The Ultimate Family Camping List (Free Printables)

Having four kids in three years completely changed my ideas about camping.

My husband and I used to love it and go often with no need for a camping checklist!  We’d just throw everything in the car and take off. 

Our needs were minimal, and we could improvise as needed. 

But with kids, camping suddenly became a very overwhelming idea. Kids have so many more needs! We needed a lot more supplies, and I didn’t even know where to start!

My Solution? A Family Camping Checklist!

Just thinking of everything I needed for a one-night camping trip with kids was exhausting, not to mention actually gathering everything each time! 

Didn’t someone already have a family camping list of everything I’d need? 

I searched and found a few ideas, but nothing was comprehensive enough for me!

I like to be prepared and knew I wanted to keep the family history of camping going, so decided to create my own camping checklist. I wanted to focus on a minimalist family camping experience, so these checklists are just the basics with no extra fluff!

Creating My Family Camping Checklist

I decided I wanted to create four master camping packing lists for our family camping trips.

Below are the checklists I created. The first three are meant to be attached to a storage bin – the last I hang on my shelf where I store my camping equipment.

Click any checklist and go right to the section you are most interested in and download the file!

  1. Family Camping Kitchen Checklist Download
  2. Family Tent Camping Checklist Download
  3. Family Camping Supplies Checklist Download
  4. Last Minute Camping Checklist Download

Each checklist is split into two sections:

  • A checklist for camping supplies that need to be checked/washed/refilled after each camping trip
  • A checklist for camping supplies that stay in that tub permanently unless they get broken, etc.

One important part of these tubs is the idea that the supplies stay there. For example, I have scissors that I use every day.  But I also have a separate set of scissors that stay in our camping tub. I don’t have to find and pack scissors each time I want to go camping.

Yes, this takes a bit of an initial financial investment, but it actually wasn’t much. I got most everything at the dollar store!

These camping packing lists have made our family camping trips nearly stress free!

Family Time Guides
Okay, maybe there are still a FEW stressful moments!

Let’s dive in and learn more about what kind of family camping necessities you will need.

1. Camping Kitchen Checklist

This camping list includes everything you’d need for your camping kitchen.

Pots, pans (I’ve switched to this set since I took the picture below and I LOVE them), a griddle, plates, serving spoons, utensils, etc. 

There is a PDF download which you cannot edit, and a Word doc version that you can edit and make your own.

Camp Kitchen Tub

Some notes about the checklist that may offer some additional help.

  • Plastic and Styrofoam Cups – We always have hot chocolate when camping and styrofoam works better for this, but they are bulkier. We like plastic cups better than everything else!  I have recently switched to these collapsible cups to save on space/reduce waste. I love that everyone has their own, they have lids (no bugs if you leave your cup out for a while), and they are easy to pack. They can also be used for hot AND cold drinks!
  • Sharpie – For writing names on plastic cups so you only have to use one per person!  If you order the collapsible cups then everyone can have their own color, no sharpie required.
  • Bar Soap & Nylons – Put the soap in the nylons and tie the nylons to your water source.  Easy hand washing station!  I got these at the dollar store.
  • Clips for Table Cloth – Nothing is more annoying than a tablecloth that won’t stay put because of wind! I had used clips in the past, but they always seemed to get in the way. I’ve started using fitted plastic tablecloths and I LOVE them. Most camping picnic tables are 8 ft long, so that is the size I get! I have also had readers suggest using an old twin sheet. I haven’t tried it yet because it’d be hard to wipe down/keep clean during each trip, but it’d be cheaper. So you have a few options here.
  • Wash Tubs: I used to use a couple of large Tupperware-type tubs (you can see them in the picture above, but I’ve switched to these foldable sinks (which take less space).
  • Toothbrushes, soap, shampoo etc. – I know, these are not food, but because they all require water it made more sense to add them to this tub and checklist.
Camp Kitchen Packing List: Part of the Ultimate Family Camping Packing List With Printables from Simple Family Preparedness:

2. Family Tent Tub Checklist

This camping list includes everything you’d need inside your family tent. 

