What on Earth do I really need when I go camping? I hear you ask. Well, my friend, I am here to help you. I have put together the Ultimate Camping Checklist just for you. Now ain't that nice? It's even organised by category. With a Handy printable Ultimate Camping Checklist at the bottom. Choice!
Leave Nothing But Footprints, Take Nothing But Pictures, Waste Nothing But Time.
Ultimate Camping Checklist - Essentials
- A good quality tent. You may need to shop around to find the one that is going to suit you and your needs. You can get a wide variety of tents from small pop-ups to family sized monstrosities. Things to think about when looking at tents. How easy is it to set up? What size do I need? How often will it be used? What do I need it for (family holidays, a trek up the mountain, festivals)? What price range can I afford? Make sure you shop around. Make sure that all the pegs are there before you set off. A ground cover and extra tarp also come in handy.
- Something to sleep on. Air mattresses are easily folded away for storage. But if you don't invest in a good quality one you may find yourself on the ground by the morning. You will also need a pump. Once I went camping and forgot the pump. True story. You can also get roll-up foam mattresses, sleeping pads for underneath your mattress to make it a bit more cushy (or for when you are going bush and don't want to lug a huge mattress), a nice thick air mattress for those longer camps, self-inflating mattresses, or this actual bed with side tables (whaaat?!)
- Something to sleep in. A good quality sleeping bag will last you years (my children now use my sleeping bag from when I was younger). Again make sure you shop around as the price, quality and use will vary from store to store and it depends on your needs. Think about when you will be camping, you can get different weights for different seasons, how easily it can be transported (a great thick sleeping bag while nice and warm, isn't practical if going bush) and the quality. You can also get sleeping bag liners which make a nice extra layer of warmth in the winter. A pillow is a great idea but not essential. You can always bundle up clothes in a bag if you are short on space.
- A whole loada lightin'. You need to be able to see at night and depending on when you are going camping, it can get darker sooner than you think. A headlamp is a great idea, it gives you the hands-free option, a standing lamp, a hand-held torch and a lantern you can hang in the tent (or these camping lightbulbs. Ca-ute!) are all excellent options that work well together. You don't want to just have one type of lighting option.
- A chilly bin (cool box, cooler, esky etc depending on where in the world you are). You gotta have summat to keep the food cool. You can use either a chilly bin filled with ice packs or a camping fridge.
- Table and chairs. Sittin' on the floor may seem romantic and 'campy' but the reality is, it sucks. Buy yourself a nice set of camping chairs and a fold-down table. Your bum will thank you. We have a very similar table to the link provided. It has lasted years and folds down very small so is nice and easy to cart everywhere.
- Cutlery and crockery. You kinda need something to eat with and on ya know? Look around to find something that suits your needs. There are all kinds of sets including ones that fit into small containers, cutlery that all slots together to save space and losing bits.
- Pots, pans and utensils. A pot is a must but you can get all kinds of different sets that have various pots, pans and utensils.
- Something to cook on. Again you will need to shop around. It will depend on the type of camping, how long you are going for and where you are going as to which cooker you will need. On our last camp, we just used a mini cooker that fits into a very small box (the size of a large wallet) as we only needed it for boiling water. We took boil in bag pouches for our dinner so that reduced the need for a larger cooker. What you cook on really is an individual preference that will differ according to your needs.
- First aid kit. Just in case. You never know what will happen when enjoying the Great Outdoors. You can buy premade ones or take a quick trip to the supermarket and stock up on plasters, bandages, painkillers, creams and all those other bits and pieces plus your regular medication.
- In your camping box. Matches or lighter, baby wipes, dishwashing liquid, tea towels, dishcloths, containers to store things and wash dishes in, spare batteries, paper towels, swiss army knife, hammer (for those pesky tent pegs), sunscreen, insect repellant, survival kit, loo paper, clothes pegs, ziplock bags, scrubbing pad or brush, chapstick, extra rope, umbrella.
- Toiletries. You don't need to go all out here. A toothbrush, toothpaste and bar o' soap will do nicely. Packing big full sized shampoos and conditioners etc has the risk of spillage. You can pack travel toiletries or hotel toiletries are a perfect size as well. I always save mine whenever I stay at a hotel for this reason.
- Rubbish bags or extra plastic bags. Always take your rubbish away with you. Unless there are bins at the campground of course. But make sure you don't leave anything other than footprints. Camping rule number one.
- Map and area information
Ultimate Camping Checklist - Food + Drink
- Bottled water. Always take loads of bottled water, check before you go whether the campground you are going to has safe drinking water but take extra bottled water just in case.
- Prepackaged camping meals can be bought from most supermarkets. If you want to cook your own, however, I would advise making a meal plan and working out portion sizes. That way you can pack only what you need.
- Beer (obvs, there is no better feeling than chilling with a cold beer in the sun after setting up camp)
- Trail mix or other high energy snacks
- Milk, tea, coffee and sugar
- Spices and condiments
- Dried cereals
- Museli bars
- Bread (make sure it is stored in a container overnight. We forgot to do this and found out the next morning that a little furry thief had been busy during the night leaving us lunch-less the next day)
- Margarine and sandwich spreads
- Try and pack long-lasting foods that keep well. You don't want to end up throwing out half your food if it goes off in your cooler.
Again, this depends on how long you will be away, the type of food you eat and the type of camping you are doing. Food is very much a personal preference but there are some staples you should add to your packing list.
Over the next few weeks, I will be putting together a list of camping recipes and foods. Make sure you keep an eye out.
Ultimate Camping Checklist - To Wear
- Take extra layers, even during the summer, the evenings can get quite cold
- Waterproof jacket
- Hat, scarfs and gloves
- Warm socks
- Jandles (flip flops if you aren't from Kiwiland), if you are using communal showers, jandles are essential
- Fleece or another warm sweatshirt
- Swimwear (if you are camping in the summer)
- Shoes - hiking, trainers, slip on shoes
- Towels - pack extra for swimming and showering
It really depends on how long you are going for, the weather conditions and if you will have access to a washing machine as to what you will need to pack. The above should all be in your bag though.
Ultimate Camping Checklist - Fun + Games
For those days where everyone is tired, needs some time out, rainy days or evenings, a source of entertainment is needed. I don't advise electronics - too hard to charge and defeats the purpose of being in the Great Outdoors. Instead some good ole fashioned board, card or outside games is in order. Here are the ones that are proven to entertain:
- A simple ball and bat or a variety of different balls such as tennis, cricket, rugby, soccer (football) etc
- Bucket and spade
- A deck of cards (so many options)
- A word find/sudoku/crossword book
- Exploding Kittens (never heard of it? It provided my 11-year-old and I rounds of fun at our last camp. A fun, quirky game of strategy)
- A good book (or two)
- Camping scavenger hunt
If you don't have a lot of room you can get the travel versions of most full-sized board games
I will be doing a post over the next few weeks of camping activities you can play and do with children. Make sure you keep an eye out.
Ultimate Camping Checklist - And the Kitchen Sink
These are not essentials, just nice to have if you have the room
- Power station to charge your electronics
- Camping coffee percolator (it's a thing)
- Camping shelves for food, towels, clothes or toiletries
So there you have it. Everything you could possibly need to go camping. Well, pretty much everything. If you can think of anything else make sure you leave a note in the comments and I will be sure to add it.
Printable Ultimate Camping Checklist
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