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The Essential Camping Checklist for Your Outdoor Adventures

Growing up in Oregon, I have been on many a camping trip in my time. There are all different ways to camp; backpacking into the wilderness, car camping on the coast, party camping at festivals, backyard camping, tent camping, yurt or RV glamping- you name it, I’ve probably done it.

One of my favorite things about camping is how open ended it is as an activity; no matter your skill level or preferred style, anyone can have fun on a weekend camping trip. My two favorite camping trips are prime examples of this:

The first was a two-night camping party extravaganza outside Portland with a huge group of friends for Warped Tour 2007. It was hot, it was loud, it was crazy. There was beer pong, campfire singalongs, and my best friend karate chopped a burning log and then fell in the creek. We slept in our cars and ate McDonald’s for every meal.

The second was vastly different: a three-day backpacking trip into the Lower Rogue Wilderness Area in Southern Oregon with my then-boyfriend. We packed it in and packed it out, spending our days hiking with 40 lb packs on our backs and our nights laying out under the stars, listening to owls in the trees and the sound of the river below us.

There is a whole spectrum of camping between these two extremes! Whether you’re backpacking, car or tent camping, or glamping, you need to make sure you bring all the essentials. We’ve created this essential camping checklist to help you prepare for your wilderness adventure. While you may not need everything on this list, you might just find something you never thought to bring!

Aosom’s Essential Camping Checklist 

For the Campsite

These are your basic camping essentials that will make or break your trip. While you might choose to forgo an air mattress or camp table, you definitely won’t want to forget your sleeping bag, matches, or a plastic bag for garbage. Remember to pack it out and leave the campsite better than you found it!

Check out our Great Outdoors themed 4th of July blog to see the very best of our camping gear to get you on the road to your next outdoor adventure!

Food and Drink

Let’s be real for a second- the best part of camping is the food. Hot dogs, camp coffee, s’mores, everything tastes better cooked over an open fire. Sure, the fresh air is nice, the scenery is beautiful, the wildlife is intriguing- but it’s all about the food!

  • Fresh drinking water
  • Food: Plan meals ahead of time and bring all necessary ingredients
  • S’mores fixings
  • Plastic utensils
  • Skewers for marshmallows, hot dogs
  • Ice
  • Paper Plates or Camp Dishes
  • Cups
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Knife
  • Multitool (can opener, bottle opener, scissors, knife, pliers)
  • Cooking pots and pans
  • Cooking utensils
  • Camp Sink
  • Soap
  • Towels
  • Camp Grill
  • Charcoal
  • Cookstove
  • Propane
  • Tinfoil
  • Pet supplies/ food

In need of some campground culinary inspiration? Check out these amazing and easy to make camping recipes and hacks curated by Country Living Magazine and the Food Network:

53 Easy Camping Recipes for Your Next Trip

25 Brilliant Camping Food Hacks

Personal Hygiene

Just because you’re roughing it for a night or two doesn’t mean your personal hygiene needs to suffer. You’ll still want to be prepared for all types of weather, insect, and emergencies. If you’re going to be spending time on the water, make sure your sunscreen is waterproof!

  • Clothes: Long and short sleeve tees, shorts, jeans, pajamas, underwear, sweatshirt, rain jacket, etc.
  • Extra Socks
  • Swimsuit
  • Hiking boots
  • Bug Spray
  • Toilet Paper
  • Paper Towels
  • Baby wipes
  • Sunscreen
  • First Aid Kit
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Tylenol, ibuprofen, medications
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun hat

Make sure you don’t forget anything else with one of these printable checklists from REI and Sunset Magazine:

Family Camping Checklist
Adventure Camping Checklist

Fun and Games

You can’t spend the entire camping trip sitting around the campfire eating s’mores. Here are some essential extras to bring along. Make sure you never have a dull moment, even if you get caught in the rain.

  • Camera
  • Map
  • Field Guide
  • Compass
  • Star Chart/ Night Sky Guide
  • Bluetooth speaker
  • Power bank, phone charger
  • Fishing poles and gear
  • Binoculars
  • Toys, bikes, etc for kids
  • Deck of cards
  • Sketchbook and drawing pencils

In search of more structured activities to keep kids and adults entertained on your camping weekend? Check out these awesome suggestions from Sky Above Us and Beyond the Tent:

Fun Activities to Do When Camping

99 Fun Camping Activities and Games

Pro Tips:

When going camping, make sure to tell someone your plans- where you’re going, when you’ll be back, possible alternative routes you may take, and a description of your vehicle.

Check to see if you need reservations ahead of time, or if a park fee is required. Make sure to bring cash just in case.

Make note of the closest ranger station, general store, or other outpost of civilization, especially if you are heading into the backcountry.

Plan meals and pack accordingly. Bring a spatula and skillet if you’re making pancakes for breakfast. Pre-season meat at home or bring it in a marinade bag. Don’t forget salt and pepper!

Be aware of fire season, fire hazards, and check ahead of time whether campfires will be allowed in your area. If not, you’ll want to bring a portable charcoal grill or propane camp stove.

Don’t forget the coffee! You probably won’t be bringing your Keurig, so opt for iced coffees or instant coffee. Bring a pot to boil water in. If you’re feeling fancy, you could even bring a French Press.

Use this essential camping checklist to make sure you don’t forget to pack anything!

Get Outside!

However you choose to camp, we hope this essential camping checklist will serve you well. Make sure to tag us in your Facebook and Instagram camping posts to be shared on our story and page!

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