Packing up for a camping trip can be stressful. Often times my family will have the goal of leaving our house by 8 am only to find ourselves pulling out of the driveway around lunch time.
Our late departures are usually due to not being packed ahead of time, forgetting and remembering camping items, and questioning what to bring.
Only once we fully embraced our camping check lists did we find ourselves leaving on time and with a bit more peace of mind.
About This Camping Checklist
We have organized this checklist to be easy to read, show the importance of each item, where to buy it and any other info that we can provide.
Importance Ranking (IR): This is a ranking we have given each piece of gear in order of importance. Importance was calculated based on average state park camping during the peak camping months of June-August. So if you are camping in a more secluded area or during Fall, Winter or Spring, adjust our importance rankings accordingly.
Buy From (BF): After many items you will see a link of our recommendation of where to buy the said item. These links will take you to the correct page on each site to show you their complete selection of that item. These recommendations are from where we have purchased our gear and we truly recommend these suppliers.
Recommended (Rec): After many items you will also see a recommended piece of gear. This is our absolute favorite version of that specific piece of gear. For example, we have been able to try many different camping lanterns and our favorite is the Streamlight, so we have linked to the Streamlight. These links point to the appropriate location on each website for that specific product. If there is not a recommended product that typically means that to recommend one specific product would not make sense. For example, there are so many different tents for different types of camping that we cannot recommend one specific tent.
More Info (MI): The final link after many items is a link to another area on Beyond The Tent where you can get more info about an item such as a review or comparison.
Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and we make a small amount off each purchase made through these links (this is how we keep the website running!).
Download The Printable Version Here
The Complete Family Camping Checklist
Shelter is your most important gear for any camping trip. Investing in a high quality tent is the single most important investment investment in camping. A high quality tent will be durable, easy to set up and take down, weather proof and able to withstand high winds.
- Tent – IR: 10 – BF: Kelty, REI, Cabelas – MI: Cabela’s Tent Review
- Tent Repair Kit – IR: 9 – Rec: Coleman Tent Repair Kit
- Tent Footprint – IR: 9 – BF: Amazon
- Extra Stakes – IR: 5 – BF: Amazon
- Hammer – IR: 6
- Tent Fan – IR: 7 – Rec: Coleman CPX Tent Fan – MI: Staying Cool While Camping
- Dust Pan/Brush – IR: 2
- Tent Rug – IR: 2
Proper sleeping gear is essential to an enjoyable camping trip. If you are cold, uncomfortable or hot while sleeping, you will be tired and find your camping trip going sour rather quick.
- Sleeping Bag – IR: 10 – BF: Cabela’s, Sierra Designs – MI: Sierra Designs Review
- Sleeping Pad – IR: 8 – BF: Klymit, REI
- Pillow – IR: 7
- Sleeping Cot – IR: 5 – BF: REI, Cabela’s
- Air Mattress – IR: 3 – BF: REI, Cabela’s
- Extra Blankets – IR: 5
- Ear Plugs – IR: 5
We recommend purchasing your family camping clothing from either Cabela’s or REI as both have a wide selection of camp clothing for men, women and kids as well as a wide range of sizes. Here is a post we did last fall about some of ourfavorite camping clothing.
- Long Pants – IR: 10
- T-Shirts – IR: 10
- Sweat Shirt – IR: 10
- Long Sleeve Shirt – IR: 10
- Socks – IR: 10
- Undies – IR: 10+
- Hat – IR: 9
- Thermal Underwear – IR: 8
- Hiking Boots – IR: 8
- Shorts – IR: 8
- Rain Jacket – IR: 7
- Bandana – IR: 6
- Water Shoes – IR: 6
- Bathing Suit – IR: 5
- Sandels – IR: 5
- Beach Towel – IR: 4
- Dirty Clothes Bag – IR: 3
Without the right gear, camping can become rather miserable rather quick. Here is our essential gear with recommendations.
- Back Pack – IR: 10 – Rec: Boreas Backpacks – MI: Boreas Packs Review
- Flashlight – IR: 10 – Rec: Cabela’s Flashlights
- Lantern – IR: 10 – Rec: Streamlight (My favorite lantern @ Cabela’s)
- Thermacell – IR: 9 – Rec: Cabela’s Themracell – MI: Stop The Mosquitoes
- Bug Spray – IR: 9
- Pocket Knife – IR: 9
- Camp Chairs – IR: 9 – BF: Cabela’s
- Rope – IR: 9
- Duct Tape – IR: 9
- Solar Charger – IR: 8 – Rec: Sunjack
- Hydration Pack – IR: 8 – Rec: Ultimate Direction Vest Hydration or Outdoor Products H2O Pack
- Day Pack – IR: 8 – Rec: HikPro Daypack
- Head Lamp – IR: 8 – Rec: Cabela’s XPG RPG 2
- Compass – IR: 7
- Cooling Towel – IR: 6
- GPS – IR: 6
- Hammock – IR: 5 – Rec: Eno – MI: Eno Hammock Review
- Screen Tent – IR: 5 – BF: Amazon
- Clothes Wash Bag – IR: 4 – Rec: Scrubba Wash Bag – MI: Washing Clothes While Camping
- Sheath Knife – IR: 4
- Binoculars – IR: 4 – BF: REI
- Folding Table – IR: 4
- Lantern Pole – IR: 3
- Large Umbrella – IR: 3
- Child Carrier – IR: 3
Personally I try to go rather minimal on personal items while camping. I never bring deodorant and try to go minimal on soaps as well.
- Toiletries – IR: 10
- Water Bottle – IR: 10
- Sunscreen – IR: 10
- Glasses – IR: 9
- Soap/Shampoo – IR: 3
- First Aid Kit – IR: 10 – Rec: Coleman First Aid Kit
- Emergency Water Filter – IR: 10
- Bug Sting Ointment – IR: 9
- Aloe Lotion – IR: 8
- Cooler – IR: 10 – Rec: Yeti Coolers
- Cookware – IR: 10
- Utensils – IR: 10
- Cups/Bowels – IR: 10
- Water Filter – IR: 10 – Rec: LifeStraw Family
- Coffee Pot – IR: 9
- Camp Kitchen – IR: 8 – Rec: Grub Hub
- Portable Grill – IR: 8
- Fuel – IR: 8
- Charcoal – IR: 8
- Water Jug – IR: 7
- Trash Bags – IR: 6
- Table Cloth – IR: 5
- Aluminum Foil – IR: 5
- Cooking Oil – IR: 5
- Dutch Oven – IR: 5
- Paper Towels – IR: 4
- Dish Soap – IR: 4
- Skewers – IR: 4
- Pie Irons – IR: 4
- Zip Lock Baggies – IR: 4
- Water Proof Matches – IR: 10
- Fire Starting Kit – IR: 10 – Rec: UST Fire Starter Kit
- Firewood – Purchase at campground, DO NOT bring your own.
We didn’t feel the need to give our fun items a IR (Importance Ranking).
- Memory Cards
- Solar Charger- Rec: Sun Labs Solar Charger
- Water Toys
- Footballs & Frisbees
- Ice Cream Ball – Rec: Yay Labs Ice Cream Ball
- Disc Golf – Rec: Innova Skill Shot
- Geo Caching – Rec: Magellan Explorist
- Glow Sticks
Luxury / Optional
We did not feel that giving our luxury camping items an IR ranking was necessary.
- Camp Shower – Rec: Advanced Elements Summer Shower
- Water Heater – Rec: Coleman Portable Water Heater