Keep your campsite from looking like a bear tore through it with packing cubes. Whether used for organizing clothes or fire-starter materials, packing cubes can keep gear separated and easy to find. Large freezer bags work well as an alternative. Don’t forget to bring an empty cube or bag for dirty laundry so it doesn’t end up strewn about.

Thomas J. Story forget a thing with this comprehensive camping checklist

Elaine Johnson

For starters, use this easy timeline to help you get organized:


❑ Designate one corner of your garage the camping corner.

❑ Check the camping checklist.

❑ Borrow or rent any items you don’t have.


❑ Start packing your camping gear.

❑ Plan meals.

❑ Buy groceries.


❑ Make ice blocks.

❑ Pre-prep food.

❑ Make sure you have any necessary maps or location information.

❑ Check the weather online for your campground.


Pack the cooler.

❑ Pack the car.

❑ Include kids’ activities.

❑ Head out with enough time to reach camp before dark.


A good campsite needs just a few elements to be fun and livable. Our advice: Start with a big list and customize it according to what you need for each outing. If you can keep some of the gear packed together in between trips, getting ready will go faster the next time.



❑ Ground cloth

❑ Sleeping bags

❑ Sleeping pads

❑ Pillows

❑ Flashlights or headlamps and extra batteries

❑ Lantern

❑ Shade / rain shelter or tarp

❑ Rope

❑ Water carrier with spigot

❑ Folding chairs

❑ Day pack

❑ Water bottles

❑ Multi-tool or Swiss Army knife

❑ Hammer or mallet

❑ Whisk broom and dust pan (for tent)


❑ T-shirts, short- and long-sleeved

❑ Shorts

❑ Loosefitting pants (preferably zip-off)

❑ Socks (synthetic or wool)

❑ Underwear

❑ Swimsuit

❑ Sneakers

Hiking boots

❑ In-camp sandals

❑ Pullover or zippered fleece

❑ Warm jacket

❑ Warm hat

❑ Gloves

❑ Windproof / water-resistant jacket

❑ Sun hat

❑ Pajamas


❑ Toothbrush and toothpaste

❑ Comb

❑ Sunscreen

❑ Lip protection

Bug repellent

❑ Towel

❑ Quarters for the showers

❑ Soap and soap holder

❑ Shampoo

❑ First-aid kit

❑ Sunglasses

❑ Prescription medications

❑ Feminine products

❑ Clothesline and clothespins

❑ Sewing kit

Duct tape

❑ Trowel

❑ Extra toilet paper

Pet supplies


❑ Small board games (such as Apples to Apples)

❑ Books and magazines

❑ Camera or phone for taking pictures; charger cable for car

❑ Craft supplies

❑ Field guides

❑ Binoculars

❑ Magnifying glass

❑ Active games, such as wiffle bats and balls, or badminton rackets and birdies

❑ Ruler

❑ Maps

❑ Compass

❑ Trekking poles

❑ Space blanket

❑ Song book

❑ Guidebook


❑ Plastic tote bins with handles

Cooler and ice (for big groups, bring an extra cooler just for drinks)


❑ Stove fuel

❑ Butane lighter or matches

❑ Hot pads

❑ Sturdy grilling gloves

❑ Folding table (optional)

❑ Small serrated knife or paring knife

❑ Chef’s knife

❑ Bread knife

❑ Knife guards (or wrap knives in thick towels and secure with rubber bands)

❑ Cutting board

❑ Kitchen scissors

❑ Children’s scissors (for kids to help cook)

❑ Measuring cups and spoons

❑ Wooden spoon

❑ Serving spoons

❑ Wide metal spatula

❑ Corkscrew

❑ Can opener

❑ Grater

❑ Wire whisk

❑ Silicone scraper

❑ Vegetable peeler

❑ Silicone basting brush

❑ Stainless steel mixing bowls (small, medium, large)

❑ Silverware

❑ Utensil roll (optional)

❑ Tea kettle (optional)

Coffee / tea gear (cone, filters, and thermos, for example)

❑ Coffee grinder (optional)

❑ Batterypowered milk frother (optional)

❑ Large cast-iron skillet

❑ Saucepans (small and medium)

❑ Pasta pot

Camp dutch oven

❑ Sturdy grilling tongs

❑ Portable grill grate (optional)

❑ Charcoal chimney and newspaper

❑ Charcoal

❑ Firewood and kindling (if allowed)

❑ Hatchet/ax

❑ Colander (collapsible, if available)

❑ Dishpan or portable sink

❑ Biodegradable dish soap

❑ Sponge

❑ Nylon mesh scrubber

❑ Dishtowels

❑ Plastic tablecloth

❑ Unbreakable plates

❑ Camp mugs

❑ Plastic cups

❑ Bowls

❑ Extendable forks for fire

❑ Paper towels

❑ Heavy-duty foil

❑ Resealable plastic bags/ containers for lunch/leftovers

❑ Trash and recycling bags

Recipes (get a copy of our Camp Sunset book, too!)


In addition to ingredients for recipes, we like to keep these supplies on hand.

❑ Coffee

❑ Tea

❑ Cocoa mix

❑ Half-and-half

❑ Milk

❑ Butter

❑ Pancake mix


Oatmeal and granola

❑ Bacon or sausages

❑ Fruit (fresh and dried)

❑ Bagels

❑ Juice

❑ Salt and pepper

❑ Syrup

❑ Vegetable oil

❑ Extra-virgin olive oil

❑ Red wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar

❑ Bread

❑ Peanut butter

❑ Jam

❑ Cheese

❑ Salami / cold cuts

❑ Crackers

❑ Mustard and mayo

❑ Pretzels, chips, etc.

❑ Salsa

❑ Cookies

❑ Jerky

❑ Go bars

❑ Pasta

❑ Marinara or pesto

❑ Parmesan cheese

❑ Dried herbs and spices

Fresh herbs

❑ Vegetables (preferably sturdy ones such as peppers, broccoli, onions)

❑ Salad greens

❑ Marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate for s’mores

❑ Emergency foods (ramen, miso soup, sardines, etc.)

❑ Beer, wine, and/or cocktail supplies