Post Summary: The Ultimate Camping Checklist (+ free download for easy packing!) Updated May 2023
So, you’ve decided to plan a camping trip in the Pacific Northwest. Great choice!
It’s such a fun way to enjoy the summer season. Roaring campfires, late night chats, quiet mornings, the list goes on!
Berty and I are no strangers to camping. Living in the Pacific Northwest, we plan camping trips practically every season! We are always discovering new and unique ways to pack our camping must haves, and we are stoked to share our knowledge with you!
Keep scrolling for our all-season camping packing list, and scroll down even further for seasonal additions, and a free camping checklist!
The Complete Camping Packing List For All Seasons
- The Complete Camping Packing List For All Seasons
- Camping Packing List Basics
- Camping Packing list (Toiletries + Personal Items)
- Camping Packing List (Clothing)
- Accessories To Bring To A Camping Trip
- Tech For Your Camping Packing List
- Camping Packing List (By The Seasons)
- What To Pack A Camping Trip in Winter (Dec, Jan, Feb)
- What To Pack For A Spring Camping Trip (March, April May)
- Camping Packing List For Summer (June, July, August, September)
- What To Pack For A Fall Camping Trip (October, November)
- Do NOT add these items to your Camping Packing List
- Let's Wrap Up Your Camping Packing List
- Camping Packing List Download
- MORE CAMPING RESOURCES
We know a lot about camping, and packing according to the variety of weather one might expect. We wrote this post to help you plan your own quick camping trip, without the hassle of packing your entire house in the car.
Read on for the perfect list for the first-time camper, or anyone who wants a simple camping checklist to help them get outside and do what they love best – being outside!
Camping Packing List Basics
No matter what time of year you plan your camping trip, there are some things that will just be essential in any season!
1. A Campsite
First things first, you’ll want to know where you’ll be camping! Some of our favorite PNW campgrounds include Wright’s For Camping on the Oregon Coast, Camp Casey Campground on Whidbey Island, and Pine Flats Campground, which has epic hot springs nearby! We also love these Oregon campgrounds.
One way we like to search for camping spots is on an app called The Dyrt. It’s a website AND an app, which makes it really convenient to find locations on the go too.
We have a Dyrt Pro membership, which unlocks even more features like offline maps, BLM land, and road trip planning to find the best camping spots along our route. If you want to try it too, try our code MANDAGIES for a 30-day free trial!
Shelter is always a must-have on your camping checklist. You could technically sleep in your car, but for a totally classic camping experience, we suggest investing in a good tent. A dependable option is the REI Co-Op Half Dome SL 2+ ($329).
If you like sleeping in pitch black or want something more affordable, the Coleman Skydome Darkroom 6-Person Tent ($200) works great!
Need a small tent option? Try the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2, which is part of our backpacking packing list. It’s an extremely lightweight tent, but also pretty snug for two people! It’s a perfect option for multi-day backpacking trips and a simple and effective addition to any camping checklist!
Camping Tip: If it’s your first time with a new tent, try throwing a backyard campout so that you can practice setting it up before your big trip!
3. Sleeping Bags
Don’t forget to put a sleeping bag on your camping gear list! If you think you’ll get cold in the evenings or your sleeping bag doesn’t have a low enough temperature rating for chilly nights, you could bring a blanket (we love the Rumpl puffy blankets).
There’s a little bit of science to finding the perfect sleeping bag. A 0-degree bag is ideal for winter trips, while these ones meant for warmer climates will keep you cozy AND cool in hotter conditions.
Camping Hack: Need to save some space? Ditch the bulky pillows and use your sleeping bag sack as one instead! Stuff it full of clothing and wrap it in a sweatshirt for a multi-purpose way to use your gear. (And you’ll finally have a reliable way to keep track of that darn bag!)
Read the reviews of our favorite sleeping bags for backpacking and camping.
To store cold food, be sure to bring a cooler! Any of the coolers at REI are great, but really, any one will do!
Make sure you’re considering your campsite set-up to decide how big of a cooler you can bring. You don’t want to get caught lugging a giant cooler up a mountain in the backcountry!
6. Cooking Setup
Don’t forget to put a cooking setup and dishes on your camp packing list! A Jetboil is one of the most efficient (and space-saving) setups out there, though a camping stove is the most traditional way to start a camp kitchen setup.
