Camping Checklist

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This article is part of our series: How to Go Camping

Illustration of items in camping checklist

Camping is a fun way to enjoy time outside with family, friends or even just yourself. And there are myriad ways (and places) to do it. You can camp with just the essentials or zhuzh up your site with blankets, pillows, a hammock and more. You can pitch a tent in many state and national parks, at private campgrounds, in the backcountry or even in your own backyard. (For more info, read Where Can I Camp?)

Most campsites include a picnic table, a place to park your vehicle and a spot to pitch your tent. Many also have shared bathrooms and running water (though you'll want to check this before setting out).

Part of the joy of camping is needing very little gear to exist outdoors. But it's also nice to have a comfortable, convenient and homey setup. If it's your first time camping, it might be best to borrow or rent some of these things. As you become a more experienced camper, you may find that part of the fun is figuring out what to bring along to meet your needs.

While you're packing, use this handy camping checklist to make sure you don't forget anything important and to make sure you've stocked up on the things you need. This is a comprehensive list, so we don't expect you to bring along every item—though we won't judge you if you do!

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These are important items for your camping essentials checklist:


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Tools & Repair Items

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Many campgrounds have drinkable water. If not, bring your own, or be prepared to treat water if there's a water source. Also, for even more ideas and food suggestions, see our separate Camp Kitchen Checklist.


  • Marshmallow/hot dog roasting forks
  • Small food-storage containers/bags/foil
  • Large water jugs
  • Large, clear plastic bins to store kitchen gear

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Campsite Extras

Most of the following items are optional, though depending on how remote your campsite is, navigation tools such as a map, compass and/or GPS may be required (for more info, read about the Ten Essentials).

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Clothing & Footwear

Additional items for rainy and/or cold weather:


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Health & Hygiene

Sun and bug protection:


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Personal Items

  • Credit card and/or cash
  • ID
  • Cellphone
  • Campsite reservation confirmation (if required)*

* is a great resource for public lands campsite reservations; Hipcamp is a great resource for private lands campsite reservations.

Video: What to Take Camping