Want to get started camping, but don’t know where to start? Preparing for a camping trip can be daunting. However, starting with a tent camping essentials list will make it a heck of a lot easier!
About this Checklist
Content: I have this broken down into the specific categories- and then list several recommended items for some of them. At the end of this content are checklists that are in a bulleted format. Feel free to use the Table of Contents (below) to go to specific information.
Purchase: After some of the items, you will see a link which goes either to Etsy or Amazon. I make a small commission from the items purchased from these two companies. I have provided other links to stores like Cabelas, etc. still because well, they have quality products!
Having these links help me to keep AZ Camping Experience up and running; your purchases through Amazon or Etsy are greatly appreciated!
Reviews: This is a pretty new website- so I am still working my way through reviewing gear. There are a few links from the items I mention to the review on my website.
Having shelter is the most important part of any camping trip. The best investment you can make is in a high quality tent that is durable, can easily be set up and taken down, can withstand high winds and is weatherproof.
Without a doubt, the choices for selecting tents can be completely overwhelming. Here are 3 different quality tents to choose from:
The Coleman Sundome: This tent is perfect for the beginner camper and if you don’t want to spend too much money. For the price, it’s well built and will keep you dry in a down pour.
As many of you know- it’s important to read reviews before purchasing. Amazon has the most extensive reviews I know of. Sometimes- I come across reviews that I can’t help but share. Here are two if you need a good laugh today.
1st place Amazon Q&A:
Sadly, it will not dust at all. It also will not vacuum, polish the furniture, or do windows. Wish I had known that when I bought the thing. Way to pricey for an item with no ambition!
Runner Up -Amazon Q&A
Rain is what happens when the water in the atmosphere precipitates into visible drops. Was that your question? Assuming that you were asking whether the tent is waterproof the answer is yes, though like all tents it benefits from the occasional application of waterproofing spray, especially along the seams.
- Cabela’s Alaskan Guide: This is one of the main brands we use in our camps. I slept in a new one just last week. It’s very large and you can stand up in it. It is great for a large family or if someone is very tall. This tent has drink holders and stays well insulated. I get cold easily and I actually woke up warm in 40 degree weather. The image below is the tent that is set up for our White Mountain camp. The only downside is that due to the color it’s a bit dark inside. I will be doing a full review on this tent- so stay tuned!
- Big Agnes Blacktail 2 – This tent is much smaller – it can only hold 1-2 people. It is durable, lightweight and affordable. Perfect for canoe or hiking trips
Tent Repair Kit -The Coleman Tent Repair Kit will save your day should you get any rips or tears in your tent. Don’t wait until you have the emergency- it’s a good idea to have it ahead of time.
Tent Footprint – An 8×10 tarp will keep your tent from getting tears and holes in the bottom from sticks and rocks. It will also keep your tent floor dry in case it rains.
Stake Hammer – It is much easier to use a stake hammer than a rock or your shoe.
Stakes – On one of the AZ family campouts- I set up my tent and then did not stake it down. The wind picked it up and it went rolling down the meadow. Can you say embarrassing? Purchase: Coleman Stake Hammer
Dust Pan/Brush – When I camp with my kids, the tent gets debris and dirt within hours. I’m not a clean freak- but this is very annoying. With a small brush and dust pan you can keep your tent looking nice and tidy. Once you are finished camping – If your tent is small enough, once you have everything out of it you can just pick it up and turn it upside down.
Tent Rug – If you have the extra room, it is nice to have rugs outside and inside your tent. It does cut down on the debris that is brought in and when you have the rugs inside, it can also protect the bottom of the tent.
The key to being a camping beauty and to having a great time is to get quality shut eye. One of my first camping trips in ID- I did not have the correct sleeping bag. I was freezing the entire night and did not sleep a wink. I remember we spent the entire day hiking to various mountain lakes and I was tired the entire day. Here are two recommendations:
–Big Agnes 30 Degree Sleeping Bag– Integrates nicely with Big Agnes sleeping pad.
–Sierra Design Bed Style Sleeping Bag- Comfortable, practical and perfect for the camper looking for a durable bag made with DriDown.
Pillow – This one seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten mine. I like to have pillows that I use specifically for camping.
Sleeping Cot – If you’re looking for something different, The Kamp Rite Tent Cot can be a lot of fun. For those of you that have trouble sleeping on the ground, this could be exactly what you’re looking for.
Air Mattress – Different from a sleeping pad because they are heavier and much larger. If you have room though, they can be super comfy.
I prefer functionality vs. fashion. I know of a lady that wears tennis skorts when she goes camping and wears a bow in her hair. I think this is great-because her personality is reflected in what she wears. The clothes you wear also depends on your body temperature. The last camp I was on in the evening- I wore long sleeve shirts, my fleece, and hiking pants. Some of the kids stayed in their t-shirts and shorts and they were not cold.
- Long Pants
- Thermal Underwear
- Hiking Boots
- T-Shirts – The Ibex W2 Sport T is made from weightless wool- and is soft, durable, and breathable.
- Sweat Shirt
- Long Sleeve Shirts – Ibex also makes long sleeves
- Rain Jacket
- Water Shoes/Sandals – It’s always a good idea to bring along shoes that can get wet. You can wear the water shoes or sandals when you’re fishing along the creek, around the campsite, or potty runs during the middle of the night. They allow your feet to breath and dry quickly too. My kids always find a creek to jump into…feet could stay damp all day if you’re out playing away from camp.
- Bathing Suit
- Beach Towel
- Bag for Dirty Clothes – Dry Sacks are available or you can keep it simple and just bring extra plastic bags with you.
