Family Camping Checklist (Printable PDF & Editable)

You want to take the family camping for the first time and you’re not 100% sure what to take. You don’t want to leave important stuff behind or pack so much that you spend too much time packing and unpacking and don’t have time to enjoy the trip.

What do you really need when you take the family on a weekend summer camping trip?

Check out our family camping checklist with all the essential basics for any camping trip and all the things to consider when you are camping with the family!

Related: Looking to head out camping with the kids? Find out what the best family camping tents are.

Sleeping

  • Tent, poles, stakes/pegs, mallet, rainfly, or tarp.
  • Groundsheet, footprint, or tarp.
  • Sleeping bag, sheets, blankets.
  • Sleeping pads or air mattresses.
  • Pillows.
  • Doormat to go in front of tents.
  • Children’s special sleep toys.
  • Portable cot or safe place for small children to sleep.
  • Add new

Kitchen

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

Eating

  • Plates and bowls.
  • Knives, forks, and spoons.
  • Mugs and water cups.
  • Wine glasses!
  • Water bottles.
  • Baby specific eating utensils and bottles.
  • Add new

Wet weather protection

  • Tarp, poles, ropes, stakes.
  • Rain jackets.
  • Clothes pegs.
  • Add new

Clothing & Footwear

  • Bag for clean clothes.
  • Quick-drying suitable outdoor clothing for the season.
  • Suitable nightwear.
  • Sun protection (Hats, sunglasses, sun shirts).
  • Snow protection (Jackets, boots, thermal underwear).
  • Cold weather protection (Hats, gloves, scarves).
  • Trekking boots, water shoes, slip-on shoes.
  • Socks.
  • Swimming gear (swimsuit, towel).
  • Plastic bags for dirty/wet clothes.
  • Usual baby bag items but lots more of them.
  • Extra clothes – all kids get dirtier than usual.
  • Slip-on shoes for around the camp.
  • Add new

Toiletries

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

Lighting

  • Lanterns.
  • Candles.
  • Matches/lighter.
  • Headlamps.
  • Rechargeable torches.
  • Flashlights
  • Torch or headlamp for each child.
  • Spare Batteries.
  • Portable solar panel for recharging.
  • Add new

Entertainment

  • Field guides, star charts, and books.
  • Binoculars.
  • Notebook and pencils (pencils write on wet-ish paper).
  • Music player, Bluetooth speakers, phone, tablet, etc.
  • Musical instrument.
  • Ball, frisbee
  • Watercrafts.
  • Hammock.
  • Camera.
  • Fishing gear, bait, license.
  • Deck of cards, Jigsaw, board games.
  • Day pack for short hikes.
  • Child carrier or backpack.
  • Blankets and toys (that can get dirty) for playtime.
  • Bikes (with helmet), blow-up boats, buckets, bubbles.
  • Cards, coloring in, or board games for quiet time.
  • Bushcraft book.
  • Walkie-talkies for keeping track of the kids.
  • Add new

Useful extras

  • Phone charger.
  • Watch or clock.
  • Rope – thick and thin.
  • Multi-tool/Pocket knife/Scissors.
  • Duct Tape.
  • Extra guy ropes.
  • Bungee/shock cords.
  • Tent pole repair.
  • Hammer/saw/axe.
  • Compass or navigation device.
  • Reflective blanket.
  • Mosquito net.
  • Credit card/cash/Identification.
  • Repair kits for tent, tarps, water toys, blow-up mattresses.
  • Bear spray for errant bears also works well on unwanted human intruders.
  • Whistle.
  • Add new
Children with headlamps searching for things on a beach at dusk
Mother Nature will provide a huge amount of entertainment (and learning) while you are camping!

Family specific camping tips and hacks for first time campers

  • Set up camp early. Give yourself plenty of time.
  • Book a place with a bathroom for your first few trips.
  • Keep it simple. Meals, shelter, and expectations.
  • Give the kids tasks and jobs to do while you set up camp.
  • Get a bigger tent. You’ll appreciate the extra room.
  • An air mattress might not survive a bit of rough “play” by the kids…
  • Plan a decent breakfast to keep them (and you) going!
  • Bring lots of snacks. Camping makes kids ravenous!
  • Put the kids in their own tent if you can, and ban them from yours unless you like to sleep in mud and toys!
  • The first night is the worst. The kids sleep well after that!
  • Write your phone number on the kid’s arm if you’re worried about them getting lost at the campsite.
  • Car camping the first few times has the advantage of being able to bring bulky equipment and supplies with you until you know what you need and the best way to pack it. 
  • Make a list of all the things you didn’t use and when you get home, remove it from your list. Then add the things you wish you had bought while you were camping. 
Children will find activities and games without packing toys
Kids will find plenty to do in the forest without fancy toys!

And a few things to do before you leave

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

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

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

Stay safe!

Happy Camping 😊

Next up: If you’ve got toddlers, make sure to pack the right gear for them! Find out what to bring in our camping with a toddler 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!