The Ultimate Family Camping Checklist
Camping is definitely a fun pastime. Spending time in nature, disconnecting from technology, and decompressing from all the stresses of city life. There’s just something wonderful about camping amidst mother nature that keeps us coming back for more.
But, what can be more fun than camping?
Camping with your whole family! You not only get to enjoy the benefits of camping outdoors, but you’ll also be spending quality time bonding with your family. Plus, it never hurts to teach the kids a little practical know-how, right?
Table of Contents
Full List for Family Camping Fun
To help you prepare for your family camping trip, we made this ultimate family camping checklist. While some entries may be more important than others (depending on your campsite’s amenities), it’s always better to have them and not need them. We’ve also included an easy-to-print checklist at the end so you can just print this list or save it to your phone once you’re through reading.
1. Family-sized Tent
Of course, the first image that comes to mind when you read the word “camping” is a tent. For family camping trips, you’ll need a tent with the same capacity as the number of family members coming along. That said, you may want to invest in a somewhat overcapacity tent if you want some wriggle room.
Also, while traditional tents are a great way to teach your kids how to set up their own tent, modern tents these days are set up instantly in just a few minutes.
Make sure to bring a tent that’s appropriate for your campsite’s weather and temperature.
2. Sleeping Bags
If you plan to camp overnight, you’re going to need some sleeping bags. You may want to get bags made of synthetic material as these store heat great (even when damp) and they also dry a lot quicker. Sleeping bags can also serve as protective hiking gear when the weather suddenly turns foul.
3. Sleeping Mat/Pad
While tents and sleeping bags give you the shelter and warmth you need to sleep, they won’t save you from random lumps and bumps poking into your back or the extreme cold from the ground. To avoid frustrating sleepless nights or next-day bruises, make sure to bring sleeping mats or pads.
4. Inflatable Pillows
To top off your camping shelter essentials, bring along some inflatable camping pillows. Inflatable pillows are warm, cushioning, easy to store, and super lightweight. Never underestimate the relaxing power of camping pillows, especially if you’re in the majority of Americans that require 2 or more pillows to get a good night’s sleep.
5. Camping Table
Unless your campsite provides picnic tables by default, you may want to bring a foldable camping table. A camping table is lightweight, easy to store, and provides an above-ground, flat, and even surface on which you can lay out your gear, and food, do camping chores, eat with your family, and a lot more.
6. Camping Chairs
Of course, you can’t have a table and not have chairs. Lightweight foldable camping chairs are easy to carry and store and they give you a comfortable place to sit wherever you bring them. This is especially important for those of us who have lower back issues that make sitting on the ground painful.
Whether you’re bringing food to cook or catching then cooking your family’s meal, you’re going to need a cooler to keep your food fresh and away from bugs and animals. Hardshell coolers are great for storing food and beverages you bring along. Lighter softshell coolers are more suited for catch-and-cook scenarios.
8. Camping Stove
Unless you’re bringing just canned or prepackaged food, you’re going to need a camping stove. A camping stove lets you cook food quickly (since you don’t have to look for firewood) and evenly. It also lets you control how big or small the fire can be which helps prevent forest fires.
9. Portable Cookery
Of course, if you’re cooking at your campsite, you’re going to need a pot or a frying pan to cook in. Having a complete camping cooking set lets you cook with convenience and efficiency. Unlike your regular pots and pans, a camping cooking set is lightweight and stores all its parts into one easy-to-carry item.
10. Eating Utensils
Your family is going to need some eating utensils at camp. Rather than buying cheap disposable plastic utensils, bring reusable or biodegradable ones. They’re often sturdier and generally better for the environment.
11. First Aid Kit
Bringing along a first aid kit is always a good idea wherever you’re camping. Make sure to restock it before every trip. Also, be sure to include necessary supplies based on your camping location like a gel pad for hotter locations and a heat blanket for colder places.
12. Headlamps or Lanterns
Headlamps and lanterns are items that many campers often forget or knowingly don’t bring along. The thing is, having a good source of light is going to be very important if you plan to camp overnight. Not only will these items give you visibility in the dark, but they also let rescuers find you should the need arise.
13. GPS Dog Trackers
Speaking of rescuing, if you plan to bring your four-legged furry companion along, it’s going to need a GPS tracker. While dogs don’t normally get lost while camping, especially in campsites that require them to be leashed, it’s always a good idea to have a tracker on your dog’s collar just in case.
14. Camping Tools
Camping tools come in a variety of options but there are two that we think every camper should have regardless of camping location. First, a multi-tool or swiss army knife can come in handy in different situations. Second, an entrenching tool or E-tool lets you dig holes for emergency latrines and cooking pits and can even function as an emergency frying pan and improvised weapon should the need arise.
15. Duct Tape
Duct tape is every DIY-er’s best friend. You can use it for several things from repairing torn tents and sleeping bags to making an emergency sling or splint for injuries. Always have a roll of duct tape tucked away together with your camping tools.
16. Water Bottles
The number and type of water bottles you’ll need will depend on the location of your campsite.
If you’re camping somewhere with clean drinking water, you can bring a water bottle to let you store water in camp.
For hotter and dryer campsites, you’ll need to bring enough water for every family member. Either 3 liters per person per day or enough so everyone can drink according to their thirst.
17. Portable Shower
Just because you’re camping in the wilderness doesn’t mean you can neglect your hygiene.
Similar to water bottles, you may have to bring a portable shower if you’re camping somewhere with no source of water for bathing. A portable shower consists of a water sturdy water bladder connected to a hose with a shower head.
18. Portable Outhouse
If you’re camping somewhere with no toilets or you want to give your family members more privacy than an emergency latrine (just a hole in the ground), you may want to bring a portable outhouse. Not only does this do your business in peace, but it also doubles as a private room for your portable shower and dressing room.
19. Personal Hygiene Products and Toiletries
As previously mentioned, we don’t recommend neglecting your hygiene while camping. Remember to bring along just enough of what you need. No need to bring a whole bottle of shampoo, a tube of toothpaste, or several towels if you’re camping for just 1 night.
20. Bin Bags
Keeping nature free from our garbage (biodegradable or otherwise) is a valuable lesson to teach the next generation. Be sure to have everyone help in cleaning your campsite before you leave. This not only helps the environment but also acts as a courtesy towards the campsite or park officers as well as the next batch of campers.
Family Camping Essentials: Quick Checklist
Here’s what you need:
- Family-sized Tent
- Sleeping Bags
- Sleeping Mat/Pad
- Inflatable Pillows
- Camping Table
- Camping Chairs
- Camping Stove
- Portable Cookery
- Eating Utensils
- First Aid Kit
- Headlamps or Lanterns
- GPS Dog Trackers
- Camping Tools
- Duct Tape
- Water Bottles
- Portable Shower
- Portable Outhouse
- Personal Hygiene Products and Toiletries
- Bin Bags