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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

11 Comments on Packing Checklists for Camping Trips

  1. Now, I’m not a Scout, but this is a perfect checklist!

  2. All great comments, one I didn’t see was keeping it packed at all times, means that when you come home you clean it and repack the used items and come the next time add any additional items.

  3. Tenderfoot kid // September 5, 2014 at 6:46 pm // Reply

    This is very helpful if you are a new scout.

  4. Each boy in the troop is expected to have his “scout bag” with him at all times…outside of the campsite. Each one has the top ten, plus handbook, pen or pencil, paper and min. Of ten feet of rope. Anything extra is on them, but sometimes we ask for event or weather appropriate extras. I think these lists are in the handbook, I know they are in the E. PREP MB book. Be Prepared!

  5. Really helpful. šŸ™‚

  6. What about the whistle?šŸ˜•

  7. ExplosionAF12 // June 9, 2014 at 9:10 pm // Reply

    Toilet paper should be one of the ten essentials because you can use it as a fire starter, trail marker, rope (if you have a HUGE amount of it), as well as other things. My troop calls it the eleventh essential.

  8. Fishin6061 // May 8, 2014 at 2:05 pm // Reply

    Out here in NV, I recommend a signal mirror to fellow scouts and hunters. Also, Consider iodine tablets or a life straw or similar devise. Remember, Always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.

  9. Rope or 100 mile cord
    Mole skin
    Extra Socks (x2)
    Baby Wipes
    Duct Tape
    Baby Powder or similar drying powder for feet
    Headache medicine/Muscle ache medicine

    • Dave's Mobile Home Phone // July 20, 2018 at 4:06 pm // Reply

      @Mr. C
      I believe the list did mention a water purification device, but good thoughts!

  10. The top ten are probably the most likely to be needed – whether a day hike or longer trek. I keep those first 10 items in my truck all the time in a small day pack, then move them to my backpack for longer treks.

    Not every item is needed every time, but I cannot count the number of times that sun shine somehow turned liquid (and not in the forecast for the region) or changing my shirt was a wonderful way to feel refreshed after a sweaty section of a trail.

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