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

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

  1. Hi Misty! I love your lists, they are pretty similar to mine. One item that we really love is our CGear Sand Free Rug. It’s a thin mat that stays dirt-free. We use it instead of a door mat outside our tent and it really keeps our tent floor clean (no tracking dirt into the tent). We have a large one so it has a ton of space for our shoes at night. (We’re in California so we don’t have to worry about rain. ) I also wanted to share that I bring a heavy plastic cylindrical utensil holder to hold all our cooking utensils for easy access.

    One thing my kids love is when I warm up some water in a small pot at bedtime and wash their hands, faces and feet with a hot soapy washcloth that’s been wrung out. It helps them sleep better and warms them up a bit if they’re cold. I use lavender scented liquid soap :)

  2. I reuse the push button laundry soap bottles as hand washing. The shower bag is great, but requires more help from mom when the kids are washing. The laundry soap bottles give me 1-2 gallons and warm quickly in the sun. I just set it on the table and then when washing is needed mom doesn’t have to help. Its similar to the big bottle, but a lot easier to use and let the kids have free reign of, and the kids are tough enough to set it up themselves, or refill it when its time.

  3. Solar lights from the dollar store work great to illuminate your site (especially tent lines!) And can be moved from sunny spots during the day to where they are needed at night. Wouldn’t go camping without a few!

  4. We camped all the time when we lived in Colorado. Living in Oklahoma the heat makes it not so much fun. We are going on our first camping trip in years. So glad to find your wonderful lists. I did download them all and plan to share them with my family.
    (20 adults 30 kids camping should be fun.)
    I am taking an umbrella and shower curtain, the curtain will fit on the spokes of the umbrella when turned upside down hang in a tree and you have a privacy for a dressing room, or porta potty.

  5. Great list,I too was going to say. When your kids are teenagers they will want their own tent. I really like the tents that can connect together , I think they would be great to camp with older kids. separate but still together . I was debating on the shower bag and this post has convinced me that I do need one. I have to take all the water we need where we camp so I carry one of those collapsible water carriers also. But I love the idea of using the shower water to wash hands. and dishes.

      • We have a large tent like the one u like. We have not had any problems at sites with it and actually prefer it. More room to move around and IF u bring a portable potty Noone has to leave the tent in the dark. We us organic clumping kitty litter in a bucket with a toilet seat. No smell! Everyone is always jealous, lol! CHEERS! HAPPY CAMPING

  6. Love your lists. One thing I have done for years is use a sturdy toolbox with a tray. I put spoons, knives and forks in the tray and underneath I put peeler, sharp knives, spatula, big spoons, can opener, etc. For mm this is easier than putting these items in a big tub.

  7. Hi Misty! I want to thank you for this list, I love it. We are going camping for the 1st time soon and this has made it so much easier to pack. This all seemed so overwhelming when I 1st started looking for lists but your checklists separates things nicely.

    • Isabela, I wanted to encourage you not to get discouraged if your first trip doesn’t go magically and smooth. After our first camping trip, I almost never went again. I stuck with it and each year it goes more and more smoothly and I, as the mom and “worker bee” that we usually are, have more fun. I hope your trip was great. B.

  8. Thanks for the lists! We’re heading out soon and I’m a little like, “whoa! This ain’t my first rodeo, but do I have everything???!!!” lol! Also, we add a guitar to our last minuet list.

    We adore our Big Agnes mtnGlow tent. The one we have they no longer make even though it’s a year old. We lucked out I think because it’s a car-camping tent that had mtnGlow built into it. You can buy it separately for a car-camping tent.

    I love Big Agnes…we actually own 2….DH’s fancy 2-man and one for our family. :D Insider tip: check to see if you or your husband can get a discount at

    We couldn’t break the bank with Helinox (Big Agnes) chairs this year (I covet the rocking chair version somethin’ fierce). REI has a knock of version similar to “Chair One” by Helinox that is awful! The legs are plastic and I think they want over $25 for it. But Walmart just started carrying a knock off by Ozark Trail for $15/ea! And the legs are aluminum! Score! We bought 2 and they are awesome! We’ll definitely be saving up for the real-deal but the Ozark Trail version is just so so good. We’ll be keeping those until they decompose. LOL!

  9. Thank you, thank you!! I am planning on binge-camping this summer with my kids, I so appreciate these pre-made lists! I already downloaded the “editable” lists. Can’t wait to test them out!

  10. These lists are amazing!! Thank you for all of the suggestions, tips, and links to the products on Amazon! I camped with my family when I was young and then my husband and I camped together. Now we have two boys (3 yrs and 1 yrs) and we are excited for our first family camping trip. Question – what do you and your spouse prefer to sleep on? (air mattress or cot) We’ve used air mattresses in the past but they don’t keep air very well and we tend to roll to the middle. Just curious if you have found a good solution. Thanks!

