Camping checklist – a list of the most basic but essential items for tent camping

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Last updated on September 24 2018

I love doing up these kinds of lists because they work.  We all use some or all of this type of equipment.  Personally, I’m always looking for new bits and pieces to add to our camping kit to make our life as easy as possible.

This is our camping list of essential items to make life camping in a tent so much easier.  It’s the first of several articles that we will write on things to take camping.

Camping equipment


Camping in a tent was the first kind of camping I ever did.  My parents used to take us camping over weekends, or sometimes if we were fishing.  We all squeezed into a small four man tent (all four of us).  When I first met Chad, we went camping and he had the smallest tent I have ever seen.  How we both fit in there I’ll never know.  And it was raining too!  Today, there are so many options and they are all fairly luxurious.  They come in various shapes and sizes, with and without annexes.  Obviously the smaller the tent, the more lightweight and easy to carry.  Usually they are easier to erect also.  The bigger ones take up much more space to store and sometimes feel as though you need a degree to erect them.  Putting a tent together gets easier and easier each time you do it though.

Sleeping bags

These are essential for any camping trip.  Choosing a sleeping bag will depend on where you are going and the time of year.  We actually have sleeping bags for cold climates and lighter sleeping bags for hotter places.  Our bag for the cold weather has to be able to withstand below freezing temperatures.  We also take our sleeping bags with us when we travel to Europe and drive around in motorhomes.

Cold weather sleeping bags
Hot weather sleeping bags

Sleeping bag liners

Sleeping bag liners are perfect for increasing the temperature of your sleeping bag.  If you have a sleeping bag that’s perfect for summer, putting a simple sleeping bag liner inside can make it a little warmer for you in colder conditions, without necessarily having to buy a heavier sleeping bag.  They also feel very nice on your skin, especially if you get a pure silk one and they also help to keep you and the sleeping bag clean.

Camping mat

Placing a thin amount of foam beneath your sleeping bag can make all the difference in the world.  We actually use yoga mats as they are light and easy to carry.

Inflatable beds and mattresses

These are great for camping stays of a longer duration.  They do take up more storage room in your vehicle too, which can sometimes be problematical.  Unless they are self-inflatable, they will almost certainly need extra equipment.  This can be a pain for many but a necessity for others.  Whatever comforts you need to get you camping!  I know a friend who won’t go with anything less than the big super-sized queen bed.

Air mattress pumps

If you don’t have a self-inflating air mattress be sure to take a pump with you or else things might get a little uncomfortable.


Another essential.  There’s nothing better than sitting around a campfire.  Depending on where you camp and the size of your vehicle will dictate most likely the size of the chair.  Folding camp chairs are the easiest to carry and tranport.  Personally I love our big chairs that stretch out, have drink and book holders and a built in pillow.  Laying out under the stars on a good chair is just fantastic.

Flashlights and lanterns

We use the lanterns in the general camping areas and also have one hanging from the centre of our tent for when we are in there.  Otherwise, we have strong, directional lighting from our flashlights for being able to see things more clearly at night.  Getting ones that take rechargeable batteries is also a better option.  I’ve lost track of how many batteries we’ve gone through in the past.


Tarpaulins and fly sheets

We also always have a fly over the top of our tent to keep out unwanted moisture and rain.  During the summer it also keeps things cooler inside.  On longer camping trips we also always take a tarpaulin, for general sun or rain protection outside the tent, setting up of our kitchen etc.


I never leave home without my pillow.  Not ever.  I even drag it all over the world with me.  so, it goes without saying that I also take my pillow camping with me.  If you aren’t like me and can survive with something smaller, check out these cool pillows.

Electrical cords and power strip

Most of the camping we do is electricity-free, preferring to use the campfire to cook our food and pre-charged powerbanks to run any equipment we might have.  However, if you are at powered campsites, you’ll most likely need an extension cord at the very least.  I’d also recommend a power board because usually if you are plugging into power, you have more than one thing that needs electrcity.

Power inverter

We use one of these in our campervan all the time so I thought it was worthwhile putting in here as you can still operate them from a normal vehicle too.  Power is generated when the car is running or your have a second battery.


So much can be done with rope.  you can tie a dog up if necessary, use it to dry your clothes and towels, or to keep stuff held together.


If you are in an environment where you can chop your own wood, an axe will come in handy.

Pocket knife

These things are useful for so much and you should always have one on hand when you are camping.

Tent pegs

Spares are always a good idea.  Sometimes you just can’t get the ones you belted into the ground to come up, so you need to leave one behind.  Othertimes pegs just get lost.  Having extra pegs also also you to set up tarpaulins in different ways.


A good shovel should also be part of your camping kit.  From digging holes to moving coals on campfires there are always plenty of uses.  We love this folding shovel which makes tranporting and storage so much easier.

First aid kit

Never leave home without one.  Going camping opens up a range of things that can happen and it’s always best to have some first aid equipment with you.  If you are going into remote locations, this is a must.

Additional water storage

Fresh water is not always available at camping locations, so we always travel with some of our own.

Author: Carrie