The Ultimate Family Camping Checklist


Whether your family have been camping for years or you are brand new to family camping there will be camping kit that you need to take with you.  Perhaps you don’t know where to start or what kit you absolutely need to have or perhaps you just want a quick way of organising those camping  essentials.  Either way we have you covered with this post as we are running through all of the items you need to bring or purchase for your next family camping trip and have created a downloadable ultimate family camping checklist for you too. 

Camping Checklist

Camping Sleeping Gear

Perhaps the most important camping gear you will be buying is the camping  sleeping gear.  Being able to sleep comfortably is really the difference between a great family camping trip and a rubbish one so if you are going to spend money this would be the place to do it.

Camping Tent – there are so many tents on the market you will need to think about the type of camping you are hoping to do and how big your family is.  For example if you are going to be hiking and carrying your gear you will be most concerned with the weight and size of the tent. 

However, if you are doing a family camping trip by car then comfort and space are likely to be more important than the weight.  Top tip – make sure you check the size of the bag the tent comes in and that you can fit this into your car. 

As a family of 6 camping mostly in the UK the living space in a tent is very important to us.  We know we are likely to have rain during our trips so need a tent big enough that we can all be inside and be comfortable when necessary.  So when choosing your tent for family camping trips ask yourself the following:

  1. How much space do we have in our car?
  2. What will the weather mostly be like when we go camping?
  3. Do we need separate sleeping areas for different family members?
  4. How much will we use the central living space?
  5. What items do we need to be able to fit into our tent as well as people?

Camping Sleeping Gear

Sleeping Bags – These are one of the most important elements of making any family camping trip a success.  Sleeping bags are there to keep you warm and no one can have a good nights sleep if they are freezing.  So if you are taking the family camping we recommend taking some time to look at our post on the best sleeping bags and not just buying the cheapest.  There is some kit you can compromise on, but the sleeping bag isn’t one of them

Self Inflating Camp Sleeping Mats –  These are a relatively new addition to our family camping kit as we previously used air bed mattresses.  We won’t go back!  They are warmer and easier to use than air mattresses and have the added bonus of not being bouncy so no kids jumping on the beds

Blankets – We always pack some additional blankets if the nights may be cold as a just in case

Pillows – you can get inflatable and self inflating ones, but if you are car camping just bring your own from home

Camping Carpet for sleeping area – This may sounds like a luxury item, but having a camping carpet (you can also use a picnic blanket that has the waterproof (resistant) underside) makes a big difference to how warm the sleeping environment is.  It provides an additional layer of insulation between you and the cold ground so is an essential for family camping

Tent Footprint Tarp – These keep the underside of your tent clean and dry and again provide one more layer between you and the ground!

Hot water Bottles – if it looks like it will be cold these are invaluable.  It can take time to heat up the water, but it is worth it when you get into a warm sleeping bag instead of a cold one

Camp Kitchen Gear

The kitchen is the heart of any home and your tent is no different.  Honestly on a family camping trip keeping everyone fed and watered is important so you need to come prepared. 

Family Camping Checklist Kitchen Gear

Here at Family Camping Life we go the whole hog with a collapsible cupboard forming our kitchen whilst we are camping, but you don’t have to go that wild.  The below items are really the must haves that will make the whole thing much easier, but let me tell you I would not be without my camping cupboard I love it!

Storage Box with lid – these are great for keeping your dried goods in and you can buy fold-able ones for ease when packing

Camping Gas Stove or BBQ – you need to bring something to cook on and depending on how much and what you plan to cook you can decide whether a BBQ or a gas stove will be better for you.  

Spray Oil for cooking – it can’t spill!

Cooler or Ice box – unless the site you are visiting has a fridge that you can use and are happy to use then this is an essential

Good Knife or Scissors – We favour taking kitchen scissors with us as they can do most jobs, but if you think you may need to whittle wood or are going more wild camping etc… you may find that a utility knife is more what you need

Collapsible Bucket – These can be so useful as a rubbish bin, an extra bit of storage or even an ice bucket to keep that wine cool!

Collapsible washing up bowl – When you are family camping space is at a premium when you are packing so a collapsible washing up bowl can be so useful for saving space.  In these covid-19 times we would always take a washing up bowl so that we can keep our items from touching sinks in washing up areas

Washing up liquid and cloths – definitely take your own

Matches and firelighters –  always take something to start that campfire just in case

Pots and Pans –  One pot with a lid, a frying pan and a kettle or coffee pot is often enough

Plates, Bowls, Cups, coffee cups, cutlery and a bottle opener – you do not want to forget a bottle opener or corkscrew

Cooking Tongs, a spatula and a wooden spoon

Water Jug with tap – if you are camping with kids this is invaluable as it will prevent you spending all day just getting them water

Bin Bags, Tinfoil, Kitchen roll and Antibacterial wipes

Water bottles – one for everyone either named or different colours to avoid rows about whose is whose

General Camping Stuff and Equipment

There is so much stuff you could bring with you when you go camping, but from experience this general stuff is what makes the difference on a family camping trip.  We want to be outside enjoying nature and not spending time hunting around for someone who can loan us a mallet…

Dust Pan and Brush

A power bank – a phone is important even just in case of emergency

Camping Chairs – get one for each member of the family if you can as the kids will steal yours

Camping Table – even if you don’t end up eating on it a table is great for the kids to do colouring. You can get fold-able ones or roll up ones which are very compact for packing 

Insect repellent – for you and the tent if possible to minimise pesky bites

Plumbers tape – for any unexpected repairs

First Aid Kit – total must have although any organised sites will have one there as well

Biodegradable Wet Wipes – I can’t survive a camping trip without them as my kids always refuse to shower and need a wipe!!

A bag for wet clothes – just in case if you are camping in the UK.  We always take a bag that we can put wet things in for the return journey if we need to.  A bin bag does the job nicely

Kids activities – in case of rain I always bring some travel games to occupy the little ones.  This is also great when they wake at the crack of dawn and you don’t want to get up.  At least they have something inside the tent to play with

A fire extinguisher – just in case although a formal permanent site will have this equipment readily available 

Flashlight and lights for the tent – As we found out on a recent trip when the husband forgot the lights, you really do need a light or two!

Mallet – for those pegs

Microfibre towels – just in case you can convince the kids to shower.  They are perfect for camping as they dry quickly and take up very little space

Portable Loo – in many sites now there are no toilets due to covid-19 so this can be an essential item.  Even if not they are so useful for family camping trips if you have little ones that have to use the toilet in the middle of the night.  Check out our post on the best portable toilets for camping

Portable Shower – I kid you not!  Again in this Covid-19 world some sites have closed showers and even if they are open you may not feel comfortable using them so one of these is super useful.  Check out our post on the best portable showers for more information on these awesome little devices


Ultimate Family Camping Checklist

Get your very own free printable version of our ultimate family camping checklist that you can use every time you go family camping here:Private File - Access Forbidden


That is quite a bit of stuff – right…  You can probably pack lighter if you really want to, but this is the ultimate family camping checklist so we have included everything you need to make your family camping trip comfortable and fun

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