Family Camping Checklist (Essentials, Clothing and Extras)

Packing for a family camping trip might seem straightforward, but there are some essentials you could miss out on. Instead of worrying about writing a list of everything you’ll need, we’ve done the heavy work and created a detailed checklist of all the gear you’ll need.

A family camping checklist includes essentials you’ll need, such as your tent, everyone’s sleeping gear, and the toys, of course! A family camping checklist also covers clothing for outdoor activities, kitchen gear such as your stove and utensils, and games you can bring if the weather turns bad.

Our checklist covers 31 camping holiday essentials. To make this checklist more accessible, we’ve broken it into 5 parts:

  • essentials,
  • clothing,
  • kitchen,
  • games and activities, and
  • useful extras

We recommend ticking these all off before you get started on your adventure.


In the first part of our checklist, we have 4 camping essentials you can’t leave home without. These include; a tent, sleeping gear, tools, and toys.

Below we’ve added a little more detail on each of these to make packing even easier.

1. Tent

One of the most important things you can’t forget is your tent! It’s best to check your tent has all the poles and stakes inside.

Better yet, if you have the time, set up the tent in the garden or inside before leaving to check its working condition.


2. Sleeping Gear

Sleeping gear includes camping sleeping bags, inflatable mattresses, extra blankets, pillows, and sheets. If you have a very little one, remember the crib.

Explore a comprehensive guide to selecting the perfect sleeping bag in my article featuring the top 8 choices.

Your sleeping gear will keep you and your family comfortable, so if you have any extras that you need for sleeping, don’t forget them!

3. Tools

Putting up a tent can be a dubious process, but it can be made easier by taking along a hammer or mallet.

It makes hitting the stakes more enjoyable, and you’ll feel confident your tent isn’t going to fly away.

4. Toys

Family camping is nothing without toys! These could be essential for an easy bedtime or to avoid a tantrum. If your family is older, you can ensure they bring their electronics or headphones.

All the family needs their creature comforts!  


For your family camping checklist, you’ll need to ensure every member has everyday clothing, rain gear, appropriate shoes, pajamas, and swimming gear.

Keep reading to see why you’ll need to cross these off your checklist.

1. Everyday Clothing

First things first, remember to pack everyday clothing. Make sure all the family has a couple of spare pairs of underwear and socks (even more than you think you’ll need!).

Pack spare everything! Camping activities can get messy, so be prepared.

Discover fun family camping activities in my article for more inspiration.

Everyday Clothing

2. Rain Gear

If the weather is unpredictable, pack the waterproofs! Being cold and wet doesn’t lead to a very happy camping experience. Pack waterproof trousers and coats for everyone if it’s likely to be rainy!

3. Shoes

If you’re camping in the summer, you’ll want to pack sandals for everyone. However, if the weather turns bad, you may want to pack waterproof shoes or boots.

It’s also nice to have warm shoes on if anyone needs the toilet in the middle of the night.

4. Pajamas

Make sure the family has their pajamas! Sleeping somewhere new can make children restless, so it’s best to make bedtime as normal as possible. It also means everyone is comfortable too!

5. Swimming Gear

You might not plan to go swimming, but it’s also best to pack swimming gear just in case. If the kids need armbands, pack them! If you’re likely to be near a lake, pack a lilo.

If you’re near the sea, pack some goggles! There are plenty of reasons you might need this gear, and it’s best to take it than not have it.


Your kitchen checklist includes a chopping board, fuel and stove, mugs and cups, plates and bowls, utensils, pots, and pans.

You’ll also need to consider packing for cleaning, so don’t forget to wash up liquid and a bowl. Lastly, you’ll need food, unless you plan to eat at the campsite!

1. Chopping Board

You don’t want to forget a chopping board if you’re planning to cook for the family. Instead of choosing a heavy wooden board, you can opt for a plastic one that’s lighter to carry.

Before you pack a chopping board, check what you’ll be chopping on it.

2. Fuel and Stove

If you plan to cook on your trip, you won’t want to forget your fuel and stove. Make sure you have a top-rated camping stove and it is in working condition. Also, be sure to pack enough fuel!

With some gas canisters, it can be difficult to tell how much fuel is left, so avoid running out and be prepared.

For a thorough guide, explore my article on camping stoves.

Fuel and Stove

3. Plates and Bowls

Instead of worrying that your plates or bowls will break when you take them camping, you should pack plastic ones instead.

This may also be a better option with small children! You’ll want bowls for cereal or dinner and plates for sandwiches!

4. Mugs and Cups

Don’t forget mugs and cups! You want your mugs for hot chocolates around the campfire and coffees in the morning. Cups can be used for juice or water.

Camping mugs can last years and years; I still find old camping mugs whenever I go through my attic, and they’re in perfect working order!

5. Pots and Pans

If you’re doing your cooking, then you won’t want to forget pots and pans. Since your stove will only have so much space, you probably will only need one pot and one pan.

One pot for pasta and noodles, while one pan for eggs in the morning. Make sure you take a pot and pan big enough to cook for the whole family. Otherwise, you could be eating at different times!

6. Washing up liquid and Cleaning

Once all the cooking is finished, you’ll need all the equipment for washing up! This includes: washing up liquid, sponges, scourers, bin bags, bowls, and tea towels.

Check if your campsite has dishwashing sinks so you can clean up quickly!

7. Utensils

Utensils include the basics like forks, spoons, and knives. If your children are small, you can use plastic versions of these.

For cooking utensils, you’ll need a paring knife, spatula, cooking spoon, and perhaps a cheese grater. Other multi-purpose utensils include a pair of scissors and a tin opener.

8. Roasting Sticks

Is camping really camping if you’re not roasting marshmallows on a campfire? Absolutely not! Then don’t forget to pack roasting sticks! These sticks can also be used to cook sausages.