Personally, we own this two-burner one from Coleman (we put it on our wedding registry two years ago!) and it makes cooking quick and mess-free.
No stove? Don’t fret! You can use the grill on top of a fire pit, and a cast-iron pan to cook your meals. We cooked nearly all of our meals over the fire on our latest camping trip and it was so fun!
8. Trash Bags
Campgrounds will have trash bins and dumpsters, but you’ll want your own trash bags to haul your stuff either way. Grocery bags work great for this if you don’t have larger ones!
9. Fire Starter / Fire Wood
One of the top camping essentials is fire starter and fire wood. Whether you’re planning on having a beach bonfire or cooking a meal over the fire, you’ll need wood, a lighter/matches, and a fire pit. If you’re camping in the late summer or early fall, remember to check if there’s a fire ban where you’re camping!
Bring some cash to buy some cords of wood on-site when you register at your campsite.
Pro Tip: Buy firewood where you are going to burn it. Transporting firewood has the potential to kill trees (eek!) and spread diseases. Read more about how you can help conserve our forests here!
10. First Aid Kit
First aid kits are always one of the most essential camping items to bring on your camping or backpacking trip.
If you’re packing light, these Adventure Medical Kits from REI are a great option.
11. Water Bottle and Water Jug
One of the most essential pieces on your camping checklist a water storage container! Not only will you use water for drinking, but for cooking, staying clean while camping, and everything in between.
This is especially important if you are camping in a location that doesn’t have running water (very common in winter camping!).
We suggest packing a refillable water carrier like this one so you can use it over and over again. If you want to be extra prepared, try calling the local gas stations or state parks on your way, and see if they have stations to fill up your water.
Again, among the most important things to bring camping, water is one of them! Plan ahead by bringing a reusable water bottle to keep hydrated all trip long.
Camping snacks are the BEST. Trail mix, beef jerky, protein bars, candy, or fruit are all great options among the hundreds of delicious camping snacks.
13. A Tarp
A tarp is a perfect example of one product-many uses. You can use it to lay down under your tent to keep in clean and dry. Suspend it in the air to use as a shade cover. You can also position it to lean and let water run off to one side. There are honestly so many uses that there is no reason to add a tarp to your camping checklist!
I don’t know about you, but coffee is always one of our top 10 things to bring camping! How you decide to make it can take on a lot of different forms. You can heat up water over a campfire using a percolator, speed heat water with a Jet Boil, or simply use a camping stove and a pot of water.
Read More: How We Prepare Coffee On The Road
15. Camping Chairs
No more sitting on log stumps and coolers!
Camping chairs are a must for us because of their ability to facilitate great conversations around the campfire. Bonus if yours has a cup holder for a nice cold drink!
We have been known to sit around the fire until midnight most times because we get lost in enjoying the visits with our friends.
If you’re feeling fancy, get an ultra-comfy camping chair with a built-in cooler! Not only is it great for the outdoors, but we could definitely see ourselves bringing this chair to parades, tailgates, and outdoor movies!
Camping Packing list (Toiletries + Personal Items)
16. Toilet Paper
Even if you’re camping at a campground with toilets, toilet paper should always be on your packing list for camping. You never know when you might need it (even if it’s just for tissues!).
17. Hair Ties
You remember that one hair tie that floats around your car or room? Yeah, that one. Bring it (and a few extras) on your next camping trip! You’ll thank yourself later.
A travel sized brush works great, if you’re trying to save space on your camping trip.
19. Toothbrush / Toothpaste
If you need to save some space, take these eco-friendly SuperBee Dentos Toothpaste Tablets with you while you camp! Not only are they sustainable, but they don’t make messes and you can bring the exact number you need.
20. Baby Wipes
Baby wipes are not just for babies! They work great for wiping down tables, cleaning up messes, or washing your hands on the go.
This is SO IMPORTANT! Protect your skin and bring sunscreen with you on your camping trip. Remember–you can still get sunburned when it’s cloudy!
We love Sephora’s Sun Safety kit ($39), which provides you with a wide variety of sunscreen options, making it a great option for those looking for a new sunscreen at an affordable price. Buy it before they’re gone!!