Clothes, flashlights (after our dollar store lights went out after just one or two uses, we use small high-powered ones now),  pajamas, contact solution, etc. 

There is a PDF download which you cannot edit, and a Word doc version that you can edit and make your own.

Family Tent Tub checklist

A few helpful notes about the tent tub.

  • Flashlights – We keep a lantern outside our tent every night, but still like to have flashlight s on hand. The lantern is plenty of light for us to get from the campfire to our tent, so we only keep one larger flashlight in our “supplies tub” just in case. Each child has their own small flashlight in case they need to go potty at night, and my husband and I have mag lights.
  • Clothes – I keep just one change of clothes for every family member in this tub. I really don’t care how dirty my kid’s clothes get on camping trips, so that is enough for one-three nights.  Seems even if I change their clothes, they are dirty in about five minutes anyway!  So, they wear a t-shirt and shorts there and use that for the first day or two, and then I keep a t-shirt and an old (just barely outgrown) pair of shorts for each kid to change into after a day or two.  I also have one pair of pants per kid in case it is cold at night.
  • Socks/Underwear – I have three-four changes of socks and underwear for each person.  We change our socks and underwear each time we go to bed (keeps you warmer when you have fresh socks.  See this awesome infographic for more info on staying warm).
  • Jackets – Once winter is over, I just throw each kid’s jacket into this tub.  Even if they are a bit small, they work for camping!
  • Pajamas – I keep one set of PJs for each kid. They change into them right before getting in their sleeping bag and change out of them before leaving the tent for dinner, so they tend to stay relatively clean. I use winter jammies that they have just barely grown out of and are no longer using at home during the spring/summer/fall.
  • Pop-up Laundry Basket: This is very small/compact, but it makes keeping track of dirty clothes (especially on a longer trip) so easy!  I put a garbage bag inside the basket to make it easy to remove the clothes and pack the basket when we are done!
  • Mini-Broom: Bringing a full-size broom is a pain, and you always have to re-clean your tent when you get home anyway. While we are camping, we just take a small dustpan/broom to help us keep our tent area relatively tidy.
  • Door Mat: This does wonder for helping to keep the tent area clean!
  • Pump: After forgetting it a few times, I finally added our air mattress pump to the list!  I like this one because it uses batteries and doesn’t have to be charged.  We used to have a rechargeable one, and I would forget to charge it before we’d go.
Family Tent Packing List: Part of the Ultimate Family Camping Packing List With Printables from Simple Family Preparedness:

3. Camp Supplies Tub Checklist

This camping list includes everything you’d need outside your camp kitchen and tent.  This includes things like tarps, first aid supplies, lanterns, toilet paper, etc. 

Let me know if there is something not on the list that you’ve found to be essential in your additional camping supplies!

There is a PDF download which you cannot edit, and a Word doc version that you can edit and make your own.

Camping Supplies Tub: Part of the Ultimate Family Camping Packing List With Printables from Simple Family Preparedness:

A few helpful notes about the supplies tub.

  • First Aid Kit – With so many little ones, my first aid kit is pretty extensive. You can adjust as needed for your family size and children’s ages.
  • Plastic Grocery Bags – I like to have these on hand at all times. I’ve used them most often to keep soiled clothing or wet towels separated from everything else. You can also use a washable bag of some sort if you are looking to be eco-friendly.
  • Bright Duct Tape – Duct tape has lots of uses, but making it bright makes it possible to “mark off” areas where your kids can/can’t go.  Having something solid, bright, and obvious makes it easier for them not to “cross the line.” Colorful rope can also be used.
  • Toilet PaperWe keep ours in an old hot chocolate container to keep it clean, it fits perfectly. You never know when the wonderful “toilet vaults” will be out!
  • Propane – Our camp stove and our lantern both use the same propane.  I like bringing two of these butane stoves as they are small and easy to pack. 
  • Clothes Pins & Rope I only bring each kid one change of clothing.  Occasionally, I need to wash someone’s clothes and when I do I can then hang them to dry. This also works for kitchen towels/rags, etc. 
  • Backpacks – We often go hiking while camping. We keep empty backpacks in this tub so we can pack them up with hiking supplies when we need them!
  • Work Gloves: Great for getting tin foil dinners, etc., out of the fire (we also use the tongs in the kitchen tub for this) among other things. 
  • Shower Bag – I bring this every time and hanging it up in the sun as soon as we get there.  The water gets warm and we use it for washing dishes/hands, etc.
  • Plastic Shower Curtain Liners – Using this is a really quick and easy way to cover supplies if it starts raining!
  • Spray Bottles – A way to keep cool in the summer heat! You can also use some cheap water guns for the little ones to make it more fun.
camping supplies checklist

