Ultimate Family Camping Checklist –
What to Pack For Your Next Family Camping Trip


Would you like to print a concise version of the checklist? Click here to download​ the printable version of our ultimate family camping checklist.

​Camping, in general, is one of the most fun things that you can do in the great outdoors. Not only can you relax better in nature, you can also bond with friends that you’ll meet on your camping trips. However, no form of camping will ever beat camping trips with your family. Family camping is one of the most enjoyable bonding experiences that you can do with your family.

There are several reasons why you should do family camping trips at least once a year. First, it is a great way to spend time with your family.  At the forest, there are no computers, cell phones, or TVs to distract you. It will be just you, your family, and nature. For this reason, you can fully enjoy fun activities and games with your family. You may even tell stories and share the laughter that you’ve missed because of busy schedules.

Second, children love camping. You might think that all children like to do these days is play computer and video games at home. But, that is not truly the case! What children want is an adventure. Camping trips are full of real-time adventures where your children can be their own playable characters. They can experience making fires, building tents, and exploring forests without a help of a controller or joystick.

Third, camping trips are relatively cheap. Unlike resorts and zoos where you have to pay to have fun, the forest is your oyster! If you prepared the right stuff for your trip, then you and your family are sure to have fun! But what should you take in mind when you prepare for a family camping trip?

The Ultimate Camping List

​Don’t know what to bring for camping? Well, feel free to check our ultimate camping checklist.

Camping Equipment and Tools

  • Tent: Everyone knows that when you are preparing for a camping trip, your first priority is to find shelter. And what could be a better shelter for camping than a tent? When shopping for a tent, make sure to buy one that is durable, easy-to-assemble, and spacious enough for your family.
  • Sleeping Bag: Where else can you go to sleep in the forest other than in a sleeping bag? A sleeping bag is a simple and portable equipment that will keep you warm during cold nights. What’s more, it is super easy to assemble. Just roll it down to size, fit yourself in, and close the zipper when you need to sleep.
  • Tarp: Do you think a tent is enough to protect you from the elements? Without a tarp, it won’t be! A tarp has many uses in a camping trip. Tarps are either used to shield against rainwater or insulate against the cold ground. You can even use it as shade during extremely sunny weather.
  • Matches: In camping trips, bonfires are a must. You will definitely need a consistent heat source during the cold nights at the forest. If you don’t want to spend hours building a fire from friction, then bring a matchbox. Pair a single match with firewood, and you will have a bonfire in seconds!
  • Foldable Table and Chairs: Unless you want to sit on the ground, always bring foldable tables and chairs to your camping trips. Foldable tables and chairs are extremely foldable and easy-to-assemble. Moreover, there are so many things that you can do with it! Use it as a dining room table or simply a placeholder for stuff.
  • Multi-Tool: As the name implies, a multi-tool has multiple uses. It can be a knife, a can opener, a corkscrew, a hammer, or a pair of scissors! So long as your needed tool is in the multi-tool, you won’t need to bring tools to your camping trip. All that you will ever need is in this single device.
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Toiletries

  • Toilet Paper: A single roll of toilet paper can do so much during a camping trip. You can use it to dry hands, wipe tables, or else use it for its regular purpose. If you will be camping for several days with your family, make sure to buy several toilet paper rolls.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Even in the forest, your family’s hygiene should still be your number one priority. Make sure to bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer for each member of your family. You will never know what they’ll pick up in the forest, so make sure they have an immediate access to a bacterial-cleansing sanitizer.
  • Sunscreen: It is always never a bad idea to bring sunscreen. At the great outdoors, your family is more exposed than ever to UV rays. To protect your family from sunburn and other skin diseases, always bring sunscreen. It is advisable to bring sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and higher.
  • Bug Spray: The forest is teeming with all kinds of crawling creatures. It is a nice experience for your kids to see ladybugs and butterflies, but never mosquitoes. Mosquitoes not only leave itchy bites, but they transmit deadly viruses like dengue and malaria. Make sure to bring a bug spray to ward these insects off.
  • Towels: You should never forget to bring towels for any kind of outdoor trip. Towels help you keep dry after a good swim or a nice morning shower. They can also be used to wrap fragile items and keep them from breaking. While packing, make sure that each person in your family has one personal towel.
  • Sanitary Napkins and Diapers: If you have female family members or toddlers coming to your camping trip, it is necessary to prepare menstrual and urinary products. You can’t disregard the occurrence of small ‘accidents’ may happen during the trip. It is important to remember that these products are difficult to procure at camping sites, so best be prepared.

Additional Camping Needs: Ziplock bags, containers and/or organizers for soiled clothes and other items that need to be segregated

Food and Liquids

  • Water: Humans cannot live without water, so make sure that preparing clean water is your first priority. Before your camping trip, make sure to buy several jugs of water for drinking and washing purposes. It is also important to bring personalized water bottles for your family to prevent dehydration and heat strokes.
  • Pre-Packed Food: It is quite a nuisance to do all the ingredient preparations in camp when you can do it at home. So, before your camping trip, make sure that your ingredients are cleaned, sliced, and ready to be cooked. This saves you more space in the luggage and more time to do fun activities at camp!

