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. Thank you thank you thank you! We decided to do our first every camping trip in 2 weeks. My boys are 3, 2 & 15m. I’m so excited since it’s something my husband & I did as kids & we’ve been itching to take the boys. However the thought of tent camping with 3 little boys (I haven’t gone REAL camping in about 10 years) causes my anxiety to go through the roof. My husband is a throw some clothes & diapers in a bag & wing it type, I’m the total opposite so this is a major help. He came home from work to find all the kids sleeping & me sitting on the bedroom floor with a bunch of stuff I had gathered up & putting together a first aid kit. He just laughed. I’m now much more relaxed about this trip thanks to you!

  2. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!! I love camping with my family, I recently became a widow and the prospect of camping without my husband and 2 little ones (3 and 5) was daunting. Thank you for making it simple. We are headed out this Friday for our first trip on our own!

  3. I like these lists, I too keep most of my items in my totes until next time.
    I have found that mini bungie’s are most useful while camping. I use them for my paper towels, table cloths (I get decent table clothes and attach eyelets, and strap the bungie’s under the table. ) , hanging lanterns…ext.

    I’m in the process of building a collapsible camp kitchen and can’t wait to use it.

  4. We have a set up similar to what you have listed I’m going to use some of your ideas I think they’re great. I wanted to share the twin sheet idea for a tablecloth, it is great but if you buy the waterproof sheets for the twin sheet set at Walmart they work plus they are wipeable.

  5. This list is AMAZING! Like you guys, my husband and I went on many last minute camping trips without much planning/research. We just booked our first camping trip since having a baby and it hit me that I have to actually plan this trip! Your list was so helpful-thanks!

  6. Wow! This is the holy grail of camping tips, tricks, & organization. I am loving using this as a guide as we prepare for our first big camping trip. Thank you! Thank you!

  7. What do you use for drinking water? Do you take a bunch of bottles of water for each family member or is there any easier, better way?

  8. I have to say think you for these lists and the storage tub idea. I have to be careful about the amount of items I take with me. I travel with my 2 kids in a hatchback dodge caliber, so there isn’t a lot of extra room to pack a lot of things.

    I am excited to get to try this system for my first “real” (as my kids call it) camping trip. Before this year we have only always rented a cabin and just took supplied for that. This year we are camping in a tent, my first time EVER!!!

  9. One of my favorite camping hacks is to take along glow sticks to attach to tent lines to prevent tripping over them in the dark. They can also be used to blaze the trail to go potty at night. Just don’t forget to collect them and dispose of them when you leave the campsite.

    Glow Sticks Bulk Wholesale, 50 4” Glow Stick Light Sticks. Assorted Bright Colors, Kids love them! Glow 8-12 Hrs, 2-year Shelf Life, Sturdy Packaging, Glow With Us Brand

  10. Hi. We just purchased a Coleman Instant Up 10 and I can thoroughly recommend. Great pitching and excellent room in them. If you are worried about outgrowing as kids get to teenagers – they will probably want their own tents by then so it will still fit you. Love your lists too. A great help.

    We did our first camping trip last month and I’m hooked! (Some of me is just super excited about getting and organizing all the stuff we need… but that’s a whole different issue.)
    Our Costco has some heavy duty bins for 7.99 (I ‘m pretty sure they’re these: Not 100% sure, I’ll have to verify when I get home.)
    Thank you again!

  12. We camp a lot so we have the bins also, makes it so much easier.
    We use and love self inflating sleeping pads. They roll up small, come in diff. colors (kids picked their colors), sizes-length and width and depth. Drawback is they must be kept open when stored, so we keep them under the beds.

  13. HI folks. Tablecloths: for years I have purchased twin fitted sheets. They mold around the table and stay put. No clips! I just wash when I get home and repack. I have a couple xl twin for longer tables.

  14. Helpful post, thank you. I didn’t read the other comments, so this may have already been mentioned…in answer to growing your tent for teens, you may want to think about getting 2 person tents instead. It does involve trusting your kiddos & adds some responsibility there, so not for everyone. My family has gone camping since forever & as a teen, my parents got a 2 person tent for me. Really it was for me & mom. Dad’s back got to him & hammocks helped him sleep better, but it was considered my tent & it was useful to me in college when friends & I went camping. Also, now that I’m married my husband & I have that tent & join in on the family trips in comfort. My parents have Learned how to convert their van into a tent of sorts & it seems to be more comfortable for them. Eventually my hubs & I will need a bigger tent for us & kiddos, but by then the 2 person tent will have well earned retirement.

  15. I highly recommend self inflating mats for insulation from ground cold and they don’t go down in the night. I personally abhor sleeping bags, so I slip. Fitted single sheet over the mattress and use a quilt on top.
    Camping is rough enough at times, so allow the luxury of real pillows.
    All the food prep equipment – I make casserole style dishes at home over a couple of weeks and freeze them for transport to campsite. They help keep the cold things cold in your cool box and you only need to cook some rice or pasta to go with them once they’re heated. Fresh fruit makes the best dessert.
    It’s true about sharing a tent with your kids – they soon won’t want too and two smaller tents can be easier to store and erect than afamily home sized one.
    If you’re getting back to nature, do nature a favour by bringing reusable plates etc. they aren’t that hard to clean.
    Camping doesn’t need to be “roughing it”, but the less stuff you take, the more luxurious it is.

