Going camping for the first time can be confusing. A lot of people tend to overthink that they’re going to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no access to anything, so they tend to bring everything they own. Most first times should find comfort in knowing that a majority of the KOA and privately owned campgrounds typically have a general store on-premises, and are usually a short ride away from town so you can grab anything you may have forgotten.
For first-timers, we recommend keeping it simple and bringing what you need so it’s manageable. Before we get to that though we have a couple of quick tips to keep in mind before you go.
Table of contents
- The Beginner’s Family Camping Packing List
- Pre-prepare your food
- The Basics
- Sleeping bag
- A Knife or a Cutter
- Fire-starting Equipment
- Appropriate Footwear
- Caps and Shades
- Tissue Paper Rolls
- A Mess Kit
- First-Aid Kit
- Waterproof dry bag
- Journal or Books
- Music Gear
- A Water Flask
- The Beginner’s Family Camping Checklist
- CAMPSITE GEAR
- PERSONAL ITEMS
- OTHER ITEMS
- What essential items should be included in a beginner’s family camping packing list?
- How much food and water should be packed for a family camping trip?
- Are there any specific safety items that should be included in a family camping packing list?
- What clothing items should be packed for a family camping trip?
The Beginner’s Family Camping Packing List
Use the checklist below as a starting point to help you think of the things you need to bring with you. Once you get all these items together, lay them out and pack them up in groups, so all of your kitchen items are together and your tent items are together, etc. When you’re on your campsite this will make it much easier rather than having to unpack everything to find the one thing you’re looking for.
Pre-prepare your food
The more prep you do ahead of time the better, so before you leave you may want to consider slicing your veggies, marinating your meats, and preparing as much ahead of time as possible. This will help reduce the amount of prep and most importantly cleaning you have to do while you’re at the campsite. Similarly to the note above about your gear, pack items in your cooler that go together so when you open your cooler to grab your food, everything you need will be together.
Your camping supplies list comprises of some basic stuff that cannot be left out on any camping adventure. While most campers are tempted to stuff dozens of items in their backpacks; they can plan an exciting camping trip with just a few basic camping items.
However, we have listed all important and trivial camping gear that you may need for enjoying your outdoor camping experience.
There is no camping without a backpack. Make sure you invest in a durable and trusted model that is engineered to store your valuables safely. (This Mountaintop backpack is a great choice)
If you are not planning to rest in a hammock tent; you are going to need an enclosure to sleep in. A tent is beneficial since it shields you from all outside elements and is a must-have accessory if you are camping out with children.
Camping experts recommend purchasing high quality and relaxing sleeping bag. Never settle for a cheap product that fails to offer the kind of comfort you are looking for to keep you warm and cozy. There are many options available to suit campers of all ages and sizes.
Make it a point to collect enough information about the climate and weather conditions of your campsite before packing your clothes. Go for clothes that are easy to store and can withstand the terrain of your campsite.
Go for light-weight and water-resistant clothing gear. Make sure you have something to keep you warm when the temperature drops at night.
Check for rain forecasts and carry waterproof gear so you can enjoy the showers without worrying about your clothing.
Of course, you can’t survive a day without enough water. This is why bringing water bottles or a bunch of jugs is extremely crucial for keeping you well hydrated. If your campsite is hot during the day, you can also use some filtration method to utilize water from a nearby source.
There is no way of camping at night without a good source of light. Thanks to a myriad of lighting options from different brands, you can choose the best one according to your needs and specifications. Go for a headlamp or an LED light source that lights up the inside or outside of your tent. You can also benefit from battery-operated lanterns or flashlights to add more light sources to your camping gear.
A Knife or a Cutter
You will need a knife to clean a trout or dice some onions. But a cutting tool comes in handy when you are venturing into the wild. Get yourself a traditional Swiss-Army knife and carry it always when you are out camping.
There is nothing like a campfire to warm up cold and chilly evenings. If you are looking forward to enjoying a ghost storytelling session while gathering around a campfire; make sure you bring all the necessary things needed to light up a fire.
You can easily find firewood at a grocery store and all the accessories you need to light a fire while camping outdoors.
Cooking with friends and family is fun, especially when you have packed all the essentials to prepare a camping feast. It’s important to do some planning before you head out to camp. Keep a list of easy to prepare recipes and buy all ingredients as well as accessories that you will need to prepare them.
Cooking is easier when you have a small stove to cook quick meals. There are many types of tiny stoves that get screwed into the top of a fuel canister. But if you are traveling with a large group of people, you will need a large stove.
If you are car-camping or just going out to explore the woods for a short time; you can pack some freeze-dried camp food to feed your family and children.
Even if you are preparing any camp food yourself, always carry a set of basic utensils. Make sure you pack serving spoons, bottle and can openers, skewers, tongs, knives, spoons, forks, and mugs to eat without messing up your tent or car.
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s take a look at the accessories. You will find that although we have categorized these items as accessories, you can’t possibly enjoy a pleasant camping experience in the absence of these items.
Camping is not a time to test new trainers or wear stinky old shoes. Go for comfortable boots that you can also wear when hiking. Synthetic or light wool socks are recommended to protect your feet from creepy crawly insects.
