Camping Checklist: What You Need and Where to Find It 

A camper making a checklist

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Camping is one of the best vacations around. It offers affordable fun — once you have the gear, it’s yours, making a weekend getaway a matter of packing up the family truckster. It’s also healthy, getting you moving in the open air and teaching you new skills, like how to build a fire and fish. The right camping checklist keeps everything you need organized and ready to go at a moment’s notice. 

However, those who are new to the activity face a world of confusing information. What do you need, and what can you upgrade later for convenience as your budget and passion for outdoor adventure grow? Here’s the ultimate camping checklist of what you need and how to acquire the basics. 


The first item on many folks’ camping checklist is a tent. However, you should know a few guidelines first, as investing in the biggest one you can afford isn’t the best choice. Why? Smaller tents conserve your body heat, helping you stay warmer on cold evenings. One of the best parts about camping is that it invites you to snuggle in late against the cold, but you’ll be up with the chickens — and probably heading home early in dismay — if you shiver. 

That’s why a bivy bag is so popular. It folds tiny to fit into a backpack easily but offers superior cold insulation.

camping checklist

However, there’s an exception to every rule. Sometimes, the weather is lovely enough to sleep without a blanket or you have a large family you want to keep under one roof. That’s where larger tents come into play. They give you space to spread out, and you can use collective body heat for warmth when temperatures drop. When you have more cash, investigate rooftop car tents that keep you off the hard ground and away from creepy crawlers. 

The Gear to Get 

Here’s how you can cross your shelter needs off your camping checklist: 

Upland Rooftop Tent Hard Shell


Even on warm days, primitive humans used fire to keep flying insect pests and animal predators at bay. Knowing how to start a fire is a crucial survival skill, and you can’t always count on modern matches and lighters working. Fortunately, it isn’t too tough to master flint and steel, and teaching your kids can fill several fun afternoons. As you grow your collection, portable heaters offer superior warmth, although you must remain mindful of carbon monoxide. 

The Gear to Get 

Add these three items to your camping checklist for fire and warmth wherever you go. 


Water is essential to life. Although you can live for several weeks without food, two or three days without water can end you. 

However, the tricky part about the wet stuff is that it’s heavy — roughly eight pounds per gallon, and you need one gallon per person per day. This reality creates a problem when primitive camping far from the nearest source. For that, you need a purifier. You can use straws, tablets or a larger device when camping with the gang. 

The Gear to Get 

Here’s what to add to your camping checklist to stay hydrated: 

Travel Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter


Unless you’re extremely good at foraging in your local area and get lucky with the fishing rod, you could go mighty hungry on a weekend camping trip. Most people prefer to bring foods they love with them, which requires a way to cook them and utensils for dining. While few things beat the smoky flavor of foods cooked over an open flame, you might prefer the convenience of a grill for rustling up burgers for the gang. 

The Gear to Get 

Here’s how to cook your grub in the wild: 


First of all, you’re often far safer in the wilderness than you are in the city. Humans have evolved to the point where our biggest enemy is our fellow humans, and the fewer you encounter, the fewer chances you will meet someone determined to bring you harm. However, going into the wild does present the risk of dangerous animal encounters, however slim, and help could be miles away, even out of cellular reach. 

The Gear to Get

Here’s what to get to stay safer during your outdoor adventures: 

Garmin inReach Mini Satellite Communicator


Campfires are the place for games like charades that require no equipment. You don’t want to carry an entertainment center on your backframe. However, a few lightweight card games can make sitting around in the evening more enjoyable and even bring you closer to your loved ones. 

The Gear to Get 

Here are playing card essentials to accompany your camping adventures: 

Mark These Items Off Your Camping Checklist 

Camping gear seems a lot less expensive when you compare it to a traditional vacation, where plane tickets, hotel rooms and dining out add up quickly. Once you own the gear, it’s yours to use for a weekend getaway whenever you like. 

Cross the following items off your camping checklist. You and your loved ones will have everything you need for a safe, enjoyable outdoor adventure, ready to go whenever you are. 

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