Going camping for the first time can be confusing.  A lot of people tend to over think that they’re going to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no access to anything, so they tend to bring everything they own. Most first times should find comfort in knowing that a majority of the KOA and privately owned campgrounds typically have a general store on premises, and are usually a short ride away from town so you can grab anything you may have forgotten.

For first timers, we recommend keeping it simple and bringing what you need so it’s manageable. Before we get to that though we have a couple quick tips to keep in mind before you go.

Gather Your Gear: Use the checklist below as a starting point to help you think of the things you need to bring with you.  Once you get all these items together, lay them out and pack them up in groups, so all of your kitchen items are together and your tent items are together, etc.  When you’re on your camp site this will make it much easier rather than having to unpack everything to find the one thing you’re looking for.

Pre-prepare your food: The more prep you do ahead of time the better, so before you leave you may want to consider slicing your veggies, marinating your meats, and preparing as much ahead of time as possible.  This will help reduce the amount of prep and most importantly cleaning you have to do while you’re at the camp site. Similarly to the note above about your gear, pack items in your cooler that go together so when you open your cooler to grab your food, everything you need will be together.


The Beginner’s Family Camping Checklist

  • CAMPSITE GEAR
  • Tent, poles, stakes
  • Tent footprint (ground cover for under your tent)
  • Extra tarp or canopy
  • Sleeping bag for each camper
  • Sleeping pad for each camper
  • Repair kit for pads, mattress, tent, tarp
  • Pillows
  • Extra blankets
  • Chairs
  • Headlamps or flashlights (extra batteries)
  • Lantern
  • Lantern fuel or batteries
  • KITCHEN
  • Stove
  • Fuel for stove
  • Matches or lighter
  • Firewood
  • Frying pan
  • Pot
  • French press or portable coffee maker
  • Corkscrew
  • Tablecloth
  • Roasting sticks for marshmallows, hot dogs
  • Food-storage containers, bags
  • Trash bags
  • Cooler
  • Ice
  • Water bottles
  • Plates, bowls, forks, spoons, knives
  • Cups, mugs
  • Paring knife, spatula, cooking spoon
  • Cutting board
  • Foil
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Sponge, dishcloth, dishtowel
  • Paper towels
  • Extra bin for washing dishes
  • CLOTHES
  • Clothes for daytime
  • Sleepwear
  • Swimsuits
  • Rainwear
  • Shoes: hiking/walking shoes, easy-on shoes, water shoes
  • Extra layers for warmth
  • Gloves
  • Hats
  • PERSONAL ITEMS
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellant
  • First-aid kit
  • Prescription medications
  • Toothbrush, toiletries
  • Soap
  • OTHER ITEMS
  • Camera
  • Campsite reservation confirmation, phone number
  • Maps, area information
  • Bikes, toys
  • Pet supplies and food