Primitive Camping Checklist: A Beginner's Guide

Updated on August 18, 2016

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.
  • Hammer
  • Axe (if you are allowed to chop wood at the campsite)
  • Flashlights (don't forget the extra batteries!)
  • Lantern, fuel lantern hanger, extra mantles
  • Candles
  • A mat to place at the tent entrance, dust pan, and brush

Tent Camping at Mauch Chunk Lake Park, PA

Copyright ponx@hubpages, 2013
Copyright ponx@hubpages, 2013

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.
  • Skewers
  • Tongs
  • 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.
  • Shovel


  • Shorts
  • Jeans. Even in the summer, carry a pair of jeans with you.
  • Lightweight, comfortable t-shirts
  • Swim wear
  • Towels
  • Sleep wear
  • Hats, caps, bandanas, sunglasses
  • Shoes, boots (waterproof ones are recommended), socks
  • Flip flops
  • Rain jacket/rain coat
  • Sweatshirt/hoodie/jacket
  • Sufficient underwear. Always have extras with you.

Log Cabin at Mauch Chunk Lake Park, PA

Copyright ponx@hubpages, 2013
Copyright ponx@hubpages, 2013


  • 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.
  • Moisturizer
  • Shaving kit for men
  • Feminine products
  • Comb/brush
  • 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.
  • Binoculars
  • Clothes line
  • Laundry detergent, in case you need to wash underwear or clothes
  • Laundry bag
  • Clothespins
  • Notepad, pens, pencils
  • Umbrella
  • 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.


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    • profile image

      Dylan 9 months ago

      this is not primitive at all. Primitive camping is go out with the basic stuff like fishing rod, rope, fire starter, a few bottles of water, maybe a blanket. Go hunt/catch your food, skin it and cook it on a fire. And for sleep make a hammock in between trees

    • profile image

      EA 18 months ago

      I would not go anywhere w/o bear spray and I don't see it listed here.

    • ponx profile image

      Ponx 4 years ago from USA

      Absolutely Randalito!

    • profile image

      Randalito 4 years ago

      If you go with a companion, don't forget the guitar, shakers, flutes, fiddles, or djembe!

    • jimmar profile image

      jimmar 5 years ago from Michigan

      Quite thorough! I'm a light weight minimalist, only what I can fit in a canoe or carry on my back, but nice article none the less.

    • ponx profile image

      Ponx 5 years ago from USA

      @Will....suggestions are always welcome! Thanks!

    • profile image

      will 5 years ago

      The only thing I would suggest would be using hiking pants instead of blue jeans. While blue jeans are comfortable and warm in the cold, if they get wet it takes forever for them to dry out. Hiking pants are made out of a nylon outter shell that is usually backed by a polyester inside lining. just a suggestion.

    • ponx profile image

      Ponx 6 years ago from USA

      Thanks robyna!

    • robyna profile image

      robyna 6 years ago from Michigan, USA

      Great Hub! It's a creative way to present the information with the "primitive" theme. Is there really any other way to camp? :) I've added it to my hub "Best Tents for Camping" for my readers' reference.

    • ponx profile image

      Ponx 6 years ago from USA

      Thank you Butch45

    • ponx profile image

      Ponx 6 years ago from USA

      Thank you Butch45

    • Butch45 profile image

      Butch45 6 years ago

      Great hub I have made a list for camping on my camp table hub but it is more the basics for safety. But not as large as your hub. Good work I will give a thumbs up for sure.

    • ponx profile image

      Ponx 6 years ago from USA

      Absolutely Gus! Thanks for your comment.

    • Camping with Kids profile image

      GA Andereson (Gus) 6 years ago from Maryland, USA

      Good checklists! I use a camping checklist everytime I go. It's no fun finding important items were left at home.


    • ponx profile image

      Ponx 7 years ago from USA

      Thank you Robin!

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Great Hub! Looking forward to meeting you at HubCamp NY!

    • ponx profile image

      Ponx 7 years ago from USA

      Thanks for stopping by onegoodwoman. For me this was the first time and am glad that you found the list thorough as you are more familiar with camping out.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      My husband and I frequently pack the bikes and head out, knowing we will have to find a camp for the night.

      Your article is quite through and well presented. I can't see that anything has been left out of the equipment or gear.

    • ponx profile image

      Ponx 7 years ago from USA

      Thanks KoffeeKlatch! Appreciate that you stopped by.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Welcome to hubpages. You have done a wonderful job with this hub. It well written, detailed, love the pictures.

      Congrats on becoming a HubNugget Nominee.

    • ponx profile image

      Ponx 7 years ago from USA

      Thanks elayne and sugarloaf. Wow taking your tv for camping is really something :).

    • sugarloaf10 profile image

      sugarloaf10 7 years ago from Kentucky USA

      Great comprehensive list!

    • elayne001 profile image

      Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Congrats on your nomination. You have put together a great hub on camping. Very useful and good luck. FYI here in Hawaii, people almost take their whole house for camping including the tv, music, picnic tables and all - it is really something.

    • ponx profile image

      Ponx 7 years ago from USA

      Thanks Nobo :)

      I would not like to go primitive camping and this list is keeping in mind those who wouldn't want to either! But your personal opinion is to be respected :).

      Thank you Jayne. Glad that you would want to recommend this to all who would like to have a checklist before they go for camping.

    • Jayne Lancer profile image

      Jayne Lancer 7 years ago from West London, UK

      I'd recommend this Hub to anyone going on a camping holiday. I won't be, and never will be, but I'm bookmarking this just because of the great list; Personal and Miscellaneous are useful for anyone who travels.

      Congratulations on your HubNugget nomination!

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 7 years ago

      ponx, in fairness, I first went camping in my early teens, if you couldn't carry it on your back it didn't go and there was no lightweight gear.

      I've never really adapted to luxury camping even after I became a car owner and had the space to be more generous with what I took. Lets say I don't think your list has too many items but I can't think of anything to add :-)

    • profile image

      Nabanita  7 years ago

      Great checklist here.

    • ponx profile image

      Ponx 7 years ago from USA

      Thanks ripplemaker for the compliment and also for the info! :)

      So John you think the list has too many items? :)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Checklists are very helpful to make sure all the necessary things you need are remembered without the pain of panicking! Great hub!

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets Nomination. Read this forum post for the instructions and follow the link to Patty's hub where you can read more and vote! Best of luck!

    • John Holden profile image

      John Holden 7 years ago

      Blimey! That's more stuff than I have at home--and I do go camping :-)

    • ponx profile image

      Ponx 7 years ago from USA

      Thank you De Greek!

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 7 years ago from UK

      Good stuff :-)

    • ponx profile image

      Ponx 7 years ago from USA

      Thank you SteveoMc....

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Your hub looks great. This does not look like a beginner. Well developed theme and Amazon items that match. Good placement of ads and well described. Plus, a couple of well placed videos.