Additional Camping Needs: Chocolate/sweets to boost energy in the middle of a tiring day, biscuits and/or other snacks that can be eaten on the go

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Kitchen Essentials

  • Cookware: When we say to bring cookware, don’t bring the entire kitchen with you! Only select the essential equipment that you will need on the camping trip. You can put your stove, some pots and pans, and a spatula on your list for starters. Then, start adding other equipment that you think you’ll need.
  • Plates and Utensils: Even with good food, your family will never be able to eat without plates and utensils. You can buy two kinds of plates and utensils for your family camping trip: disposable and non-disposable ones. When choosing, take your camping site and your family’s needs into consideration before buying these wares.
  • Garbage Bag: It is important to bring a couple of trash bags with you during your camping trip. After all, how will you be able to properly dispose of your waste? Garbage bags are very cheap and don’t cost too much space in your luggage. Feel free to bring as many as you like!
  • Cleaning Supplies: Even with disposable plates and utensils, you will still need to do a bit of cleaning. As mentioned before, you don’t need to bring your whole array of cleaning supplies for your camping trip. Just bring a biodegradable soap, a sponge, and a portable sink, and you are all set!

Clothing and Footwear

  • Daywear: It is advisable to prepare your clothes as your final outfit for each day. So, for your daywear, you can prepare a long-sleeve shirt, quick-drying pants/shorts, long underwear, and wool socks. You can also prepare a sun-shielding cap to protect against the sun. You can also bring swimming trunks if you intend to swim.
  • Shoes Suited For The Environment: In general, it is recommended to bring a pair of boots and water sandals during camping trips. However, it is important to take the camping site and the environment into consideration. For example, if the camping site is a bit rocky and slippery, you might want to buy non-slip shoes.
  • Sleepwear: The forest is entirely different from a regular suburban environment. Nights in the forest can be quite chilly, so it is recommended to prepare comfortable sleepwear suited to this environment. If you are a bit stumped on what to do, you can bring an insulating sweater and sweatpants as your sleepwear.
  • Rainwear: The weather can be quite unpredictable, so expect the unexpected, like rainy weather. To prevent you and your family from getting wet, prepare a rainwear for your camping trip. A rainwear can be anything that will insulate you from the rain. It can be a jacket or a pair of long pants.

Additional Camping Needs: caps/hats/sun-visors, sunglasses and/or other articles of clothing that can protect you from extreme weather conditions

Emergency Gear and Equipment

  • First-Aid Kit: There are several chances for you and your family to get injuries during a camping trip. You may slip on a rock, your spouse might cut your hand, and your kid may scrape their knee. For this reason, bringing a first-aid kit is essential; you will never know when you will need it.
  • Flare Gun: You may think that flare guns are only for people working in boats or stranded on a deserted island. But, in actuality, a lot of campers have at least one flare gun in their hands. Campers use flare guns at times of emergency situations, where any means of communication have failed.

Additional Camping Needs: Portable generator, flashlight/ taser (or any other legal self-defense weapons), vehicle jump starter, batteries, power bank, cables, adapter for chargeable 

Items for Your Car

  • Roof Carrier: Also known as roof racks, these things help secure your luggage on top of your car. A roof carrier is a great investment for your family. It converts the top of your car into an additional compartment for additional luggage and equipment. But remember, roof carriers are designed to carry lightweight objects.
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Optional For Camping

Gadgets/ Camera/ Entertainment/ Luxury Goodies

  • Portable Gaming Device: The ride to the campsite is a long while. Your kids will need to do something to relieve their boredom in the car. If that’s the case, why not bring a portable gaming device such as the PS Vita or the new-released Switch? The Nintendo Switch is one of the most popular gaming devices that will surely sate your kids’ boredom during the ride.
  • Camera: Every family wants something to remember their camping trips by. And what a better way to capture the moments with a camera? Not only can you take photos of family moments, you can also take photos of the nature around you. Once developed, these photos will be great souvenirs of the camping trip.
  • iPod: Do you know what will make your family camping trip even better? Music! Download your favorite soundtracks and play them through your iPod. Play them during the car ride or at camp. Just make sure you aren’t bothering anyone with your music. No-one likes to be next to a noisy camper.

Sporting Gear

  • Bike: If you and your family like to go biking, then the forest is the perfect place to do so. Explore the beauty of nature through a high-speed chase. Just make sure that you are biking on a safe trail. You might want to ask the park ranger for permissible areas for biking.

Pet Items

  • Travel bowl: If you and your family have plates, then your pet should have their own, too. Introducing the travel bowl! Unlike ordinary pet bowls, travel bowls are designed to be collapsible and can fit inside pet bags. A travel bowl will surely keep your pet hydrated and happy during the entire camping trip!

Tips to Follow 

​For first time campers, preparing a family camping trip might prove difficult. You will not just be preparing for one person anymore; you will be preparing for your whole family. Preparation might seem difficult, but, as long as you follow these tips, then you have nothing to worry about.