    • Hi Kari! I’m so glad you’ve found the lists helpful. Good luck on your first family camping trip. For us, I like a cot and my husband uses a twin air mattress. But neither one of us likes sharing an air mattress!

  11. Hi Misty! Wow! Have you got it all together! My children are grow now and I remember the days of camping with three little ones. I did pretty well keeping it all organized but you have a great list and I love the bucket/totes idea. Leaving things prepared and ready to go really does help streamline the process. Just a note, a few of the links don’t go where they should (most are good). Thanks again! Nicole

    • Ha! There are so many things that aren’t “all together” in my life! But I do okay with camping! I will go check the links – seems I have to at the beginning of each spring. Thank you for the reminder!

  12. Thank you for your list. I love camping with my son, and I’m super forgetful with packing. I often leave really important necessities behind, so I’m trying to be prepared ahead of time.

  13. As my kids got older, they wanted their own tents. I wouldn’t worry about outgrowing either of those cabin tents. We now use 4 smaller tents, which makes it a little more flexible when setting up camp.

  14. I use a similar system. The totes I use are the Rubbermaid Roughneck (like the ones in your graphic) and they have held up very well, even in temperature extremes. And they managed to keep the racoons out the night I forgot to secure them in the back of the care before bed. I have four of them and the fourth one is where I put the food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. I also have a smaller Roughneck tote that I keep in the car all through ‘adventure season’ that has what we would need for an impromtu roadside picnic.

  15. Hi Misty! I just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog! My husband and I are anxiously awaiting our first camping trip with our twin four-year-old boys for spring and summer and your article is going to help me get ready! I also wanted to share with you what tent we have. I understand you wrote this blog initially in 2013 (so most likely you have a new tent by now), but we have the Kelty – 8 person Parthenon. It’s pricy, but we ended up paying less than $400 for it. After reading multiple questionable reviews on other tents, we decided to invest in a tent they would not leak and would last us a very long time (6 years so far). A few things we like about the tent… It’s easy to put up, the polls are very sturdy, everything fits into the original bag after every trip, And most importantly of all, the rain fly design! The rain fall has a front zippered vestibule that we use to store our chairs at the end of the night and the side flys have an inverted slant which allows you to keep your windows open on hot rainy nights without letting it rain in the tent. It’s also super roomy and has at least a 7ft clearance on the inside. Again, Thanks for taking the time to read my comments and for writing this article!

  16. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a long time, and have looked up several different ways to do it. Yours is the best one I’ve found for our family. Thanks!

  17. Planning for a 5 day camping trip. There are 2 of us and we have had our camping equipment for a few years, still in good shape as we check before and after for any add-ons and replacements. These lists are a great starting place. We’ve ended up with way too many storage containers and most aren’t the right size. Thank you for these. We’ll let you know how we did!

  18. HEY :) Thanks for the list for camping. It was very helpful to print out and check off the things we have and know need to get before this years camping trip.

  19. We do historical re-enactment/ LARP and our list includes all this plus…. weapons, armor, musical instruments, arts and sciences equipment (like a sewing machine, leather working kit, inkle loom, drop spindle, calligraphy set,etc. {heck, my husband once took most of his armor making stuff, like an anvil and a dishing stump, hammers, steel, and tools! That trip took my van AND his car to get all our gear there! }) and all our medieval clothing, accessories and monster garb! Our kitchen alone takes up two totes when you add in feast gear and regalia! We even have a portable potty to eliminate late night trips to the privy.
    The tote system saves lives!!! (since the stress of making sure we have EVERYTHING makes my hubby crazy LOL )

  20. I use totes for camping as well and I think they are awesome. I add an additional tote for clothes just because I’m a neat freak and I hate muddy smokey clothes, but I pre pack each kids clothes in separate plastic bags so the tote doesn’t end a complete mess and I know exactly what I’m looking for.

  21. We love to camp but it’s always so much work to pack it all up. My family consists of me my husband and 2 kids… we also camp with our 2 dogs as well. I was so happy to come across this post and can’t wait to try this out. I just printed and laminated all my lists for my different tubs. Now I’ve just got to make sure I get the right sized tubs that will hold everything and fit in my Ford Edge. I can’t wait until camping season (we live in Iowa so it’s a little cold right now) and give this system a try!!

  22. Did you ever upgrade to the plano containers? Did you use the 68qt tote or bigger? Were they big enough? Trying to decide if I should just use my 20gal totes.. but I really like the idea of them doubling as seating!

    Thanks for the lists! This will be way better than tossing stuff in and praying..


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