The Ultimate Camping Essentials Checklist
Whether you are planning your first camping trip or got an upcoming camping trip with family or friends, it's extremely easy to overlook an item - only to realise once you've already hit the road. And nothing kills the fun of an outdoor adventure quicker than forgetting the basic camping necessities, from forgetting to pack the esky into the car to not having any spare batteries when you need them the most.
When it comes to remembering what to take camping, we understand just how annoying this feeling can be, so we've created the ultimate camping checklist to help you easily remember all the important camping essentials you need to take with you.
- Most Common Camping Questions
- Kitchen & Cooking
Most Common Camping Questions
Before we dive into the camping checklist, you may have some specific questions regarding your upcoming camping trip. To make sure all your questions are answered, here are the most common camping questions:
What are the 7 survival items?
Whether you are camping, hiking out in the boat or 4WD driving, it always pays to be prepared for an emergency situation should the worst case arise. When it comes to the seven essential survival items every survival kit should have, they are:
- Hygiene/sanitation (sunscreen, toilet, sanitiser)
- First aid (check out our first aid checklist for everything you'll need)
- Communication/lighting (phone, torch, matches)
- Warmth/shelter (tent, jacket, sleeping bag)
- Survival gear (multi-functional knife, shovel, cooking equipment)
What should you not bring camping?
Even though this is a camping checklist about the essentials you need to bring, there are certain items that you should not bring camping:
- Glassware: broken glass is not fun to clean up, especially if it breaks and causes damage to other items. This is why it's better to bring items like cups, plates and bottles that are made out of silicone or stainless steel.
- Expensive jewellery: unless it's a wedding or engagement ring, bringing expensive jewellery is not only unnecessary but will also create a costly nightmare if lost - which the odds are pretty high when camping.
- Perfume/cologne: mosquitos and other bugs can be attracted to scents such as perfume and cologne, which are the last thing you want flying around you while camping. This is also why it's a good idea to bring along unscented soap.
What are 10 things you need for camping?
If you are wanting to rough it when camping and just want the basics of what to bring, then here are the 10 camping essentials you'll need:
- A sleeping bag for when it's time to sleep.
- Firestarters for easily starting a campfire.
- A tent for providing shelter against the elements.
- A GPS to prevent you from getting lost.
- A torch, headlamp or lantern to see at night.
- A pocket knife for tasks like prepping food and trimming rope.
- A water bottle to ensure you always have a fresh supply of drinkable water.
- A first aid kit so you're always prepared for an emergency.
- Weather-appropriate clothing such as thermals, a long-sleeved shirt and a raincoat that can cover your backpack.
- Sunscreen for protecting you from the harsh Australian sun during the day.
Do I need to put a tarp underneath my tent?
Rather than just spotting a clear patch of grass on the ground and setting up your tent, there are many good reasons to put a tarp underneath your tent when camping. A tarp will keep away ground moisture from getting inside your tent, it will protect your tent from sharp rocks, gravel and roots, and it will keep your tent clean when it comes time to pack up and move on.
What kind of food should I bring camping?
If you're not into living off the land, then there is a variety of foods you can bring with you depending on the type of camping you are doing. Dehydrated food that can be easily opened and heated up is a great option for lightweight campers, as well as nuts and trail mix. For those searching for a camping list for families, you can still cook a delicious meal to be enjoyed around the campfire like chilli, curries and stews. A good tip is to prepare your ingredients into individual containers and store them in an esky or cooler box before heading out, that way you won't be spending a great deal of time cutting and chopping after setting up camp.
To ensure you have everything you need on your next camping trip, we've broken down our camping checklist into helpful sections and what you'll need.
Shelter: the most important aspect of camping, from protecting you from the harsh elements to providing a comfortable place to rest your head at night. When going through your checklist of what to take camping, here are some great shelter options to tick off depending on your needs.
As the number one camping essential, there are a wide variety of camping tents to choose from. If you are camping alone, then a double swag tent design is a great choice that will allow for plenty of storage room. If you're camping with the family or a group of friends, then a 10 person tent will offer a lot of room so everyone doesn't feel squeezed in. A good tip is to choose a tent that can be quickly popped up, provides enough room and protection, and can be quickly dismantled and packed away.
A camping gazebo is a great choice for providing shade from the sun and offering cover when it starts unexpectedly pouring down. With many types of gazebos available, from ones with solid walls to awnings you can attach to the side of your caravan, ensure you always have cover with a good-quality gazebo when camping.
