We’ve all been there: missing an important piece of gear once at the campsite. Instead of riffling through your trunk, hoping the firestarter will magically appear, just use this checklist. We make sure you have all the best camping essentials you need so you can make your next trip seamless.

Campsite
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Tent

A family tent could be the start of your next family camping adventure. To have a tent is what makes camping, but what kind of tent works best for you and your family, is totally up to you.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a tent

How many of you are going? A quick way to determine what size tent you will need. Do you want to build the tent as a family or have a speedy setup? Many experienced campers see the building of a tent as an integral part of the outdoor experience, while others just want that tent set up quickly and with as little stress as possible. If this is you, you want to go for a pop-up or inflatable option. Will you want to share one big room or different compartments? If you’ve got a younger family, they may be more comfortable sleeping in one big open space, whereas if they’re getting to ‘that’ age, having a tent with several compartments will be the way forward.

Ground Sheets

An item that’s often forgotten about until the very last moment, remembering to bring a Ground Sheet can be the maker of your camping trip. The piece of material protects you and your family from the cold, hard, and potentially wet ground.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a Ground Sheet

Should I buy it with the tent? If you can, you should. While they can come in all shapes and sizes, being able to buy the Ground Sheet that matches your tent will make everything much easier. Much like a good hiking jacket, look for a waterproof, breathable Ground Sheet to ensure a dry, condensation free night’s sleep.

Extra Tent Poles and Pegs

An incredibly important camping extra, this is equipment that can come to save your whole experience. By bringing more, you’ll be covered if poles and pegs break, if it gets extra windy, or even if other tents around you need a bit of extra support.

Things to keep in mind when choosing Poles and Pegs

It’s not always a case of one size fits all. When picking up extra poles and pegs, check that you are choosing ones with the right material and shape for the tents you will be using. If you plan to go camping regularly, it may be a wise move to buy poles and pegs with a longer lifespan.

Sleeping bags

Whatever your family plans on doing with their camping trip, you’ll all need sleeping bags. A good quality bag will play an important role in keeping you warm and dry during the evening.

Things to keep in mind when choosing the item

Sleeping bag technology is always developing, so it’s worth looking at what new lightweight and practical styles suit your family best. Also, make sure you get the right sizes! There’s no use having five huge sleeping bags when you’ve got two small children.

Camping and Sleepings Mattress

Not an essential by any means, but could add so much comfort to your family trip. Depending on the mattresses, you can come close to recreating your home sleeping set up, whilst enjoying the benefits of nature.

Things to keep in mind when choosing the Camping and Sleepings Mattress

What type of mattress do you sleep on at home? Whether it’s a firm or soft setup, consider this when shopping, as there’s no need to buy something that will be of zero benefits when trying to sleep.

Camping pillow

This can be the difference between a bad and a blissful night’s sleep. While it doesn’t mean spending a lot of money on a hi-tech pillow, it may make all the difference when it’s time to rest your weary head. Also, if you are going with your family, your children may need the familiarity of a pillow to help them sleep.

Things to keep in mind when choosing the item

Similarly to the mattress, it’s a good idea to think about what sort of pillow you like to sleep with. If you sleep with more than one pillow, look for a bigger one, but if you only need something small, go for something lightweight.

Camping Torch or a Head Torch

When it gets dark on a campsite, it gets very dark, and very quickly. As you can imagine, this makes things difficult to organise, especially when you have kids. Equip yourself with at least one camping torch or head torch, and you’ll buy yourself so much time once it comes to getting things done in the dark.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a Camping Torch or a Head Torch

The most important aspect you'll need to consider is how long your torch will last. Bringing extra batteries is a good move, but having a torch that holds firm for your entire trip will save you a great deal of bother. It’s also worth thinking about whether you want an adjustable strap to fit multiple users, need a timer on the torch, or you feel like it needs to be waterproof.

Camping chairs

An important addition when you’re with children. While you may spend most of the day on your feet, out and about in nature, when it comes to meal times and sitting around the campsite, having a collection of camping chairs will really help, especially if the weather is bad.

Things to keep in mind when choosing camping chairs

How portable and lightweight are the camping chairs. Carrying them to and from the campsite can take up a lot of space and be very heavy, so it’s certainly worth checking how the camping chairs pack away, and how heavy they are.

Camping Lights and Lanterns

Again, not a necessity but can really add something to your camping experience, especially when you’re with the family. By bringing camping lights and lanterns, you can illuminate your campsite, which will bring a further sense of fun and also safety when traveling around in the dark.

