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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. beachboy12 // June 19, 2015 at 12:42 pm // Reply

    thank you, that was very helpful.

  2. da bomb diggidy // June 18, 2015 at 4:54 pm // Reply

    you do not need extra clothes, almost no one changes in my troop on a normal two night camping trip.And who needs musical instruments or binoculars or any of some of that useless stuff. UL for the win

  3. If you can’t remember what to bring then write a list and check things off.

  4. Obviously whoever put this list together has not had a lot of experience backpacking,two major areas are overlooked,weight and bulk.

  5. I am heartened to see that a pocket knife/multitool is listed FIRST as Essential Gear. With a pocket knife, almost all other “essentials” can be found, made or repurposed as needed. I don’t feel dressed without a good pocket knife.

  6. If you are camping in hot weather, medicated powder like Gold Bond is great in case of chafing. I live in Florida, the heat and rain and humidity will cause chafing very quickly.

  7. I’ve been camping for years and still always get out this list before going. Lately I’m into SUL backpacking (less than 5 pounds base equipment not counting consumables) this list is easily done in less than half a pound before food and water. 2 lb sleeping bag and poncho becomes shelter and your set with a little extra for luxuries (sleeping pad harmonica spork)

  8. Thx that was a really helpful list

  9. HikerGirl // May 8, 2015 at 2:33 pm // Reply

    A whistle is essential and should be carried by every hiker, especially kids.

  10. Thanks for the help

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