How to Plan for a Camping Trip
The wilderness can be unforgiving, even with the proper gear. The last thing you want is to reach a remote destination and find that you forgot something essential. Better to develop a plan to make sure you’re well equipped and have a great time.
If you’re new to camping, here are some tips and a list of items to consider for planning your next camping trip.
- Establish a staging area. Use a corner of your garage or living room and pile gear there prior to packing. If you have the space, begin moving gear to the staging area several days ahead of time. This prevents overloading your brain at the last minute.
- Take a good look at your gear pile when you think it’s complete. Spend a minute reviewing your checklist and check everything on it.
- Pack your clothing. You want to layer your clothing to meet changing temperatures and conditions. Pack spare clothing in case you get wet. Avoid cotton unless your trip is in a very warm climate–cotton dries slowly and offers no insulation when wet. Synthetic long underwear and jackets are best. Include a warm wool or fleece hat.
- Test your gear before you go. Know how to operate your camp stove, and bring the proper fuel.
- Purchase several small and medium nylon bags (stuff sacks) to divide your gear. Cooking gear can go in one bag, first aid items in another bag, and so on.
- Plan your water supply. If water is scarce, consider having a large water bladder in your pack, such as those made by Camelback. In addition to offering a high capacity, water bladders have a hose that allows you to drink while you’re on the move. Water purification tablets are indispensable.
- Buy a good sleeping pad or two. Many people like to stack a full-length sleeping pad on top of a shorter one. The extra warmth and comfort makes the weight and bulk worthwhile.
- Plan your meals ahead, so you’ll be guaranteed to have enough food. For short camping stints, your grocery list might include milk, butter, cheese and crackers, bread, buns, vegetables, fruit, dried and/or fresh, meat (burgers, hot dogs, shish kabobs), canned foods (chili and soup), condiments and spices, trail mix, energy bars, cookies, s’mores fixings, soda, juice, tea, cocoa, cider, coffee and alcoholic beverages.
- Weigh luxuries against absolute necessities (for instance, a handheld GPS is fun and helpful, but a map and compass work fine, too). Your specific destination may require additional gear or far less, if weight is an issue.
Tips & Warnings
- Have some spare clothing, but resist the urge to bring everything in your closet. Most people don’t use all the clothing they bring and regret having to carry it.
- Remember to freeze ice packs the night before you leave.
- Get a map of your destination, or better yet – plug it into an app.
- Purchase a headlamp instead of a flashlight for hands-free convenience.
- When you’re hiking, stop frequently to look around. Note landmarks and you’ll be less likely to get lost. Discuss with the group what to do if someone gets lost.
Camping Check List
Camping with Children
- Baby Swing
- Backpack carriers
- Extra pair(s) of shoes
- Favorite blanket or stuffed toy
- Jogging strollers
- Bug repellent
- Swim Diapers
Cleaning & Personal Items
- Biodegradable soap (for body, dishes and laundry)
- Hand Sanitizer
- Toilet Paper
- Towel & washcloth
- Whisk broom to clean table and tent site
- Windbreaker / Shell
- Poncho – Doubles as emergency tent/lean-to
- Shirt – 2 or 3 (one light, one flannel)
- Hiking shoes / trailer runners
- Shoes for shower
- Gloves / mittens
- Can opener
- Charcoal or wood & grill for BBQ
- Coffee maker & filters
- Cooking skewers (for hot dogs, s’mores, etc.)
- Cutting Board
- Firestarter sticks
- Firewood (buy local – at campground or close by)
- Frying Pan – Nonstick w/plastic spatula is nice
- Newspapers for lighting a campfire
- Pot lifter and/or pot holders
- Pot or sauce pan – Big enough to cook noodles for all with lid
- Collapsable camping/hiking cup
- Dish Pan
- Dish soap
- Garbage disposal bags (stronger than regular trash bags)
- Kitchen knife
- Knife, Fork, Spoon, Spatula
- Paper plates, cups, bowls, etc.
- Paper towels & napkins
- Plastic knives, forks, spoons
- Scrub Pad
- Small mixing bowl
- Trash bags
- Tupperware (for leftovers)
- Ziploc Bags
Lighting – Check batteries!
- Flashlight / headlamp
- Matches (preferably water proof)
- Solar Panel
- Spare batteries and bulbs
- Spare lantern fuel and mantles
- Allergy Eye drops
- Antibiotic cream
- Antiseptic, Band-Aids and bandages
- Sinus Tablets
- Bug Repellent – Spray, Citronella Candle, etc.
- First Aid Kit (may include all the above items)
- Moist Towelettes (for cleaning wounds and early uses on poison ivy)
- Pocket Tissues
- Tweezers for splinters & ticks
- Tylenol, Advil, Aspirin, Naproxin
- Basic tools (screwdrivers, pliers, etc.)
- Books, cards, games, toys, etc.
- Clothesline and Clothespins
- Compass and Map
- Duct tape and/or electrical tape
- Ear Plugs (to block out the noisy neighbors)
- Extension cords
- Eyeglass strap (to hold them on your head)
- Fire starters
- Fishing pole and gear (+ license & bait!)
- Fly Swatters
- Guitar/Harmonicas/Other musical instrument(s)
- Milk crates (good for storage, step ladder and more)
- MONEY, credit card, ID
- Pads of paper and pencils/pens
- Pet Food
- Piece of carpeting (fake grass) for tent or RV entryway
- Rope or String
- Safety pins
- Sand Paper
- Sewing kit
- Signal Mirror
- Small shovel
- Spare car/truck/boat/RV keys
- Swiss Army Knife
Packing – Put food on the bottom (you’ll need other items first)
- 5 gallon bucket or similar container
- Backpack, daypack, and/or fanny pack
- Bags – Tent bag, grocery bags, etc.
- Cardboard boxes if needed
- Ice Chests
- Large (18-30 gal) container for food storage
Really Important Stuff!
- Campground reservation info.
- Directions to the actual campground.
- Camp axe or hammer to pound tent stakes
- Emergency blanket
- Floor Mats (use at tent entrance)
- Ground Cloth – Tarp for big tents
- Mattress or pad – Inflator for air mattress
- Overhead rain tarps (not just shade).
- Seam Sealer
- Shade Canopy
- Sleeping bag
- At least 1/2 gallon per person/day
- Water bottle, to carry while hiking