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The Ultimate Family Camping List + Packing Checklist

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on
February 12, 2020

Are you looking for a family camping list to make sure that you don’t forget anything important when going camping?

Look no further, because our family camping list will help you create a fun, comfortable, and convenient campsite suitable to you and your family’s needs.

Along with our family camping packing list, we include helpful links to our favorite family camping products as well as our top tips for camping newbies.

And last, as a huge bonus, we’ve included our FREE Family Camping Checklist Printable that covers each and every camping essential that you don’t want to forget.

The links on this page are Amazon associate affiliate links. If you click on links and purchase them, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Family Camping List

Camping is a great way to enjoy the fresh air and experience fun camping activities that you can’t necessarily do elsewhere.

You can go camping in state and national parks, at private campgrounds, or even in your own backyard.

If you’ve never been on a family camping trip before, the idea of gearing up for your first trip can be a bit overwhelming, however.

Luckily, most campsites include a picnic table, a campfire ring, and a cleared spot to pitch your tent.

Many campgrounds also have shared bathrooms, running water, and firewood to purchase onsite.

The 5 most important things to bring camping, however, are food, water, shelter, a fire starter (kindling), and a light source (a lantern or headlamp).

These five items are included in our list of family camping essentials that you’ll need to pay close attention to and be sure to include on your camping checklist.

Camping Storage and Supplies

The first thing to consider when making your cabin packing checklist is to determine how to transport and store your belongings.

Start by using packing cubes, and placing your clothing into soft-sided waterproof duffel bags that can be easily stored within the small spaces of a tent while camping.

Next, I recommend that you divide up your remaining equipment for camping into portable storage tubs.

Our absolute favorite storage tubs for camping are the ones by Plano that have molded grooves for stacking and include tie-down points.

In addition, they are sturdy enough to double as bench seating at the campsite.

And last, don’t forget a large, dependable cooler that can keep food and beverages cold for days. (We love this trustworthy cooler one as it is even certified Bear-Resistant.)

Items to remember

Click here for our Ultimate Family Camping List that includes everything from the basics, to the essential camping tools and camp kitchen items that you need for a successful outdoor adventure.  Top U.S family travel blog Travel With A Plan also share their free packing printable!  #familycampinglist #familycampingchecklist #whattobringwhencampingwithkids #campingessentials #familycampingessentials

Family Camping Essentials: Shelter

Assuming that you’re tent camping, the most important item to remember on your family camping list is a waterproof tent.

The biggest factors to take into consideration when choosing the best family tent are size, price, construction, and ease of assembly.

For sporadic camping in ideal weather situations, an inexpensive tent will likely meet your family’s needs.

For tougher weather conditions or when purchasing a tent as a long-term investment, consider purchasing more expensive camping gear including a higher-end tent.

Additional planning tip: Be sure to check out this guide on how to rent an RV if you’d like your camping shelter to come in the form of a park model, motor home, or travel trailer!

Items to Remember

Bedding Needed For Each Camper

Click here for our Ultimate Family Camping List that includes everything from the basics, to the essential camping tools and camp kitchen items that you need for a successful outdoor adventure.  Top U.S family travel blog Travel With A Plan also share their free packing printable!  #familycampinglist #familycampingchecklist #whattobringwhencampingwithkids #campingessentials #familycampingessentials

Weather-Appropriate Clothing For Your Packing List

One thing that I cannot stress enough when preparing your master packing list is to check the weather forecast and pack weather-appropriate clothing.

Our own family has taken several camping trips in which we’ve learned the hard way to always be prepared for varying weather conditions.

Choose lightweight fabrics that are moisture-wicking so you can reuse the same top and bottoms a few times.

Likewise, be sure to pack layers of clothing in anticipation of cool evenings and/or unexpected rain or other changes in temperature.

The last thing you want is to be cold, wet, or uncomfortable when braving the great outdoors.

Items to remember

  • Shirts (long and short sleeve)
  • Shorts
  • Pants
  • Sweatshirt/Jacket
  • Underwear
  • Socks/Extra socks
  • Swimsuit/Towel
  • Sleep clothes
  • Shoes/Boots
  • Flip flops for taking a shower in

Personal Items

Be selective with your personal care items and bring only the basic necessities.

  • Toilet paper
  • Towels
  • Portable shower caddy
  • Soap (in a plastic case)
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Comb/Brush
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Razor/Shaving cream
  • Contact lenses/Eye solution
  • Make-up
  • Chapstick
  • Feminine products
  • Medications
Campfire at the family campsite

Camp Kitchen Gear

Chances are that while camping, you’ll be preparing your own meals in your camp kitchen.

