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Are you looking for a cabin packing list that includes absolutely everything you need for a cabin getaway?
There’s nothing quite like the sound of a crackling fire, the smell of roasting marshmallows, and the tranquility of a family cabin trip.
Cabin getaways are a fantastic way to decompress and disconnect from life’s busy distractions, whether you stay on or off the grid.
As your family gets ready to head to the lake or into the woods, plan ahead with this complete cabin packing checklist that includes what to bring in the summer, fall, and winter.
Also, stick around to the end to grab a copy of our free printable cabin packing list to help you organize your supplies and be out the door quicker for your next cabin getaway!
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Cabin Trip Packing List
Packing for a cabin vacation is very different than camping (you have an actual roof over your head!) and it’s also very different than packing for a hotel stay.
After all, there’s more privacy, and there’s typically no front desk, room service, or maintenance workers to help you during your stay.
The biggest factor that will determine just how precise your cabin packing list will need to be is based on how luxurious vs. rustic your cabin or cabin rental is.
In other words, it’s a good idea to determine how equipped and modernized the cabin is in which you will be staying.
Is there electricity? Running water?
Are there furnishings including bedding and linens, as well as a stove or microwave?
Is there a nearby town or grocery store?
Do you have access to a lake or other forms of recreation such as hiking, biking, ATVs, or horseback riding?
Next, consider how long you plan to stay and how many people will be joining you as you make your cabin trip packing list.
The number of people, as well as the number of nights you are staying, will make a huge difference in the planning that will need to go into making sure that your cabin essentials list is complete.
Finally, what time of year and season are you planning a cabin stay?
If the weather is expected to be warm, rainy, or cold, you’ll have to plan accordingly.
Top 11 Cabin Essentials
Our ultimate cabin and cottage packing list starts off with these eleven cabin essentials.
Afterward, we describe the food, fun items (think hiking and fishing gear!), clothing, and special considerations for what to bring to a cabin vacation in the summer, fall, and winter.
1. Campfire supplies
Chances are that you’re looking forward to a crackling fire or an outdoor bonfire as part of your cabin getaway.
After all, this is one of the most exciting things about staying in a cabin in the first place.
If you’re heading to a cabin, however, check ahead of time where and what kind of fire you can have.
For instance, does the cabin have an indoor fireplace?
Is that fireplace wood burning or gas?
Is there an outdoor fire pit?
Or will you need to clear a spot for a campfire nearby?
In the case of outdoor fires, try to use the exact spot where previous visitors set up campfires and keep the fire burning within the fire ring (if available).
This precaution helps preserve the landscape by leaving it as undisturbed as possible and helps you to burn responsibly and prevent wildfires.
Depending on your situation, you will need the following items:
- Firewood, kindling, and fire starters (we always use this fire starter!)
- Long matches or a utility lighter
- Sand to smother the fire in an emergency or when finished
- Shovel to dig a spot (if necessary)
- Metal skewers for s’mores (along with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate squares!)
Also, get these Fire Color packets! You simply place a packet into a burning campfire, and it turns the flames a given color. IT REALLY WORKS and is so fun for both kids and adults!
If your cabin does not have firewood and kindling available, it is recommended to buy it within 10-20 miles of your destination.
Bringing firewood from an outside destination can introduce harmful (non-native) insects and diseases that destroy forests and are costly to control.
Alternatively, you can transport packaged heat-treated firewood if it carries the USDA APHIS or state-based heat treatment seal.
Additional planning tip: If you’ve never built a campfire before, KOA has a straightforward guide on how to start a campfire to get one going in no time.
2. Clean water and water bottles
You never know the water situation in a cabin and whether or not it is clean and good to drink.
The water from the faucet might taste bad or the cabin may have no running water at all.
Putting extra water on your cabin vacation checklist is a great way to meet your hydration needs just in case of the unexpected.
We always bring this large reusable water cooler with us as well as hand-held refillable water bottles.
Consider bringing a Lifestraw (if you plan to drink from streams or lakes).
3. A flashlight
Bringing along a durable flashlight to a cabin getaway is important for both convenience and safety.
Whether you’re headed out after nightfall for some stargazing, lounging, or if you happen to lose power, it’s always good to have a flashlight or two just in case.
Also, always have a few extra batteries on hand as well.
4. Portable phone charger
We recommend bringing not only your device’s standard wall plug charger but also a portable Smartphone charger.