If you want a more durable roasting stick, you can pack weenie roasters instead.

9. Food

You’ll want to pack enough food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Here are some ideas: breakfast could be cereal (bring a cool box for the milk!) or eggs.

Lunch can be sandwiches with cheese and onion or cheese and ham. Dinner can be noodles or pasta. You’ll also need snacks in between. This can be fruit, nuts, oat bars, or crackers.

If you’re worried about taking this much food along with you, check if the campsite has a shop where you can top up what you need.


Games and Activities

You may have some traditional games and activities you take camping with you. In case you don’t, we’ve got some ideas below.

This includes outdoor activities you can pack for, games inside your tent, and books for bedtime.

1. Outdoor Activities

Consider what outdoor activities you and the family might be doing during your camping trip. This could include hiking, fishing, horse riding, or, if you’re camping in the winter, skiing!

You can check activities around your campground before you leave so you’re prepared. You can probably fish or do some watersports if there’s a lake nearby.

You can pack fishing rods and swimming gear. If there isn’t, pack a football or badminton set!

2. Games Inside the Tent

If the weather is unpredictable, you may need some tent games to keep the family occupied. Take a pack of cards, as there is such a variety of games you can play.

Other games include board games, rhyming games, or even charades! Have a couple of games up your sleeve if you have to spend extra time inside and need to keep the kids occupied. 

3. Books

Remember to pack some books! It’s handy to have books that the kids can read before bed. You can also pack ghost stories for older children or a local wildlife book.

Survival books can also be great for family camping as it can be fun for the family to learn new camping skills and get stuck in the wild!

Useful Extras

Finally, there are several extras you’ll want to tick off on your checklist. This includes camping furniture, a tent repair kit, torches, a first aid kit, sunscreen, a pocket knife, and toilet paper.

You may recognize that you won’t need to pack some of these, while others are essential.

1. Camping Furniture

Camping furniture you can pack includes a foldable camping table, camping chairs, and tent cots (if the family likes sleeping off the floor).

My articles on the best foldable camping tables and best folding camping chairs can show you some cool and reliable options.

You can find camping furniture that is lightweight and compact, so you won’t have to worry about carrying it far or it taking up too much room.

Extra camping furniture you may consider is a camping hammock or inflatable sofa!

Explore a diverse selection of best camping hammocks in my article.

Camping Furniture

2. Repair Kit

You don’t want any leaks in your tent, and you don’t want to wake up on a deflated mattress. You can be prepared for these situations by packing a repair kit.

A repair kit can be handy to pack in case your tent, sleeping bags, inflatable mattresses, or tarp get a hole in.

Camping repair kits can be expensive, but one thing you can always pack instead is duct tape. It works wonders to seal and patch holes!

3. Torches

Torches are essential for any camping trip. In the middle of the night, you don’t want to be walking to the toilet in pitch black.

Some torches will also have a strap to attach to the top of your tent to see inside when it gets dark.

You may also want to pack head torches if you’re planning to take the family on a late hike through the woods. 

4. First Aid Kit

First aid kits are crucial for any camping trip, and if you want to keep your family safe, you will make sure your kit is up to scratch.

If you already have a first aid kit, it’s handy to check what’s inside and see if you have enough plasters or if you need more antiseptic cream.

If purchasing a first aid kit, ensure it has bandages, plasters, tweezers, and antiseptic wipes. You can also add some children-friendly painkillers such as Calpol in case anyone gets a headache or sore tummy. 

5. Insect Repellant

Wherever you and the family decide to camp, it’s always handy to pack insect repellant. While bug bites can be more common near running water, you can find insects anywhere!

You can pack a spray-on insect repellant that’s easy to apply. Insect diffusers are also useful as you can burn them outside your tent to keep the bugs away.

6. Sun Screen

Whether you’re planning your family camping trip for the summer or winter, you don’t want to leave home without sunscreen.

It is advised that younger children between 6 months and 2 years old should use mineral-only sunscreen, whereas older children can use a mineral-chemical sunscreen mix.

When camping, people are likely to spend more time outdoors, and you want to ensure everyone is protected from the sun!

Sun Screen

7. Pocket Knife

A pocket knife or, even better, a swiss army knife can be extremely useful while camping.

A swiss army knife is a great multi-use tool that usually comes with a little knife, a serrated knife, a bottle opener, a screwdriver end, and a small pair of scissors.

A pocket knife or swiss army knife does not have one specific use. Until you need it, it’s best to be prepared for the unexpected!

8. Plenty of Water

By checking online, you can see if your campsite will provide a drinking water source. If unsure, you should pack enough water for your camping trip.

Dehydration is common when camping, especially if you’re spending time doing outdoor activities. Make sure all the family has their own water bottle, so you can check that everyone is hydrated.

9. Tissues or Toilet Roll

Nothing is worse than going to the toilet and realizing there’s no toilet paper after you’ve finished your business. Make sure you pack enough toilet paper for your trip.

You can also pack a box of tissues or pocket tissue packs. These can be useful for runny noses.

10. Extra Chocolate

Last but not least, it’s handy to have some extra chocolate or sweets kept either in your camp or back in the car.

A little treat can be medicinal if someone in your family has an accident or is caught in poor weather. 

Gear Up for Unforgettable Family Camping Adventures…

Packing for a family camping trip can be stressful, but with this checklist as your guide, we believe you’ll have everything you need.

As long as you’re prepared for bad weather with games, raincoats, and chocolate, you can be sure this is a trip the whole family can enjoy. Don’t forget your first aid kit, and enjoy your family camping adventure!

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with his pet bunny when not out in the woods, exploring the infinite beauty of mother nature.

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