4. Last Minute Camping Checklist

The last minute camping list includes everything we will need while camping that either won’t fit in a tub or can’t be packed until the last minute

It includes things like sleeping bags, coolers, tents, marshmallow roasters, dutch oven, etc.

There is a PDF download which you cannot edit, and a Word doc version that you can edit and make your own.

Also on this list is our “Family Camping Fun Basket” with a few things we only get to play with when camping. With so many little ones it is important to have some fun on hand – especially when the rain sets in.

One favorite in this tub is Mad Libs around the campfire. There is not much better than a family laughing together at silly words.  We also have this fun Seek It Camping game which the kids really enjoy. 

What we actually bring from this list varies depending on where we are going and what we are cooking. Depending on the amenities the camping grounds have will help me figure out how much we will need to bring for this tub.

last minute camping supplies checklist

A few helpful notes about the last minute tub.

  • Sleeping Bags – Of course you cannot really camp with a sleeping bag! I personally like smaller-sized sleeping bags for my kids. They stay much warmer in a bag that doesn’t have so much dead space. 
  • Cooler – I’ve tried multiple coolers, and the Coleman Xtreme is my favorite.  It will keep ice for five-seven days even with my kids opening and closing it regularly. We used it to move a bunch of freezer food cross country a few years ago, and after five days in a hot moving truck, everything was still frozen.
  • Drink Bag: Update 2016: Since making this list, I’ve also started bringing an insulated bag full of water/juice. I freeze half of them and put them in the bottom and pull the rest from the fridge cold and put them on top of the frozen ones. The non-frozen ones stay cold for the first two days or so, and by then the frozen ones have started to melt well enough to drink them.
  • Flip Flops/Sandals – We are always camping in the Spring/Summer/Fall, so I can’t leave these in the tubs because my kids are using them. I am not willing to purchase a 2nd pair just for camping.  We only bring them if we will be near water.
  • Air Mattresses: In the past we used an actual air mattress, but at the suggestion of a reader, we switched to inflatable pool mattresses for the kids. They pack smaller, are cheaper, and work great for the kids.  I like this pump because I don’t have to remember to charge it before we leave.
  • Blankets – We always bring a few extras in case someone gets cold. We’ve also had kids get sick all over the inside of a sleeping bag, so we’ve had to switch to blankets.
  • Swim Stuff – We rarely bring this, but if we are going to be able to swim…we throw it in!
  • Fishing Gear: Again, we only bring this if there is somewhere to fish nearby.
  • Washing Water/Spout – We used to bring a 5-gallon water container with a spout and attach nylon with soap in it for a washing station. At the recommendation of readers, we’ve actually started leaving this at home (it is big and bulky) and bringing a Shower Bag instead.
Last Minute Supplies Packing List: Part of the Ultimate Family Camping Packing List With Printables from Simple Family Preparedness:

After Camping Routine

Each time we get home from camping, I quickly glance through the 1st part of each camping list. If I used a lot of plates, I throw a few more in. 

I wash our camping clothes and immediately put them back in the appropriate tub with the list right on top and all our “last minute” camping supplies nearby.

As you can see my containers are all put away until our next adventure. On the top of each is our packing list identifying what is inside – you can put them on the side too if you prefer. I definitely recommend laminating them too so they do not get ruined!

What to bring guides
Our camping supplies shelf

Recommended Camping Supplies

I have had SO MANY requests for a condensed list of my favorite camping products so I finally decided to create one here. 