If your cabin loses power or your phone runs out of its battery, a portable charger can make sure you stay safe in case of an emergency.
5. A dependable cooler
Chances are that there’s never going to be enough room in your cabin refrigerator (if it has one) for all of your food and beverages.
This is why we always recommend bringing along a dependable Yeti cooler if you’re going to a cabin.
This popular brand of indestructible coolers is widely known for its unmatched insulation and ice retention abilities.
Available in several different sizes and colors, our favorite is the YETI Tundra Haul which is the first-ever YETI cooler on wheels.
(YETIs are great for a road trip too, which is why they’re also a key item in our road trip packing list!)
6. Bug spray
Anytime that you’re visiting a cabin by the lake or in the woods, I recommend that you bring along an insect repellent that contains a minimum of 30% DEET.
In order to ward off harmful mosquitos, it is also important that you reapply 30% DEET every 8 hours for effectiveness before potential exposure.
DEET-based mosquito repellents can be found at local big box stores and will help prevent you from getting miserable, itchy mosquito bites.
If looking for something DEET-free, try out these mosquito-repellent wristbands.
The sun can hit you with harmful UV rays on both sunny and cloudy days at the cabin.
For this reason, never forget to pack sunscreen for both kids and adults.
In addition to sunscreen for your skin, take care of your lips with a lip balm with SPF (This is one of my favorites because it smells like summer!)
8. Folding chairs
Rustic cabins may not have much outdoor seating, and chances are that you’ll always need additional seating around a bonfire or while lounging on the lawn.
Lightweight camping chairs are perfect for lounging by the campfire or taking in a lakeside panorama.
9. First aid kit
Accidental cuts or falls can happen at any time.
Include a first aid kit on your cabin vacation packing list so you can remove splitters, clean and cover cuts, or treat minor burns.
A basic first aid kit includes:
- Bandages (a variety of sizes) and tape
- Cleaning solutions like Neosporin, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide
- Sterile pads
- Analgesic spray like Dermoplast
- Nitrile or vinyl gloves
10. A camera
Capturing family memories with a camera is a great way to remember the good times and make a scrapbook or album when you get home.
Your phone might be enough, but if you want to get a bit more artistic or have more depth and field control, a dedicated DSLR with interchangeable lenses makes a big difference.
11. Pet supplies
Many cabins allow pets, so if you happen to be bringing yours along, gather up everything your pets will need:
- Food and treats
- Collar and leash
- ID tag
- Tick prevention and treatment medication
Ensure your pets are microchipped and always have ID tags on while away.
Including several phone numbers printed on the tag (your cell, spouse’s cell, vet’s number, friends’ numbers) helps your furry family member find their way home if lost.
Or check out GPS collars like the Tractive waterproof GPS dog tracker.
What Food to Bring to a Cabin Getaway
Most cabin rentals will have basic kitchen supplies like pots, pans, cups, plates, and eating utensils.
If not, check out our family camping checklist, which includes all of the base items needed to set up a camp kitchen.
Even if your cabin rental has a stocked kitchen, it may or may not have basic food and cooking items like spices and cooking oil.
If you want to play it safe or are unsure what is provided, add these items to your cabin camping packing grocery list:
- Cooking oil and butter
- Basic spices like garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper
- Soy sauce or bbq sauce
- Aluminum foil for campfire packets
- Saran wrap and plastic baggies to package leftovers
- Bread and sandwich supplies (deli meat, cheese, peanut butter, jelly, mayo, and mustard)
- Raw meats (chicken, beef, hamburgers, plant-based meats) and cheeses
- Fresh produce (fruit and veg)
- Easily portable snacks including cookies and crackers
- Premade snack mixes
- Your own cofffee grounds and liners if there is a coffee pot
- Dish soap
- Dish rags
- A can opener and wine/bottle opener
- Garbage bags
You can save yourself time preparing a cabin checklist and prevent overspending by ordering grocery delivery before your arrival.
Fun Things to Bring to a Cabin
Once you finally get to the cabin, it’s time to have fun!
Spice up your weekend packing list with the following fun and games:
- Lawn games (Here are our all-time favorite cabin lawn games!)
- Portable bluetooth speaker
- Board games
- Decks of cards and dice
- A good book to read
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Rubix cube
- Coloring books and crayons/pencils/markers
- Nerf guns
- Baseball glove and ball
Check out our entire hiking packing list for day or overnight hikes to get the most comprehensive list of our favorite hiking gear.
