your mosquito bites to do much relaxing.

☐ Lawn chair☐ Rope for a clothesline
☐ Hammock☐ Beach towels
☐ Mosquito repellant☐ Reading material
☐ Sunscreen☐ Games
☐ Lighter fluid☐ Toys
☐ Campfire kindling☐ Phone charger

Camper Essentials

As mentioned earlier, our camping checklist is more tailored for tent camping. It lists out all the tent camping essentials needed for a stay in the woods. A camping list made for campers (i.e., pop-up trailers and RV’s) has a few additional items as shown below

☐ Bed sheets and blankets☐ Electrical cords
☐ RV toilet chemicals☐ Fly swatter
☐ RV-friendly toilet paper☐ Space heater
☐ Sewer hose☐ Swiffer sweeper or mop
☐ Water hose☐ Outdoor rug
☐ Additional tools
(I.e., wrench, pliers, screwdrivers)
10 camping essentials

Start Checking Off That Camping Checklist!

Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse at our ultimate camping checklist, the fun can begin. Just start checking off all the essentials that you already have packed away. Once you get a look at what you still need to buy, you can make a camping shopping list. With a camping shopping list in hand, you can go shopping for all the latest and greatest camping gear that will complete your camping checklist! If this is your frst-time camping check out our posts on 9 First-Time Camping Mistakes To Avoid!