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The Best Camping Checklist (2021) - A Complete Guide

The Best Camping Checklist (2021) - A Complete Guide

What essentials should you never fail to add to your camping checklist? What’s perfect for a weekend car camping in the great outdoors, and what can you afford to leave behind? 


There’s nothing worse than planning a camping trip for weeks, only to arrive at your destination and realize you’ve left behind half of the stuff you need. 


For novices and pros alike, referring to a camping checklist is key to ensure that you (and everyone you’re with) has a great time. I mean, who wants to be the person who forgot to bring cutlery, right?

Via Pexels

Camping is a brilliant way to spend some time in the great outdoors. But like all holidays, it requires a bit of forward planning. Never fear though intrepid explorers, with this camping checklist the only thing you’ll have to worry about is the weather!

We’ll cover everything from the camping essentials you simply have to bring, all the way through to the luxuries that you can leave behind if space is tight.

 

Table of Contents

What to Bring to the Campsite

Comfort and Utilities List

List of Shelter and Bedding Necessities for Camping

Clothing

Tools for Every Camping Trip

List of Kitchen Essentials for Camping

Health and Hygiene for the Campsite

 

What to Bring to the Campsite

 These are some of the bigger things on our camping checklist that you’ll need to bring to make your camping trip a success.

 

Pop up tent

Green and cream pop up tent on white background

Price: $63

Unless you’re glamping in a yurt or planning to sleep under the stars, you’ll need some form of shelter. This could be a pop up tent, a multi-room tent or a dome tent. 

Each type of tent has its own pros and cons. Pop up tents are the most convenient, while multi-room tents are better for larger groups. Whichever tent you go for, it’s worth double checking that you’ve got some spare pegs! 

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

 

Camping Table 

Black collapsible camping table erected and in bag
Price: $25.99

Camping tables are one of those things that people often forget. Whether you need one or not depends on how long you’ll be camping for, but they’re really useful for playing card games, food prep, and eating meals. 

Just bear in mind that even camping tables that fold can take up a lot of space and weight, so this is probably only an item you should be taking if you’re driving to your campsite. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Optional

 

Folding Picnic Table

Small wooden camping table with a selection of food and wine on top

Price: $40

If you don’t have the space for a camping table, consider taking a folding picnic table. Picnic tables come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from fully sized tables with chairs all the way down to small lap sized ones. 

If you’re trying to travel light, consider taking a smaller folding picnic table. It’ll make cooking a bit easier and you won’t have to eat off your lap. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Optional

 

Tent Heater 

Orange Campy Gear Tent portable tent heater and stove on a white background

Price: $69.90

A tent heater is only important if you’re heading to a cooler destination, but it is worth bearing in mind that in many parts of the world the temperature can drop significantly at night. 


Do your research before you head out. Just because your destination is 75 °F during the day, doesn’t mean it will be at night. In fact, one place in the US had a 103 degree swing in 24 hours.

While it’s unlikely you’ll experience anything that extreme, check the forecast before you set off and consider taking a tent heater if you get cold easily. It’s a free pass to feel smug if your camping buddies don’t bring one. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Optional

 

Portable Light 

Lime green and black LE portable light for camping on white background

Price: $19.99

This is one of those things that it’s really easy to forget! Pretty much everyone has a smart phone with a torch function these days, which makes it easy to overlook the need for a separate device. 

It’s worth bearing in mind that while smartphones are great for many things, you’ll quickly burn through your battery if you’re using it for long periods of time as a torch. Plus, you may well drop it in the dark and have to fork out hundreds of dollars for a replacement. 

Some form of portable light - either a headlamp, flashlight or electric lantern - is pretty much essential. Just remember to take some spare batteries with you! 

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

 

Comfort/Utilities List for Camping

 Camping is meant to be fun! Some of the items in this part of the camping checklist are designed to make your trip more comfortable, others are more functional.

Instead of only making your holiday a survival trip, make use of some cool gadgets.

 

Waterproof backpack

Pale gray waterproof backpack with black accents rolled up and unrolled

Price: $37.99

There’s nothing worse than getting soaked in a shower only to discover your change of clothes is dripping wet too. When camping, it’s a good idea to respect the capricious climate gods with a waterproof backpack. 

You’ll be freezing if you find yourself wearing wet clothes in the evening, so this is definitely a worthwhile investment. 

Many backpacks come with a waterproof cover or are made from materials that are water resistant. If you’ve got an old non-waterproof pack though and don’t have the budget for a brand new one, you can find elasticated covers online for next to nothing. 

