With a new camping season right around the corner, it’s about time to get out all your gear from its winter storage places! The days are longer, the temperatures are higher, and the summer fun is just about to begin. Excitement for a new camping season can quickly turn to dread if you’re not prepared though.
One of the biggest hang-ups that practically everyone who camps has is the age-old question “did I forget anything at the house?” There’s nothing really worse than getting to your campsite after hours of driving only to realize when you get there that you’ve forgotten some critical piece of gear! Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a green-horned beginner, we can all stand to benefit from having a camping checklist around.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a great base to build your own camping checklist from. We’ll break down all of the gear you need to bring into specific categories so that you’ll know you have each of your bases covered. These categories include:
- Camp Kitchen
- Camp Clothing
- Additional Camp Extras
Let’s get started!
When you roll into camp, you’ll want to be sure you have each of these items at a minimum to ensure that you have a comfortable, relaxing camping experience.
- Tent stakes
- Tent footprint or ground cloth
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Headlamp, flashlights, extra batteries
- Camp chair
- Folding camp table
The biggest key point here is to bring along the gear that is appropriate for your trip. If you’re going car camping, it’s totally fine to bring a large tent because you don’t have to worry about hiking it up the trail to set up. In fact, bring a tent that gives you plenty of room to spread out so that you and your camping partners have enough elbow room when spending time inside the tent.
In addition to your tent, be sure to have strong tent stakes and something to rest your tent on top of. Some tents are sold with a footprint, but many are not. Tent footprints are important to keeping the bottom of your tent from getting torn up by the rough ground as you walk around inside of it. If you don’t have a footprint for your tent, a tarp or ground cloth can be used instead.
Also, be sure to bring a sleeping bag that is going to be appropriate for the weather. Having multiple sleeping bags or even several sleeping bag liners will help you bring a sleeping bag that will keep you warm and comfortable throughout your trip.
Being out on a camping adventure and having something break unexpectedly doesn’t have to ruin the whole trip! Be sure that you have these tools in your camping supplies so that you can easily mend anything that breaks and continue on your trip without a second thought.
- Tent stake mallet
- Mini broom and dustpan
- Duct tape
- Air pad/mattress repair kit
- Saw and hatchet for cutting firewood
The biggest key with your tools is that you practice with them before you go camping. If you’ve never used a multi-tool to make minor repairs on zippers, get a set of old jeans and work on replacing the fly zipper. Get good at opening and crimping the zipper so that if you need to replace a tent zipper while on your trip, you’ll be able to do so quickly and effectively.
Consider watching a few YouTube videos on how to tie useful knots with your paracord. A few really helpful basic knots to know include:
- Square knot
- Bowline knot
- Figure 8 knot
- Overhand knot
- Slip knot
- Fisherman’s knot
All of these knots have their specific purposes that are handy to know before you go into the woods. The best way to get good at them is to practice, practice, practice!
Cooking at a campsite can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. A pro tip here is to precook and cut as much of your food as you can to ensure that all you need to do is heat it up when it’s time to eat! That way you’ll spend more time enjoying your meal around a fire than stressing about cooking.
- Stove with fuel source
- Fire starter (lighter or matches)
- Frying pan
- Water bottles
- Water jug
- Camp sink or wash basin
- Biodegradable dish soap
- Cutting board
- Sharp kitchen knife
- Stirring spoon
- Plates and bowls
- Camp cutlery
- Camp mug/cup
- Bottle opener
- Can opener
- Food storage containers
- Tin foil
- Seasonings (mostly salt and pepper)
Another key here is to keep all of your camp kitchen supplies organized in one place. Designate a storage container as your camp kitchen and be sure to keep only camp kitchen related gear inside of it!
There are plenty of ways to store your gear. The simplest is to use a plastic storage bin. The most efficient is to buy or build a camp kitchen box that has small storage areas to keep each piece of gear neatly stored.
Keeping comfortable at camp is imperative to ensuring you have not only a good time, but a safe time. When you leave for the weekend, your clothing is the first line of defense that you have against the elements. It’s important to bring the right clothing with you to make sure you can focus on enjoying your trip rather than worry about drying out and warming up all the time!
To that end, fabric choices matter a lot with camping clothing. Wool, polyester, and nylon are all great fabrics to source camp clothing. Cotton on the other hand should be avoided as much as possible. The reason why you want to avoid cotton is that it absorbs and retains moisture. Whether you’re sweating or you get rained on, getting your clothes wet is a pretty common thing when spending any amount of time in the outdoors. The key is to get dry as quickly as possible because after the temperatures go down, being wet can make the cooler temperatures miserable!
- Long-sleeved shirts
- Pants or shorts
- Lightweight jacket
- Hiking boots or shoes
- Camp sandals or shoes
- Rain jacket
As mentioned earlier, fabric choices are extremely important when camping. The other important thing for clothing is that you want to wear layers whenever possible. Layering will ensure that you can get cool quickly by stripping a layer off, but also warm up quickly by putting another layer on. It’s always easier to shed heat than it is to warm up, so maintaining your body temperature to stay comfortable and safe is imperative. Make it easy by bringing extra layers, even if the forecast is calling for warm temperatures throughout your trip, as you never know if the temperatures will dip down, especially at night!
Additional Camp Extras
Taking each of the above items is important for having your basic needs met while you’re camping. To enhance your trip, be sure to also pack along the following so your trip is as comfortable as you can possibly make it!
- Toilet paper
- Hand sanitizer
- Quick drying towel
- Bug spray
- Baby wipes
- First aid kit
The sky really is the limit here. Each extra gear item you bring should serve to enhance your camping trip, so it really is going to come down to what makes you feel comfortable in the woods.
One thing to mention about these items is that when it comes to music, consider bringing headphones. This is especially true when you visit a large public campground. People want to enjoy the quietness of nature and when folks are blasting their music at the campground with large obnoxious speakers, it makes it difficult to do that. Be considerate of your neighbors and use headphones instead. Or, just find yourself a spot a long ways away from anyone and play your music out loud to your heart’s content!
Alrighty! We’ve covered practically every basic item you’ll need in order to have a great time camping this summer. Consider printing out a copy of this list to keep on your refrigerator to ensure you pack along all the gear you need each time you go on a camping adventure.
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