What do you REALLY need and what’s just extra stuff that would be nice having? The follow camping checklist essentials will help you know what’s really important to bring while camping!
We’ve gone camping together so many times throughout our relationship, yet we STILL forget some basic necessities! Whether you’re backpacking or staying at a campground, we’ve compiled a camping checklist essentials with all the items we think are pretty important for a comfortable stay outdoors.
Camping Checklist Essentials
1. SHELTER & COMFORT
This may seem like an obvious choice for any camping checklist essentials, but you’d rather have it checked off to be safe than sorry!
Putting a waterproof ground tarp before you pitch your tent is always a good idea. It helps prevent water from getting through and rocks, sticks, and other debris from tearing the bottom of your tent.
Always be sure to check the weather forecast before you go camping. Determine what kind of night it’s going to be – and then use a sleeping bag that you think you’ll be most comfortable in. We made the mistake a few times of either packing too warm of a sleeping bag and also packing a sleeping bag that’s not warm enough!
✔Sleeping Pad / Air Mattress
Sleeping pads and air mattresses allow you to be extra comfortable while sleeping in the great outdoors. We get it…air mattresses are a bit more “glampy”. But, if you have the room for it (aka you’re NOT backpacking), then we’d suggest bringing one – the Intex Air Mattress is one of our favorite camping essentials!
Sleeping pads, however, offer the same effect. They really make the difference of getting a good nights sleep so you don’t wake up a grumpy mess in the morning (trust me…I have experience with that!). If it’s colder out, use an insulated sleeping pad, such as the Klymit Statik v2. We use this brand all the time when camping outdoors and they work amazing! It has truly become a camping checklist essentials.
2. COOKING NECESSITIES
Ok, of course you have to bring food, right? But, we can’t tell you all the times we’ve forgotten to pack the essentials, like something for breakfast, and then wind up having to either go hungry or go to a local restaurant or store.
There are tons of easy foods to cook and grill. Don’t forget to bring something for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as some snacks for late night munching!
Bring foods that are easy to cook, such as eggs, bacon, soups, and hot dogs. For snacks, don’t forget the marshmallows, Hershey Bars, and Graham crackers to make some mouth-watering S’mores!
We like to always pack quite a few bottles of water! We often go hiking when we’re camping so you’d be surprised how fast you go through water. If there isn’t any running water at your campsite, it’s also useful to bring for washing dishes, your hands, or putting out a fire.
If you’re tight with room and don’t want to bring tons of plastic water bottles, find compressible water containers at a local sporting goods shop!
Don’t forget to bring some other drinks (we personally love Gatorade since it helps us stay hydrated). But, remember…don’t pack more than you’re willing to carry. Drinks can be heavy!
✔Cooking Utensils, Dishes, & Silverware
You can find a small set of dishes and utensils that are plastic on Amazon for a reasonable price. They’re light and super easy to pack.
We actually have a small, lightweight, and very portable camp stove. This makes it easy to heat up water or a pan for simple cooking.
If you’re planning on having cold drinks, frozen food, or bringing anything else that needs to be cold, packing a cooler is essential. If you’re bringing a cooler, don’t forget to buy ice! Yeti Coolers are our favorite. They are super insulated to keep your food and drinks cold for a long period of time. They also have the ability of being almost indestructible, making them great for keeping out bears!
This isn’t as necessary as some of the other items on our camping checklist essentials, but it’s still something to think about. If you’re going camping for a few days, we’d recommend bringing some dish soap to clean your dishes quickly and effortlessly.
There have been so many times where we’ve gone camping and forgot to bring enough paper towels! Paper towels will help you clean dishes, your hands, wash your face, and start a fire. Make sure you bring some (and enough)!
3. PERSONAL ITEMS
Pack clothes based on the weather. If it’s going to be cold out, be sure to pack lots of layers!
✔Clothes to Sleep In
I have a tendency to forget sleepwear whenever I go camping. If, if I do remember, they’re never appropriate for the weather. Look at the forecast and then determine what to pack. Is it going to be super hot all night / morning? Or freezing? Maybe it’ll be in between…no matter what the temperature is, try packing accordingly for the night. It’ll make all the difference between you being miserable and having the best sleep of your life!
You don’t need a ton of shoes when camping. One pair should do just fine! It’s best to pick a shoe depending on the weather(ex: for rain, you’ll need boots) and what your plans are for the current or next day (you may want to bring hiking boots if you’re exploring!).
✔ToothBrush / toothpaste
We don’t like going to bed with unbrushed teeth and I’m sure most of you will agree! You have to add a toothbrush and toothpaste to your camping checklist essentials! They’re super lightweight, but easy to forget!
4. RANDOM ESSENTIALS
✔Head Lamp & Flashlight
My head lamp was such a great investment. Attach it to your head and you’re good to go! A lot of the newer ones allow you to change the intensity of the light so you won’t have to worry about blinding anyone!
You can generally find fire wood all around the town that surrounds a campground. However, if you go a bit more off the beaten track and look a bit further away from the campground, you’ll find MUCH cheaper firewood!
✔Magnesium Bar and Flint
I mean…unless you want to do it the hard way! We have a small keychain kit that works great for us!
This one is self-explanatory…like we said previously: Do you want to light that fire the hard way? You can buy a pack of 4 Bic lighters off Amazon for dirt cheap!
This will be a helpful tool whenever you need to open or sharpen something. It’s also a good safety tool to have, just in case on an emergency. Get a pocket knife with a stainless steel and SHARP blade! You want to ensure it’ll do the job without getting dull or rusting.
That wood isn’t going to chop itself! Although, we wish it did! Bring yourself a well-made hatchet that won’t break after a single use.
With camping comes lots of bugs. I mean, what do you expect, you’re in the woods. Bring some bug spray to try and prevent those nasty, itchy bug bites! Personally, we love unscented OFF! Insect Repellent!
This is more for the ladies out there and I’ve written about the importance of this item before in two of my other articles, the 4 Things You Need To Know When Backpacking Near NJ and When To Go Rock Climbing in Rumney, New Hampshire. If you’re a newbie to camping, you’ll soon come to discover that not all campgrounds have toilets! And, if they do, they’re not always going to be close to your site and DEFINITELY not going to be those fancy ones that flush! Just be prepared! Even if there is a toilet or outhouse close to your site, pack some extra TP in case they have one! You’ll thank me later!
✔Hand Sanitizer, Wipes, or Soap
You can either wash your hands with soap or bring a small thing of Purell hand sanitizer. Both take up barely any room, so bring whatever is your personal preference. We like bringing hand sanitizer to clean up really quick before bed, eating, etc.
✔First Aid Kit
Accidents happen…We’d recommend getting a First Aid Kit that contains band-aids, ointment, bandages, and other safety equipment handy in case you need it.
Hammocks are easy to set up, light, and compressible. We have an Eno two-person hammock that we set up whenever we can. Similarly, you can find a cheaper and equivalent brand called Eagle Nest. You never know when you’ll have the opportunity, so always bring one just in case, if you have it! However, don’t worry if you don’t have one…it’s not the most vital item on our camping checklist essentials!