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Your Ultimate Camping Checklist

Here are the absolute basic necessities, adaptable for families and experienced campers alike.

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First Aid Kit

Because you don't really want to have to have to do the Survivorman thing. Here's a list of 10 things that should definitely be in there, from Outdoor Life. Here's a list from the American Red Cross.

And with help from Positively Splendid, you can make a cute little holder for everything.


Ground Cloth or Tarp

If you bought a tent, it probably came with one. If not, you can just use a tarp. It will (if used the right way) help keep the rain out! Bonus: if you use a tarp, you can possibly turn it into a big tarp shelter.


Extra Stakes

Ok, so this is a little optional. But I'll never forget the time I went camping without extra stakes and one of my tent mates had to rig up something with some extra marshmallow skewers. These titanium tent pegs might be overkill, but they're easy to spot in a sea of leaves.

Mallet to get those stakes in the ground

View this video on YouTube

If the ground's damp you'll be fine, but if the ground's harder, you'll have a tough time getting those stakes in the dirt. You can always try to use your foot to press it in, but better to be safe than sorry.



A little one to always carry, a little one to keep at camp, and then a bigger one to towel dry just in case. Microfiber towels are lightweight and super absorbent.

Also, have you heard of the InstaKilt? (Yes, that's a towel in the picture).



Yes, you should plan your meals in advance, of course. Whether you're going to use your fire, a camp stove, or a charcoal grill at your campsite, you won't want to forget your utensils (and charcoal, if you need it). Love to Know Camping has a handy slideshow with all of your options.


Plates, Forks, and Knives

You can use disposable plates, as long as you're careful to collect them and bring them back with you to an acceptable trash disposal spot. This also includes marshmallow skewers if you don't feel like finding sticks long enough for roasting.

Aluminum Foil, Paper Towels, and Garbage Bags

Not so much for the backpackers in the audience, but if you're with kids, paper towels are an absolute essential. You can even set up this Handwashing Station. Just make sure you put your trash in the right place!


A Scavenger Hunt List

But make sure you take pictures of things, instead of removing them from nature. Plus then you can put big things on your list, like bears (actually, please don't put a bear on your scavenger hunt list. Thanks). The Creative Homemaker has a good starter list for a kids' hunt.