Camping Essentials

Ready for camping? The following is a checklist of items that you might consider to make your family outing less stressful and more fun for all.
High-end (expensive) gear can make life easier, but don’t invest until you’re sure you enjoy camping. Some outfitters allow you to rent tents etc. and then apply the rental rate to a purchase.


You can justify many purchases by realizing camping gear doubles for earthquake preparedness.

Families that are camping together can share some of this stuff. It’s not as though everyone needs to bring duct tape. Plan your list with the various parties attending.

  • Tent – Size depends on amount of people. Some families will set up a separate tent just for the kids.
  • Rain Fly – Should come with tent.
  • Tarp – For under the tent. Protects flooring
  • Welcome Mat – In front of tent. Helps to keep dirt from being tracked in. Can use car mats.
  • Whiskbroom – For inside tent if you desire to keep it clean.
  • Bedding – Sleeping bags, sheets, pillows. Air Mattress… include an air compressor to inflate it, either battery powered or car.
  • Flashlights – One large one for you and a bunch of AA MagLites for everyone else.
  • Coleman Lantern – To hang outside or later inside the tent. I now prefer the battery-operated kind versus white gas
  • Portable Music – Water-resistant (dew in the morning), nothing like listening to music here… just don’t make everyone else in the campground listen.
  • Kindling and Wood – Lots of it… to keep the fires roaring.
  • Marshmallows -An easy favorite. Don’t forget coat hangers.
  • Camera – Capture the moment.
  • Spare Batteries – For all of the above.
  • Rope – Thick and thin. String between trees to hang wet clothes or towels. Thread through a roll of paper towels, tie it off, hang from the edge of picnic table… instant towel dispenser. You will find many uses.
  • Clothes Pins – See Rope
  • Bungee Cords – To hang stuff like lanterns.
  • Hammer – For tent stakes and nails.
  • Collapsible Chairs – Hanging out.
  • Tablecloth – Waterproof, they make them specifically for picnic tables.
  • Tablecloth Clips – Duct tape will do in a pinch.
  • Duct Tape – For whatever emergency.
  • Ice Chest – Block ice does not melt as fast.
  • Camp Stove – I’ve been using an old Coleman stove for years.
  • Propane/White Gas – Whatever your stove uses.
  • Bath Towels, Dishrags, Paper Towels, & Baby Wipes – Fast cleanup of a messy face or hands.
  • Hammock – Always a nice touch. Relaxing.
  • Utility Knife – Read as Swiss Army Knife.
  • 2 1/2 Gallon Water – Use for drinking. The kind that sits on a counter with a pour spout Available at any supermarket or drugstore. Set on table.
  • 5 Gallon Container – Collapsible water dispenser. Fill on site. Set on edge of table. Use for washing hands, dishes etc. Available at camping suppliers.
  • Tupperware – Tupperware containers make great storage containers. Instead of bringing whole boxes of stuff (i.e. cereal) pack in smaller Tupperware containers. Saves space and discourages pests.
  • Sponge – For dishes
  • Dish-soap – Preferably environmentally safe… ala Dr. Bronner’s soap.
  • Trashbags -Cinch-type so they can hang from a tree.
  • Can Opener – Not fun if you leave this. Swiss Army knife in a pinch.
  • Cutting Board – Wood or Plastic
  • Pots and Pans – Camping sets all fit into one another and are compact but any pot or pan will do.
  • Dishes – Use paper or camping sets if you don’t want to bring bone china.
  • Cutlery – Whatever you need. Again…there are camping sets.
  • Cups – Sierra Cups, at camping stores, are handy and indestructible.
  • Clothing – Anticipate all weather types. Hot, cold, dry, wet. Don’t forget hats.
  • Shoes – Preferably Hiking Boots.
  • Toiletries – Personal choice. Don’t forget soap, toothpaste, insect repellent.
  • Quarters – For pay showers and phone. $10.00 quarter roll.
  • Play-stuff – Bikes, scooters, books, dolls…you get the idea.
  • Whistles – Hang around the kids necks. Simpler than a walkie-talkie.
  • Water Bottles – For hikes or hanging out.
  • Personal Meds – Whatever gets you through the night.
  • Glasses – Sun and reading.
  • First Aid Kit – You know why.
  • Sunscreen – Don’t Ask.