Camping essentials

Camping Made Simple: Essentials Checklist

Are you considering a family camping trip? Does it feel a bit overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be; you can have a great weekend camping trip without having to pack the entire house!

There are really only a few items that are necessities; the remainder of what you take is up to you.

For a nice, relaxed trip, try to take as little as possible; you are going camping, you are not trying to build a life or replace your home out in those woods.

In this article you will find essential items that you will need for your camping trip. These items will provide you with all that you will need on your trip to the great outdoors.

If you are a serious camper, then this list is probably not for you; this list is meant for the novice camper who wants to take their family on a new, untried excursion.

Expert campers tend to take the gear that they will need to survive the wilderness for extended periods of time and even tend to take the equipment necessary to feed themselves off of the land and waters.

Being a novice camper, you do not have to do this. Who will think the less of you? You will become educated through your own experiences on what you need and what you know that you can comfortably leave behind. Keep your first adventure as simple as possible and only plan to stay a few days at most.

The checklist that you will find below is a guide, keep in mind that there are some items that you will not want to do without. Add or take away from this list as you choose.

Essentials Checklist

1. Insect repellent

This should be your top item on the list as you’ll want repellent to protect yourself from the mosquitoes and other insects that will want to take a bite out of you.

2. Tent

Of course you should choose a suitable size and layout for your family. You can buy a tent at most department stores and at some specialty stores. Talk to a salesperson to see what they recommend for your family.

A great online resource I found is CampSmartly, which maintains a “best tent reviews” guide. If you’re trying to determine which one to buy, check it out.

3. Lantern

I suggest that you take at least two lanterns as this give opportunity for other parties of the family to explore or use for other necessities at night. (If you use battery powered lanterns then take at least one extra set of batteries for each lantern in case of an emergency. The same for other types of lanterns, make certain that you have enough fuel to keep them going.)

4. Toilet Tissue

This may sound a bit odd, but believe me, there are leaves out in the woods that you’d rather not use for cleaning and if you’re staying at a campground you can’t count on toilet paper being stocked in the bathrooms.

5. Paper plates, cups, plastic forks, spoons and knives.

6. Pocket knife

Trust me, you’ll find this item most useful in many instances.

7. Small electric, propane or charcoal grill

You will need to be able to cook or heat meals for your family. Some campgrounds will actually provide these at each campsite, but check before you go.

8. Sleeping bags

Plus take a few extra blankets just in cast the night gets colder than you thought that it would. If you want true comfort then take a few pillows with you too.

9. A small skillet, a bean pot or a pan

Take one or two of each of the above items.

10. Sunscreen

Protect your precious skin from the sun. If not for you, then for your children.

11. Matches and lighters

Several of each for lighting campfires, lanterns and such.

12. Plastic zip lock bags

For storing items that you want to keep together such as your plastic ware, matches and lighters.

13. Fishing poles and tackle

Of course these are optional items as fishing isn’t for everyone. If you do plan to fish and to eat your catch then you may also want to take a filleting knife.

14. Sandals, tennis shoes and/or hiking boots

Take sandals for just sitting around and tennis shoes or hiking boots when you are going to be exploring the area.

15. Coolers

Coolers hold the drink and food that you’ll be taking. I suggest you take food that is easily made such as sandwich stuff. Canned goods, breads, condiments and other dry goods can of course be stored outside of the coolers.


As stated, this is a very simple list for the novice camper. You may of course take more, but try not to take less as the items above are each important in their element of your camping trip. This list will aid you in the enjoyment of your trip and you may find that you love camping so much that you will continue to make this a regular past time for your family. Happy trails.

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