Whether you’re an experienced camper or just getting started, it's always helpful to have a camping list on hand.
In this article, we'll cover all the camping essentials, from tent stakes and utility rope to eco-friendly items that'll help you enjoy the outdoors responsibly!
Plus, our free camping checklist is available to download and print below, so you can check off the items when you're shopping online or at the store!
Different Types of Camping
It’s important to consider what type of camping option is best for you. Here are a few popular types of camping:
- Backcountry camping: This involves carrying the bare minimum to save weight, hiking deep into the wilderness, and setting up camp far away from other people. It requires special preparation, as you'll need to be prepared for any obstacles you may encounter on the trail.
- Car (or base) camping: A great option for beginners, car camping is done by parking your car near a campsite, then bringing in the necessary equipment and supplies. It's great for those who want to be close to the car and have the comfort of sleeping in it if desired.
- RV camping: Recreational vehicles (RVs) offer a more luxurious camping experience with some of the amenities you may find at home, such as running water, a shower, and a kitchen. This type of camping is great for those who want a bit more comfort than tent camping can provide.
Once you’ve decided on the type of camping you want to do, it's time to consider where to go for the best experience.
Where To Go Camping
What type of landscape or terrain interests you? Are you a desert person or is the mountain more your speed? What kind of activities do you want to do while camping, such as hiking or fishing? These are all important questions to ask yourself when narrowing down a campsite and a list of things to take camping.
Seasonality is also a factor when planning where to go camping. For example, if you're planning to camp in the mountains during winter, you might need extra gear like a sleeping bag rated for cold weather and snow boots.
How To Find the Right Campsites
Once you have an idea of where to go, make sure to research your destination thoroughly. Check for any fees that may be associated with the campsite and read through reviews from other campers.
Sites like Recreation.gov and The Dyrt provide a detailed list of camping spots, plus reviews and ratings. Another option is Campendium for RV camping and Freecampsites.net for budget-friendly campers.
Additionally, consider any special amenities you might need, such as potable water or a dump station. It's also important to research local amenities within a 40-mile radius of the campsite, including any grocery stores and ATMs.
Ultimate Camping Packing List
From camping must-haves and cookware to camping clothes and toiletries, this comprehensive packing list will help you crush your next outdoor adventure!
No camping list is complete without these essentials:
- Three-season tent
- Tent stakes
- Camping pad (or sleeping bag)
- Utility rope
- Fire extinguisher
- First-aid kit
- Camping chairs
- Hard-sided camp cooler
- Refillable water dispenser
- Outdoor LED lanterns
- Duct tape
- Bug netting
- Bug spray
- Citronella candles to repel insects
- Multi-tool or Swiss Army knife
- High-capacity power bank
- Picnic blanket
Pro-tip #1 | Camping Basics
If this is your first camping trip — or if you're rusty in the tent setup department — practice by pitching your tent at home before you go. That way, you'll be well-prepared and confident when you arrive at the campsite!
Camping Attire and Accessories
Choosing the right clothes for your camping trip can make a huge difference in your comfort level. Here are some key clothing items to include:
- Breathable tops (cotton T-shirts, wool overshirts)
- Convertible hiking pants
- Base layers/thermal wear (wicking shirt, thermal undies, fitted synthetics)
- Thick socks (preferably wool)
- Sleepwear (long-sleeve tops and full-length bottoms)
- Outerwear (rain jacket, windbreaker, fleece pullover)
- Sunhat or visor
- Warm hat or beanie
- Shower sandals or flip flops
- Rain boots
- Hiking boots
Pro-tip #2 | Camping Attire
When it comes to camping clothes, it's always best to layer. Choose clothing made from lightweight fabrics that will keep you warm and dry without weighing you down (think: merino wool and flannel). If the weather is unpredictable, pack a variety of clothes so you can adjust your outfit as needed throughout the day.
