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

Cooking

nothing better than a good campfireCollapsible 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
Spatula
Strainer
Bottle opener
Skewers
Mixing bowl
Paper towels
Large mixing/serving spoon
Tongs
Pans/Skillet with lids
Pots with lids
Cooking oil
Non-stick spray
Cutting board
Seasonings and condiments
Measuring cup and spoons
Potholders and oven mitts
Can opener
Camp stove and fuel
Lighter or matches
Grill rack
Aluminum foil
Plastic bags-ziplock
Food storage containers
BBQ pit and charcoal
Dutch oven
Whisk
Hot dog sticks
Marshmallow sticks

Cleaning

Dish pan
Biodegradable dish soap
Pot scrubber
Dish rags
Scouring pads
Trash bags
Sponge
Clothes

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.

Sunglasses
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
Swimsuit
Water shoes
Hat/Bandana/visor
Laundry bag
Sweatshirt or fleece for cold nights
Towel
Sleep clothes
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)
Shovel
Water bucket
Around the camp

Essential items you need for hanging out and enjoying the outdoors

get ready for an adventureChairs
Folding tables
Tablecloth
Lanterns
Headlamps
Flashlights
Radio
Batteries and extra batteries
Playing cards
Kites
Soccer ball
Glow sticks for kids
Boomerang
Frisbee
Walkie talkies
Duct tape for minor repairs
Citronella candles
Personal items

Hand sanitizer/hand wipes
Watch
Toilet paper (keep in zip lock bag)
Sunscreen
Insect repellant
Lip balm
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Mouthwash
Floss
Earplugs
Mirror
Any medications
Hair brush
Bath soap
Shampoo/conditioner
Towel
Washcloth
Scissors
Nail clippers
Razor/shaving cream (if you are going to be out a few days)
Contact cleaner
Deodorant
First aid

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

Band-aids
Triangular bandages
Sterile compress
Burn cream/spray
ACE bandages
Bee sting kit
Tweezers
Scissors
Tissues
Sinus medication/antihistamine
Gauze pads
Medical tape
Cotton swabs
Antiseptic wipes
Antacids
Aspirin/Tylenol or another pain reliever
Antibiotic cream
Peroxide
Moleskin for blisters
Thermometer
Latex gloves
Heat/cold packs
Sunburn lotion
Butterfly closures
Rash/anti-itch cream
Cough drops
Water purification tablets
Food

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
Ice
Veggies
Fruit
Cheese
Bread and buns
Hamburgers
Hot dogs
Baked beans (remember can opener)
Mac and cheese
Condiments (ketchup, mayo, mustard, relish)
Sugar
Butter
Salt and pepper
Stew/soup
Cereal/granola/oatmeal
Breakfast bars
Pancake mix
Syrup
Peanut butter and jelly
Jerky
Tea
Milk
Orange juice
Hot chocolate mix
Marshmallows
Drink mixes
Bottled and canned drinks
Crackers and chips
Trail mix
Gum
Snacks
Smores
Graham crackers
Ravioli

Getting there

A few things to remember before you leave.

CAMERA
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
Compass
Maps
Hiking/backpacking guides
Daypacks with water reservoir
CAMERA
Anything you need for any pets including food, leash, and bed
Other possible items

Binoculars
Bird guide
Bungy cords
Telescope
Star map
Flares

Hope you will find my list useful! Feel free to drop me a line if you think something important is missing.