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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

17 Comments on Packing Checklists for Camping Trips

  1. Yeah i always will use this thanks bl

  2. LUV IT

  3. awesome checklist! i forget half this stuff on most campouts, so it’s helpful

  4. Camaro Boy // July 11, 2010 at 5:34 pm // Reply

    Life saving checklist. me would have defintly forgot half stuff on there : )~

  5. Many of the things on the check list aren’t as essential as lets say a tent or sleeping bag

    • I think I know what to bring now
      THANK YOU BOYS LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • underthestarscamper // May 21, 2013 at 11:37 am // Reply

      tent is not essential, man! what kind of trip is a tent a nessecity? I have never used a tent on my camping trips and will use one for the first time this summer, but it is not neccesary. sleeping bag? neccesity as much as the rest of your gear. tent? usefull, not essential

  6. This is awesome!! Thanks Boyslife!

  7. this checklist rocks!!!!!!!!!:)

  8. Why would you take a musical instrument but yeah i would never remember to take a towel im always fogetting something!

    • does tuba count as small instrument

      • Flash_EXE // October 26, 2012 at 1:09 pm //

        When it say’s “Small” it doesn’t mean you HAVE to take a small instrument, its just saying that you could bring one, in reality you can bring whatever sized you want!

      • @buby22
        No, not really.
        Is it full size or 3/4 size?

      • bandatthecampfire // May 21, 2013 at 11:39 am //

        harmonica for around the bonfire. if you play tuba around the bonfire then I’d love to camping with you and bring my drums. maybe bring a grand pianist along too…

  9. Best Scout in America // June 16, 2009 at 5:23 pm // Reply


  10. The Big "G" // May 26, 2009 at 3:13 pm // Reply

    I think I just might have to refeer back to that checklist in a couple of months when I go to BSA Camp.

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