There’s heaps of things to consider when you’re buying a new backpack, so do your research before you part with any hard earned cash!

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

 

Lightweight camping chair

Sitpack Campster portable chair set up and packed away

Price: $88

Even if you spend most of your time adventuring round the wilderness, at some point you’ll want to take a load off, sit back, and relax. Sitting on a tree trunk or rock might be alright for an hour or so, but you’re quickly going to get pretty uncomfortable. 

A good camping chair should be foldable, easy to pack, and comfortable. Look for one that’s got a good weight capacity (120 kg+) and non-rip fabric, and make sure you check out reviews before you buy.

It’s worth spending a little bit more here. Cheaper chairs will rip pretty easily, which will leave you with a red face and nothing to sit on!

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

 

Camp Stool

Sitpack 2.0 Camp stool in use, packed away, and with accessories

Price: $42.95

If you’ll be on the move a lot or are really tight for space, you could consider a collapsible camp stool instead of or as well as a chair. 

The best collapsible camp stools weigh very little and fold up to the size of a small water bottle. They aren't designed for hours of use and many of them tend to work better for a short rest on a hike.

You’re going to want something that’s tough and durable here. It’s not going to be possible to find a replacement when you’re camping, so cheap products that break easily will just be a liability in the long run. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

 

Sport sunglasses

Red and black sport sunglasses with orange and purple reflective tint

Price: $19.99

If you’re lucky enough to catch some great weather while you’re camping, make sure you don’t spend the whole time squinting.

Turns out that sunglasses aren’t just for style, they actually protect your eyes against harmful UV rays - these are a camping essential for hot climates. 

You’ll want a pair of sport sunglasses. These tend to be more lightweight and durable than their cosmetic counterparts, which will come in handy if you accidentally drop them (happens to the best of us). 

Camping Checklist Essential? Optional

 

Fleece Blankets 

Blue and black Redcamp fleece blanket packed away and unpacked

Price: $29.99

Fleece blankets are a great way to keep yourself warm at night when you’re sat round a campfire. 

If you’re wondering, the difference between fleece and wool is that fleece is a processed material. Like wool though, it’s also great for trapping in heat and it’s super lightweight. 

You can even find fleece blankets that are waterproof on one side. Warm AND dry = winning at camping life. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Optional

 

Shelter/Bedding Necessities

You're going to need some basic shelter and bedding for your trip. This part of the camping checklist is dedicated to the kind of items that you can't leave behind. 

Camping Mattress

Khaki Sleepingo Camping Mattress set up and packed away

Price: $39.95

It doesn’t matter how carefully you check before you pitch your tent, you’re pretty much guaranteed to end up with a rock digging into your back when you’re asleep. 

That’s why some form of camping mattress is pretty much essential. If you’re tired for most of your trip, you’ll get cranky and possibly start snapping at the people you’re with. Remember: it’s meant to be a holiday!

You’ll want something that’s inflatable and portable, and don’t forget to bring a repair kit for any small punctures.

This definitely falls into the camping essentials category. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

 

Camping Pillow 

Dark gray Trekology inflatable camping pillow on white background

Price: $16.99

You’ve been hiking up mountains or through streams all day, made yourself dinner with rudimentary tools and had a couple of cold ones round the fire. 

The one thing you’ll want to do after all that is rest your head on something soft and fluffy that’ll send you to the land of nod.

Some form of camping pillow is just the ticket for a good night’s sleep, and it’ll leave you feeling refreshed and raring to go in the morning. 

Look for something that’s - you guessed it - lightweight and portable. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

 

Duvet or sleeping bag

Black and dark gray Tuphen sleeping bag unpacked and packed away

Price: $23.99

Sleeping gear really is an area that you don’t want to scrimp on when camping. If you aim for the average amount of sleep for an adult, you’ll be spending about a third of your camping trip asleep. 

Some form of bedding should be one of your camping essentials.

A duvet or sleeping bag will mean that you spend a third of your trip in relative comfort.

There’s heaps of different types of camping sleeping bags and duvets, so check the weather before you go and pick accordingly. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

 

Clothing

It's a good idea to prepare for every eventuality on your camping trip. It's definitely a good idea to take some warm clothes. 

Wool socks

Mottled wool socks in a variety of shades on a white background

Price: $11.99

Cold feet are the worst. You’ll want to take a few good thick pairs of wool socks so your toes are warm and cozy in cooler climates. 

