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Camping checklist

Get ready to pack up and sleep under the stars. This car camping checklist covers off the camp essentials, plus has some extras to make your campsite extra sweet – you may not need everything on this list, so adjust your camp checklist for what makes sense for your group and plans.

Heading into the backcountry? See our backpacking checklist or canoe or kayak touring checklist instead.

Sleep and shelter

A good night’s sleep is totally possible when you’re out camping. A well-made tent or shelter and all its accessories for setting up is just the first step – learn more about how to choose a tent based on the elements you’ll be facing and where you’ll be camping. To keep you comfy at night, you’ll also want to know what kind of sleeping bag to bring. Here’s a checklist of sleeping essentials you’ll need:

Campsite set-up

Think of the campsite as your home away from home. When you aren’t in your living room, what are some creature comforts that you’d miss? Whether it’s a spot to kick back and relax while you read or stargaze, or a place for you and the crew to crowd around for game night, make sure you have the right campsite supplies for setting up:

Kitchen and cooking

Just because you’re “roughing it” doesn’t mean that the food you eat needs to be sub-par. There’s plenty of gourmet (but packable and lightweight) kitchen and cooking supplies you can bring camping, from pots and pans for a mean bowl of chili, or coffee supplies for espresso in the morning. When it comes to food and meal planning, check out our useful list of snack ideas to help inspire you (and tips on how to avoid overpacking). One important tip: it’s always important be aware of wildlife at campsites, and a few basic principles go a long way. Learn how to keep bears away from your campsite so they don’t go sniffing around your food (or your tent), and get ready to pack:

Outdoor essentials

While you’re camping, you’re likely not planning on snoozing around the campsite all day (or maybe you are, no judgement – relaxing in nature is pretty great). To keep you safe and prepared for your plans, a few extra outdoor essentials are a must, like first aid kits, extra batteries for your headlamp, and bug spray. Planning a day hike? Read up on how to stay safe when you’re hiking so you and the gang can have an incredible day exploring the area around your campsite, and learn what to bring:

Clothes and shoes

Check the weather forecast for where you’re going and think about what kinds of activities you’ll be doing, then adjust your packing to match. If you’re staying near the water or in the mountains, it can get cooler than you’d expect so be ready to layer. Bring clothes made of quick-drying, moisture-wicking materials. Here are some ideas for where to start:

Personal stuff

Spending the weekend at a campsite will likely be a big change in scenery from your regular routine, but it can be easy to forget packing everyday essentials we use at home. To help you out, think about your nightly routine before you head to bed, including brushing your teeth, taking medication, washing your face or putting in earplugs to block out your partner’s snoring. Here’s a list of things that may be a part of your personal essentials:

Fun extras

When you’re not trekking to amazing viewpoints or dreaming away in your tent, there’s plenty of fun to be had around the campfire by yourself or with your crew. Finally hoping to finish that book that’s been sitting by your bedside? Bring it along, along with binoculars to look for birds from your hammock reading spot. If there’s somewhere to swim close to your campsite, pack everything you need for a day of splashing around. And if you love a classic cooked meal by the fire, be sure you have the right supplies for toasted marshmallows and hot dogs-a-plenty. Some ideas of what to bring: