Camping seems like an affordable, easygoing vacation option. That is, until you start packing. Being out in the great outdoors can be daunting. How do you prepare for emergencies? Will you really need all those flashlights? Here is a camping checklist that will help you stay prepared on your next trip.
Your camping checklist should take into account the type of camping that you'll be doing. Are you doing backwoods camping with only the pack on your back, or will you drive up to your campsite and have access to your car?
If you're backpacking, make sure that your kitchen items include:
- Food that doesn't need refrigeration and don't take up much space: (beef jerky, granola bars, trail mix, instant oatmeal or grits, tortillas, peanut butter). Don't bring too much food; it's better to have less waste when you're packing everything out that you pack in. Bring a small cooler if you're bringing meat to cook over the fire. If you'll be out for more than one night, consider cooking the item(s) that require refrigeration the first night and settle for peanut butter tortillas for future nights.
- Small backpacking stove: Some areas don't allow fires. Check before you go so that you can stay safe and decide whether to bring a stove or make a fire.
- Two lighters and a box of matches, packed in a waterproof bag
- Food bag and rope (to throw over a tree and keep out of the way of critters)
- Reusable dish or bowl
- Portable water filtration system
- Pot (for boiling water)
If you're car camping, you can fill up your coolers to your heart's content. You may still want to bring:
- Camping stove
- Dishes, cups, bowls and silverware: Pack these in a tub that you can fill with water for dish washing.
- One pot and one pan
- Towels or paper towels for cleanup
- Pie irons
- Food to cook for a main meal and snacks: Great options for camping are hotdogs and hamburgers, sausage and peppers, steaks and corn on the cob, barbecued chicken. Bring loaves of bread, tomato sauce and shredded cheese to make pizzas in your pie iron. Don't forget to bring breakfast foods and easier snacks to take with you on hikes or to grab in a pinch.
Sleeping and Tent Items
If you're backpacking, you probably want to limit your sleeping materials to a sleeping bag and ridge rest (mat that protects and insulates you from the ground). If you're car camping, you can bring the following:
- Tent or tarp and stakes/hammer
- Sleeping bag
- Air mattress and pump or cot: Cots are ideal if the weather will be wet. Pack all of your gear in plastic storage tubs and store them under the cots. Even if the floor of the tent floods, your clothes and sleeping areas will be safe.
- Battery operated fan
If you're backpacking, you'll have to be more particular about what you bring. Bring enough clothes to wear in all kinds of weather, but prepare to do some washing of clothing and undergarments to reuse them. Clothing made of moisture-wicking material is better than cotton. If you get wet, the cold moisture won't stay close to your skin, so you'll stay warm and dry.
Cabana Life sun protective clothing not only keeps you covered when you're in the sun all day, but it dries quickly. That means that if you're wearing it to hike across a river, go paddleboarding or spend time surfing, it will be dry by the time you get back to the campsite. If you wash it and hang it on a line, it will dry much faster than jeans and cotton T-shirts. Plus, it's more lightweight than cotton clothing and takes up less room in your backpack.
Here's what you should take if you have plenty of space and you're car camping:
- 1 pair of pants/shorts for every day you'll be camping
- 1 shirt for every day you'll be camping
- At least 1 pair of undergarments for each day
- A few extras
- At least 1 sweatshirt/sweater: even if it's 100 degrees during the day, you could get chilly at night, especially if it rains.
- Rain jacket/poncho
- Plenty of socks
- Two pairs of sneakers (in case one gets wet), or one pair of sneakers and one pair of water shoes.
- Flip flops/sandals (if you're camping in warm weather)
- Clothes for sleeping in
- Garbage bag or plastic tub to keep your clothing dry
- Hammock: Check out these tips for safe hammocking. Hammocks pack up tightly, making them ideal for backpacking
- Pop-up canopy
- One tarp for underneath your tent, and at least one other tarp to keep you dry in wet weather: you can throw it over the canopy or your tent, or use it to keep your firewood dry. At least one tarp is essential for backpacking.
- Folding chairs
- Citronella candles
- Solar lights to mark your campsite
- Extra rope to use as a clothesline, to stake down tent/tarps, etc.
- 1 flashlight for each person
- 1 extra emergency flashlight
- Bug spray
Keep this checklist handy as you're packing for your trip. You'll never forget an essential item, and you'll be the most prepared camper on your trip.