50+ Sample Camping Checklists

What Is a Camping Checklist?

A camping checklist is a comprehensive list of items to bring when one is planning to or about to go camping. The items on the list may be grouped into different sections depending on the function it serves.     

The National Park Service constantly reminds campers and visitors to strictly adhere to the 7 Leave No Trace Principles. These rules are summarized as: plan ahead and prepare; travel and camp on durable surfaces; dispose of waste properly; leave what you find; minimize campfire impacts; respect wildlife; and lastly, be considerate of other visitors.    

Examples of Camping Essentials

Like in most things, we can often compartmentalize our needs and wants, or our essentials and non-essentials. The same goes for camping. Camping is like going on a trip; we take what we need and if there’s room, we bring some extra items just in case. The items listed below are common camping essentials:    

Shelter: Depending on your threshold for ‘roughing it up’, you also wouldn’t want to have an uncomfortable night’s sleep. The first word most people associate with camping is a tent. Even if you’re one with nature when camping, you still need to protect yourself from the elements. And aside from the right clothing and gear, shelter is one of the most important items on your list. There are many different types of tents available that can accommodate a single camper or several family members. Some people are content with just a tent above their heads, but some campsite grounds can be hard and quite uncomfortable to sleep on. You have the option to bring a light mattress or a rolled up foam to support your back at night. Include some beddings, sheets, or pillows if your packing permits. Clothing: If you look at pictures online or even on your own social media newsfeeds, you’ll immediately notice the gear people have on when camping. Light and breezy clothing and trekking shoes are popular choices. However, the right clothing would greatly depend on two factors: location and time of year. Some people do go camping during the winter, and they obviously need thicker clothing and protection from the cold. When crafting your list, always take into account these two major factors first. If you’re expecting a hot and humid outdoor adventure, bring lightweight clothing and rubber shoes. You can also throw in a hat and sunglasses for added protection from the sun. Toiletries and Personal Items: The one thing that discourages some people from camping is the lack of access to modern amenities such as a proper bathroom. But the good news is that with the advent of new twists to camping such as glamour camping or glamping, people have found ways to address that gap to make camping a more convenient and fun experience for anyone to enjoy. For regular tent camping, make sure you have the basic toiletries like soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, sunscreen, etc. Cooking and Cleaning: Cooking food with the great outdoors as a backdrop is one unique experience for any camper. There’s something special about gathering around a campfire or stove and preparing food at a campsite. If you’re planning an overnight camping trip, you have a bunch of options. You can bring along a mini stove and fuel, matches or a lighter, firewood, pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils. Don’t forget to pack garbage bags and rags or napkins to wipe up any spills and waste. All campers should not leave a single trace of trash when leaving a campsite. When it comes to food, you don’t want anything too complicated. Go with easy-to-open canned goods, ready-to-eat dried meats, pickled food, or easy recipes that you can prepare with limited equipment. General and Other Essentials: Bring other essentials such as water, a first aid kit, flashlight, bug repellant, pocket knife or Swiss knife, and personal medications, if applicable. You also have the option to bring along camping or foldable chairs, a camera, a cooler, a hammock, and portable chargers. If you’re planning to camp or trek by a lake or nearby waterfall, pack some swimwear as well.

Types of Camping

Gone are the days where camping was only confined to an area in the woods or when it was just a pastime for a particular set of people. Nowadays, camping has evolved and branched out into many different subtypes; and a lot more people are taking it up as a leisure activity or hobby. From modern, ultra-convenient glamping to basic survivalist camping, there are different types of camping that will suit anyone and everyone.  

Traditional Tent Camping: The regular kind of camping that a majority of people are familiar with is the simple tent, campfire, surrounded-by-nature kind of camping. Most of us have a general idea of camping thanks to how the media portrays it in popular culture. Tour agencies and private park establishments even offer different types of tent camping for visitors. People can opt to go day camping without necessarily staying the night. Others like to go out of town, get lost in the mountains and escape the hustle and bustle of city life. People can also go camping alone, as a couple, or with a group of friends and family. Glamping: Glamour camping has gained popularity in recent years because it has widened the traditional target market. People who enjoy the outdoors, but are iffy about the inconveniences that nature sometimes bring, can now experience camping but on a whole other level. Glamping is characterized by all the regular activities associated with camping, but complete with the amenities and conveniences of modern day living. Similar to hotel and resort style accommodations, the tents are normally bigger in size. More importantly, glampers don’t have to worry about where and how to relieve themselves. Camping with Hiking/Trekking: For those people up for more physically-demanding challenges, camping can also be coupled with hiking. Campers who seek more adventure and scenery can opt to set up camp then hike to nearby trails or areas. The addition of trekking in a camping itinerary makes it more interesting. You not only get to scout the area and immerse in nature; but you get to engage in an equipment-free cardio workout. If you do choose to hike on your camping trip, make sure to bring the necessary gear like trekking shoes, reusable water bottles, or even a trekking pole. Survivalist Camping: If you’ve ever watched the Discovery Channel’s resident explorer Bear Grylls, you’d have an idea of what survivalist camping means. The famous television host of “Man vs. Wild” is known for his survival skills and expertise, which he shares to viewers on screen. It is an extreme form of camping where everything from hunting animals, living on plants and insects, to making fire is involved. Obviously, it’s not for everyone and only people with the right training and skills ought to engage in this type of camping. RV/Van Camping: Another subtype of camping is RV camping. Instead of a typical tent, a trailer van or RV serves as both mode of transportation and shelter. RV camping is popular for road trips and long-distance journeys. Typically, the camping trailer is situated in a spacious wooded area, by a lake, or nearby body of water. It’s a popular choice for family outings and group excursions.

