The Best Camping Packing Checklist [FREE Printable PDF]

The Best Camping Packing Checklist [FREE Printable PDF]

There’s nothing like sitting back by a campfire and cooking up gooey s’mores. Except, you want to make sure you don’t forget your firestarter or roasting sticks!

Given that camping is a trip like any other, it’s important to know what you’re going to pack.

But, what do you need on your camping checklist?

Well, this article will tell you everything you need to know about making the perfect camping checklist (plus we've included a free printable PDF for you). Stay tuned!

But first...

What do you need for a camping checklist PDF?

Going through everything you should bring on your camping trip can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you’re planning a longer trip, or trying to get out into the deep wilderness.

To learn the essentials of a camping checklist, take a look at the video below where we visited Yosemite National Park and created the ultimate camping packing list:

Now before you decide what you should bring camping, consider these factors in your camping list:

  • How long is your trip?
  • What time of year is it?
  • What is the climate of the region you’re camping in?
  • What does the weather forecast look like?
  • Are you camping remotely, or on a campsite?
  • What’s your budget?
  • How big is your car? (You might need to make a special car camping checklist)
  • Do you have an RV? (for an RV camping checklist)
Answering these questions will allow you to start determining what you need to bring, but we have another tip for you.

Make a basic camping checklist!

But first, you might be asking yourself “what is a camping checklist?”

A family camping checklist compiles everything you need for your nature getaway. With it, you’ll be able to check things off as you go along, so you don’t forget anything.

There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to camping essentials. But, we’ve got you covered. If you're looking for the REI camping checklist, you can take a look at the video below:

Camping Checklist for Campsite

RV Camping Checklist - What do you need camping checklist - list of items to bring

To get started, you’ll want to make sure your campsite is good to go. Here are our recommendations for your campground checklist:

☐ Tent

Hiking Backpack

☐ Sleeping bags

☐ Blankets

☐ Pillows

☐ Headlamps or flashlights

☐ Camp chairs

☐ Lantern

Basic Camping Checklist for Kitchen

REI Camping Checklist - Things You Need for Camping Necessities - List of Items to Bring

Now that you know what you need for your campsite, it’s also important to make a list of cooking utensils. After all, who doesn’t love a fire-side meal?

Here are our tips for your camping trip checklist:

☐ Lighter or firestarter

☐ Cook pots and pans (preferability aluminum or cast iron)

☐ Eating utensils

☐ Cooking utensils

☐ Bottle opener and can opener

☐ Foldable Knife

☐ Plates and bowls

☐ Mugs and cups

☐ Cutting board

☐ Cooler

☐ Ice

☐ Water bottles

☐ Biodegradable soap

☐ Pot scrubber and sponges

☐ Trash and recycling bags

☐ Dish towel

Basic Camping Checklist for Clothing

RV Car Camping Checklist - What Do You Need for Camping Checklist - Sunny 16

Are you camping on the tropical coast, or up in the snowy mountains? Knowing all about the climate and weather is an important factor when it comes to packing your travel clothes. You may have noticed some of these items on the REI camping checklist, but there are some other items to look into as well.

Regardless, here are our tips for your camping essentials list:

☐ Moisture-wicking undies, T-shirts, pants and shorts

☐ Long-sleeve shirt

☐ Lightweight fleece or jacket

☐ Sneakers

☐ Rain boots

☐ Rain coat

☐ Gloves or mittens

☐ Socks

☐ Sleepwear

☐ Sunglasses

☐ Sun hat

Camping Checklist for Health and Hygiene

Tent Camping Checklist Printable PDF - What do you need camping checklist - What do I need for camping checklist

Just because you’re in the great outdoors doesn’t mean you need to smell like a skunk. For safety and health reasons, bring these with you:

☐ Toilet paper

☐ Hand sanitizer

☐ Toothbrush and toothpaste

☐ Toiletry kit

☐ Menstrual products

☐ Prescription medications

☐ First-aid kit or supplies

☐ Sunscreen

☐ Insect repellents

Camping Checklist for Extras

How to Plan a Camping Trip Checklist - Things You Need for Camping - list of items to bring

Just to make sure you don’t forget anything, here are some final camping essentials you should add to your camping checklist:

☐ Multi-tool

☐ Duct tape

☐ Mallet or hammer

☐ Solar and portable power

☐ Binoculars

☐ Navigation tools

☐ Field guides (flowers, insects)

☐ Books

☐ Notebook and pen/pencil

☐ Music player (with headphones)

☐ Games and toys

☐ Dog gear

☐ Saw or axe

☐ Small broom and dustpan

Camping Checklist for Essential Gear

If you want a specific list of items to include on your family camping checklist, we’ve created just that. Through our research, we found the top 10 essentials you should bring on your next camping trip:

Voyager Camping Backpack

The Voyager Bundle

The Essential Bundle includes: The Voyager Backpack, Waist Straps and Cable Lock.

The first on our list of essential camping gear, the Sunny 16 Voyager camera backpack is a midsize backpack. Its size and structure make it super versatile for any kind of hiking, camping, or photography. By far, it's the best camera backpack for travel.

This backpack packs a serious amount of gear for its size, fitting two DSLR cameras, up to seven lenses, a laptop, a tablet, and other accessories. It’s made of a waterproof material, making it perfect for any of your travels, rain or shine.

For comfort, this backpack features both padded shoulder straps and padding on the back made of light, breathable material. You’ll have comfort during extended periods of time wearing it, and keep cool when it’s hot out.

On top of that, you’ll have quick access during your travels. The Voyager has multiple access points to equipment with both rear access, side access, and a top pocket for your convenience. Having side access as the primary bag opening keeps your equipment safe and close to you.

Speaking of safety, you can use the hidden zipper and anti-theft clamshell opening to secure your equipment.

