The Best Camping Checklist Ever Written

Updated on December 27, 2018
GA Anderson profile image

Gus has been an avid camper for 50+ years, and a Boy Scout leader for 8. During those years he was a frequently requested storyteller

Is the One You Actually Use

A camping checklist is one of the most important things you can use to make sure the experience you are expecting is the one you get. It only takes one missing piece of important camping gear, or one important, but missing camp food ingredient, to turn your outing into a struggle instead of a pleasure.

This master list is a group of mini-lists for gear, food, and preparations. It will not only help make your trip a success, it will also remind you of things you forgot, or didn't know you needed.

Tent Camping With a Campfire
Tent Camping With a Campfire | Source

The Wisdom of a Camping List

Like using car seat belts, the wisdom of using a camping checklist is undeniable.

You may be a veteran camper that knows your needs by heart, but, can you be certain you never forget to think of something that can make or break your trip? Like those extra lantern mantles you left on the workshop table?

Or you may be new to camping and aren't sure what you need. In either case, using a list to check--off, or bring to mind those things you need for an enjoyable outing can be the difference between success and make-do.

The best checklist will be the one that has everything you could possibly need for an overnighter or a weeklong trip. From a public campground stay to a primitive mountain top retreat.

That best list will also have dozens of things you don't need for every trip, but when you do need them, they are there as a reminder.

It will also have things you didn't even know you needed, or didn't remember you needed. Like those replacement lantern mantles.

The best camping tip you can get is to use a checklist.

A Camping Checklist
A Camping Checklist | Source

Yes you need it. Even experienced campers use checklists.

Did you remember that you needed new lantern mantles after that last trip? Or that you used the last bottle of propane for the camp stove? Or that you used your last two spare tent stakes?

Checking that list will prompt you to remember.

As for new campers -- did you even know you should take those extras? Or that your camp stove didn't come with its own fuel?

One Big List is a Group of Mini-Lists

A master checklist can be intimidating. Multiple pages of everything anyone could possibly need for any camping trip, and dozens of things you don't need for your trip.

That is why a good camp list is broken into groups:

  • Shelter and Bedding
  • Personal Camping Gear
  • Lighting and Camp Tools
  • Camp Kitchen and Cooking
  • Food and Drink
  • Trip Specific Things

Breaking that big list into smaller ones is the first step. And remember to pick and choose only what you need for this trip. You probably won't need everything on each list.

Shelter and Bedding Checklists

Tent with guy-lines and stakes
Tent ground cloth/tarp
Sleeping bag
Sleeping pad
Should Have
Tent light
Sm. whisk broom/dust pan
Stake mallet and puller
Extra tent stakes
Sleeping bag stuff sack
Camp pillow

Personal Camping Gear

Backpack/Duffel bag
Clothes (Personal checklist)
Drinking cup
Should Have
Camping knife
Water bottle/canteen

A note about the following 'Handy But Optional' checklist items. They are very dependent on your plans and desires for each camping trip.

For instance: if there are no showers, you won't need shower shoes, and if it is the dead of winter, you won't need insect repellent.

Handy But Optional
Shower shoes/flip-flops
Camp shoes/slip-ons
Camp chair or stool
Headlamp/hat light
Pocket First Aid kit
Extra batteries
Fire sparker
Personal toilet paper
Insect repellant
Lip balm
Deck of cards

Personal Toiletries Mini-Mini-List

Just For You
Toothpaste, toothbrush, floss
Pocket mirror
Face cloth, hand towel
Razor, shaving cream
Nail clippers
Special needs products
Feminine products
Camping tools and hammock
Camping tools and hammock | Source

Camp Tools and Accessories

This list will include more than you need for every trip. Just use it for the camp tools and gear you need on this one.

Should Have
Campsite First Aid kit
Camp axe and/or hatchet
Green wood saw
Camp water bucket (5-gal. Pail)
Potable water container(s)
Camp gloves
Tarp for gathering/eating area
Tarp guy-lines, rope, and stakes
Camp shower
Camp wash basin
Camp chair(s)
Portable toilet
Clothesline rope w/clothespins
Extra rope and lashing cord

Camp Lighting

Should Have
Camp lantern
Lantern fuel
Extra lantern mantles
Flash light - Lg.
Lantern - Battery
Extra batteries
Citronella candle - table-top or pole
Matches, Strike-Anywhere
The Prepared Camper
Assorted S-hooks
Duct tape
Tent repair kit
Hand pliers
Assorted bungee cords
Boy Scout handbook

Camp Kitchen and Cooking Gear

This mini-list is one of the most important ones. It will be a lot harder to "make do," or "struggle through" when such a major part of your camping experience is impacted by a forgotten item.

Forgetting a pan lid might be a small inconvenience, but forgetting something as simple as a spatula could be a big one. And forgetting extra fuel for your cooking stove could stop you in your tracks.

Campfire cooking cookware
Campfire cooking cookware | Source

Camp Kitchen Basics

Camp stove
Camp stove fuel
Campfire cooking grate
Campfire gloves
Firewood/Fire starters
Charcoal/lighter fluid
Nice To Have
Griddle plate
Dutch oven
Campfire tripod
Dutch oven lid-lifter
Coffee pot
Pie iron(s)
Dish wash basins
Dish soap
Dish washing cloth
Dish washing scrubbie

Cookware Basics and Utensils

Should Have
Pot/pan(s) & lids
Knife Lg. & Sm.
Cutting board
Can/bottle opener
Measuring cup(s) & spoons
Campfire roasting forks
Basting brush
Personal mess kit


Trash bags
Paper towels
Toilet paper
Wet-wipes towelettes
Campfire Camping Meal
Campfire Camping Meal | Source

Camp Food and Meals

Frequent campers will have a basic cache of staple camp food supplies that are't specific to any particular meal or menu plan, things like; salt, pepper, cooking oil, etc. Some avid campers actually have a chuck box for their camping trips, sort of like a portable kitchen pantry. For others it might just be a couple milk crates.

This mini-checklist is for your camping chuck box.

Camp Cooking Chuck Box Supplies

Basic Supplies
Salt & Pepper
Cooking oil
Powdered creamer
Hot chocolate mix
Powdered cold drink mix
Cooking oil spray
Favorite spices

Camping Meals

Planning your camping menu and the food you will need is so dependent on the meals you pick that a generic checklist won't work. It will require a list of ingredients and quantities of its own.

But there is help. Menu planning and grocery list forms for this task are available online. You just have to decide on the meal selections first.

One reference,, has printable food checklist forms that you can print and take to the grocery store with you. But short of that, it is pencil and pad time.

Do each meal, one at a time, and list every thing you need. From basic ingredients, (like the chicken or potatoes, or, bacon and eggs), to preparation ingredients, (such as breadings or sauces), and all spices and seasonings needed. Don't forget salt & pepper, or the butter.

When each is done, combine common ingredients, (like butter, or chicken, or eggs, etc.), into one grocery list for everything needed for all meals.

The Last Mini-List: Trip Specific Items

Some outings may have items that are only used for that specific trip, such as bathing suits for a camp by the lake or seashore, or bicycles for a site with bike trails.

Whatever the trip-dependents might be, they will probably have associated gear; such as bath towels and swim goggles, or bike helmets and elbow pads.

That is where your trip-specific mini-list comes in. And it is probably just a notepad list instead of a multi-item checklist. Just don't forget that you will need it.

© 2018 ga anderson

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