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Packing Checklists for Camping Trips



They’re called “essentials” for a reason. Every packing list starts with these 10 items.

1. A pocketknife or multitool can be handy in a wide variety of situations. It’s useful for tasks as large as building an emergency shelter or lighting a campfire with poor fuel, or as small as repairing a damaged backpack. Keep you knife sharp and clean, and don’t forget to first earn your Whittling Chip (for older Cub Scouts) or Totin’ Chip (for Boy Scouts).

2. A first-aid kit can be a lifesaver. Literally. A few items will allow you to treat scratches, blisters and other minor injuries. They should also allow you to provide initial care while waiting for help for more serious injuries.

3. Bring extra clothing to match the weather. Multiple layers are better than a single massive jacket, because layered clothing is adaptable to a wide range of temperatures.

4. Rain gear is very important. Rain can come in a hurry, and getting your clothes drenched is more than just uncomfortable, it can lead to hypothermia, a potentially fatal condition.

5. A flashlight, headlamp or a rugged penlight is important for finding your way in the dark. Bring extra batteries, too.

6. Trail food is good for maintaining your energy. Bring more than you think you’ll need in case you get stuck (or lost) in the woods.

7. Water can prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Use a lightweight, unbreakable container with a secure lid.

8. Matches and/or a fire starter may be used to light fires for heat, or for signaling for help. Store matches or lighters in resealable plastic bags.

9. Sun protection might include sunblock, sunglasses, lip balm and a wide-brimmed hat.

10. A map and compass are probably the most important tools you can carry in case you get lost.


Here are some hygiene items you may want to pack, depending on the outing:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Soap
  • Comb
  • Waterless hand cleaner
  • Small towel
  • Washcloth
  • Toilet paper
  • Trowel for digging cathole latrines


Here are some cooking and eating items you may want to pack, depending on the outing:

  • Large plastic cereal bowl or kitchen storage bowl
  • Spoon
  • Cup or insulated mug
  • Water treatment system
  • Backpacking stove with fuel
  • Large pot and lid (2.5- or 3-quart size)
  • Small pot and lid (1.5- or 2-quart size)
  • Lightweight frying pan (10 to 12 inches in diameter)
  • For melting snow, add 1 large pot and lid (6 to 10 quarts)
  • Hot-pot tongs


Here are some extras you may want to pack, depending on the outing:

  • Watch
  • Camera
  • Notebook
  • Pen or pencil
  • Sunglasses
  • Small musical instrument
  • Swimsuit
  • Gloves
  • Whistle
  • Nylon cord
  • Insect repellent
  • Repair kit
  • Hiking stick or trekking poles
  • Binoculars
  • Fishing gear
  • Animal identification books, plant keys, geological studies, star charts or other guides

14 Comments on Packing Checklists for Camping Trips

  1. The Big "A" // May 23, 2009 at 2:49 pm // Reply

    That is a great checklist!!!

  2. What are those iodine tablets used to purify questionable water? What ever they are could you please add them to the list? Other than that it was really helpful.

  3. The checklist is extremely helpful- I would never remember things like sun protection or the trowel.

  4. Ithink that was a good idea about the trail food.

  5. Master Monkuku // March 5, 2009 at 6:01 pm // Reply

    I think all this gear is good ,but you should add a portiable water purifire.

  6. This is all great stuff!

    Each of the other four lists has a link to a PDF that can be downloaded and printed. It would be nice to have a PDF for this list as well.

    Thanks for the outing-specific lists.

  7. Is there a button to print just the checklist?

  8. While I agree with your “Essentials Checklist” I was surprised to see the whistle listed on the “Extras” list and not on the Essentials.

    It’s smaller than everything else on the Essentials list and is probably one of the best/easiest signaling devices a scout (or anyone else for that matter) can carry on a hike should they become lost.


  9. Usually I forget my toothbrush and all these things. Ewwww! I never realized that these things were “essentials.” I appreciate Boyslife for making these handy-dandy little checklist that tells scouts “essentials” for outings.

  10. I liked the fact that you mentioned trail food I go out with my troop sometimes and theres allways that one guy who didn’t bring along anything to keep him going on a long hike.


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