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The Ultimate Family Camping Checklist

family and friends camping during summer time

If you have ever made the mistake of arriving at a camping area only to discover you left items behind that you are going to need, you know how important it is to make a checklist before leaving home.

Obviously, checklists are going to vary depending on what kind of camping trip you’re going on, the time of year, the age of your children, if applicable, and the amount of time you will be camping. Please feel free to download our checklist and add or remove applicable items.

Setting Up Your Camp Site:

good camp setup is crucialWhether you are camping alone, with family or friends. Whether you are setting up camp in an established campground or on your own, here are items you’re going to need:

  • A Tent and Inner Tent
  • Tent Pegs
  • A Mallet
  • A Carpet or Rug
  • Tent Footprint
  • A Tent Awning
  • An Entrance Doormat
  • A Brush and Dust Pan
  • A Windbreaker

For Sleeping:

It’s probably a good idea to have a mattress, cot, pad or hammock that offer some cushioning to keep you off the cold, hard ground. Here are other items you might want to take into consideration in order to have a peaceful night’s sleep:

  • Sleeping Bags
  • A Spare Blanket
  • Airbeds, Camp Beds, Self Inflating Sleeping Mats
  • Pillows
  • An Air Pump
  • A Repair Kit for Air Beds


Your going to be camping for a certain amount of time. Make sure you have some place to sit, a place to eat and a place to store foods and other items. Never leave foods out in the open, you might just draw some night time critters!

  • Camping Chairs
  • A Storage Unit
  • Folding Table

For Cooking:

nothing better than a bonfire when backpackingIt’s going to be very difficult to prepare foods if you do not have the necessary items to do so:

  • A Camping Stove & Fuel
  • Pots & Frying Pans
  • Water Container
  • Matches & Lighter
  • Thermal Flask
  • Plates, Bowls, Forks, Spoons & Knives
  • Mixing or Salad Bowl
  • Vegetable Peeler
  • Cooking Utensils – Knives and Wooden Spoons
  • Foil
  • Paper Towels
  • Liquid Soap For Washing Dishes & A Washing Bowl
  • Can Opener
  • Bottle Opener
  • Oven Mitts
  • Cutting Board
  • Containers For Storing Food
  • Zip-lock Bags
  • Hand Towels
  • Bin Bags
  • Scrubbing Pads and Wire Brush for Stove Cleaning


Appropriate Apparel:

Depending on the time of year and weather conditions, choose clothing that will meet your needs:

  • Trousers, Shorts, Skirts and Belts
  • T-Shirts, Jumpers
  • Appropriate Footwear such as Boots, Shoes, Sneakers or Flip Flops for the Beach
  • Socks & Undergarments
  • Sun Hats, Visors and Sunglasses
  • Pajamas (If you like extra comfort)
  • Swimwear
  • Coats – Raincoats, Lined and/or Protective Heavier Coats
  • Woolen caps, mufflers, gloves and/or mittens for winter months

Personal Hygiene & Other Necessities:

You might be camping but that doesn’t mean you want to remain unkempt or nasty during your camping adventure.

  • Soap, Shampoo, Shower Gel
  • Toothpaste and Toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Towels and Face Cloths
  • Comb and Brush
  • Razor & Blades
  • Sunscreen and Chap-stick
  • Toilet Paper
  • Any Needed Personal Medications (never leave home without them)
  • A Medical Kit (every camper should have one, even for minor cuts or bug bites)

Entertainment & Relaxing Time:

Some of these items might depend on the amount of time you’ll be camping and what you plan on doing. But at some point, you will be at your campsite and want to just relax, especially if you have children with you.

  • sleeping by the riverPlaying Cards, Board Games & Toys
  • Books & Magazines
  • Cameras, Batteries & A Memory Card
  • Frisbee & Ball (also good if you have a dog along for the ride)
  • Battery Operated Radio & Backup Battery (get updates on news and weather forecasts)
  • Mobile Phone & Charger (car chargers)
  • Guidebooks & Maps
  • A Compass or GPS
  • Bikes & Helmets
  • Electric Hook Up Cable

Planning & Organizing:

Always bring along pertinent paperwork that will aid you during your camping trip.

  • Maps & Directions
  • The Name, Address & Telephone Number of the Nearest Doctor
  • Any Reservation Information
  • A Notepad & Pen

Other Useful Items:

Sit down and make a list of various other items that might be overlooked but could come in very handy while camping. Here’s a list of what could be easily overlooked:

  • Lanterns or Torches (it beats stumbling around in the dark)
  • Extra Batteries & Bulbs
  • Insect Repellent & Insect Candles
  • Water Purification Pitcher and Filters
  • Clothes Line & Clips
  • Detergent – Liquid or Dry
  • A Collapsible Drying Rack
  • Fire Extinguisher or Blanket
  • Gaffer Tape
  • Small Shovel
  • Safety Pins
  • Tissues
  • Binoculars
  • Water Bottle or Canteen
  • Hand Wipes
  • Small Sewing Kit
  • Scissors
  • Pocket Knife with Multi-tools
  • Umbrella

Condiments & Other Edible Extras:

  • Cooking Oil
  • Spices, Sugar or Sweetener, Salt and Pepper
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Tea Bags
  • Powdered Creamer
  • Some Canned Goods For Snacking Such As Nuts or Trail Mixes
  • Bottled Water or Canned Soft Drinks (unless you are near a small store where you can pickup easily)

These lists will make it so much easier for you to form your own list. Make sure you adapt this comprehensive list to your needs. You would be amazed how many of these items could go overlooked and only be remembered when it’s too late.

Read through and make sure you will have everything possible to ensure you have a safe and happy camping trip. Feel free to drop me a line if you feel like I missed something on that list!



Sun setting over the lake

Mark Jonson
Mark Jonson
Outdoor enthusiast and rafting addict. From Cleveland Ohio born and raised (GO CAVS). Working for a professional kayaking company located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Ohio. I am a huge NBA fan and spend the rest of my spare time djing as a hobby.

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