Recheck Your List

​During your preparation, it is important to go over your list of equipment to see if you have missed anything. But, take note – you don’t have to bring every single thing in your house. Only pack the essentials plus some other stuff that you might need in your activities. If you bring too much to your camping trip, you might spend more time unpacking than actually having some fun.

  • Food-On-The-Go: It is recommended to prepare your food and snacks for immediate cooking or eating before the camping trip. For example, if you are planning to have kabobs, then you might want to chop the meat and vegetables at home. That way, you can immediately start cooking at the camp, instead of chopping and marinating the ingredients at the campsite.
  • Smart Packing: Every traveler recommends packing your essentials in a way that reduces the amount of space it consumes. When packing clothes, arrange them as an outfit for each day and roll them up. In this way, you can save a lot of space for other things in your luggage.

Prepare Your Car

​Your vehicle is an extension of your family, so it is crucial to prepare it for the camping trip. Remember: preparing your vehicle is arguably the most difficult task in family camping preparation. However, if you follow these car preparation tips, then it will be less stressful for you and your family.

  • Organize Your Belongings In A Container: Organization is a key aspect of vehicle preparation. It is suggested that you put your luggage in strong, durable tubs with safe plastic lids. You can label each tub for one specific category. For example, tub one is for, tub two is where you pack utensils, and etc. Make sure that these tubs are sealed tight, so rainwater or insects won’t seep through.
  • Put Everything In One Location: Don’t make everything complicated by putting your luggage in different compartments. However, make sure that your vehicle can bear the weight of your luggage. Heavy loads might reduce the performance of the vehicle and pose harm to the passengers.
  • Follow This Packing Method: First, put all the least needed items inside the car first, while most needed items last. This way, you have immediate access to the things you need. Second, put all heavy things on the bottom, specifically at the center. This helps the handling of your car. Third, if you have a roof carrier, only put lightweight materials on top of it. It is not designed for bulky, heavy items.
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Plan Fun Activities

​Now that we’re over the stressful preparations part, it is time to prepare for the fun ones! You don’t have to prepare these activities in advance, but you should already have some ideas. If you are stumped on what to do, you can try simple activities like scavenger hunts, fort building, or hiking. It would be a good idea to ask some ideas from your kids. After all, they are your resident fun experts for this trip.

  • Bring Toys: Just prepare the toys that you would need for your activities. For example, if you and your kids are planning to play Frisbee, then bring a frisbee. If you are planning to explore, then you might want to bring a pair of binoculars. It is important to bring toys that are simple and portable. A toy that is not fun to pack will not be fun during the camping trip.
  • Glowsticks Galore: The more glowsticks, the better! Glowsticks are super awesome for camping. Not only does it help you see at night, they are colorful and fun-inducing! If you are creative, you may use it to color code things. Use it to mark your kids’ sleeping bags or tree branches that might pose harm. You can even use them as a light trail to the bathroom at night.

Expect the Unexpected

​The great thing about camping trips is that each day is full of an adventure. On your first day, you might spot a deer or a squirrel. On the second, you might meet a kind family on the campsite. So many things can happen on camping trips, so you won’t run out of things to do. But, in some cases, some situations may require you to take precautionary actions.

  • Getting Lost: When you are exploring, it is a normal occurrence to get lost. But, as long as you know how to read a map and a compass, there’s nothing to worry about! So, before your camping trip, make sure to brush on those navigation skills. It would also be a good idea to give your children whistles, so you can locate them when they get lost.
  • Bad Weather: Nature is unpredictable, so getting under a heavy rainstorm is not a far-off scenario. To prepare for this event, make sure to procure a tarp to protect important items from the rain. Store your food in a rainproof container (or trash bags), so water won’t seep through and spoil the food. In addition, bring some lightweight rain gear and waterproof matches as precautionary measures.
  • Bear at Camp: Seeing bears in the wild is such a majestic experience. However, seeing bears in your campsite isn’t! To prevent any bear encounters, keep your food, cooking utensils, and garbage in place as they can attract these animals. Moreover, do not sleep in your tent with the clothes you wore while cooking.
  • Medical Emergencies: Before your camping trip, it is important to brush your knowledge on first aid techniques in the case of injury. In the case of serious situations, make sure that you have the number of the nearest emergency personnel. If you are camping at a remote location or hard-to-reach area, you might want to bring a signal flare.

In A Nutshell

A family camping trip is an exciting way to bond with the family. You can do so many things at camp, from playing games to meeting new families. Not only are these trips fun and relaxing, they are also educational. You can learn so much more about nature in these trips than you ever could in TV shows and documentaries. But, if you want to make a successful camping trip for your family, you have to prepare it right.

Like all events, preparing for family camping trips is stressful. However, as long as you remember these extensive lists and simple tips, then you are in good hands. Just remember – the stress of preparing for family camping trips pays off when you get there. Seeing your whole family laughing together over the campfire will make you feel glad that you had this camping trip with them.

So now, are you finally ready to have the best family camping trip ever?

Would you like to print a concise version of the checklist? Click here to download​ the printable version of our ultimate family camping checklist.