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Camping Checklist for Families

Outdoor FreeApr May Jun Jul Aug Sep

Camping with your family requires a lot of preparation work, but the benefits from going on such an adventure will provide lasting memories for years to come.

I will guide you through some of the essential planning to get started. I have been taking camping trips for over 20 years. From Alaska and Colorado to Maine, I've pretty much camped all over the Unites States.

I suggest more of a car camping type of adventure. This will provide easy exit if conditions get unsafe, or if anything comes up that you need to leave on a spur of a moment.

Camping with kids can require a lot of extra gear you may not need for adult camping adventures, but you will need much of this list for comfort for all.

Be sure to check out other lists from Appalachian Mountain club and REI for great lists, too.

First Thing to Organize

Sort out a location for your trip. Book early, because the best campgrounds fill up very quickly. You may also want to avoid weekend traffic by leaving early on a Friday. Setting up your campsite during daylight hours is really the best way to go with kids.

Prepare Your Gear

Be sure your gear is ready to go before you go camping. Even checking to see if you tend is in perfect working order. Our friends at the Barefoot Nomad have done all of the hard work for you by testing dozens of backpacks and picking the very best travel backpacks to help keep you organized while on the road.

Camping Gear Essentials

  • Tent
  • A good back pack
  • Tent base (we like to use a tarp)
  • Extra tarp
  • Sleeping bag for each camper
  • Sleeping pad for each camper
  • Headlamps or flashlights (extra batteries)
  • Lantern Lantern fuel or batteries
  • Pillows
  • Extra blankets
  • Chairs

Kitchen Items

  • Stove
  • Fuel for stove
  • Matches and/or lighter
  • Firewood
  • Frying pan
  • Pot
  • Tablecloth
  • Water bottles
  • Plates, bowls, forks, spoons, knives
  • Cups, mugs
  • Food-storage containers, bags
  • Trash bags
  • Cooler
  • Ice
  • Paring knife, spatula, cooking spoon
  • Cutting board
  • Foil
  • Soap Sponge, dishcloth, dishtowel
  • Paper towels
  • Extra basin for washing dishes

Clothing Essentials

  • Clothes for daytime
  • Pajamas
  • Bathing suits
  • Rain gear (a must!)
  • Shoes - all kinds - hiking, flip-flops, water shoes
  • Layers for warmth
  • Gloves and hats


  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • First-aid kit
  • Prescription medications
  • Toothbrush, toiletries
  • Soap
  • Towels

Special Items

  • Camera
  • Phone
  • Maps & area information
  • Bikes, Frisbee, balls/toys

Prepare the food list

  1. Write down what you plan to eat for each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner.)
  2. Then prepare what you can at home—marinate the meats, cut the vegetables, wrap the potatoes in foil.
  3. When you pack the cooler, set out the foods meal by meal, thinking about how you'll serve each meal so you don't forget condiments and necessary utensils, can opener, etc.

Once you get a solid preparation in order, your trip will be much easier from start to finish, and you will be ready for whatever your adventure has in store for you.

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