I link to many of these products above in the text of the post, but here are my absolute favorites!  They all link to Amazon (where I buy almost everything I own).


Lots of you have asked what tent we have.  We had a Glacier’s Edge Pentagon three-room dome tent. I did not like it and would not recommend it.

It was given to us as a Christmas gift shortly after we had children. The reason I did not like it is that it is not rectangular (it is a pentagon and there are lots of angles/turns to the walls), so there is a lot of wasted space when you try to lay out cots or air mattresses, etc. 

I would prefer one with straight walls where I can easily put the air mattresses out for the whole family. As a family of 6, I am looking at this tent for the future. It looks like it is a perfect size and offers some weather protection – and is affordable.

What tent do you have?  Do you like it?  Why or why not?

Storage Tubs

Many have asked what tubs I used.  My choice was the Rubbermaid 20 Gallon Container which I did get on Amazon, but might be cheaper at Walmart. They are roomy and a more affordable than many other options.

Be sure to measure your trunk or bed of your truck to make sure the sizing works! There are smaller and bigger tub options, but going smaller may limit what you can bring.

The only downside to these tubs is they do tend to damage easier than other tubs. That is the trade off for price. So if you are rough with your things, you may want to invest in a stronger option.

I’d love to know if you print and use these camping lists and if they help your family! And of course you are welcome to come back and tell us some great family camping stories!Save

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Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.

431 thoughts on “The Ultimate Family Camping List (Free Printables)”

  1. So this might sound random but do you have a picture of the car all packed up? I feel like that is where things get out of control for us, by the time you add everything. Thanks

  2. I was looking at the table cloth idea. Wouldn’t a twin size plastic mattress cover work better than the sheet? Both go on like a fitted sheet but the cover would be easier to wipe down. Just an idea

  3. We also pack headlamps so the kids are hands free when they go to the restroom at night.

    For the campsite restrooms we have used a bag with a hook in the past, but after a toothbrush was dropped on the floor we switched our girl to a fanny pack for toothpaste/brushes, face washing, etc. It works great for hands free everything.

    • This is so awesome!! I didn’t grow up tent camping, but my husband did and has such fond memories he wants to do that with our four! This makes me feel so much more confident!!

  4. Years ago, we took our first family camping trip with all the kids. It was so much work for me. I came home and combed the internet for realistic ways to simplify camping. I really camping to work for us! I found this article and followed it. We were on a limited budget but I slowly collected items to create all of our camping bins. Most of my items were found on clearance racks and dollar stores. I was worth every bit of effort to get those bins put together. We’re going camping later this month and I haven’t even needed to think about it.

    Thanks for posting this. My family is so thankful. You never really know what ideas might be a blessing to someone else.

  5. I believe the first link below is for an updated and improved version of our tent. We bought it about 3-4 years ago as an upgrade because our old tent had been through some tough weather and having teenagers, we had outgrown it’s smaller size. We LOVE our new tent! It is huge, and was expensive, but has been totally worth the price. My husband has always tolerated camping because our kids and I love it. Our new tent has helped him be able to actually enjoy our camping trips more because it’s not as much work and it’s more comfortable. It is super quick and easy to set up and take down. There is plenty of space, and you can stand through the entire tent. My husband and I have retired the queen air mattresses and we each sleep on a cot with a slim twin air mattress (designed to use on a cot) and we both get a lot more restful sleep because of it. We use a small folding side table as a nightstand between us for a fan, lantern, and charging our phones.

    Our two kids (one teen and 1 now an adult) share the other end room, also using the cots and table set up. This year our older child had a guest and the 3 of them were still comfortable in their space. We use the center room for shoes, our shower baskets, a drying rack for towels (especially if there’s rain and we can’t use a clothes line…link for a portable one also included below. I think this is the one we have, which can be easily disassembled to pack up, transport, and store) hamper, etc. Our personal duffle bags for clothes and such fit under our cots.

    We have used a similar bin system for years, as I didn’t want to have to pack and unpack everything every time we went. Each year we have made investments in necessary (from our perspective) equipment/gear. We now seem to have almost everything we need and can upgrade some things or spend that money on excursions during our trips.


