This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure
A camping checklist is the best way to avoid forgetting these camping essentials! Going camping can be a wonderful family adventure, however, it can also be a bit of a nightmare. The latter usually happens thanks to one thing – you forgot to pack something important for the camping trip.
There are some must bring essentials when camping with kids that can mean the difference between having an amazing vacation, or ending up with an unanticipated emergency.
This camping with kids checklist will help you get organised before you go.
Whether you’ve camped before, or if it’s your first time, don’t leave for your camping trip without these essentials for camping trips:
Basic Camping Checklist
First Aid kit
Cooking and dining equipment
Sleeping bags and pillows
Flashlight, headlamp or lantern
Portable solar charger
Family Camping Essentials
Having a camping packing list is useful whether it is your first camping trip or a subsequent adventure. With so many things to remember, it helps to have a basic checklist.
Now that we’ve got the list of basic camping supplies, let’s take a closer look at each of the items to see why they are important and what the best options are for your ultimate family camping trip.
Forgetting your tent when tent camping would send you back home in a hurry! Having a tent with you on your camping trip is essential because it keeps you safe from unexpected weather conditions. Especially if you are camping during the extremes – either hot or cold!
You neither want to risk getting hypothermia or waking to early morning sunburn without proper shelter.
You also want to make sure you have a tent that is big enough to suit the size of your family, with a little extra room to spare if you are going for more than one night.
Whichever tent you decide to get make sure that you bring all the necessary accessories for it as well:
And any other must-have tent accessories you need to get it set up!
Tip: Bring extra tarpaulins and rope just in case – for extra protection from wet weather, to cover tent damage or to use as ground cover in community areas.
When camping, a sleeping bag is essential. It may seem like an adventure to sleep on a bed of leaves and moss until you break out in an allergic reaction or wake up to multiple insect bites. Ick!
During the night the temperatures drop significantly, depending on the time of year and the location you are camping.
Also, insects are most active at night.
To avoid having a sleepless night, make sure to bring your sleeping bags and sleeping accessories with you on your camping trip, to help make sleep easier.
Sleeping bags – Choose sleeping bags that are suited to the weather conditions of your camping trip so you aren’t cold overnight.
Pillows – Camping pillows are a compact alternative if you want to save space.
Air mattress & pump – If you plan to use an air mattress, make sure you bring a manual air pump or have one that is battery-operated. You don’t want to get caught out without electricity to pump your bed!
Tip: For when you are packing extra light, sleeping pads are a good alternative to air mattresses or camp beds. They require minimal inflation and give just enough protection from hard or rough surfaces.
When camping, always keep water purification tablets and a filter on hand if you are freedom camping away from water facilities. This will help with safety in case you need to get water from a nearby stream.
Also, always carry at least a full days supply of water in a large container or Camelbak. Or enough for your entire trip if you know it won’t be readily available nearby.
The last thing anyone wants is to be left without a fresh supply of water. And keep in mind that drinking water direct from a lake or pond can cause illness due to bacteria.
The ultimate multipurpose tool is the pocket knife, which can be used to dice bait, trim a rope, open a tightly sealed package, slice sausage or cheese, cut fishing line, tighten a screw, sharpen a stick, and so on.
Without a multi-tool pocket knife, these tasks can be difficult and you don’t want to break a tooth trying to chew something you could easily cut.
Bring at least one multipurpose pocket knife tool. Better still, bring two in case one breaks or goes missing. And keep it out of reach of small children.
Having a fire starter is essential to starting a warm campfire, and of course, without a campfire, you’re hardly going to get the full camping experience, are you?
A fire starter can include waterproof matches, a lighter, a flint and steel, or a magnesium fire starter.
It’s best to have two fire starters in case one of them fails.
Bring fire kindling with you in a waterproof container, like strips of newspaper and dry bark. The fire kindling will come in handy if you struggle to find dry kindling in the outdoors.
Flashlight, Headlamp, Or Lantern
A battery-powered light is an essential camping with kids checklist item you must have, as a campfire can only help so much.
During the night when you’re in your tent and you need to find something, or if you need to make a bathroom (bush potty) trip, having a flashlight, headlamp, or lantern is invaluable.
This is even more essential when camping with kids who may find the deep dark of the wilderness frightening.
Tip: Check out these cool camping hacks with kids for some ideas on how you can light up your campsite at night to help them feel more at ease.
Toilet paper is a necessary essential that every camper must have.
Ending up having to use leaves and bark for the latrine is a poor substitute that lacks both hygiene and comfort.
Even if you are camping at a site with toilet facilities, it helps to be prepared in case they forget to stock the loo paper.
If you are concerned regarding leaving a trace, purchase biodegradable toilet paper for an environmentally friendly option.
Wet wipes are another useful item to pack when camping with kids… or anytime really! Wet wipes have so many cleaning uses!
There is nothing more annoying than attempting to enjoy your time in nature when nature won’t stop biting!
When you head off camping, it’s almost a rite of passage to forget something, no matter how seasoned you are. Whether it be the bug spray, your favourite camp frying pan or the spare pare of flip flops you meant to bring.
This is what makes having a checklist so helpful for camping trips. Especially when it comes to remembering all the different cooking equipment you want to bring for your camp kitchen.
Knowing what else you want to bring will depend on the food you are bringing on your camping trip. It helps to do a camping meal plan before you leave so you know if there are any other special tools you want to bring.
Packing your personal belongings and clothing into packing cubes to keep them compact. You can give each family member a different colour packing cube to make it easy to know which belongs to who.
For kitchen and essential camping gear, place smaller items inside larger items where possible, to save space in your vehicle. Always start by packing the largest items in first and fitting the smaller items around them.
Leave any unnecessary bulky items at home.
This camping with kids checklist will help you pack the essentials for your family camping trip and hopefully not forget anything important!
If you’re not quite sure you are ready to brave the full camping experience, you can always start with glamping instead. Or hire a campervan to give yourself a few of the extra luxuries until you’re ready to try tent camping!