You could also consider electrically heated socks if you regularly get cold feet at night. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Optional

 

Lightweight Jacket

Men's black waterproof lightweight camping jacket

Price: $51.99

It goes without saying that for the vast majority of camping trips, you’ll need to take a lightweight jacket. You’ll possibly wear it every day while you’re on your adventure, so invest in something decent. 

Ideally, you’ll want one that is water resistant and warm.

If you don’t end up using it much because of nice weather, something that is lightweight will be easier to carry and won’t take up much room in your pack.

It’s definitely better to be safe than sorry. 

There’s many different things to consider when buying a jacket for camping. Bear in mind that you get what you pay for though!

This is one of your camping essentials

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

 

Fingerless gloves

Black fingerless gloves on white background

Price: $7.99

Aside from making you look like Fagin from Oliver Twist, fingerless gloves are very useful.

They keep your hands warm and leave the tips of your fingers free. This is great for more delicate chores like starting a fire or prepping food. 

Unless you’re heading somewhere super cold, you can go a bit more budget here. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Optional

 

Thermal Gloves

Black a gray thermal gloves on white background

Price: $7.99

While fingerless gloves are great for tasks, if you’re on a long hike in a cold climate a full pair of thermal gloves may be better. 

Another option is waterproof gloves, which will keep your hands warm and dry. These do tend to be a little bit pricier though. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Optional

 

Sweater Vest

Brown and blue patterned knitted sweater vest on white background

Price: $28.45

Channel your inner Chandler (tongue twister alert), and take a decent sweater vest for your trip. 

A sweater vest has an advantage over a regular sweater in that it frees your arms for movement.

If you’re not a huge fan of the way they look though, just remember that camping isn’t a fashion parade! 

Camping Checklist Essential? Optional

 

Tools for Every Camping Trip

These are the kind of items that could prove to be a godsend if you find yourself in a sticky situation in the wild. 

Duct tape

Duck Tape brand duct tape, silver on white background

Price: $3.49

This is super useful for any repairs that you may need to make on your trip. Surprisingly, duct tape actually has a pretty interesting history that began during WWII. 

Because it’s so strong, duct tape is useful for rips in your tent, keeping tent poles together, and all manner of other fixes. It’s also waterproof as well, which is kinda handy on a camping trip.

(And if you’re wondering, Duck Tape is just a brand that makes duct tape).

Because of its versatility, duct tape is on the camping essentials side of the list. 

Camping checklist essential? Essential

 

Dustpan

Blue dustpan and brush set on white background

Price: $8.83

This is probably only one for a car camping checklist. Because they’re quite bulky, this is probably an item you’ll only want to take if you’ve got some spare room in your trunk. 

You don’t want to spend the tail end of your trip tidying up, but it’s really easy to round up with dirt, dust, or sand in a communal space or recreation vehicle (RV). 

A dustpan with a small broom is a quick and easy way to clear out cooking, common, and sleeping areas. Alternatively, consider using a handheld car hoover that you may already have in your vehicle. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Optional

 

Camping Knife

Black Aibele Camping Knife and multi-tool with tools unfolded

Price: $16.88

Camping knives are incredibly useful for all sorts of things on a campsite. They’re really versatile and something you shouldn’t leave home without. 

If you’re after even more versatility, consider choosing a multi-tool camping knife. These will have different tools for heaps of different purposes.

Opening bottles of wine, tin cans, starting fires, sawing small branches, and tightening screws are all things you can do with a multi-tool.

Before taking any knives with you when you leave for your trip, it's worth double-checking your state or country's laws regarding the carrying of knives. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

Rubber Mallet

Black rubber mallet with pale wooden handle on white background

Price: $9.99

Mallets are frustrating items because they weigh a lot and take up a lot of space. However, unless you’re pretty confident that your campsite will be on very soft ground, you’ll need a mallet to erect your tent

You could use a rock, however this could result in bent stakes/pegs that you won’t be able to reuse.

PRO TIP: If you take a multi-tool with you and it features a hammer, you can leave your mallet at home. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

 

List of Kitchen Essentials for Camping

If you’ll be cooking your own food on your trip, adding some kitchen gear to your camping checklist is essential. 

 

Camp Stove 

Silver Canway camp stove on white background

Price: $19.99

One of the best things about camping is preparing food in the great outdoors.

Many do this on an open fire the old school way.

However, check with your campsite before you leave as some may not allow this.

Either way, a small camp stove is a good shout for coffee in the morning all the way through to dinner at night. 

Camping checklist essential? Essential

 

Torch Lighter 

Yellow torch lighter with silver accents on white background

Price: $13.99

If your campsite allows it, you’ll probably want to make fire at some point! A torch lighter is a high powered wind-resistant way of starting a fire. 

Make sure you don’t forget this (or matches at the very least). You don’t want to be rubbing two sticks together when the sun’s about to go down. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

 

Bottle Opener

Black and silver waiter's friend bottle opener

Price: $14.15

Taking bottled beer or wine with you on your trip? Don’t forget to take a bottle opener! The best option here would be a “waiter’s friend”, which allows you to open both wine and beer bottles. 

Of course, there are ways to open bottles of wine without any tools at all, but they’re not without risk. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Optional

 

Cooler Box

Navy Coleman cooler box with white lid

Price: $45.09

Cooler boxes are super bulky. If you want any form of chilled food though and your trip will last more than a day or two, they’re pretty much essential. 

If you’re on foot or space is tight, there’s plenty of food items you can bring that don’t need refrigerating.  

If you do decide to take a cooler box, make sure you take some ice blocks as well. Because of their size, this is really only an item to consider for car camping

Camping Checklist Essential? Optional

 

Camping Grill

Price: $33.62

Camping grills are collapsible wire structures that are essential for camp cooking over an open fire. They allow you to cook food directly over a heat source. 

Alternatively, you can use them to rest pans on. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Optional

 

Cooking Utensils for Camping 

A selection of silver cooking utensils out and in their carry case

Price: $32.99

Don’t forget to bring a pan or two! You’ll want something versatile that fits with the type of heat source you’ll be using and you’ll probably want something to stir or flip your food with as well. 

Whilst pretty much everyone will have cooking utensils like spatulas and tongs at home, if you’ve got any expensive kit that you care about it’s probably better to get some cheaper alternatives. 

That way, if anything gets ruined or lost it’s not a big deal. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

 

Plastic cups, plates, and cutlery

Stack of plastic reusable plates in a variety of shades

Price: $18.99

You’ll want to have a drink and something to eat with too! Reusable plastic cups, plates and cutlery are just the right choice here. 

They’re lightweight, sturdy, and aren’t as bad for the environment as disposable crockery.  

Plus, reusable plastic crockery isn’t much more expensive than disposable alternatives. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

 

Health and Hygiene for the Campsite

You may well be out in the wild, but there's no reason not to bring a few of the comforts from home. 

Sanitiser

Twin Pack of Dettol Hand sanitizer, clear bottles with green lids

Price: $5.09

There’s no doubt about it. At some point during your trip, your hands are going to get dirty.

You’ll want a sanitiser to make sure your hands are as clean as possible from any nasties. Ideally, soap and warm water is the best way to clean your hands, but sometimes this won’t be available on a campsite. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

 

Camping Shower 

Price: $10.99 

This is a bit of a luxury if you’re not camping on a serviced campsite.  A shower in the morning is just the thing to wake you up and get you ready for a day exploring though.

Camping showers are surprisingly cheap, so if you’ve got the space it’s a nice way to bring one of the comforts of home that we all take for granted. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Optional

 

Shower Tent

Khaki shower tent erected on white background

Price: $39.97

If you’re taking a camping shower, you’re going to need a shower tent as well. It’s nice to have a bit of privacy when you’re washing off a hard day’s adventuring. 

When you’re setting up your shower tent, make sure you pitch it a reasonable distance away from your sleeping tents - otherwise you’ll end up sleeping in waterlogged ground

Camping Checklist Essential? Optional

 

Bamboo Toothbrush

Packet of 4 bamboo toothbrushes with their brown packing box

Price: $5.99

Don’t forget your toothbrush and some toothpaste! If you use an electric toothbrush at home, consider buying a manual bamboo one for your trip.

They’re super cheap, they won’t run out of charge, and they’re better for the environment if you lose them. 

Camping Checklist Essential? Essential

 

Conclusion

Excited for your adventure? Camping can be an awesome experience, as long as you bring the right gear. Remembering stuff like chairs, a portable light, and cooking utensils can make or break your trip. 

By using this camping checklist, you can set off with peace of mind that you’re prepared for any eventuality. That way, the only thing you have to worry about is the weather!

 

Are you going camping this year? Check out the Campster or Sitpack 2.0 for comfortable seats that are the same size as your water bottle. 

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