    Drying rack:

    Our cots are similar to these (but much much older):

    These are the air mattresses we use:

    Side table (might be this exact one, if not, very similar):

  6. My wife and I are empty-nesters living in beautiful Utah and are camping noobies. We have been putting together our bin of camping stuff, so your list was very helpful. We found the dollar store to be our best resource for most camping accessories. We buy glow necklaces and bracelets for the grandkids to keep track of them and they think they are cool. We also found a collapse tent Amazon for $100 that literally take 2 minutes to set up and folds up like a camp chair. Perfect for 2 people. Thank you for your ideas.

  7. I had to smile when I saw this article. Apparently my mom was way ahead of her time, because she did this sort of method back in the 70s/80s when my brother and I were kids. I love your lists and the three box concept.

  8. You asked about good family tents. Check out the brand NTK on Amazon. We stumbled across it when we were given the gift of choosing out any tent we wanted for our family of 5. We researched endlessly and went with the NTK Arizona GT which says for 9-10 people. It has 2 rooms, and the front is simply huge. It is so waterproof and amazing quality. This brand is out of Brazil. We recently camped in a PA state park through a massive storm and the whole site had standing water and we were totally dry. They now have the Super Arizona GT for 11-12 people if you want the back room to be even bigger. On the Arizona GT we set up our queen blow up in the back room with plenty of side space to get in and out and put our stuff. The three kids are in the front on another queen blow up and a twin blow up and there’s still room for luggage, changing, etc. This thing sets up in about 15 minutes too. I can’t recommend it more. Thanks for the awesome lists!

  9. Be careful of blow up air mattresses…I got one on a camping trip to replace a nice mattress that ripped and it smelled like burnt plastic. It burned my eyes and throat. I threw it out of the tent..and slept in the car

  10. I highly recommend the Wunderlist app for maintaining camping supply lists! I have extensive lists as well and the app lets me check off items as I put them in their respective bins. The lists are also easy to revise as you think of items you’ll want to include in your next trip!Since I always have my phone with me, I can just add items whenever I see them online or out and about.Likewise, if something proves superfluous, I can just remove it with the click of a button.

  11. Can’t say thanks enough! The easy links and edible versions make using your information a breeze. I’ve been looking for a system for packing and lists and this is the easiest most comprehensive I’ve found. Thanks agian.

  12. A huge THANK YOU for this! I have downloaded all of the editable lists. My husband and I also have 4 kids and your lists will be HUGE game changers for us. We go camping multiple times during the summer. I am very OCD and am obsessed with lists and labeling. Now, thanks to you, I can print this lists off, put them in document protectors, and tape them to the according tubs. I’m so excited and ready to camping now! Thank you again!!!

  13. You could probably sew a cheap dollar tree shower curtain into the bed sheet for the fitted table cloth. If it only makes it through one camping trip you can pull it off and sew another (or simple tack) one for next time

  14. I have 2 kids and when they turned 12 and 13 years old I bought a cheap 4 man tent and they share their own tent and love it! I have looked at these new tents that connect to a shader so that they have their own space but we are all still together and have a shared space with the shader in the middle, and they are taller than normal tents. Thank you for this list! I have been wanting to put tubs together for a while but didnt want to do a trial and error with making my own!

  15. Thank you so much for these lists! We just went on our first family camping trip and although it did NOT go very smooth we’re hooked and ready to go again soon. However hopefully utilizing your list we’ll be a little more prepared.

    Thanks again.

  16. As a teenager I did not want to sleep in the same tent as my parents. Get the smaller one and when they are old enough let them sleep in your original dome tent.

    • Instead of a cloth twin sheet, you could always get yourself a vinyl fitted sheet. That way you’d have the benefit of easy cleanup and only need to pack the one!

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  18. I can’t open the editable ones because I don’t have Microsoft. Is there a way to make it open in google docs? I would really love these. Thanks

  19. I love how your lists are in zones. Also, you blew my mind using the solar shower for other things instead of just showering. Washing dishes and hands just got so much better/easier.


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