How to Simplify Your Camping Checklist Now

New to the camping scene? Not sure what to pack and what to leave at home? Maybe you’ve been doing this for awhile but you still have not got the packing down to a fine art. Either way, this simple camping checklist can help you save time and headache.

Experienced travellers often rely on lists. It’s no different for campers. If you go camping you probably have a camping checklist. I am a list lover so I tend to write them all over the place. Occasionally, I even remember where I put them when I need the list in question. LOL.

Your list can be as extensive, or as short, as you want. If you have a very long camping checklist, there are ways to simplify it. Sometimes long lists can wear you down just by looking at them. If you find yours super overwhelming then it’s time to chunk the items or edit. Or maybe just use this post as a guideline to help.

The view from my tent last year while camping

Simplify Your Camping Checklist

Matches/ Lighter

Taking some kind of matches or lighter is vital because being able to start a fire is a huge part of camping. Many people forget this. This is a small item but a very essential one on your packing list for camping.


There are a few nonnegotiable food items on my camping checklist always. This will be the next thing to add to your short list. You just need to write down food. You can go over in your mind what types of food you want to take and place it aside and pack it right away. You may not be able to include meats or things that need freezing but you would be surprised at how much that can be packed long before you go. Check your list before you leave and you will remember the frozen articles. Instant coffee if you need it, buns for hotdogs or hamburgers, cereal, bread, a carton of juice for kids. Snacks too. These are easy to pack ahead of time.

Cooking utensils

You will need something to cook your food in and all you need add to your list is cooking utensils. This will let you think of the things you will need in this area. Go through your cooking in your mind and pack the pots and plates you will need. Also related – dish soap, just a tiny bit to last the trip so that you can clean the plates, mugs and silverware.


I almost missed this one because it seems like common sense but then again maybe not. Pack a tent or rent an RV. Either way you will enjoy the experience of sleeping under the stars.

Coleman Stove

Accept no other substitutes. These stoves work brilliantly. You could get away with camping over an open fire and you might also need a Coleman stove so be ready.

A Bucket or Pail

You will need this for so many reasons. Just pack a bucket. If you need to fill it with water in order to safely put a fire out then you have one handy.

Warm, Dry, Clothing

Break it down if you want. But here’s the thing. In Ontario where I live it gets cold at night probably ten months of the year, so you need to think warm and dry. Bring your swimsuit for sure. But bring the flannel pyjamas and the wind breaker and extra socks. Bring lightweight, washable, long sleeve tops because then you can easily wash and hag to dry and wear again if necessary. Think in terms of layers and remember to bring one extra in the event of miserable weather or sudden illness.

One September we did an epic Ontario Parks adventure with an RV and it was amazing. It was also September and we were up near Killarney and Grundy Provincial Parks and at night — BRRRR. The kids had warm blankets and sweatshirts with them and one wore her warmest sweatshirt probably four out of the five days. It cools off fast at night.

Don’t forget to bring something decent to wear too. If we need to leave the campsite one night to trek in to town and go to a restaurant I’d rather that the kids were not wearing pyjama bottoms to dinner. Know what I mean?


If it rains or is damp at all you will be glad you had the camping tarp packed. That is all. I might buy another one this year for camping adventures because believe me you don’t want to get soaked when camping, especially if camping with family.

Towel/ dish cloth

You need the towels if you swim, or shower or rinse off in a lake at the end of the day or early in the morning. Polar Dip anyone? Obviously you need a cloth to clean the dishes too.

Sleeping Bags

Clearly you need a sleeping bag for each member of the family. That’s a no brainer.

Blankets, Mattress Pad

Depending on how rough your experience or accommodation is you will potentially need or benefit from extra blankets and a mattress pad. We have done some tent camping with and without a mattress pad. My oldest daughter lasted one trip without a mattress pad and then was literally ready to buy one herself with her own money.

This is an important part of your camping checklist. Poor sleep can ruin the experience for everyone.

Flashlights/ Lanterns

This is another word to add to your list. Find your lanterns and pack them away. Include flashlights in this list. You will need a flashlight to maneuver around your campsite in the dark.


You will needs to take something to fill up the few spare moments you have while camping. If you list games that will remind you to pack things like books, playing cards and games to take up your time while relaxing.


Need toiletries? I have two teens so when we camp we also bring something to wash our faces with. That can be as simple as a facecloth and water or occasionally it is cleanser and we walk to the washrooms before bed to wash the sunscreen and dirt off our faces.


If you have medicine that you take for any reason please remember to pack it and store it safely. Also, if you camp and have a medical condition or are concerned about health for any reason always check the location of the nearest hospital.

First Aid Kit

That leads right into a First Aid Kit. I rarely leave home without one. Accidents happen and you should be ready to do basic first aid if necessary on any trip or road trip.


Bottled water is sometimes a smart addition to the packing list. Depending on the type of camping you are doing and where you are going you could run out of water and I can’t be dehydrated even if I am just two hours from home camping in southern Ontario. So occasionally I do load up a huge jug of water. This is also the one and only time we travel with a case of bottled water.


Not negotiable. If you camp at all then you know this. Bugs can be a total PITA.


This is a big one no matter where you go. Make sure to pack sunscreen for any kind of travel or camping trip. Don’t mess with a nasty sunburn.


To Take Pictures and maybe even call someone in event of an emergency, you should still have a phone. You might want to be off grid and all of that which is totally admirable, but also be safe.

Copy and print the Camping Checklist out

Easily get this printable checklist one of two ways. You can click and save the printable image in this post or just click on the download link below. Print it out for reference. Have a wonderful trip!

Camping is a Fabulous Way to Explore

We were late to the game but now we adore camping and can’t get enough of it. So, we’ve learned a few tricks along the way through trial and error. This camping list can help.

Is there anything we missed?

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.