22. Bug Repellent
Get those li’l buggers away with the Sawyer Products SP5442 Picaridin Insect Repellent on Amazon ($13 for a pack of 2). If you want a more natural option, try the Natrapel Lemon Eucalyptus Continuous Spray Insect Repellent on REI ($13).
Camping Packing List (Clothing)
23. A Raincoat
A raincoat is always essential when camping in the Pacific Northwest, especially in the spring and fall seasons! We’ve rounded up our favorite raincoats to wear in the Pacific Northwest, if you are heading out to Washington or Oregon.
24. Lots of Layers
One of the best ways to prepare for your PNW camping trip is by bringing lots of layers.
With the changing weather, you might be too hot or too cold at any moment, so it’s best to be prepared and have ways to be content in all conditions!
This doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of clothes, but a wide variety of options that can fit over another. Think lightweight base layers, fleece jackets, waterproof rain shells.
Need a little bit more information? We break down the essential ways to layer clothing here!
25. Long Pants
Whether you’re going on hikes and want to protect your legs from scratches or critters or just want to keep away the mosquitos during the evening, long pants are an essential camping item.
27. Hiking Boots
Hiking boots–especially waterproof hiking boots–are so important for having a good time while camping in the PNW!
Not only do these shoes make you more prepared for hikes, they also make being in all kinds of weather more enjoyable.
28. Camping Slippers
Camping slippers are essential for those who want to get out of their hiking boots and be cozy while camping.
The Teva ReEmber Slip-Ons from REI ($80) are a solid option to add to your camping packing list.
Don’t want to spend the money on new camping slippers? Flip flops, slides, or Birkenstocks will also do the job.
29. Fleece Sweater or Jacket
To keep warm, bring a fleece sweater or jacket while camping. The Patagonia Better Sweater on REI is a classic, dependable option, but really any fleece will do.
Hoodies are great for protecting your head and neck from mosquitos and they’re sooo comfy! Bring a hoodie to stay warm or act as a comfortable second layer while camping.
Accessories To Bring To A Camping Trip
31. Sun Hat
Another way to protect your face and shoulders from the sun is by wearing a sun hat or baseball cap.
Bring your sunglasses and a case to protect them! A super affordable and polarized option is the goodr Circle Gs Polarized Sunglasses on REI ($25).
33. Warm Hat / Beanie
The PNW often has lovely, warm days with cold nights.
Bring a warm beanie to keep your ears warm in the evenings and at night!
35. Small Wallet / Waist Pack
Whether you’re on the go or are going to a quick hike, a small fanny pack is perfect for carrying your essentials.
36. Cash & Debit/Credit Card
When going camping, you’ll want to make sure you have quite a bit of cash and your debit or credit card.
Many campgrounds only use cash, so you’ll want to prepare ahead of time by researching how much campsites cost and get enough cash for the nights you’ll stay there.
Tech For Your Camping Packing List
37. Cell Phone
Don’t forget this! Even if you’re planning on unplugging during your camping trip, it’s important to have a communication device with you.
Really hoping to unplug? Travel with a radio instead!
38. Hands-Free Phone Mount For Your Car
A hands-free phone mount is so useful when driving around someplace new and following directions from digital maps.
You can get a dependable and cheap one from Amazon for $16 that can attach to your dashboard or vents.
41. Power Bank
Whether you’re in the backwoods or close to town, you’ll want to bring a power bank to charge all your essential electronics.
42. Extra Cords or Chargers
Alongside your power bank, you’ll want to remember all the necessary charging cords!
43. Backseat Organizer
When traveling with kids, a backseat organizer is definitely the way to go. They can hold all your road trip essentials and keep the kiddos entertained with all their favorite road trip toys.
You can get a set of two on Amazon for $25 and store everything you need for a fun PNW road trip or camping trip!
44. Camping Games / Deck of Cards / Board Games
Some of our favorite camping memories are when we’re sitting around the picnic table playing camping games!
Our favorites to add to our camping checklist are Mad Gab, Sorry, Dice, and Settlers of Catan. Make sure to pack a few decks of cards too – then you’ll have endless games to play.
On our last trip, we played Settlers of Catan not once, but THREE times! It was a really fun way to sit around the picnic bench and bond with our friends. While it’s not the most common game to add to a camping list, don’t be afraid to bring your favorite games to share – no matter how complicated.