Portable Pressure Shower

First Time Camping Checklist - What Do You Need for Weekend Car Camping Checklist

Who said you can’t enjoy a refreshing shower while camping? Well, this device provides you with just that. There's a chance you'll find this on Amazon or REI's RV camping checklist, but you'll need to do a bit of digging.

One of the big pluses of this portable shower, as opposed to others, is that you don’t have to hold part of it while showering. Simply bring a cord or find something else to hang it on, and let it do it’s work. It will give you a full, 7 min. shower.

Campers Multi Tool

 REI Camping Supplies Checklist - Things You Need for Camping - List of Items to Bring Campground Checlist

Why bring a bunch of bulky tools with you when you can have this multi tool? It’ll save space in your travel backpack, and be incredibly useful.

This particular tool features an axe, hammer, knife, saw, multiple blades, screwdrivers, and more. If you can think of it, this tool probably has it.

It’s also surprisingly lightweight, at only a pound.

Portable Power Bank

 REI Camping Packing Checklist - What do you need camping checklist - Things to Take Camping - Power Bank - Sunny 16

This high-capacity portable charger is a great gift for any photographer who likes to travel or do long photoshoots. It has 2 USB ports in combination with a 5V / 2.1A and 5V / 1A that provide quality power output.

On top of that, it’s made from a high quality A + polymer lithium battery to prevent excessive power, overheating and overcharging. That makes it one of the best chargers to add to your family camping checklist.

Indoor Propane Heater

Camping Checklist Printable - What Do You Need for Camping - List of Items to Bring Camping

Sure, a special sleeping bag might keep you warm, but what if you want to sit up and play some games, or read a book?

If you plan on camping in the winter, this portable propane heater might just be your best friend. This little device can heat up to 95 sqft! It also gives you between 5-6 hours of warmth, which is rock solid for its size.

Even better is that It’s indoor-safe and can be tilted to a 45-degree angle, allowing you to use it in a tent.

Camping Hammock

RV Camping Checklist - Hammock - Camping Essentials

Laying in a hammock can be one of the most relaxing experiences out there.

Luckily, this hammock was built for camping. It folds into a small, compact pouch, making it easily portable. On top of that, being made of nylon makes it lightweight, and easy to dry off than a fabric hammock.

And, if that doesn’t impress you, the large array of colors to choose from certainly will.

Jetboil Flash Stove

Best Family Camping Gear Checklist - Jetboil - Road trip Camping Checklist

As fun as it can be to cook over the firepit, it can also take ages. For faster and more efficient cooking, we recommend this compact stove. Seriously, your tent camping checklist needs this!

With it, you can boil water, coffee, or anything else in under two minutes! Plus, it’s easily portable and doesn’t require matches.

GERBER Bear Grylls Fire Starter

Camping Gear Checklist Printable - Basic Camping Checklist to Bring

There’s nothing worse than spending hours trying to get a fire going, especially if it starts raining.

Luckily, this firestarter makes creating a campfire quick and easy. It comes with a ferrocerium rod and metal striker that can be stored in a waterproof compartment. On top of that, it even comes with an emergency whistle.

Yeti Tundra Haul

RV Camping Checklist - YETI Fishing Checklist

Ever bought a cheap cooler and had all your freezer items get wet and warm halfway through your camping trip? It’s rough.

Though this piece of camping gear is as expensive as they come, it’s also extremely useful. With it, you can rely on all of your cold items to stay cold.

While it is heavy when fully stocked, it comes with wheels and a sturdy handle.


REI Camping Gear Checklist - What do you need camping checklist - Things to Take Camping - campground list

While not essential for your comfort or survival, we just had to include this pick. After all, being able to see the wilderness you’re camping in from above can be an amazing experience.

Luckily, this Wi-Fi powered drone is affordable and won't break the bank. A good alternative to this drone would be the DJI Mavic 2 if it fits your budget!

What not to bring camping

Know that you know what to include on your camping essentials checklist, it’s also important to know what you shouldn’t bring with you. Here’s our top 3: 

  • Raw Chicken: Raw chicken is bad news all around. If risking disease and contamination wasn’t enough, you might also attract local predators. If you want chicken, cook it beforehand. Otherwise, stick with beef and hotdogs. 
  • Perfumes & Colognes: While everyone likes to smell nice, these scents can attract unwanted attention from bugs. Trust us, this will put a damper on your camping experience. 
  • Expensive Clothing: Fancy white shirts, high heels and jewelry have no place camping. At worst they’ll get dirty, and at best ruined.

    Learn about the REI Camping Checklist

    Explore the REI camping checklist and gear up for your next outdoor adventure with confidence. As an REI Co-op member, you not only gain access to high-quality gear but also earn rewards, including a $100 REI gift card after your first purchase with the REI Co-op Mastercard.

    Since 1938, REI has been dedicated to sharing their passion for the outdoors through their cooperative action network and commitment to outdoor equity and climate action. Membership benefits extend to special pricing on events, annual rewards, and exclusive gear offers.

    Join once and enjoy the benefits for life, with opportunities to raise your voice in protecting and sharing the outdoor experience. Whether you're signing up for the newsletter or applying for the REI Co-op Mastercard, REI invites everyone to join their community where the outdoors is not just a place but a way of life.

    Camping Checklist Printable PDF

    Are you looking for a printable version of the camping checklist? If so, then you can easily just download it right here: Camping Checklist Printable PDF

    Up Next: Wildlife Photography Tips for Photographers

    Now that you know how to make a camping checklist, and some of the best camping essentials, why not explore the outdoors further? Let us know in the comments where you plan on camping next!

    And, if you want to know more about capturing all the animals at your next camping destination, check out our article on wildlife photography.

    Up Next: Wildlife Photography Tips for Photographers →

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