Family Camping Packing List

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Family Camping Packing ChecklistI am the yearly organizer of my son’s class camping trip. I have been organizing our class trips since preschool and have gotten better and better at planning it and packing for it each year! The more you camp with kids, the more you learn. My tips for camping with kids post continues to grow each year!

I love the planning and organizational aspects of my role as camping mom, but I hate when I forget items. For posterity’s sake, I have written out our family camping packing list as a reference for myself for each year, as well as to help anyone else who is planning a camping trip with their little ones.

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Family Camping Packing List

The first recommendation I have for packing for camping is to pack everything in plastic bins for ease of carrying in/out of the campsite. If you end up using smaller boxes, or just piling it in the car, think about using a fold up wagon or large rolling chest. I have divided each “box” that I would pack into sections below to help you plan for your camping trip.

Family Camping - Packing Checklist

Want this list in an easy to use format? Download or print our Family Camping Packing List (PDF).

The Essentials

  • Tent
  • Air Mattress / Cots / Pack-n-play
  • Bedding (sheets, blankets, pillows) / Sleeping Bags
  • Tarp
  • Cooler
  • Folding Chairs
  • Mallet

The Basics

  • Flashlights & Lanterns
  • Extra Batteries
  • Long Lighter &/or Matches
  • Pocket Knife
  • Duct Tape
  • Propane Tanks
  • Camp Stove
  • Dust Pan & Small Broom
  • Lighter Fluid & Fire starters
  • Charcoal/Wood Chips

Family Camping - Packing Checklist

The Camp Kitchen

  • Paper Towels
  • Baby Wipes
  • Aluminum foil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Seasonings
  • Condiments
  • Olive Oil
  • Large frying pan
  • Large Pot
  • Pot Holders
  • Tea Towels 
  • Plates, bowls, cold cups & coffee cups (reusable or disposable)
  • Forks, Spoons, Knives
  • Serving spoons
  • Aluminum roasting pans for heating things up over a grill
  • Spatula
  • Grilling tongs
  • Marshmallow roasting sticks
  • Bottle &/or Can openers (if required)
  • Flexible plastic cutting board (I LOVE this camping kitchen set)
  • Strainer
  • Kettle for coffee/tea
  • Tablecloth (secure with fasteners or duct tape)
  • Biodegradable dishwashing soap, scouring pad and wash basin
  • Grill Grate (Optional)
  • Trash Bags


Our medical kit includes a small bin of basic medical items. We keep this bin in our car at all times since we regularly hike and are out exploring in nature. For those of you in earthquake prone areas, this is also useful as part of earthquake preparedness.

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunburn Cream
  • First Aid Kit
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Advil
  • Tums
  • Allergy Medications (Benadryl)
  • Cortisone Cream
  • Insect Repellent

Family Camping - Packing ChecklistEntertainment

This container is essentially one for the kids to spur them on during those moments of “I’m bored”. For adults, you can also add in books or bluetooth speakers for relaxation.

  • Bubbles
  • Glow Sticks
  • Kite
  • Magnifying glass
  • Bug catching set
  • Binoculars
  • Sports Equipment (Soccer ball and net, baseball bat/glove, badminton, frisbee)
  • Craft Supplies (tape, glue, pot paints and cheap paint brushes)
  • Scooters/Bikes

To Glamp It Up

There is nothing better than adding a little class to your camping trip. This is something I have been slowly learning while watching the pro’s. It adds such a nice touch, especially after a long day loading in and setting up camp.

  • Hammock
  • Fairy Lights (Solar)
  • Duvet for the bed
  • Folding Table with Table Cloth
  • Magazines
  • Wine with Fruit & Cheese plate
  • French Press for Coffee

Family Camping - Packing ChecklistPersonal Items

Just as it says, this box or bag is for all personal items. All of your clothes, toiletries, daily items used when getting dressed and ready – even if all you do while camping is wash your face and brush your teeth, having access to everything is good for moral!

  • Toiletries (We love face wipes and on the go toothbrushes)
  • Toilet Paper
  • Washcloth
  • Hand Soap
  • Bandana
  • Hair Clips
  • Lotion
  • Prescription Medications
  • Flip Flops
  • Hiking Boots
  • Change of Clothes
  • Swim Wear
  • Beach Towel (if required)
  • Hoodie/Sweatshirt
  • Socks

The last major category not listed above is food! Plan your meals in advance and freeze everything you can. Pack your cooler carefully, starting at the bottom with items you will use/need last and working your way up to the top.  A useful tip is to freeze your water bottles in advance (for summer camping) to help keep the cooler cold and provide yourself with cold drinking water as it melts.

For more tips on heading out on your first camping trip with kids, check out our post Tips on Camping with Kids.

Anything we forgot? What are your must have items for camping with a family?

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Family camping packing list with a free printable list for your next campout

10 thoughts on “Family Camping Packing List”

  1. Wow, I don’t take that much anywhere! My essentials – tent, sleeping bag, pillow, tooth brush and paste, baby wipes and clean underwear. Mind you we camp in the middle of no where not on a site and are usually only there for 1 night
    Popping by on the A to Z Road Trip

    • Do you go with kids? Somehow the addition of kids multiplies your supply list exponentially 😉 but I’ve never been a good backpack camper! I need my comforts!

  2. We don’t use charcoal or wood chips but fire wood is a must. We also carefully plan our frozen food/ice/cooler situation carefully. Space, melted ice, and did not kept cold is no bueno. One idea is to freeze water bottles ahead of time to keep food cold. I use Avon skin so soft bug and sunscreen. Bring tweezers in your first aid kit for splinters in kids. We also packed whistles and taught our kids to whistle if they were separated from us. We also bring hats and I use my iPod to sleep through noisy camp neighbors.

    • Good idea on the tweezers! We actually needed some last weekend!
      And earplugs or iPod is great as neighbors are always noisy!

      It seems that at most CA camping sites tea wood fires are not allowed. We haven’t been able to use wood for years!

  3. I’d probably never think of bringing duct tape while heading out on a camping trip. Good suggestion though! I also like your “entertainment” list! We’re not going camping this summer, but my daughter is going to an overnight girl scout camp, and even though we do have a list of things she needs to bring, I might give her some bubbles too 🙂 For the down time. I hope they’ll allow it.

    • The kids really LOVED glow sticks of the will allow those. We bought the tubes of 15 for a dollar at Target. They were a hit!

  4. Thanks a lot for the packing checklist! This is my first camping and I want to be prepared about it. I don’t want to miss anything to pack and take with us.

  5. Amazing list! I’m saving your post for my next camping! A detailed and useful list, Karilyn!

  6. We have four children, two in diapers. In the present climate my preferably half proper conveys two or three diapers, a insufficient wipes, a one of emptiness baggies and a pacifier promptly in her tote. We stay some additional garments in the ass of the minivan. Everything else is sauce.


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