Other Essential Camping Gear
- Backback – I always bring a backpack with me when I go camping. Aside from hiking, I also use a backpack for our different outings – I keep snacks, water, sunscreen, and first aid kit with me always.
- Water Filter – So many choices when it comes to water filters. A brand that I prefer is Vapur Microfilter Water Bottle. With this filter, you can drink from almost any water source, it’s compact, and weighs little.
- Flashlight/Head Lamp
- Lantern – Check out my review on the Streamlight Seige.
- Bug Spray
- Pocket Knife
- Duct Tape
- Solar Charger
- Folding Table
- Portable Toilet – The slogan here should be – “Never Go Camping w/Out it”. Having one of these at camp is the best! For our youth camps, we set up an official porty potty- because our camps are for extended amounts of time. We re-purpose a Cabelas Shower Tent- and place over the porta potty.
- Thermacell – A lantern that has mosquito stopping power; how cool is that!
- Chairs – There are times when a picnic table is at your campsite- but it’s always nice to have extra chairs. Check out these chairs from Etsy if you want to personalize!
- Toiletries – If you are looking for something compact- here is an adorable carry case.
- Water Bottle
- First Aid Kit
- Emergency Water Filter
- Bug Ointment
- Portable Grill
- Cooking Oil
- Coffee Pot
- Camp Kitchen
- Dutch Oven
- Cooking Oil
- Aluminum Foil
- Trash Bags
- Water Container
- Paper Towels
- Biodegradable Dish Soap
- Fire Starting Kit
- Firewood –
- Water Proof Matches
- Photography – For those who’ve camped with me, they know how annoying I can be with the camera. I can’t get enough pics of hiking and camping.
- Water Toys
- Footballs & Frisbees
- Board Games
- Disc Golf
Suggested Grocery List (2-3 Days)
I realize this is a very basic list- which some would appreciate. If you don’t have time to prepare gourmet lunches or dinners you will find this useful.
- Turkey/Ham for sandwiches and/or peanut butter and jelly
- Sandwich bread, tortillas, or pitas
- Lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions
- Condiments (ketchup, mayo, etc.)
- Carrot and/or celery sticks, apple slices
- Cold cereals and/or instant oatmeal
- Milk (for cereal and/or coffee & tea)
- Hard-boiled eggs (cooked at home)
- Cereal or granola bars
- Fresh fruit
- Nuts, sunflower seeds, craisins/raisins
- Beef or Turkey burgers, hot dogs
- Lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, avocado, & other toppings
- Fresh veggies (cooked in a foil pouch)
- Corn on the cob w/butter
- Baked beans
- Basic salad (lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, etc.)
- Salad dressing
- Carrot and/or celery sticks
- Watermelon/Apple Slices
Suggested Shopping List
(Based on a family of 4, adjust as needed) You may spend $50-100 on groceries & supplies for a family of 4
- ½ -1 gal milk and/or milk alternatives
- ½ pound butter
- 12 cheese slices
- 4 6oz yogurts
- 4-6 eggs
- 4-6 apples
- 4-6 oranges
- 4-6 bananas
- 1 lb baby carrots
- 1 celery bunch
- 1 lb broccoli, cauliflower and/or zucchini
- 4 corn cobs
- 1 head of lettuce
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 2 green peppers
- 2-3 avocados
- 1 medium watermelon
- 4-6 burgers (beef, turkey, or veggie)
- 4-6 hot dogs
- 1 lb sliced lunch meat (turkey, ham, etc.)
- 4-8 burger buns
- 4-8 hot dog buns
- 1 loaf sliced bread
- 6-8 tortillas or pitas
- 1 box cold cereal
- 1 box instant oatmeal
- 1 jar peanut butter
- 1 jar jelly
- 3oz raisins
- 6oz mixed nuts and/or seeds
- 6-8 snack/cereal bars
- 1-2 cans baked beans
- 10-12oz hummus
- 1 jar applesauce
- 1 jar sliced pickles
- 1 bottle salad dressing
- 1 bottle ketchup
- 1 bottle mustard
- 1 can olive oil spray (for cooking)
- Seasonings as desired (i.e., salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon)
Paper & Other Goods
- Trash bags
- Aluminum foil
- Cling wrap
- Plastic storage bags/containers (for leftovers, storage, & travel)
- Paper towels
- Shopping bags/boxes (for packing and transporting food items)
- ICE (Lots of ICE!!!)
- Good walking shoes or hiking boots
- Casual shoes/Water Sandals
- Socks (bring extras)
- Long pants
- Long-sleeved shirt
- Short-sleeved shirt
- Jacket/sweatshirt for cool nights
- Rain jacket
- Flip flops for shower
- Bathing Suit
- Tent, tent stakes
- Tent repair kit
- Tent rug
- Sleeping pad/mattress
- Sleeping bags, sheets
- Extra blankets
- Water bottle (for each camper)
- Wash cloth
- Lip balm
- Insect repellant
- Personal medications
- Cooler(s) and ice
- Pots and pans for cooking
- Cast-iron skillet (optional)
- Sharp knife
- Eating utensils (forks, knives, spoons)
- Cooking utensils (spatula, tongs, etc.)
- Paper towels
- Can opener
- Re-sealable plastic bags
- Cling wrap
- Aluminum foil
- Trash bags
- Matches or lighter
Miscellaneous & Optional
- Camera w/extra batteries
- Flashlight/headlamps w/extra batteries
- Daypacks/fanny packs
- Pocket knife (adults only)
- First Aid kit
- Bicycles and helmets
- Personal fishing gear
- Musical instruments
This completes the Tent Camping Essentials List. Do you have other items that are not on this list? Let me know. Or, if there are other experiences you would like to add- please feel free to comment. If you need any of this content in a different format- please email me : firstname.lastname@example.org.
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