For those who are new to car camping, we’ve compiled this handy checklist based on years of trial and error. While every trip will have different requirements based on where you’re going and what you’re doing, this is a general list to get you started. With car camping, you could bring everything and the kitchen sink, but the key to a great list is to trim down to the basics with just a handful of comforts tossed in. It’s a good idea to use a checklist when preparing for a trip and to keep it with your camping gear.  Most importantly, when you are car camping in the wilderness, follow the backpacker’s philosophy: Leave No Trace — pack out what you pack in and leave the place the way you found it.

car camping checklist

For a printable car camping checklist, click here.


□ Charge rechargeable batteries
□ Charge camera batteries
□ Freeze blocks of ice
□ Grocery shopping
□ Get cash (some campgrounds have coin-operated laundry & showers, so bring quarters)
□ Print campsite directions & reservation information


□ Tent w/ poles, stakes and rain fly
□ Footprint or tarp
□ Sleeping pad, cot, or air mattress
□ Sleeping bag
□ Pillow
□ Camp chair/stool


□ Camping Stove & propane/butane
□ Cooking Grate (for campfire grilling)
□ Kettle/Percolator
□ Camping cookware & utensils
□ Plates, bowls, cups, mugs, cutlery
□ Cutting board & knives
□ Potholders/oven mitts
□ Towels/napkins
□ Biodegradable soap/sponge
□ Buckets or sink for washing dishes
□ Can opener/bottle opener/cork screw
□ Ziploc bags (in various sizes)
□ Storage Containers
□ Trash bags
□ Aluminum Foil/ Plastic Wrap
□ Cooler and ice
□ Tablecloth for picnic table
□ Firewood/charcoal (if grilling)
□ Fire starter/BBQ style lighter (long)


When it comes to food, plan by meal and based on your activities. Be sure to pack enough fruit and other snack items to keep you going between meals.

□ Ingredients for each meal + recipes
□ Snacks/fruit
□ Condiments & spices
□ Butter & cooking oil
□ Beverages/coffee/tea/hot chocolate
□ Drinking water & water bottle (many campgrounds provide safe drinking water  or potable water)


□ Toiletries
□ Toothpaste/Toothbrush
□ Deodorant
□ Toilet paper/wet wipes
□ Sunscreen & sunglasses
□ Personal prescriptions & meds
□ Lip balm
□ Hand sanitizer
□ Mirror/brush/comb
□ Razor
□ Eyeshades/earplugs
□ Washcloth & towel
□ Nail kit w/ clippers & tweezers


□ Shirts (for layering)
□ Quick-drying pants/shorts
□ Underwear
□ Sun-shielding hat or baseball cap
□ Warm hat and gloves
□ Swimsuit
□ Hiking shoes or boots
□ Socks (synthetic or wool)
□ Long underwear (wool or polypro)
□ Sleepwear
□ Rain gear
□ Fleece jacket
□ Camp shoes (flip flops/crocs)


□ First-Aid Kit
□ Ibuprofen & Aspirin
□ Insect Repellent/Insect-sting relief
□ Allergy Medication
□ Antacid tablets
□ Burn cream
□ Hydrocortisone
□ 100% Aloe Vera Gel
□ Moleskin (for blisters)
□ Lubricating eye drops
□ Loperamide tablets (for diarrhea)
□ Poison Oak/Ivy prevention & treatment
□ Emergency whistle
□ Directions to the nearest ER


□ Trowel/hand shovel/axe/hammer
□ Camping lantern
□ Travel alarm clock
□ Head lamp and/or flashlight
□ Extra batteries
□ Camera/camcorder & memory cards
□ Maps/guidebooks
□ Cell phone car charger
□ Swiss Army Knife
□ GPS or compass
□ Daypack + 10 essentials
□ Entertainment – Games, cards, books

Are there any items that you would add to this list? If we’ve forgotten anything, please mention in the comments below.