We have a family camping checklist to prevent you from forgetting essential gear. Here's some car camping gear you shouldn't leave home without.
The gear necessary to help you stay warm and protected overnight is the most important to remember on a camping trip. These three items are must-haves.
- Tent: Usually a 4-person tent or larger for family camping.
- Sleeping Bag: A double bag can offer more room for snuggling if you have tiny campers.
- Sleeping Pad: This will add insulation and comfort. Air mattresses also work well for car camping.
Food and shelter are the basics. If you remember sleeping essentials and cooking essentials but forget everything else, you'll still survive the weekend.
- Stove: This is especially important if fires are banned. You might not need this if you can cook everything over a fire.
- Water: A must-pack. Jugs of water along with water bottles or hydration reservoirs.
- Fire Starter: Whether matches, a lighter or a different type of starter, you need this to get cooking.
- Food: Buy camp meals or bring your own ingredients (don't forget s'mores!). Check out these camping recipes.
- Cooler: A must if you're packing food that can spoil. Avoid bulk with soft coolers.
- Cookware: Cast iron pots, pans and dutch ovens are durable enough to cook on open flames.
- Plates & Sporks: Plates and utensils that can be easily transported make meal time at camp more enjoyable.
In addition to the clothing you pack (hiking pants, layers, wool socks, etc.), you'll need some outerwear to protect you from the elements.
- Down jacket: Down coats are easy to pack and keep you toasty
- Rain jacket: Because weather is unpredictable!
- Hat: One for sun protection and one to keep you warm when the sun goes down.
- Gloves/Mittens: If you're camping in high elevation, especially with little ones, it's nice to have some extra warmth.
Those items specific to camping and spending time outdoors are the easiest to forget. Remembering to pack this gear will help make your trip safer and more enjoyable.
- First Aid Kit: Because you want to be prepared for anything. Make your own or buy a kit.
- Headlamp: See what you're doing around camp without forfeiting the use of your hands.
- Sunscreen: This is an essential for outdoor fun. UPF clothing also helps protect your skin.
- Insect Spray: The importance of this depends on where you're camping. Insect repellent clothing can help.
- Camp Chairs: As long as you're car camping, why not go for ultimate comfort with a lounging camp chair?
- Camping Blanket: Use a picnic blanket if you want to spread out on the ground for games or relaxation.
- Lantern: Save your headlamp battery with a soft-lit lantern.
Your campsite might not have running water, but that doesn't mean you can't keep it clean. Basic items can help you stay refreshed at camp.
- Camp towel: Quick-drying towels can be used to dry gear or be dampened to wipe hands and faces. Wet wipes also work well.
- Biodegradable Soap: Use to wash dishes, hands, hair or whatever needs cleaning!
- Camp Shower: Let the sun help you heat water in a baggy to use for cleaning. Or get a solar camp shower for the same effect.
- Paper Towels: Perfect for tackling messes and starting campfires.
Local trails are fun to explore while camping, but sometimes it's fun to just hang out at camp. Are these really essentials? No. But you should still pack some of these items to maximize the fun.
- Slackline: All you need is two trees for some balancing fun.
- Games: A deck of cards, a Frisbee, Bananagrams and other easy-to-pack games work best.
- Hammock: These are great for afternoon naps.
- Book: We have a few suggestions if you're looking for something to read.
- Aluminum growler: Pack your favorite craft beer and keep it cool without risking broken glass.
- Flask: Camping with friends? This makes the campfire stories more interesting.
- Ice cream maker: Fun for kids AND results in ice cream at camp!
- Fun sleeping bag: Such as a super hero sleeping bag. More of a puffy costume than a sleeping bag, but these make for a fun (and super) way to stay warm at camp. They even come in adult sizes.
*Featured Flickr image courtesy Gordon Watt
What would you add to this list of packing essentials?