Things to keep in mind when choosing the item

Just like the hand and head torches, make sure the lights or lanterns you have are built to last the whole trip. Also, make sure they are safe. You can go for lanterns using actual fire, but do be careful that your little ones are protected from them.

Tools & Repair
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Multi-tool

Things inevitably break during a camping trip. Regardless of the issue caused by the break, bringing a multi-tool along with means that you can adapt to the situation and either buy yourself some time or fix the problem completely.

Things to keep in mind when choosing the item

Multi-tools come in different forms, so make sure you pick one that can fix issues relating to ones you come across. If you don’t already own one, it’s worth checking out the details of particular Multi-tools when shopping around.

Duct tape

A beautiful quick fix to compliment your multi-tool, and a perfect way to close up any ripped essentials.

Things to keep in mind when choosing Duct Tape

When camping, it’s worth having as advanced Duct Tape as possible. Find tape that is strong, waterproof, and UV-resistant, and you should be ready to tackle most ripping mishaps.

Cordage

You won’t always need it, but it’s certainly a useful thing to have. It’s a far better situation to have a rope or something stronger when you don’t need it, than not having it when it’s urgent.

Things to keep in mind when choosing Cordage

The time of year you are going is important, and how much gear you are bringing. In windier times, you may want to choose cordage that can hold firm should you really need it, and if you’re bringing heavy items that you’re planning to tie up, make sure it’s of tough material.

Repair Kits

To minimise any on-site stresses, packing both a tent-pole repair sleeve and a Pad/Mattress repair kit is a smart move.

Things to keep in mind when choosing Repair Kits

Make sure they work, and you know how to use them. They can be an excellent tool for the campsite, but it’s worth knowing how to use them as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Kitchen
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Camping Stove

One of the most rewarding aspects of a family camping trip is the communal cooking experience. While there is the option to prepare a fire pit and cook food with that method, it is both dependent on having a camping spot with a firepit, and for the weather to hold up so that it is possible. A stove is a much safer bet, especially when you’ve got a family.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a Camping Stove

Gas or electric? Whichever works with your cooking setup, you must bring along the fuel or charging capabilities which means you can use it. Also, it’s worth giving it a test run before you set off.

Firestarter/Matches/Lighter

Whether it’s getting cooking going or starting a fire, you must have some form of lighting capabilities.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a firestarter

Make sure it is safe. If you’re heading to a campsite with children, it’s a good idea for any tools that could potentially start a fire to have a child lock and be in a safe place.

Firewood

If you are looking to make a fire pit, having the right wood is very important.

Things to keep in mind when choosing Firewood

When looking for fire pit wood, go for oak, ash, or beech. Also, make sure it is seasoned. This means it has dried out for almost a year and will be much drier and burn with a nice crackle.

Cooking pots and pans

While it is possible to simply bring them from home, you may want to look for a set that you can easily pack away and that you don’t mind getting potentially slightly damaged whilst away camping.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a cooking set

How easy are they to transport? If you can get them as a full set of camping cooking apparatus, they will often come together in a way that means they all click together, and will be far easier to take from your home to the campsite, and easier to pack away.

Eating and Cooking Utensils

Much like the pots and pans, you can bring eating and cooking utensils from home, but it’s a sure-fire way of damaging them or losing them. Bringing special camping utensils is the best way to cook and also eat when around a campsite.

Things to keep in mind when choosing Eating and Cooking Utensils

Similar to the previous cooking essential, try to find utensil sets that easily pack away together. It will save space and make it easier to keep track of every piece. Excluding utensils that need to withstand heavy heat, safety dictates these utensils should be made of reusable plastics.

Plates, Bowls, Cups

Can’t have a campsite meal without them.

Things to keep in mind when choosing Plates, Bowls, Cups

Again, like utensils, make sure they are made of reusable materials and not of anything that can break.

Water bottles

Keeping your family hydrated and healthy is essential. Whether you want to purchase individual bottles or be in charge of a water carrier, your group must have means of water at all times.

Things to keep in mind when choosing Water Bottles

Unlike other kitchen camping tools, go for steel when choosing your hydration vessels. It keeps the water cold, and will hopefully mean your family cherishes them for longer, and does not throw them away once they are done with them.

