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Essential Family Camping Checklist: What to Pack [PRINTABLE]

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Planning a camping trip for the whole family doesn’t have to be so daunting. With a handy family camping checklist, you can ensure your adventure goes smoothly. From choosing a perfect family camping tent and all the creature comforts to planning activities everyone can enjoy, Life inTents offers this at-a-glance breakdown to help you start packing and planning the ultimate family and some essential tips to consider.



The Family Tent, Camp Furniture & Sleeping Gear

Family Camping Tent

Choose the best family camping tent size for your family camping trip; ensuring everyone has room to sleep and keep camping gear (without being on top of one another) will make a family camping trip much more enjoyable. Canvas bell tents are spacious, making them perfect for family tents. Check out our bell tent size guide for comparisons.

Camp Furniture and Sleeping Essentials

Camp furnishings, from sleep cots to folding chairs and hammocks, offer extra comfort for parents and kids so be sure to add these to your family camping checklist. Extra Tip: A combination of sleeping arrangements saves space in your tent.

  • Cots and air mattresses – Make sure everyone sleeps well on their own sleeping pads, a camp cot or air mattress (remember the air pump!).
  • Folding chairs – Bring one camp chair each for sitting inside or around the fire at nights
  • Hammocks – Great for reading and midday naps!
  • Sleeping bags/blankets – Choose the appropriately rated sleeping bag and opt for a thick wool or down blanket for a glamping experience.
  • Sheets, pillows – Avoid cotton and choose moisture-wicking materials that won’t get sweaty.

Flashlights and Other Lighting

Lighting plays an important role at a campsite. It creates a well-lit path around the area to prevent skinned knees, allows little ones to feel safe sleeping at night, and creates a lovely ambiance. Consider the following camp lighting gear to add to your family camping checklist:

  • Headlamps and flashlights – One for each person and spare flashlights
  • Lanterns
  • Solar string lights
  • Candles
  • Matches/lighters

Your Camp Kitchen and Cookware

cooking on camp stove at picnic table

Whether you’re the gourmet camp chef or just looking to feed a bunch of hungry teenagers, learn how to set up a camp kitchen like a pro to make meal prep easy and keep your cooking space sanitary. Here's your food-centric family camping checklist: 

  • Tarp/shelter – Keep your camp kitchen away from the family tent to deter wildlife and prevent fire hazards.
  • Tables/prep & sanitation stations – Biodegradable dish soap, reusable scrubber/sponges and drying towels
  • Water station – Drinking container, water purification system
  • Reusable water bottles/insulated canteens
  • Cooking elements – Think camp stove and fuel, a portable grill and charcoal, or even a tripod grill over a fire
  • Cooler/food containers – Keep perishables cold with ice packs and organize the rest in food bins
  • Cookware and tools – Cast iron skillet, Dutch oven, tongs, spatula, can opener, bottle opener, meat thermometer
  • Non-porous cutting board and knives
  • Kettle – For making tea, coffee, or cocoa
  • Non-breakable drinkware (insulated mugs), tableware, and utensils
  • Heat-resistant gloves
  • Lighter
  • Reusable food containers/bags
  • Paper towels
  • Aluminum foil
  • Garbage bags

Meals and Snacks

Every family has different tastes, so we won’t dive deep into meal planning here. One tip for meal planning: Keep perishable foods to a minimum so your cooler isn’t too full. Just make sure to consider the following for your family camping checklist:

  • Breakfasts – Pancakes, oatmeal, bacon and eggs, or whatever you prefer!
  • Lunches – Think easy sandwiches or wraps, hamburgers, etc.  Or grab some Mountain House adventure meals.
  • Dinners – Finish each day with a delicious hearty meal of grilled meats, hot dogs, or veggie burgers.
  • Desserts – S’mores (a classic) or even an easy apple crisp for your Dutch oven
  • Snacks – Dried fruits, jerkies, granola, trail mix, or fruit.
  • Condiments – Bring all your favorite seasonings: ketchup, mustard, mayo, etc.
  • Coffee – Beans, grinder, filters, and a portable coffee maker
  • Plenty of Water! – One gallon per person per day
  • Juice
  • Teas

Your Camp Bathroom and Toiletries

For family camping, portable bathrooms are a convenient way to go when you lack campsite facilities.

  • Portable toilets – compostable toilet paper, toilet shovel, hand sanitizer
  • Portable showers – shampoo, soap, quick-dry towels
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush& hair products
  • Baby wipes


Pack an overnight backpack for each person. Keep in mind seasonal attire, but always double-check the weather – especially for rain and low temps at night. When packing clothes for camping, remember to consider outdoor-appropriate materials that are moisture-wicking, breathable, and offer UPF protection. Also, it doesn’t hurt to pack more than you think you need, so you don’t have to stress about kids getting a little dirty.

  • Shirts – Casual long-sleeve shirts and tees.
  • Shorts – Pack a few pairs of breathable shorts
  • Long pants or light leggings – Long pants protect legs during hikes
  • Coats – Raincoats or wool coats
  • Underwear or thermals
  • Hiking boots and socks
  • Sandals – For the shower and campsite
  • Sleepwear and pajamas
  • Sun protection – hats, bandanas, etc.
  • Cold weather protection – Beanies, gloves, scarves, base layers
  • Rain gear – Umbrellas, waterproof hat, rainboots
  • Swimsuits, rashguards
  • Laundry bag

Activities and Entertainment

kids playing in sand at night with headlamps

Family camping trips are a wonderful way to introduce kids to nature and the great outdoors. Day or night, here are some extra fun items to enhance the experience.

  • Books/magazines – Think field guides and guides to constellations.
  • Binoculars & telescopes – For spotting wildlife and stargazing.
  • Cards, board games, coloring books/crayons
  • Lawn games & beach toys/beach towels
  • Bikes and helmets
  • Fishing rods, bait, licenses
  • Music – Bluetooth speakers, downloaded LiT Spotify Playlists, instruments

Safety Essentials

Planning for activities and picking out sleeping bags is fun, but don’t forget to pack the 10 Essentials and other things to keep your family safe.

  • First aid kit – Pick up a kit from an outdoor rec store to ensure all the outdoor-specific essentials. Or create a DIY first aid kit!
  • Emergency blankets
  • Extra water
  • Walkie-talkie radios – To keep track of kids' whereabouts, they double for fun activities
  • Personal medications – Epipens, allergy medicine, etc.
  • Insect repellant
  • Sun protection – Sunscreen, sunglasses, hats
  • Extra batteries

Extra Tips for Your Family Camping Trip Checklist

Plan a family camping trip the entire family will enjoy and look back on with fond memories. Explore more family camping tips and tricks to prepare and make the most of your trip.

And don’t forget to download the handy family camping checklist here:

Brette DeVore
Brette DeVore

As a former hospitality interior designer with an adventurous spirit and love for travel, I now help interior designers and tourism-related businesses in creating online content and media.

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