For hiking and other outdoor adventures, the basics include:
- Collapsible water bottle
- Non-perishable snacks like Clif bars or applesauce packs
- Emergency contact info
- Change of socks (you will be glad you did when your feet get wet in that first puddle)
- Fishing license
- Fishing road and reel
- Fishing lures and/or live bait
- Handheld net
Essential Clothing For a Cabin Trip
Cabin trips are enjoyable during any time of the year, so we’ll be sure to mention things to pack for a cabin trip during every season including the summer, winter, and fall.
To get you started, however, every family cabin trip begins with a basic packing strategy that consists of:
- Shirts, pants, underwear, socks
- Sunglasses with UV protection
- Swimsuit (if you have access to water activities)
- Rain jacket and umbrella
- Hats (a baseball cap or wide-brimmed sun hat)
- Indoor slippers (Cabin or cottage floors may be cold or dirty)
- Walking shoes or hiking boots
- Laundry bag for dirty clothes
Add any of these toiletry items to your cabin trip checklist if they apply to you:
- Haircare (shampoo, conditioner, brush, comb, scrunchies, and clips)
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash
- Deodorant or body spray
- Hand sanitizer
- Razor and shave gel
- Face wash and moisturizer
- Prescription medications to cover your stay plus a couple of extra days in case of delay
- Styling products/hairspray
- Curling iron/straightener (if needed)
- Contact lens solution/supplies (if needed)
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, allergy relievers, and stomach medications
Cabin Packing List Summer
If your cabin has access to a lake or river, make sure your cabin camping checklist includes:
- Bathing suits
- Beach towels
- Personal floatation device (pool noodle, raft, tube, etc.)
- Flip flops or water shoes
- Watertight bag for a camera, phone, etc.
Check out our beach packing list for a few more ideas as most of them will apply to a cabin trip at the lake.
Likewise, we compiled a comprehensive list of summer camping activities to give you some ideas for having a memorable summer cabin vacation.
Additional planning tip: If your cabin is remote, consider bringing bear spray, bear bells, or bear-proof food containers.
Bears forage for food during the summer and break into buildings if they think there is an easy food source.
Never leave garbage or food outside, or it will attract unwanted furry guests.
Additional planning tip: Are you looking for a great US National Park family vacation itinerary and potential cabin rental?
We have a perfect 3-day Glacier National Park itinerary for you to check out!
Cabin Packing List Fall
Since autumn nights can get cold, our cabin vacation packing list includes more layers of clothing like:
- A warm coat
- Mittens or gloves
- Winter hat
- Warm blankets
- Socks (wool or thick material)
Even with a roaring campfire, you may also find single-use hand warmers helpful.
Cabin Packing List Winter
If you’re planning a winter cabin trip or are making a packing list for mountain vacations, include your warmest clothing and supplies, especially if you’re planning outdoor activities:
- Parka or winter coat
- Mittens or gloves
- Winter hat
- Warm blankets
- Socks (wool or thick material)
- An extra sleeping bag for warmth
In addition, a packing list for cabin vacation in winter is extra fun if you bring:
- Winter toys like sleds, snow tubes, and a snow shovel
- Snow fort kit, snowball maker
- Winter sporting gear like cross country or alpine skis, snowshoes, ice fishing tackle
For more tips on packing for winter trips, head to our winter trip packing list.
Finally, our packing list for cabin trip includes some peace of mind.
Renting a vacation cabin from a resort or from VRBO vs. Airbnb can run in the thousands of dollars for a week’s stay, so consider travel insurance next time you book.
Most rentals require a 50% deposit, and it’s non-refundable.
Travel insurance can help pay for:
- An air evacuation in a medical emergency
- Wilderness rescue
- A guardian to return your kids home if adults are in the hospital
- Fill the gaps on your medical insurance (think out-of-network deductibles and coinsurance)
- Help compensate you if your luggage or things are stolen out of your car on the trip
- Cover a hotel, food, and taxi if your flight/train/bus is delayed
*Our free Printable Cabin Packing List pdf coming soon!!!!!
Did this cabin camping packing list help give you an idea about what you need to pack? Can you think of any cabin vacation essentials that I missed? I’d love to hear from you!-Jen
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*