The Ultimate Packing List for Campers (Must-Have Essentials!)

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Although the specific gear depends on the climate and whether you’re camping or hiking, this camping packing list covers the necessities.

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Thinking of going on an outdoor adventure? While specific gear depends on climate, terrain, car camping or backpacking, and your camp setup (e.g. tent or RV), this camping packing list will help to cover all the essentials – with specific recommendations on the equipment we use on all of our camping trips.

Be sure to start compiling your own checklist well in advance so you know you’ll have it all when the time comes!

The Ultimate Packing List for Campers (Must-Have Essentials!)

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Camping Packing List (Must Have Essentials!)

Camping material

Checklist iconTent: If you’re packing a car, pack your tent last so it’s the first thing you can set up. Check that you have all your poles and stakes, a mallet and your rain fly (if applicable). We use a Coleman tent.

Checklist iconSleeping bags: Down or down substitute sleeping bags are the lightest and easiest to compress.

Checklist iconSleeping mattress: These compact Therm-a-Rest Sleeping Pads provide cushion and help return heat back to your body.

Checklist iconTarp: An extra tarp for the tent floor will keep you warm and dry at night, and if you get one with extra length, you can use it to wipe shoes outside.

Checklist iconClothesline : If there’s a chance you’ll get wet, bring an adjustable elastic clothesline and clothespins for drying.

Checklist iconHammock: Hammocks are a great addition for relaxing if you have the space. This one is under $20!

Checklist iconGames: Be sure to bring games like dice or cards.

Checklist iconFirewood: Collecting firewood is not allowed in some areas, so be sure to bring your own. Don’t forget a lighter and kindling!

Checklist iconHeadlamp: Bring a headlamp for each person in your group and some extra batteries.

Learn more:

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The Ultimate Packing List for Campers (Must-Have Essentials!)

Cooking tools

Checklist iconStorage bin: Get a clear bin to store everything and group items into large clear bags.

Checklist iconCooking tools: Utility knife, spatula, ladle, potholders, tongs and aluminum foil. Skewers are great to bring along for s’mores or kebabs.

Checklist iconPots and Pans: Invest in a really good pot and pan. We also keep a larger pot on hand for camping with large groups. We love this little cookware set for backpacking trips because it’s extremely compact.

Checklist iconStove: These 2-burner stoves are perfect for car camping and make outdoor cooking simple. For backpacking trips, this backpacking stove is tiny, weighs next to nothing, and heats up quickly.

Checklist iconLighter/matches: Be sure to pack a few of each! A waterproof case for your matches is also essential.

Checklist iconDishes: A plate, 1 bowl, 1 mug and a set of utensils for each person. Don’t forget the tupperware for leftovers!

Checklist iconTo clean: Quick-drying microfiber towels, a roll of paper towels, unscented pure castile soap from Dr. Bronner and a foldable sink.

The Ultimate Camping Checklist

Clothing and toiletries

When you’re roughing it, you can wear the same set of clothes for a few days. Bring as little as you feel comfortable with, but make sure you have the necessary layers and fabric (raincoats, etc.) for the weather. To save space, wear your bulkiest clothes on travel days.

Checklist iconLayered clothes: Base layers are always a good idea when camping; they keep you warm at night by wicking away sweat and retaining your body heat. This packable jacket is another handy item to pack as it doesn’t take up much space and keeps you warm on cold nights by the campfire. And don’t forget a beanie to keep your head and ears warm!

Checklist iconInsecticide: We always keep a pen-sized insect repellent spray pump in our camping gear, so we never have to worry about forgetting this all-important item.

Checklist iconSolar cream: Another VERY important item to add to your list!

Checklist iconToiletries: Depending on the length of your trip, you’ll want to bring the usual shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, and face wash. (TIP: Dr. Bronner’s All-Natural Liquid Soap can be used as a shampoo, body wash, mouthwash, shaving cream, or even dish soap or laundry detergent AND it’s chemical-free, so it won’t won’t harm the environment.) Take a toothbrush and dental floss too – these are one of the most often forgotten items.

Learn more:

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The Ultimate Camping Packing List (Must-Have Essentials!)

Hiking

If you are just day hiking, a standard frameless backpack is fine. Fruits, nuts and jerky will keep you full and energized. For multi-day hikes, get a framed backpack and make sure you don’t pack more than 20-30% of your body weight. Soft items like clothing should be directly against your back, while heavy items like kitchen equipment should be in the center of your pack for balance.

The ultimate packing guide for campers

Checklist iconWater: We always pack at least one bottle of water, and for longer hikes we bring a 3L bladder.

Checklist iconWater filtration system: If you’re hiking or camping near a water source, we’ve found this amazing water filtration system. It is compact and eliminates 99.9% of bacteria.

Checklist iconShoes: It goes without saying that shoes (and socks!) can make or break your hike. I wear these women’s hiking shoes and can’t live without these smartwool hiking socks, which provide cushion and keep my feet dry.

Checklist iconBackpack : I use this backpack for hiking. It has everything I need – including two large side water pockets, a padded inner sleeve for a 3L hydration bladder, plenty of internal and external compartments and an attached rainfly.

Learn more:

Hiking and Road Trip Tips for Utah’s National Parks

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Electronic

Bring as little as possible! But if you have a GPS device (including your phone), you can keep it charged with a rechargeable device.

Checklist iconCharger: This mini lantern doubles as a light source and an external battery charger. It provides up to 52 hours of light or backup to your phone.

Checklist iconPortable Camping Lantern: This small, portable lantern is unlike any other lantern we’ve ever owned – it’s rechargeable, it can be used as a power bank to charge your electronics, it’s lightweight and 100% waterproof! Plus, it’s only $37!

Checklist iconRechargeable Phone Case: Although I love the external battery chargers above and always bring them on our camping trips, having a phone case with a built-in external battery means I’ll never be stuck with a battery discharged phone. This case has changed my life – not just for camping, but for long days of travel.

Learn more:

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The Ultimate Packing List for Campers (Must-Have Essentials!)

Photography

Again, a lighter load is better. Limit yourself to two lenses and your lightest tripod (or a monopod you can lean against). A special camera backpack can keep your gear safe and dust-free, and you’ll want to keep your gear in the shade if you’re camping in hot weather.

Learn more:

How to choose the best travel camera

Sony A7ii: why I love this camera for travel photography

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