How to Create a Camping Checklist

To make a comprehensive and practical camping checklist, take note of the step-by-step guide below: 

Step 1: Research is Important  

To begin planning your camping trip, researching is a good and practical first step. When coming up with your list, it’s helpful to keep in mind these two main factors: the where and when. Location is key so you’ll have a better idea of what items to prepare and bring. A lot of information is available online. Read up on reviews or other people’s personal experiences of the site you’re planning to go to. Many young people and outdoor enthusiasts blog about their personal camping adventures and it’s fairly easy to find or access their online blogs. It’s good to get an idea of the camp location from people who have gone there before you. If you’re planning to put up a campsite at a national park, do prior research of the park’s rules and regulations. Call ahead if you’re unsure of park rules or cannot find information online. Lastly, look up weather forecasts before your trip. It’s good to plot your camping trips during appropriate times of the year so you’ll have ample time to prepare.   

Step 2: Establish a Timeline

The where and when are equally important. Regardless if your goal is a quick weekend getaway or an extended urban escape, establish how much time you’re planning to spend at camp. Some people are satisfied with a few days nature recharge, while others can go months on end living amongst the birds and the trees. Just like prepping for an out of town trip or a hotel staycation, you need to have an idea of how long you intend to be away to adjust your camping checklist accordingly. 

Step 3: List Down the Essentials

After you’ve established a general idea of the campsite and the duration of your trip, it’ll be a lot easier for you to come up with a curated checklist. To make sure you don’t neglect or accidentally forget anything, it’s best to start with the essentials. Cover the needs first such as tents, food, water, first aid kit, and other essential equipment and gear. Group your items into categories like cooking, clothing, toiletries, etc. For instance, soap and shampoo would fall under toiletries. Cutting board, can opener, and condiments would fall under cooking.    

Step 4: Include Some Add-ons

If you have extra room or allowance, you can also include some leisure items like books or magazines, playing cards, alcoholic drinks, or even a frisbee. These items are optional but will enrich your camping experience, especially if you’re camping with family or friends. But at the same time, you also want to avoid lugging around more extra weight than necessary. It will slow you down or exhaust you prematurely. Especially for trekking campers, it is best to leave the unnecessary baggage at home or at the campsite when you go hiking. Bring only the basics like water, a cell phone, and a trekking pole.  


What are the 10 essentials for camping?

According to an online article by Eureka!, the top 10 essentials to bring on any camping trip are: tent, sleeping bag, water bottle, fire starter, first aid kit, pocket knife, map and compass (or GPS), weather-appropriate clothing and rain gear, a flashlight, lantern, or head lamp, and finally, toilet paper.

What should you not forget when camping?

Essential items you shouldn’t neglect to bring, aside from a tent and food, are matches or a lighter, flashlight, and a first aid kit. A pocket knife is also a very versatile item that has multiple uses when camping. For a lot of people, having a camera is also important to be able to document the trip and experience.

What is the most comfortable way to sleep in a tent?

While some people have an easier time adjusting to sleeping in tents, others may not feel as comfortable lying against bare ground or soil. If a sleeping bag is not enough, try a soft mattress or foam to help support your back and promote better sleep. You can also bring a mini pillow to increase comfort.

What clothes to sleep in when camping?

Depending on the conditions of the site and time of year, it’s always best to wear and pack weather-appropriate clothing. Some campsites can get hot and humid during the night, so it’s best to wear light and loose clothes for sleeping. If you’re concerned about insects and mosquito bites, you may opt to wear track pants or pajamas. If your camp location is cool and temperate, protect yourself by layering up. Wear socks or gloves for added warmth.

Camping is a fun and exciting way to recharge and bond with friends or family. Save yourself the hassle and inconvenience of forgetting to bring a portable stove or running out of toilet paper. Planning and preparation is key in having a smooth and relaxing camping experience, minus the needless problems. Although problem-free camping is not always a guarantee, having a checklist is usually a good start. Download an editable template above and craft your camping checklist now!