Other smart kitchen picks for family camping checklist

  • Biodegradable soap
  • Cooler
  • Pot scrubber
  • Trash bags
Clothing
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Moisture-wicking underwear

Staying comfortable whilst camping is pretty important to an enjoyable stay. With moisture-wicking underwear, you can allow your skin to breathe and reduce chafing in the areas that matter most.

Things to keep in mind when choosing moisture-wicking underwear

Looking for cotton, lace or mesh underwear, as these provide the best moisture-wicking properties.

Moisture-wicking T-shirts

Depending on how many items of clothing you plan to bring with you, it’s good to pack t-shirts that you can wear over and over, and ones that don’t become drenched in sweat. Like underwear, looking for moisture-wicking t-shirts for your family camping trip is a wise move.

Things to keep in mind when choosing the moisture-wicking t-shirts

Again, a cotton or mesh material will give you a more comfortable trip away.

Long-sleeve shirts

Day trips when camping can often result in unpredictable weather, and even more so during the evening time. Packing long-sleeve shirts will both keep your shoulders and arms protected from the sun and warm enough when it gets chilly.

Things to keep in mind when choosing long-sleeve shirts

Much like the others, cotton or mesh material is a good way forward, also that the long-sleeve shirts are light enough so they can work as an underlayer if the weather dictates more layers.

Walking trousers

A key part of any hiking outfit, but also a perfect addition to a camping weekend. Owning a pair of walking trousers that have quick-drying properties means you’ll be ready, whatever the weather or terrain.

Things to keep in mind when choosing Walking Trousers

Make sure that they are waterproof, breathable, and durable.

Insulated and thermal jacket

As mentioned earlier, it can get cold camping, especially at night. With a thermal jacket for every one of your family, you can all spend longer together under the stars.

Things to keep in mind when choosing an insulated and thermal jacket

If you can, choose a jacket that has different attachable layers. You never know how cold it’s going to get, but having a versatile one is the best way forward.

Lightweight waterproof jacket

Perfect for a day out walking, having a lightweight, waterproof jacket that’s easy to pack away will be a weight off your mind.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a lightweight waterproof jacket

Make sure it is waterproof, breathable, and easily transportable.

Walking Socks (synthetic or wool)

Keep your feet ventilated during your time with nature by packing comfortable walking socks.

Things to keep in mind when choosing the item

Looking for pairs made from stretchy cotton that won't slip down to the bottom of your walking boots. Also, to ensure that they last for a longer period, look for socks with reinforced toes and heels.

Waterproof Walking Boots

Whether it’s for a long day’s hike or just plodding around the campsite, a pair of waterproof walking boots will keep your feet dry and skin free from irritation or even blisters.

Things to keep in mind when choosing Waterproof Walking Boots

As well as being waterproof, breathable and durable, you’ll want to make sure they’ve got a good gripping sole.

Hat

There’s a good chance you’ll have chosen a summertime camping trip, so it is vital your whole family pack something that will keep their foreheads and necks covered from the sun.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a hat

Make sure it comfortably fits, has good peak protection, and is breathable (so it doesn’t become drenched with sweat).

Sleepwear

While it may feel hot inside your sleeping bag at first, you’ll likely wake up in the night freezing, so investing in some camping sleepwear might be a worthwhile move.

Things to keep in mind when choosing the item

Aim for a breathable, lightweight, top and bottom.

Health
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First-aid kit

Obviously the big hope is that you won’t have to use it, but similarly to the previously mentioned tools, you’ll be thankful that you’ve packed a first aid kit.

Things to keep in mind when choosing the item

Find a compact but extensive kit that is able to treat cuts, burns, bites, and bandage-worthy injuries and you should be covered.

Sun Protection

The very nature of camping means you and your family will be out in the sun (hopefully) all day, so it’s vital you all wear sun protection.

Things to keep in mind when choosing the item

First of all, you must find the SP that provides your skin with the correct protection. This can be easy to find out and will be based on the fairness of you and your family’s skin. Also, if you think it necessary, it might be worth getting waterproof SP, as it’ll stay working, even if you go for a swim.

Toilet paper

It’s something everyone needs, but people do forget it. Your family campsite will likely have facilities, but you don’t want to run the risk of visiting the toilet only to discover there is no loo roll.

Things to keep in mind when choosing toilet paper

This one is totally up to you.

Personal Items

They may seem obvious but are very easy to forget. Before you head off, always make sure you’ve got your:

  • Credit card and/or cash
  • ID
  • Campsite reservation confirmation

Happy Camping!