Whether your first time or tenth, prepping to go camping can be quite the task. We have put together a Camping Packing List for Families to assist in making sure you pack everything thing you need. A printable version of this ultimate camping checklist can be downloaded at the bottom of the post.
Extra spots are included so that you can include items your own family needs. Print the two pages back to back and then laminate them to reuse on your next trip.
A camping adventure can be a great bonding experience for the whole family, or it can leave everyone miserable and vowing “Never Again.” Often, a determining factor for a successful next family camping trip is whether certain essential items were packed, or not.
Ultimate Family Camping Packing List
The obvious camping supplies for a smooth camping experience are outdoor gear or supplies, food and cooking gear, appropriate clothing, toiletries, and comfort/entertainment items. We have put together a list of family camping essentials and extra things that you should always have on your family camping checklist.
When planning, it may be useful to envision the trip hour by hour. When we first arrive, what will we need to set up camp? After that, what is the meal plan, and what is needed to prepare for lunch or dinner? Are we hiking? we will need comfortable hiking shoes. Are we playing games? bring ladder ball or bicycles. When we are ready for bed, how will I make the children comfortable?
Campsite gear includes a tent, tarps, extra stakes, a mallet, headlamps or flashlights, and camp chairs.
Then there is the extra gear: matches or lighter, flashlights and batteries, tools, rope, duct tape, and garbage bags.
Camp Kitchen Gear
Cooking essentials take up much space and include a camp stove, grill, or griddle. Cooking gear includes a pot, skillet, utensils, pot holders, and table wear.
Pro Tip: Wood can contain tree-killing insects or diseases, so most campgrounds do not allow outside firewood. As you near the campground, look for campfire wood for sale signs or purchase at the campground itself.
Depending upon how long the camping trip will last and how many individuals are camping, it will probably be necessary to bring several large coolers: one for meat and dairy (store meats in separate plastic containers to help keep them safe), one for vegetables, condiments, and side dishes, and another one for drinks.
Bring a water jug for water storage or for filling up at a potable water source. Refillable water bottles are a good choice for each camper.
If it will be used within a couple of days, meat can be frozen beforehand and allowed to thaw in a well-insulated cooler. We put a Homemade Cooler Cover over our ice chest to keep it cold longer.
Of course, meat and dairy items should be stored in cooler temperatures, such as in an RV refrigerator. If you do not have a fridge, check out 150 Camping Foods & Meals That Don’t Need a Cooler.
Deodorant, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, combs, towels, etc. are important items that must not be forgotten, or they will be sorely missed. Mosquito repellant, bug spray, and sunscreen are essential to bringing along.
We highly recommend the Bug Bite Thing for soothing mosquito bites. It helps remove stingers too.
A first aid kit is a wise precaution, especially if it includes a pain reliever, anti-allergy medication, and tweezers, along with bandages and antibiotic ointment.
Even if you are going to a campground with bathrooms or outhouses, it is a good idea to bring along your own toilet paper.
Pro Tip: When camping in bear country, one should store these items inside a locked vehicle rather than in the family tent, since bears have been known to be attracted to the scent of some toiletry items.
Appropriate Clothing For The Camping Newbie
Check the weather forecast before packing. Bring extra clothing because the weather can change quickly, any time of year. You should pack clothes that are warm and comfortable and will dry out quickly in case of rain.
In the mountains, it can be cold at night even in mid-summer. A spare set of sweats for everyone can easily be stored in a duffel bag. Of course, use common sense: long sleeves and long pants are helpful as mosquito deterrents and it is better to spray one’s clothing than one’s skin. Comfortable shoes should be packed for everyone.
For a week of camping, pack a pair or two of jeans, two to three pairs of shorts, five to seven t-shirts, two long-sleeved shirts, a sweatshirt or light jacket, a raincoat, eight to 10 pairs of underwear, and at least 10 pairs of socks. Also, pack a pair of sneakers and hiking boots.
If there is swimming available, do not forget to pack bathing suits and extra towels. Life jackets and water shoes are recommended for natural bodies of water, such as lakes or rivers.
Your bedding should include sleeping bags, extra blankets or sheets, and a pillow for each camper. Also, pack a sleeping pad if you’re going to be sleeping on the ground or on a hard surface.
You can also pack a bedroll instead of a sleeping bag. A bedroll is a DIY sleep system that consists of your own pillows, a sheet, two or three blankets, and a waterproof outer layer rolled up together.
Comfort and Entertainment Items
Being comforted is all about personal preferences. On your first camping trip, it is the best way to enjoy the fresh air and the great outdoors.
A favorite pillow, stuffed animal, or game will help children feel more at home at a campground, and when children are happy, it is much easier for each family member to be happy! Let kids choose a couple of toys or games that they will want to play with while at camp. Print out Camping Activity Sheets to keep younger kids entertained.
Games such as a deck of cards or dominoes are easy to pack and can be enjoyed by the entire family, even older kids. Outdoor games such as frisbee or corn hole is a great way to have fun.
When packing, include a camera and spare batteries. Pictures make great family memories.
If fishing is on the entertainment menu, be sure to pack fishing gear, as well.
Of course, a trip into the mountains in the fall will require some different preparations than a summer camp on the beach. Every trip is a little different. But by covering the basics, you can ensure that your camping trip is a great experience for the entire family.
Pro Tip: Organize your gear, labeling each container or using a different color for each type. Packing your vehicle accordingly. It will help cut down on shifting piles on and off the picnic table.
Packing for camp does not have to be a difficult task. Knowing what to pack for camp and having the right equipment and supplies once you get there can make going to camp easy, fun, and comfortable.
Last thing: Remember to leave only footprints and take only photos and memories!
Family Camping Packing List
|Campsite Gear||Cooking Gear|
Tent repair kit
Sleeping bags or Bedroll
Cot/pad/air mattress (pump)
Pot or pan
Personal water bottles
Shower shoes/water shoes
After bite care
First Aid kit with tweezers
Reach out if you need the packing list in A4 format.