Ultimate Camping Checklist

This is our go-to checklist when we are packing for a camping trip. Some of the items on the list vary depending the season and where we are camping. Click on the image below for a free, printable camping checklist. After the checklist, we have included detailed information about the specific products we use.
Camping Checklist

Clothes

Our clothing depends largely on the weather. Living in South Carolina, we tend to pack for milder weather, but even in the summer we still bring a warm layer in the event of a cool night.

  • Base Layer: The base layer is the clothing nearest to your body, which makes it pretty crucial. Always pick comfortable options! Remember: cotton kills.
    • Socks: preferably wool socks. In the summer, we usually wear sandal or athletic shoes, but it is always nice to have wool socks at night. Our favorite brand is Smartwool
    • Undies: comfort is king (or queen) here. Remington swears by Buck Naked underwear and Irene is a big fan of Patagonia’s underwear.
    • Long Johns: You want wool or synthetic, and again, it should be comfortable. In the winter, we pack serious thermals. Under Armour offers reasonably priced, fleece-lined garments.
  • Mid Layer (Depends on the season): In general, mid layer clothing are items that most American’s have laying around the house. Don’t fall into the temptation to buy over price outdoor clothing.
    • Fleece sweaters/hoodies: Our fleece hoodies are old and loved; marked with stains from previous adventures. It easy to pay too much money for a fleece jacket; consider buying a used jacket or digging an old one out of the closet.
    • Pants: Synthetic, athletic pants are ideal. Jeans can be nice, but jeans are heavy and cold when wet. In a pinch, you can make a fashion statement and wear shorts over long johns.
  • Outer Layer: Similar to the base layer, the outer layer of clothing can make or break a trip. Always prepare for unexpected weather.
    • Rain coat: These are 100% required on every trip. An unexpected rain storm can quickly cause a trip to take a turn for the worse, and even cause hypothermia. Even if it doesn’t storm, rain coats can act as an excellent wind breaker. We currently have Marmot rain coats that have proven to be durable and provide ventilation.
    • Winter Jacket: This obviously depends on the season and where you are camping. We can usually get away with bringing our lighter, Patagonia Nano Puff Coats because we live in the South.
    • Hat and Gloves: The majority of body heat is lost through your extremities.
    • Shoes: Where you are going and the type of activity will determine what shoes to bring. Our go-to shoes our Merrell hiking shoes, but sometimes we bring waterproof hiking boots or Chaco Sandals.

Bedding

  • Sleeping Bag: This is the most important item on the gear list. If the sleeping bag is left at home, then it is guaranteed to be a cold and miserable night. The same is true if your sleeping bag is not warm enough. We have found our 30-degree Nemo Mezzo Loft Sleeping Bags to be warm enough on most winter nights without being unbearably hot in the summer. Plus, they zip together for snuggle warmth!
  • Sleeping Pad: A comfortable sleeping pad is a game changer. Our NEMO Astro Sleeping Pads have integrated foot pumps which inflate the pads to 4 inches. No more aching backs or neck cricks!
  • Pillow: Pillows are underrated by most outdoor enthusiasts. Many backpackers will use extra clothes in lieu of a pillow, but lumpy socks do not equate to a good night’s rest. Therm-a-Rest offers pillows that compress to a small size.
  • Puff Blanket: On colder nights, we will pack a Rumpl puff blanket since we our sleeping bags are only rated for 30-degrees.

Campsite

  • Tent: We love our Kelty TN 3 Person Tent. It is spacious, well ventilated, and has a star-gazing feature. Be sure to read our guide for choosing a tent if you do not have one already. Also consider renting various tents before purchasing one to make sure you like the general style.
  • Camp chairs: This is our splurge camping item that makes us feel like we are glamping. Our small, REI back packing chairs are light-weight and durable.
  • Tarp: If we are going to be at the same campsite for than one night then we bring a tarp. The tarp makes the site feel home-y and is great for the unexpected rain storm.
  • Head lamp: Flashlights are great, but you will want to have both hands free when you are fumbling around in the dark. A good headlamp has at least 3 setting: bright, dim, and red. We have Black Diamond Headlamps.
  • Hammock: Hammocks are so small and light that there is no reason not pack one. We have Grand Trunk and ENO hammocks – both are great!
  • Rope: Rope is incredibly useful and is required if we need to hang a bear bag.
  • Pocket Knife: The Swiss Army Knife is the only knife you need. It is small and light while still having a variety of useful tools.
  • Bear bag or canister: Always read the food regulations where you are camping, especially if you are camping in a National Park. Most areas only require a bear bag, but some require specific types of canisters. Our bear bag is usually an extra dry bag or stuff sack.
  • Lighter/Matches: what is camping without a campfire and what is a campfire without a fire starter?
  • Map and Compasses: These are underrated in the day of GPS. A GPS signal is not guaranteed in a lot of wilderness areas. A map is also useful if you get to camp early and want to do some extra exploring. We find a lot of new trails simply by looking at a map.

Kitchen

  • FOOD! : No one likes the hangries. Check out our recipes for inspiration
  • Water: Make sure you know where the water sources will be and prepare accordingly. Water is no joke.
  • Water bottle: A bottle that carries at least a liter of water is ideal. Hydro Flask Insulated Water Bottles makes insulated water bottles that keeps water cold on sizzling summer days.
  • Water filter: If you don’t have a filter, then make sure to bring purification tablets or drops. We prefer the filter because it removes any debris from the water. The MSR SweetWater Microfilter has proven to provide fresh water during years of camping trips.
  • Utensils: Fancy titanium utensils are awesome, but regular utensils work just fine.
  • Camp stove & fuel: The stove we pack depends on the trip. The stove we primarily use the MSR Pocket Rocket, but more info on stove options read our stove article
  • Tea/Coffee maker: We get it, you are a caffeine addict. A French Press or a tea infuser can work wonders.
  • Pots & Bowls: whatever is clean in your kitchen. We were given a fancy GSI Outdoors pot and bowl combo that we love. We never bother bringing plates.
  • Soap: Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap is made from environmentally friendly ingredients and it can be used to wash pretty much anything.

First Aid/Hygiene

  • Multi-Day first aid kit: A first aid for multi-day adventures allows you to be prepared even on a short trip. Make sure to the check the kit for expired medication before leaving.
  • Toothpaste and tooth brush: you know what to bring. Remember Leave to Trace and rinse away the toothpaste spit
  • Medicine: Pack any daily or emergency medicine you might need.
  • Deodorant: even if you don’t bring deodorant camping, it can be nice to stash some in the car as you re-enter society.
  • Trowel & Toilet Paper: Holding it in isn’t healthy. Be prepared to dig a hole.

Fun:

  • Sketching Book: Kick back and enjoy being outside. A basic sketchbook is cheap and doesn’t take up much room.
  • Star Gazing Chart: One of the best parts of camping is the stars, so you might as well know what you are looking at. Astronomical chart shows the sky layout on any specific time and day of the year.
  • Playing Cards: perfect for the unexpected rainy night.
  • Camera: Smart phones have impressive cameras these days, but bringing an actual camera makes it easier to disconnect (and take less selfies!). Our camera is Olympus E-PL7 Mirrorless Camera, which is compact enough to fit in a pelican box.
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