Caps and Shades
Cover your face and eyes with protective accessories. Bring your bandanas and ball caps to provide shade during the day and protect you from cold at night. Always carry a pair of sunglasses and use a sun-block to protect your skin.
Tissue Paper Rolls
It is always great to have one or two rolls of tissue paper on hand, particularly when you are camping out with young children. Never forget to keep towels or disposable tissues in case your young one gets sick or nauseated on a campsite. Tissues and wipes are used for many things you will only get to know when you are out in the wild.
You won’t need this accessory if you are hiking. However, this is an indispensable item if you are car camping. Get some ice or frozen water bottles to make the most out of it. Stay away from a disposable styrofoam cooler that breaks apart and rarely delivers what it promises. Invest in a good product and you will never leave it out on your next camping trip. (We’ve been loving this YETI cooler lately)
A Mess Kit
This is a place to keep all the messy things inside in one place. If you need to carry strainers, a small cutting board, and kitchen items such as soaps; keep them inside this kit. You can also bring a small squeeze bottle of dish soap and keep it safe in this kit.
You will crave a warm blanket when you want some cushioning to create an extra layer between you and the earth. Bring lightweight and easy to manage blankets that are cheap solutions for many camping woes. Make sure you keep an extra blanket to warm your tired toes after trekking.
A rope is one of the most important things to carry when heading out to the wild. It not only helps you to get out of unforeseen events; it can also help you to dry your clothes. You can easily find a tough rope at your local supplies shop that may be specially built for camping purposes.
Your first-aid kit for camping should also have a bug spray to keep you away from a cloud of mosquitoes. An insect bite can ruin your camping trip in more ways than you can imagine. Read also our article about how to keep insects away while camping for more tips. Surprisingly, many first-time campers forget to keep a first-aid kit in their camping gear. This can lead to serious complications if anyone gets hurt while fishing or exploring the woods.
Waterproof dry bag
Although you won’t always need a waterproof bag, it serves a great deal if you need to cross a river or get stuck during a downpour. A dry bag is a valuable accessory to include in your camping gear list to keep your precious items safe throughout your camping adventure.
Journal or Books
If you intend to pen down your camping experiences, don’t forget to bring your journal. You can also record your memories on your smartphone. If you are fond of reading; camping offers the perfect environment for you to get lost in your favorite book.
Packing a telescope is also a great idea to let you explore the beautiful skies at night. However, a simple tool such as binoculars comes in handy to spot distant objects such as sailboats and waterfalls.
If you know how to play an instrument; bring it along to impress your friends and family. Campers frequently bring a guitar to sing their favorite songs around a campfire.
A Water Flask
Again, this is a small, but important accessory that will always remind you to keep yourself hydrated. You will be surprised to know how much it helps you during trekking.
The Beginner’s Family Camping Checklist
- Tent, poles, stakes
- Tent footprint (ground cover for under your tent)
- Extra tarp or canopy
- Sleeping bag for each camper
- Sleeping pad for each camper
- Repair kit for pads, mattress, tent, tarp
- Extra blankets
- Headlamps or flashlights (extra batteries)
- Lantern fuel or batteries
- Fuel for stove
- Matches or lighter
- Frying pan
- French press or portable coffee maker
- Roasting sticks for marshmallows, hot dogs
- Food-storage containers, bags
- Trash bags
- Water bottles
- Plates, bowls, forks, spoons, knives
- Cups, mugs
- Paring knife, spatula, cooking spoon
- Cutting board
- Biodegradable soap
- Sponge, dishcloth, dishtowel
- Paper towels
- Extra bin for washing dishes
- Clothes for daytime
- Shoes: hiking/walking shoes, easy-on shoes, water shoes
- Extra layers for warmth
- Insect repellant
- First-aid kit
- Prescription medications
- Toothbrush, toiletries
- Campsite reservation confirmation, phone number
- Maps, area information
- Bikes, toys
- Pet supplies and food
This list can be overwhelming en a lot for the first time. Just buy some things later, or look at our build a DIY camping kit to save some money.
What essential items should be included in a beginner’s family camping packing list?
Some essential items to include are a tent, sleeping bags, camping chairs, a lantern or flashlight, a camping stove with fuel, cooking utensils, tableware, a first aid kit, insect repellent, sunscreen, and appropriate clothing for the weather.
How much food and water should be packed for a family camping trip?
The amount of food and water needed will depend on the duration of the trip and the number of family members. Plan to bring enough non-perishable food items and snacks to last the entire duration and consider packing extra water or a water purification system in case of emergencies.
Are there any specific safety items that should be included in a family camping packing list?
In addition to a comprehensive first aid kit, it is advisable to include items like a whistle for each family member, a fire extinguisher, a fire starter kit, a map and compass, and a fully charged cell phone or a satellite phone for emergencies.
What clothing items should be packed for a family camping trip?
Pack clothing suitable for weather conditions, keeping in mind that temperatures can fluctuate widely in outdoor environments. Include warm layers, waterproof jackets, sturdy hiking shoes, hats, and extra socks. It is also recommended to pack a swimsuit and beach towels if the camping site offers swimming opportunities.