In terms of family camping packing tips, whether you’re a camping newbie or not, it’s always a good idea to carefully think through what you will need in your camp kitchen.

What camping equipment you bring will vary depending on your cooking style, food preferences, and how easy vs. gourmet you want your camping meals to be.

Either way, your checklist for camp cooking should include:

Items to remember

Dishes & Utensils

  • Cast iron cookware (like this affordable 5-piece set)
  • Plates/Bowls/Mugs
  • Forks/Spoons/Knives
  • Napkins, paper plates, paper towels
  • Can opener
  • Bottle opener/Corkscrew
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Tongs
  • Wooden spoon
  • Extra-long skewers/Grill forks
  • Tablecloth (We love these 8-foot fitted plastic tablecloths!)
  • Potholders/Oven mitts

Camping List Food & Drink

  • Food
  • Snacks
  • Bread
  • Fruit
  • Sauces
  • Butter
  • Cooking Oil
  • Salt/Pepper/Spices
  • Milk/Juice/Soft Drinks
  • Coffee/Fliters
  • Water storage jug filled with clean water

Food Storage

  • Aluminum foil
  • Storage bags/Baggies
  • Containers for food storage
  • Food locker (if in an area with bears)

Clean-Up

  • 2 collapsible dish tubs for (one for washing and one for rinsing dishes)
  • Dish soap, dish cloths, dish towels
  • Garbage bags
  • Scrub pad
  • Small broom, dustpan
  • Wet wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
Kids at the campground with the family camping list

Last Minute Miscellaneous Items

No matter what type of camping you’ll be doing, there are other important items to remember for your next trip.

When it comes to miscellaneous camp essentials, however, less is always better due to limited storage and space.

In the same sense, without the right miscellaneous items, a camping trip can become quite miserable rather quickly.

Here are my recommended miscellaneous items that you shouldn’t forget:

Items to remember

Lighting

Camping tools

Furniture

Ultimate Camping List for Fun & Entertainment

The best part about camping is spending quality time with the whole family (away from electronics and high-tech distractions) and creating family memories.

“Getting away from it all” is one of the reasons that many families choose to camp in the first place.

Consequently, a camping packing list for families should always include some items to help entertain both the younger kids and older kids.

Maximize your screen-free fun by checking out the list of our favorite portable yard games, as well as consider bringing along the following:

Items to remember

  • Bikes
  • Books/Magazines
  • Cards/Board games/Toys
  • Frisbee/Football
  • Fishing rod/Bait/Net
  • Radio
  • Travel hammock
  • Camera/GoPro (Let the big kids do the filming!)

Camping in Cold Weather

Camping in cold weather has its own master camping list and separate challenges if you’re not adequately prepared.

In addition to the items on the above camping checklist, be sure to bring the following gear to account for the cooler temperatures.

In addition, aim to pitch your tent in a spot that is sheltered from the wind.

Important items to remember

  • Cold weather jackets
  • Hats/Gloves/Scarves
  • Thermal layers
  • Extra Socks
  • Sleeping bags rated for cold temperatures
  • 2 sleeping pads to create a barrier between the cold ground
  • Hand warmers
  • Hot drink mixes

Camping in the Heat

Many will argue what’s worse, camping in the cold, or camping in the heat?

After all, they are two different weather extremes that require varying measures to stay comfortable.

Along with consulting various tips to stay cool while camping in the heat, be sure to add these additional supplies to your family camping list.

  • Screen tent
  • Tarp/Canopy/Sun awning (to create shade)
  • Swimsuits/Towels
  • Sun hats
  • Additional drinkable water
  • Hand-held fans
  • Spray bottles for misting
  • Sunglasses
  • Portable water bottle for hiking

Camping in the Rain

Now, most people will not knowingly camp in the rain, but if the unexpected should happen, you won’t want to find yourself without the following essentials for camping in the rain.

Extra gear for when it’s wet and soggy includes:

  • A waterproof tent footprint
  • Camping rain gear/Raincoats/Ponchos
  • Rain boots
  • Umbrellas
  • Additional towels (to wipe chairs, tables, etc.)
  • Rain canopy for camping (to keep firewood and other supplies dry)

Our Best Family Camping Tips

1. The best way to make use of the storage bins you bring along is to purchase ones that are sturdy enough to double as campsite seating.

2. Choose a campsite that is near the public restrooms if you’re camping with children who may need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.

3. Thes best option for setting up your campsite is to arrive well before dark to get started.

4. Add special touches to your campsite such as battery-powered, or solar-powered string lights.

5. Set up a handwashing station at your campsite that includes a water jug, soap, paper towel, and hand sanitizer.

6. Bring a rug for inside and outside of the tent to stop the spread of dirt and to have a landing zone for shoes when entering and exiting the tent.

