Fall Camping Checklist (Printable PDF & editable)

Fall can be a tricky time to start your camping career. The weather can be unpredictable and colder. You might be nervous about doing your first camping trip at this time of the year. 

There are tremendous advantages to camping in the fall: Fewer bugs, fantastic foliage, a good time of the year for wildlife spotting, and sunsets. The days are warm enough to hike without overheating, and the chillier nights make campfires so much more attractive to be around.

All you need is the right equipment. Glad you stopped by! Check out our fall camping checklist that covers all the essentials that you’ll need for your first trip, as well as noting the extras you’ll need to camp in the fall or Autumn with. 

Read on to make sure you’ve got everything you need for a fantastic fall camping trip this year!

Sleeping

  • Tent, poles, stakes/pegs, mallet, rainfly, or tarp
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  • Groundsheet, footprint, or tarp
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  • Sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, sleeping pad, sheets, woollen blankets
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  • Pillow
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Related: Looking for a large tent that’s great for the whole family? Find out what the best 8 man tent for camping is.

Kitchen

  • Camp table
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  • Camp chairs
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  • Tarp or shelter
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  • Portable camping stove or campfire materials
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  • Extra stove fuel, lighters, matches, firewood, firelighters
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  • Cooking pots and pans
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  • Large bowl
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  • Stovetop kettle
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  • Cooking utensils (Wooden spoons, tongs, flippers, spatula)
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  • Can opener, corkscrew, bottle openers
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  • Cutting board and knives
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  • Cooler with ice or ice packs
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  • Rubbish bin/bags
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  • Bucket for dishwashing, scrubber, detergent, tea towels, dishcloth
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  • Large drinking water container with potable water or water purification system
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  • Food containers and resealable plastic bags for food storage.
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  • Foil and paper towel
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  • Marshmallow cooking sticks
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  • Dustpan and brush
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Eating

  • Plates and bowls
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  • Knives, forks, and spoons
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  • Mugs and water cups
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  • Wine glasses
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  • Water bottles
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  • Insulated hot drink mugs
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Wet weather protection

  • Tarp, poles, ropes, stakes
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  • Rain jackets
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  • Clothesline and pegs
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Clothing & Footwear

  • Bag for clean clothes
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  • Quick-drying suitable outdoor clothing for the season
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  • Suitable nightwear
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  • Sun protection (Hats, sunglasses, sun shirts)
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  • Snow protection (Jackets, boots, thermal underwear)
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  • Cold weather protection (Hats, gloves, scarves)
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  • Trekking boots, water shoes, slip-on shoes
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  • Woolen socks
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  • Swimming gear (swimsuit, towel)
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  • Plastic bag for dirty/wet clothes
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Toiletries

  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
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  • Deodorant
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  • Soap, shampoo
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  • Quick-dry towel
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  • Hairbrush
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  • Shaver
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  • Toilet paper
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  • Medications
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  • First aid kit
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  • Insect repellent
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  • Sunscreen
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  • Chapstick or lip balm
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  • Reading glasses/contact lenses
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  • Toilet shovel
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  • Waterless hand sanitizer
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  • Baby wipes
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Lighting

  • Lanterns
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  • Candles, matches
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  • Headlamps
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  • Rechargeable torches
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  • Flashlights
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  • Spare Batteries
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  • Portable solar panel for recharging
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Entertainment

  • Field guides, star charts, and books
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  • Binoculars
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  • Notebook and pencils (pencils write on wet-ish paper)
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  • Music player, Bluetooth speakers, phone, tablet, etc
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  • Musical instrument
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  • Ball, frisbee
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  • Watercrafts
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  • Hammock
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  • Camera
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  • Fishing gear, bait, license
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  • Deck of cards, Jigsaw, board games
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  • Day pack for short hikes
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Useful things

  • Phone charger
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  • Watch or clock
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  • Rope – thick and thin
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  • Multi-tool/Pocket knife/Scissors
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  • Duct Tape
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  • Extra guy ropes
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  • Bungy/shock cords
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  • Tent pole repair
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  • Hammer/saw/axe
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  • Compass or navigation device
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  • Reflective blanket
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  • Mosquito net
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  • Credit card/cash/Identification
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  • Repair kits for tent, tarps, water toys, blow-up mattresses
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  • Bear spray for errant bears also works well on unwanted human intruders
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  • Whistle
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A couple’s feet with socks and a hot drink at a tent entrance.
Wear layers so you can quickly adjust to the weather’s temperature.

Fall camping tips and hacks for first-time fall campers

  • Plan to wear layers. It’s more versatile than a big heavy jacket when the weather fluctuates a lot, especially for kids.
  • The easiest way to stay warm on a cold evening is to put on a woolen hat. You lose a lot of body heat through your head.
  • Gloves, mittens, and scarves can also help keep you warm without taking up too much room in your bag. 
  • Sleep off the ground if you can. Air mattresses aren’t the best on the cold ground though, as the air inside it will be the same temperature as the ground underneath. Use a cot, stretcher, or pad instead.  
  • Put up your rainfly for both rain protection and insulation to keep the tent warmer. 
  • A hot water bottle is great for starting the night nice and toasty.
  • Start the evening meal preparation while the sun is still up so you can eat just before dark.
  • Campfire cooking is excellent to do on colder nights and keeps you warm as well!
  • Longer day hikes can be possible in fall without the blazing sun to contend with.
  • If it’s too cold to swim, try kayaking and canoeing instead so you can still enjoy our wonderful waterways. 
  • Get to your campsite early so you aren’t setting up in the dark. 
  • Use a list so you don’t forget anything. 
  • Use a 3-season tent rather than a 2-season tent for fall camping trips. 
  • Be prepared for rain. Or snow!
  • Set up for tent for the morning sun so it warms you and the tent as early as possible.
  • Insulated cups will be perfect for keeping soup and hot drinks hot outdoors for longer. 
  • Bring extra fuel for cooking. Food seems to take longer to cook in the cold!
  • Remember to keep drinking water even though the days are cooler. 
  • Know where you can go if things turn pear-shaped weather or animal-wise and you need to leave the campsite. 
  • Car camping allows you to bring extra blankets and clothes to make sure you stay warm. 

And a few things to do before you leave

Always leave with a full tank of gas in the car, and remember to call and let someone know exactly where you are going and when you’ll be back.

It’s a good idea to make sure you have the campsite booking number, address, phone, direction, and a printed confirmation with you and leave a copy with a friend. A paper-based map will be handy if phone coverage is patchy where you are planning to camp.

It’s also a good idea to know what the weather is going to do, the fire ban status of the area, and what dangerous animals or toxic plants you may encounter in your campsite.

Stay safe!  Happy Camping 😊

Next up: Fancy a weekend away? Check out our weekend camping packing checklist.

Author at Wilderness Redefined camping website

Kara grew up in New Zealand where camping in the backyard as a child turned into multi-night trips in the National Parks as a teenager and then a full blown backpacking adventure for a year in Asia, by herself in her early 20's. Camping, bush walking, car camping and road trips still feature heavily in her current life style. She lives right next door to a World Heritage National Park on Springbrook Mountain and highly recommends having them as next door neighbours!