Trying to decide what gear to pack for your upcoming camping trip can be a stressful undertaking. Creating and following a checklist of the family camping gear your trip requires will save loads of time, keep you from forgetting vital gear, and leave you ready to enjoy a relaxing vacation in the outdoors.This checklist will help get you started thinking about what to take camping.
Food – Plan your meals in advance and plan for plenty of snacks in between. During your trip you will most likely be doing more strenuous activities than you are accustomed to, so be prepared for bigger appetites. Don’t forget the S’mores!
Drinks – Water, water, water. Bring enough and then bring some more. Powdered drink mixes are an easy way to add different flavors. If you are going to be camping remotely you should also bring a water filter. Do not count on the campground’s water supply.
Shelter – Proper tents for camping are a key element to a comfortable campsite. Practice setting up the tent in your backyard to familiarize yourself with the tent and double check that all components are present.
Extra Tent Stakes – Rocks and hard ground do bad things to tent stakes. Mallet – For pounding in those extra tent stakes.
Tarp – A tarp can serve many purposes at your campsite. A tarp that is slightly larger than your tent not only protects the floor of your tent from rips and punctures, but aides in keeping your tent clean as well. Some tents even have custom footprints available as an option
Sleeping Bags – Make sure your sleeping bags are rated appropriately for the temperatures you are going to be in during the night. Spare blankets are great to have in case a cold spell hits or just to use while sitting around the campfire.
Cooler – To keep your food and drinks cold and fresh.
Camp Cookware – Dutch ovens, pots, pans, utensils, etc. Look over your meal plan and make sure you have what you need. Don’t forget to bring dish soap to clean them.
Tableware – Plates, cups, silverware, coffee mugs, etc. Paper plates and plastic utensils make for a lot of unnecessary trash.
Garbage Bags – For all the trash you will have to deal with. Always leave the campsite in better condition than you found it.
Lighter – Rubbing two sticks together is fun, but it’s no match for a lighter.
Fire Tinder – Dryer lint or an old news paper works great for getting a fire started.
Clothing – Don’t forget towels and swimsuits in the summer, gloves and hats in the winter.
First Aid Kit – Murphy is always lurking behind the next tree. Be prepared with a well stocked camping first aid kit. Sunscreen and Insect Repellent – Sunburns and mosquito bites can ruin a camping trip fast.
Rope – Clotheslines, tarp supports, jump ropes, mock bullwhips… what more needs to be said.
Multi-tool – Useful for so many things. Always carry a multi-tool.
Lighting – A good lantern and plenty of flashlights. Don’t forget spare batteries.
Toiletries – Toothbrush, tooth paste, toilet paper, soap, hand sanitizer, etc. Wet wipes also come in handy and can double as toilet paper.
Camp Chairs – A simple camp chair is a lot more comfortable than a cooler or log.
Extra Cash – Cash is king. Even more so when you are away from your home turf. You shouldn’t need much, but you can expect prices at the camp store to be higher than back home.
Camera – Preserve the memories, capture the scenery!
GPS – Great for knowing where you are. You can also take the kids Geocaching.
Fishing Gear – Rods, reels, lures, bait, etc.
Sleeping Pads – Pads, cots, or air mattresses. While not a requirement these can make a big difference in your comfort level.
Folding Table – Good for meal times, card games, etc.
Extra Shoes – Wet shoes make for unhappy feet.
Games and Fun – Board Games, story books, musical instruments, decks of cards, etc. Don’t forget to bring some entertainment to pass the time.
Camp Axe – Having an axe does not make you an axe murderer. Sometimes you may need to split wood.
Camp Shovel – A good folding camp shovel can serve many purposes.
Camp Stove – Even when you have a campfire a propane camp stove makes cooking and cleanup much easier.
Food Storage Container – If you are going to be camping in bear country, make sure to bring an approved food storage container such as a bear canister. Bear bags are still OK in some places, but in severe problem areas, such as most of Yosemite National Park, bear bags are ineffective and have been banned.
All things considered, every time your family heads into the wild will be a unique experience and will have different family camping gear requirements. Always take into consideration the number of campers, length of stay, planned activities, etc. Our best advice is to include the entire family when making your packing list and to remember to have fun.