7. Bring extra blankets and foam pads to place beneath your sleeping bag to create a barrier between you and the cold ground.

8. Pack layers and be prepared for all types of weather, especially if you’re camping for the first time and don’t know what to expect.

9. Plan for simple vs. fancy meals and do as much food prep at home as possible.

10. Bring along games and activities as well as plan ahead for rainy-day activities.

11. Involve your kids (consider giving them their own kids checklist of gear to remember) and find plenty of teachable moments along the way.

12. Campgrounds can fill up quickly so plan ahead to get a spot.

13. Have a positive attitude and be flexible.


As you prepare for your next family camping trip, be sure to download the printable version of our family camping checklist pdf to ensure that nothing gets left behind!

Click here for our Ultimate Family Camping List that includes everything from the basics, to the essential camping tools and camp kitchen items that you need for a successful outdoor adventure.  Top U.S family travel blog Travel With A Plan also share their free packing printable!  #familycampinglist #familycampingchecklist #whattobringwhencampingwithkids #campingessentials #familycampingessentials

Before leaving, check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*

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Click here for our Ultimate Family Camping Checklist that includes everything from the basics, to the essential camping tools and camp kitchen items that you need for a successful outdoor adventure.  Top U.S family travel blog Travel With A Plan also share their free family camping list printable!  #familycampinglist #familycampingchecklist #whattobringwhencampingwithkids #campingessentials #familycampingessentials
Click here for our Ultimate Family Camping Checklist that includes everything from the basics, to the essential camping tools and camp kitchen items that you need for a successful outdoor adventure.  Top U.S family travel blog Travel With A Plan also share their free family camping list printable!  #familycampinglist #familycampingchecklist #whattobringwhencampingwithkids #campingessentials #familycampingessentials
Click here for a practical list of absolutely everything you need to bring camping!  When heading to the wilderness, don't forget these items that will help with food, comfort, and safety!  This is a complete family camping packing list!  #camping essentials #packingchecklist #campingprintable #campingpackinglist #itemstobringcamping #outdoortravel #familytravel
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12 Comments
  1. Reply

    Claudia

    February 21, 2020

    Great tips! We love camping too. 🙂

    • Reply

      Jen

      February 22, 2020

      Can’t wait until summer to go again!

  2. Reply

    Astrid Vinje

    February 19, 2020

    Over the years, we’ve tried to minimize the amount of camping gear we bring. But one of the things that’s really helpful are the self-inflating mattresses/camping pads. They definitely make camping on hard ground much more comfortable! Thanks for this list!

    • Reply

      Jen

      February 20, 2020

      Yes! You’re right! Sleeping pads/air mattresses are essential, especially for us parents as we get older!

  3. Reply

    Jody A Robbins

    February 17, 2020

    What a lifesaver that printout is going to be. I’m always forgetting something. I had to laugh (in a good way!) at the sections on camping in cold weather or rain. I live just outside of Banff National Park and so many campers from the US or overseas don’t realize you really do need winter gear as it gets so cold at night – even in summer.

    • Reply

      Jen

      February 17, 2020

      Thanks for your reply! Actually that is a good point to mention…that even though weather may be warm during the day, nights can get ‘cold’ when camping in certain destinations such as Banff.

  4. Reply

    Amanda

    February 17, 2020

    I have the best memories of camping from growing up and can’t wait to take my son. This is such a great family camping list!

    • Reply

      Jen

      February 17, 2020

      Thank you! I may even print it off to use myself 🙂

  5. Reply

    Julie

    February 16, 2020

    We haven’t done a lot of camping so this is a fantastic resource for newbie’s like us!! Saving!

    • Reply

      Jen

      February 17, 2020

      Thanks for reading! I hope that it comes in handy the next time you guys might decide to camp 🙂

  6. Reply

    Nancy

    February 16, 2020

    Thanks so much for the comprehensive post and printable checklist! I’ve saved it for the 2020 camping season.

    • Reply

      Jen

      February 17, 2020

      Thanks for your kind words! I’m glad that you’ll be able to use it and refer back to the checklist!!

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Hi, I'm Jen - founder of the award-winning travel blog, Travel With A Plan! I help families plan fun & fulfilling family vacations by sharing our exact itineraries and "best things to do" lists to popular US vacation spots. Take the stress out of planning a family vacation by using our detailed destination guides and ultra-convenient packing lists to help you travel better. We'll show you how hassle-free family travel is possible - when you travel with a plan!

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