My Essential Camping List
Here is a car camping list that has been created from everything I have taken, needed, or wished I had over many years of camping in all seasons across many states. You might find it excessive but it will give you an excellent idea of the things you might need and could jar your memory on a few other items you want to take.
No one should take everything on this list every time they go camping.
Shelter and Sleeping
Tent- including the poles, stakes, and rainfly.
Tarp to be used as ground cloth for tent to protect the bottom
Sleeping pads or inflatable mattress (don’t forget the pump and repair kit)
Sleeping bags (and sheets if you are using mattress)
Pillows (use old pillow cases and pillows if you have them)
Axe to cut firewood and drive tent stakes into ground
Dustpan/Brush to clean up inside of tent
Screen house or another place to eat
Hammock and rope or tree straps
Collapsible water container
Plastic cups/ insulated mugs (think water, juice, coffee, hot chocolate)
Bowls (plastic reusable)
Plates (plastic reusable)
Spoons (plastic reusable)
Forks (plastic reusable)
Knife for food prep
Knives for eating
Large mixing/serving spoon
Pans/Skillet with lids
Pots with lids
Seasonings and condiments
Measuring cup and spoons
Potholders and oven mitts
Camp stove and fuel
Lighter or matches
Food storage containers
BBQ pit and charcoal
Hot dog sticks
Biodegradable dish soap
The weather will determine what you need so the obvious items are not listed here, only the things you might need. You know better than anyone what clothes you will want to wear.
Convertible pants are always good to have for cold mornings and evenings but warm days.
Raingear if you plan on leaving campsite for day hikes
Sweatshirt or fleece for cold nights
Shower shoes/flip flops
Gloves or hand warmers
Comfortable shoes to wear around camp
Fire (see types of fires)
Did you know there are different types of campfires?
One for heat, one for cooking, one for light and each is built differently?
Gloves for gathering wood
Firewood and tinder (fire starters or newspaper)
Long handle lighter or matches in waterproof container (tea candles work well also)
Around the camp
Essential items you need for hanging out and enjoying the outdoors
Batteries and extra batteries
Glow sticks for kids
Duct tape for minor repairs
Hand sanitizer/hand wipes
Toilet paper (keep in zip lock bag)
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Razor/shaving cream (if you are going to be out a few days)
You never know what can happen so bring plenty of first aid supplies. Keep this in a separate, well marked, waterproof, durable container and make sure everyone with you knows where to find it. Keep in the open and easily accessible. There should be at least two people in your party that know how to use everything in the kit. Free first aid manual
Bee sting kit
Aspirin/Tylenol or another pain reliever
Moleskin for blisters
Water purification tablets
What are you going to eat?
See the recipes section (coming soon) for a few easy ideas and a complete list of what you need for each.
Large ice chest to keep things cool
Bread and buns
Baked beans (remember can opener)
Mac and cheese
Condiments (ketchup, mayo, mustard, relish)
Salt and pepper
Peanut butter and jelly
Hot chocolate mix
Bottled and canned drinks
Crackers and chips
A few things to remember before you leave.
Wallet and small bills. I have heard that some showers in campgrounds require quarters to function. I have not seen this personally so you might want to ask or just bring a roll of quarters to be safe.
Reservation confirmation – If you made reservations, make sure you bring this information just to help prevent any confusion.
Cell phone chargers
Daypacks with water reservoir
Anything you need for any pets including food, leash, and bed
Other possible items
Hope you will find my list useful! Feel free to drop me a line if you think something important is missing.