Camping is an affordable, easy, and fun way to get outdoors with your family.
But forgetting an important piece of gear can ruin a fun family camping weekend (I once forgot to pack a tent… for a tent camping trip. Yep, I’m that guy).
So, we created the ultimate family camping checklist of the most important gear for your next trip! You can use our online version, download it, or print it. And we have an MS Word version, so you can quickly modify it to fit your needs.
Tip: Keep this list handy for when you’re getting ready to go on your next family camping trip. Pin it, download it, print it, share it… whatever you prefer.
And be sure to check out our family camping tips and tricks below to help ensure a successful camping trip!
The 10 Camping Essentials
Let’s first start out with the absolute essentials needed for a safe camping trip:
- Family tent
- Sleeping bags
- GPS, map, and/or compass
- Drinking water & refillable bottles
- First aid kit
- Weather appropriate clothing
- Lanterns, flashlights, or headlamps
- Toilet paper
- Fire starter (lighter, matches, etc)
- Pocket knife
What Do I Need for Camping With a Family?
With the essentials out of the way, let’s focus on items that will make the family camping trip as comfortable as possible. We’ve broken it down by category to help make packing easier.
Family Camping Gear:
- Ground pads or an air mattress (remember the pump)
- Camping chairs
- Trash bags
- Fire extinguisher
- Insect repellant
- Shirts (preferably moisture-wicking)
- Pants/shorts (preferably quick-drying)
- Fleece or jacket
- Underwear and socks (bring extras)
- Rain gear
- Shoes and/or boots
- Gloves, stocking caps (if expecting colder weather)
- Water sandals
- Camping menu (prepare a menu ahead of time)
- Snacks and meals
- Cooler with included ice
- Utensils, bowls, cups, and plates
- Can opener and cooking essentials
- Small saucepan, griddle, and Dutch oven
- Plastic storage bags
- Camp stove
- Fuel for the camp stove
- Dish soap
Health & Hygiene:
- Toilet paper
- Daily medications
- Hand sanitizer
- Menstrual products
- Baby wipes
- Contact lens
- Cash and/or credit card
- Cell phone
- Campground reservation documents (if applicable)
- Duct tape
- Tablecloth for table or picnic table
- Portable power
- Foldable table
- Mallet or hammer
- Axe or saw
What Are Fun Things to Bring Camping?
Here are some fun ideas to keep the whole family entertained at the campsite:
- Fishing gear (bait and license)
- Field guides
- Star chart
- Journal and writing and drawing supplies
- Deck of playing cards
- Favorite board games
- Coloring books and coloring supplies
- Play tent
- Camping bingo or scavenger hunt supplies
- Glow sticks
Free Printable Family Camping Checklist
We’ve put all of the camping list items above into one handy printable checklist below!
We’ve provided you with 3 different options to download our family camping checklist:
- Right-click the image below and choose “Save image as…” to save it to your computer to print off at any time. Don’t forget to pin it on Pinterest for future reference.
- Download our family camping checklist PDF.
- Download our family camping checklist Word document. Great for if you want to modify the checklist!
Family Camping Tips & Tricks
Camping with your family is one of the best experiences you can have. But, it can also sour quickly if you aren’t prepared.
Here are a few tips and tricks to get the most out of your family camping experience and make memories that last a lifetime.
Do a “Trial-Run” in Your Backyard
Camping in your backyard gives you enough time to test out your gear and figure out if anything is missing from your packs.
It’s also a great way to get your kids adjusted to what camping is. So, try to make time for this trial run before you go on your family camping trip, especially if your kids haven’t gone camping before.
Borrow Supplies from Friends and Family
Before you decide to purchase a tent for your family camping trip, think about borrowing tents from your friends and family to see what works best for your family.
It’s also a great way to know if you will need other items to make the experience more comfortable. If your friends and family are okay with you borrowing camping supplies, then why not do it? At least until you know what you want for your family camping trips.
Find Your Camping Style
Does your family prefer backpacking, staying in a camper, or car camping? Do you want to go camping in only warm weather or warm and cold weather? And so on.
Take a long hard look at how you camp. The answers to these questions will help you figure out what supplies you should bring along with you.
Keep Your Family Camping Packing List Updated
Organization before your trip will make family camping that much better.
And the more you camp with your family, the more you will have to refine your packing list. You may find new items that improve the camping experience. Or perhaps there are items you no longer need.
So, after each trip (or even still at the campsite), revisit your list and add/remove items as you see fit. This will help make your next trip that much better.
Tip: Note with asterisks which items need to be refurbished or replaced before your next trip.