A good lantern is essential for those late-night bathroom runs, but even more important if you want to stay up late playing games.
Bonus if your lantern plays music like this one from Coleman for some perfect camping vibes. Just make sure not to disturb your neighbors and respect camp quiet hours!
Camping Packing List (By The Seasons)
In addition to all of the above items, here are some things you need for camping based on the specific seasons:
What To Pack A Camping Trip in Winter (Dec, Jan, Feb)
Camping in the winter requires a little bit more planning and preparation. Depending on the snow pack in your area, you’ll probably need to bring a lot of gear! Here are 10 things you need for camping in the winter season:
- Small shovel to dig out side
- Towel for the car
- Scarf or buff
- Waterproof coat
- Rain pants
- Long Underwear
- Extra Trash Bags
- Tarp & twine
- Extra blankets
What To Pack For A Spring Camping Trip (March, April May)
Spring camping is one of our favorite seasons to go! Depending on where you go (for us, that’s the Pacific Northwest) you should prepare to pack a few extra layers, a few more warm blankets. Also, don’t forget to pack some extra rain protection!
- Camp blanket
- Lightweight Rain Jacket
- Reusable mug for hot coffee in the morning
Camping Packing List For Summer (June, July, August, September)
Most of our main list outlines what to pack for a summer camping trip, seeing as it’s the most popular time to camp!
However, if you are extending your time to think outside of the norm (like boating, biking, climbing, etc) Here’s what to add to your camping packing list for the summer:
- Equipment specific to your sport
- Flip flops or water sandals
- Quick-dry clothes
- Swimsuit / Wetsuit
- Beach Games / Volleyball
- Wagon to carry stuff from A to B
- Beach Blanket
- Bonfire Supplies: Firestarter, paper, matches, wood (make sure your area doesn’t have an active fire ban in place)
What To Pack For A Fall Camping Trip (October, November)
Add these to your camp packing list if you’re taking an adventure this fall:
- Camp slippers (like these Tevas)
- Reusable coffee mugs
- Extra cooking supplies (for elaborate meals in the evenings)
- Extra warm Socks
- Jean Jacket / Light Jackets
Do NOT add these items to your Camping Packing List
So what should you NOT bring on a camping trip? Here are some things we suggest leaving at home and why:
Fine China (or precious breakables)
Instead, bring plastic or paper products for dishes and collapsible cookware! It’s pretty common that there are spigots at the campground to wash dishes, but it’ll still be outdoors, so you’ll want to bring cookware that isn’t easily breakable.
Impractical or uncomfortable shoes
Whether you’re just walking to and from the bathroom to your campsite or going on a hike, you’ll want to pack comfortable shoes. Don’t bring anything that isn’t broken in, that’s valuable to you (it could get dirty or ruined), or takes up a lot of space!
Chances are, all our clothes will smell like campfire smoke after the weekend! If you are concerned about any item of clothing getting smelly, damaged, or ruined, don’t bring it!
Let’s Wrap Up Your Camping Packing List
We hope you enjoyed our take on what to pack for a camping trip! We’re always fine tuning our gear, so come back for periodic updates as we improve this list!
We could go a lot more in-depth in this post, but we wanted to keep this downloadable checklist simple and attainable for any first-time campers.
You don’t need a huge packing list for camping (though you totally could go all out, and that’s great too!) but we’re here to share a basic camping checklist in this download. We hope that it can equip and inspire you to take your first camping trip (or your 100th!), and feel prepared to take on any outdoor adventure!
Camping Packing List Download
Looking for a quick and simple camping checklist? We used to spend hours and hours reluctantly scrolling to find a camping checklist with all the essentials.
After lots of digging and no success, we decided to ultimately make our own camping checklist! No, we pack the car in record time and have time to care about more important matters…like jumping in the lake!
Here’s our all-season camping packing list. Download it for free below, or keep browsing this post to dive into specifics!
Did we miss anything on our camping checklist? Have any additions to make? Leave them in the comments below!
MORE CAMPING RESOURCES
Want A Cozier Getaway? Read About Glamping In A Yurt!
Want some more ideas for your camping checklist? Follow our Camping Board on Pinterest for more inspiration!