The Necessary Camping Checklists: From Food to Shelter

Make sure you have everything you need.
Make sure you have everything you need.

Camping is fun as long as you don't forget something important and land yourself in a "DOH!" moment because you didn't create an adequate camping list. The following tips will help you design your own packing lists. Plus, do a little more brainstorming on your own to determine if there are any special needs to add to your camping lists.

The Basics of Camping Lists


You've got to eat! Here are a few things to get you started on keeping your belly full and happy throughout the course of your camping excursion:

  • Sandwich fixings-peanut butter will keep best, but with an ice chest you can branch out from there
  • Canned goods-just don't forget the can opener
  • Beverages
  • Lots of bottled water!
  • Hotdogs
  • Graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows for the inevitable s'mores
  • Coffee, if you plan to make any
  • What's Cookin' and How?

Now that you've got your food all figured out, you need to be able to make it edible once you get there.

  • Stove/fuel/lighter (because rubbing two sticks together until you get a spark is really outdated)
  • Skewers, so you can cook your 'dogs and your s'mores
  • Frying pan
  • A pot for stew, canned goods, or noodles-big enough for everyone's food at once
  • Thermos
  • Bucket to clean your dirty dishes in
  • Dishes

It's easy to just use disposable dishes-paper plates, plastic utensils, etc. If you choose to do this, make sure you dispose of them properly and don't just leave them around the campsite. Here are some other things to take:

  • Tupperware containers
  • Kitchen knife
  • Aluminum foil
  • Ziplock bags
  • Plates

You will also need a water filter if you don't plan to take enough to last you the whole trip and will be relying on the water in nature to keep you hydrated. Add that to your shopping camping lists if you haven't already got one.


Unless you're going nude camping (and even if you are, really), clothing will have an important role in your camping experience. You don't want to be too hot or too cold, and you want the ease of movement while giving yourself additional protection against bugs, scratchy plants, and the sun.

Things to bring:

  • Extra socks!
  • Regular shoes, shower shoes, and, of course, your beloved hiking boots
  • Something to sleep in
  • Sunglasses and a hat to protect your face from glare and UV rays
  • If you think it'll be cool, bring a jacket. It may be wise to bring one either way.
  • Extra undies!
  • Something to swim in
  • Pants and shirts, obviously. Bring something light, like cotton, and something a little heavier, like flannel.


Obviously, you'll need a tent or a camper, but what else could you be forgetting in those camping lists you've made and checked twice?

  • Tarp
  • Sleeping bags
  • Blankets
  • If you like additional comfort and aren't a big fan of truly "roughing it," you may want an inflatable mattress or cot.
  • Pillows
  • Rope, stakes, and your tool of choice for driving those stakes into the ground
  • Mats-to welcome all the mud before it makes it into your bed

Protect Yourself

It's a jungle out there! You'll need to take along a few things to keep yourself protected from the sun, the bugs, and more.

  • Aloe Vera gel
  • Sunscreen
  • Band-aids
  • Neosporin
  • First-Aid kit
  • Benadryl/allergy eye drops
  • Tweezers
  • Tums
  • Your pain medication of choice (Tylenol, Advil, Excedrin)
  • Bug spray and Citronella candles
  • Tissue/towelettes
  • Medications you take on a regular basis

Clean It Up!

Camping's only a slight excuse for being stinky. You're going to want to keep clean so you'll feel good throughout the whole trip. Also, don't forget, the best way to camp is to leave the site looking just as it did before you arrived, so clean that up too! Here are some things you shouldn't forget to add to your camping lists:

  • Bar soap (because handling a bottle of body wash and a loofah is just too much!)
  • Washcloths/towels
  • Shampoo (conditioner optional)
  • Make-up, if you want to wear it
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste/floss, because after all that camp food you'll be eating, you're going to want to freshen your breath!
  • Brush or comb, whichever you use. You'll probably just want to leave the blow dryer at home, though, unless you're doing some luxury camping.
  • Toilet paper, because leaves aren't really your best bet
  • Deodorant that lasts and lasts like the Energizer bunny
  • Small broom and bags to clean up the campsite with when you're done

Miscellaneous Items

You never know when an emergency will crop up, so having a few extra things stashed away somewhere never hurt anyone (and helped quite a few, we'd imagine!).

  • Camera/camcorder and lots of film/batteries/tapes or discs for recording all those special and embarrassing moments to put up on YouTube later
  • Tools, including a Swiss Army knife
  • Musical instruments to entertain yourself with. You can't camp out without singing, right?
  • Radio/iPod/books/magazines, because eventually you'll get tired of walking and it won't be time for ghost stories yet
  • Cash, credit/debit cards/ID
  • Compass/map
  • Binoculars
  • Whistles
  • Bikes/helmets
  • Life jackets
  • Extra rope
  • Duct tape, of course!
  • Fishing equipment
  • Flashlights
  • Matches/lighters

Organizing Your Stuff

While some experienced campers advise that you put your food on the bottom of your backpack because you'll need it last. If you think you will be stopping to eat before you need anything else, though, go ahead and put it closer to the top. Hopefully, you've got a large family to help you carry all the items on your camping lists once you get to the site!

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The Necessary Camping Checklists: From Food to Shelter