  16. I really appreciate these lists. It made our 3 camping trips this summer so much easier to pack for. We’re still working on getting it right for our family, but overall, fantastic. What do you do about pillows. We bring cheap pillows for everyone, but they take up so much space and we really don’t need full size pillows. The inflatable ones don’t seem to hold air well…

      • After always camping with a full-size pillow, I recently decided to cut a pillow in half and try that instead. I was delightfully surprised that I noticed little difference when I slept with this half-pillow. Worth a try…

  17. I always used flashlights but now I use a head lamp. It is so much handier. I use it to read books at night at home too. I now won’t leave without one.

  18. This!!! Thank you so much. We’ve been camping more as a family and it has been a ton of work. Need a system like this!

  19. Another couple of thoughts:

    I’m kind of a crunchy, hippy mom. I don’t like to use paper products while we’re camping. I actually save a lot of space by having a plastic bowl, plastic plate, and plastic cup for each person. Just something cheap. I also have a few knives, spoons, and forks that we’re on their way to Goodwill in the tub. Sometimes it’s so hard to eat with plastic cutlery! They all stay packed away in the tubs all the time and are just used for camping. The kids help wash dishes. Since I’m washing a pot or pan anyway after cooking a meal, it’s NBD to wash a few dishes, too . I hang the dish towels on the clothesline and they go in the hamper when they’re dry. We do have a roll of paper towels with us, but we rarely use them. I repack the towels in the tub after each trip, too. I don’t find this to be terribly time consuming or tedious. I know most people use paper products while camping, but just wanted to mention that it is easy to be eco friendly while camping. ☺

    The other thought: we switched to self-inflating sleep pads last year for everyone. Our kids will be able to grow up and take them off to college with them! But they’re perfect for saving space, no need for a pump to blow up, and ours also have foam in them which insulates from the cold ground (I always got cold sleeping on an air mattress). I think they’re my favorite camping thing ever invented. The only downside is that they have to be stored flat in between trips to keep their foam working correctly. We store them under a bed. This is another item that seems like it has a high price tag, but is totally worth the money!!! We have these ones: ALPS Mountaineering Comfort Series Air Pad, Long

  20. Browning Camping Big Horn Family/Hunting Tent

    This tent is amazing! Great warranty, too. We bought it last year and could tell that it is above average quality. It has the floor that comes up the side you speak of and the windows do have a storage pocket, despite what some reviewers said. We are SO pleased with this tent – it’s our forever tent now. Worth every penny! My only complaint is that it only comes in this boring color. 😉

  21. Water is heavy & bulky to haul so I pack baby wipes for the quick hands & face clean up. Also, I bought 2 solar ground light spikes to mark the tent door (dollar store find). These work great as night lights for small kids & as a quick light to grab for night time potty calls. No extra batteries needed. Regarding the picnic table cover, the fitted sheet sounds like a great idea but mayb go 1 step further & buy the plastic matress protector instead. Idk, we don’t usually even use a table cover. Finally, we just grab the floor mats from the truck to use for wiping feet & storing shoes inside tent (when necessary). Thanks for ur ideas.

    • Fantastic input Kelly. THanks so much! I really like the idea of using the truck floor mats and the solar lights. Love all the collaboration on this post!

  22. If you’re thinking of getting a new tent in the next few years, I’d suggest a 6-person with a 6′ peak height and a 10×10′ footprint. These fit two queen-sized air mattresses side-by-side (it’s tight, but it fits). It can be tough to find a suitable spot to pitch a tent much larger than that. We actually “downgraded” from a 10×10′ with attached 10×5′ “screen room” to a classic 10×10′ and are very happy.

    Not enough room, you say? Fear you’ll outgrow it as your kids get bigger, you say? Your kids will soon be ready for their Very Own Tent, which is a Very Big Deal for Growing Up, on the order of throwing out the binkie, pooping in the potty, or first day of kindergarten. IMO, it is much easier to pitch two smaller tents than one ginormous one.

    Besides, when your kiddos are teenagers, it’s not likely that they’ll want to sleep in the same tent as you, anyway!

    Love your organization :o)

  23. I’ve been camping now for four years with my kids, and would always write and rewrite my “camping lists”. Never thinking to make a hard copy to reuse every year. I just downloaded all your lists and enjoyed this post immensely! Here are some ideas for mid to older kids:
    Bowling( 2liter soda bottles & ball)
    Jump ropes
    Can jam
    ISpy scavenger hunt (preprinted list of things kids might see on nature hikes)

    And something for the whole family, we always make the Smores cones!

    Thank you again for sharing!

  24. I grew up camping. Like you I to have tubs for camping stuff only
    I use the heavy duty Sterilite trunks that are plastic with wheels. In fact I use them for almost all my holiday decorations
    They stack neatly and with the wheels it makes it easier to move around.


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