Camp Kitchen and Cookware
Having the right cookware can help make your outdoor meals more enjoyable. Here’s a checklist of essential kitchen items for your camping packing list:
- Camping stove and fuel
- Portable coffee maker
- Reusable water bottles
- Cast-iron skillet
- Cooking pot with lid
- USDA-certified firewood
- Resealable plastic bags
- Tablecloths and clips
- Plates, cups, and utensils
- Can opener
- Bottle opener
- Chef's knife
- Paring knife
- Cutting board
- Aluminum foil
- Skewers and grilling tools (spatula, tongs)
- Bamboo utensil set
- Paper towels
Pro-tip #3 | Camping Cookware
When base camping, it can be helpful to set up a camp kitchen with either a chuck box or a folding station. This way, you'll have easy access to all your cooking essentials and a go-to workspace for meal prep.
Camping Food and Drink
Don’t forget to bring enough food and drinks for your trip. Here are some essential items for your camping packing list:
- Cooking oil
- Spices (salt, pepper, etc.)
- Condiments (ketchup, mayo, mustard, etc.)
- Protein and energy bars
- Dried fruit
- Trail mix
- Nuts and seeds
- Canned food (beans, soups, stews)
- Instant oatmeal
- Fresh fruits
- S'mores ingredients (marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers)
- Stovetop popcorn (in a popping pan)
- Breakfast meats
- Spread (peanut butter, jam, etc.)
- Cold cuts
- Hot dogs
- Hamburgers or veggie burgers
- One-gallon water jugs
- Coffee, tea, hot chocolate
- Beverage mixes (juice or lemonade)
- Your choice of milk (whole, coconut, oat, etc.)
Pro-tip #4 | Camping Food and Drink
When it comes to food, freeze what you can at home before transferring to the cooler. This will help keep food items cold and preserve their freshness throughout your camping trip. Lastly, plan for meals that are easy to cook and require minimal cleanup.
Camping Toiletries and Hygiene
In addition to the camping essentials listed above, don’t forget to include the following toiletries and hygienic items in your camping packing list:
- Biodegradable soap
- Hand sanitizer
- Dental floss
- Toilet paper
- Towel (or quick-dry towel)
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Camp shower bag (if applicable)
- Portable mesh shower caddy
- Cotton balls
- Ear swabs
- Shave cream
- Hair brush or comb
- Hair ties
- Three-way camp mirror
- Sanitary pads or tampons
Pro-tip #5 | Camp Hygiene
When you think of things to take camping, unscented products don't usually come to mind. But these are known to attract wildlife, so choose scent-free items where you can and avoid unwanted visitors!
Camping Clean-Up Items
Next up on our camping packing list are cleaning supplies. Here’s what you'll need:
- Collapsible camp sink (w/drain)
- Eco-friendly dish soap
- Scrub brush and sponges
- Dish towels
- Multi-surface cleaner
- Microfiber towels
- Travel laundry bag
- Eco laundry detergent
- Tide To Go pen
- Portable travel clothesline
- Garbage bags
Pro-tip #6 | Camp Clean-Up
For camp clean-up, it's important to establish a routine of regular maintenance and ensure that you always tidy up before nightfall. This not only maintains cleanliness but also helps keep the campsite safe and livable for others.
Extra Camping Items
Finally, don’t forget these add-ons that can make your camping experience even more enjoyable and safe:
- Camp glow sticks
- Emergency flare
- Safety whistle
- Hiking poles
- Portable solar charger
- Portable fan (battery-powered)
- Space heater (if camping in colder conditions)
Pro-tip #7 | Extra Camping Items
When you're packing for a camping trip, it's easy to get carried away. To avoid overpacking, figure out the activities you'll be doing and plan accordingly. For example, if you're going fishing or water rafting, pack appropriate gear and clothing to make the most of your time outdoors.
That's a Wrap
Taking the time to plan and pack for a camping trip can make all the difference in your outdoor adventure. With that said, you don't need to bring everything under the sun with you. Just have a clear idea of what type of camping you want to do and for how long, then you can use our camping packing list as a guideline.
Happy trails! ⛺🔥🪵✨