Primitive Camping Checklist: A Beginner's Guide
Going Tent Camping for the First Time?
Are you contemplating going camping for the first time? Then you are at the right place! I am here to give you a complete checklist of all the camping gear that you will require when you drive to a primitive campsite out there in the wilderness.
If you are an adventure lover and can do without some of the luxuries of life, for a few days then primitive camping is just the thing for you! Maybe "primitive camping" is a bit deceptive for the checklist which I am about to share since primitive camping implies camping in complete wilderness (in an unprepared campground). The modern-day definition of primitive camping would be a campsite without electricity and running water, farther away from civilization, that charges a nominal fee for tent camping.
You can still go camping, of course, if you don't want to go "primitive": some family campsites today offer cabins with electricity, running water, and bunk beds, and some camping resorts offer log cabins and bungalows as well as amenities like swimming pools, playgrounds, kid's programs, horse riding, canoeing, fishing, and guided hiking and biking.
But if it's primitive tent camping, let me prepare a checklist for you, with specific categories so that it is easier for you to go through them.
- Tent, stakes, and poles (stakes and poles usually come with the tent). If you have never pitched a tent before I would suggest that you practice once in your backyard so that you are not struggling to pitch it once you are at your campsite. As a beginner you should probably buy a cheaper tent. When I went tent camping for the first time I bought the Ozark Trail Dome tent. We came across some rough weather in the Pocono mountains at night and the tent did just great!
- Tarpaulin or ground cloth
- Nylon ropes
- Sleeping bags. I bought Ozark Trail sleeping bags as well.
- Sleeping bag pads, or air mattresses and air pump.
- Sheets, blankets and pillows. Some sleeping bags do not come with pillows and it is advisable to carry extra sheets and blankets due to the unpredictable weather.
- Axe (if you are allowed to chop wood at the campsite)
- Flashlights (don't forget the extra batteries!)
- Lantern, fuel lantern hanger, extra mantles
- A mat to place at the tent entrance, dust pan, and brush
Tent Camping at Mauch Chunk Lake Park, PA
Cooking and Eating
- Cooking stove and fuel
- Fire starters, newspaper, lighter fluid
- Firewood, if you aren't sure it will be available at the site. Do not rely on cutting your own wood as many campsites do not allow you to do that.
- BBQ grill
- Wire brush to clean the grill
- charcoal briquettes if you are going to use a charcoal grill.
- Cooking oil or oil spray
- Matches or lighter
- Large water container. Make sure you have enough water with you as you may not find piped water or vending machines at a primitive campsite.
- Water bottles
- Coolers and ice
- Thermos flask
- Plates, spoons, knives, forks, glasses. I would suggest that you bring disposable items.
- Plenty of paper napkins
- An old rag
- Cooking utensils (spatulas, serving spoons, pots, pans, mixing bowls)
- A plastic tub for cleaning utensils
- Dishwashing soap and scrubber (scotch brite)
- Coffee pot
- Non-perishable food items
- Seasonings, sugar, spices
- Camp chairs
- Folding table and tablecloth
- Knives, peelers, can openers, bottle openers
- Cutting board
- Oven mitts/pot holders
- Zip-lock bags and air tight containers to store food
- Trash bags. Always use trash bags to dump your leftovers and dump the trash bags in the space provided in your campsite. This is because bears or other animals could come and scavenge through your leftovers. Do not ever attempt to feed or pet the bears! And if bears do visit your campground you will see plenty of sign boards telling you the same thing.
- Jeans. Even in the summer, carry a pair of jeans with you.
- Lightweight, comfortable t-shirts
- Swim wear
- Sleep wear
- Hats, caps, bandanas, sunglasses
- Shoes, boots (waterproof ones are recommended), socks
- Flip flops
- Rain jacket/rain coat
- Sufficient underwear. Always have extras with you.
Log Cabin at Mauch Chunk Lake Park, PA
- Sun screen
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash
- Shampoo, conditioner
- Body soap bar or body wash. If you are bringing a soap bar get a plastic case to store it.
- Shaving kit for men
- Feminine products
- A small mirror
- Deodorant. You don't want to stink while camping!
- Wet tissues
- Hand sanitizer
- Toilet paper
- First-aid kit. If you are on any required medications bring them all with you.
- Insect repellent
- Camera, video camera
- Books, magazines
- Cards or other games to play if it rains and you are forced to be inside.
- Fishing equipment if you plan to fish.
- Clothes line
- Laundry detergent, in case you need to wash underwear or clothes
- Laundry bag
- Notepad, pens, pencils
- Cell phone and charger. You can use the alarm clock in your cellphone if your campsite has electricity or you can use a car charger. Otherwise bring a battery operated alarm clock with you.
- Maps of hiking and biking trails. Get a printout of all the necessary documents that you may need during your stay.
- Bicycles, if your campground has biking trails. You may also have the option of renting bikes. Check your campground's website for all the specific details.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.