As mentioned before, laying down some tarp before setting up your tent will protect it from any sharp objects on the ground and stop moisture from getting inside your tent. It pays to have some tarp on hand when going through your camping gear list.
You won't get very far with your camping set up without tent accessories such as tent poles, tent pegs to ensure your tent doesn't take off in the middle of the night, and a mallet to hammer them in. It's also a good time to think about preventative measures, like setting up a canopy over your tent to provide extra protection from rain, wind and sun, a quality travel bag to pack your tent away in, and even an entry mat so no one is tracking mud and dirt inside the tent when they enter.
Now that you have your tent sorted, it's time to make sure you have a comfortable place to sleep - otherwise a fun camping trip can quickly turn sour.
If you are camping solo, a high-quality sleeping bag is definitely an item to include on your camping equipment list. They are lightweight, comfortable, easy to roll up and compact - ideal when travelling light. A good tip is to choose a sleeping bag that completely unzips so it can double up as a blanket.
If you are camping with your partner or enjoy a level of comfort that a sleeping bag can't offer, then an airbed is one of the top camping essentials for you. Inflated with an air pump, a good airbed will give you a great night's sleep. If you can't be bothered fussing around with an air pump, a self-inflating mattress might be a better option for you.
Happy with a sleeping bag but want a little extra padding? Then add a sleeping pad to your camping checklist. Made from foam-like material, a sleeping pad is typically used with a sleeping bag to provide extra thermal insulation during cooler weather and extra padding for a more comfortable sleep.
Don't want to sleep on the floor but don't have enough room for an airbed? Then a stretcher bed is the answer. If you don't have much space in your tent, then stretchers are a great choice. They're also the perfect choice if you aren't sleeping in a tent, like under a canopy or gazebo, and want to sleep off the ground to keep the bugs away.
The next stop on the camping essentials checklist is lighting. If you don't want to stumble around in the dark, then you'll need to make sure your campsite has proper lighting available.
When organising your camping packing list, a lantern is going to save you a lot of stress once night falls. There are many reasons why you should take a lantern with you camping, from creating ambient lighting around the campsite to being a great handheld option when needing to find your way to the toilet at night. They are also great for lighting up large areas around the campsite as well.
If you prefer a hands-free option when it comes to camp lighting, then opt for a solid headlamp instead. Headlamps are extremely popular for night hiking as they can be comfortably strapped to your head to free up your hands, and also have an impressive battery life. If you're camping at night and need to find a few more sticks to chuck into the campfire, a headlamp is your best friend.
Also known as a flashlight, the trusty torch has been a camping essential for many Australians. They have a great battery life, can be easily stored and are great for lighting up what's in front of you (and not everything else) when needing to get up in the middle of the night and don't want to wake up the rest of the camp.
Now that you've got your sleeping, shelter and lighting needs taken care of, now it's time to decide what type of camping furniture you will need to bring along on your trip.
Once you have fully set up your campsite, nothing beats relaxing in a comfy camping chair, cracking open a cold one and kicking back, especially when a comfy log isn't always available around the campfire. Camping chairs will keep you off the floor, provide comfort and make sure everyone has a seat when it comes time to sit back and relax.
If you are going camping with a group of friends or family, you will no doubt need a solid table for storage, food prep and as a place for everyone to sit down and enjoy a meal together. From foldable tables to picnic tables with built-in seats, every campsite (and camping checklist) needs a good, solid camping table.
Even though they are pretty self-explanatory, portable camping cupboards are excellent for longer camping trips. Camping cupboards are ideal for storing foods like tinned tuna so they are easy to grab, your camping supplies such as rolled up sleeping bags, and utensils like plates and bowls for when it's time to eat.
Kitchen & Cooking
Unless your camping trip is going very badly, you are going to be eating at some point. Whether solo or with company, here are the essential kitchen and cooking gear you should consider on your camping checklist.
Without bringing along a camping stove, your choices for delicious meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner with be limited. If you want to eat something a bit more substantial than a toasted marshmallow from the fire, then a camping stove lets you easily boil water, cook raw ingredients, and of course, cook delicious food that everyone will enjoy. From hiking stoves for solo adventurers to deluxe stove grills for groups, decide which one best suits your camping needs.
Unless everyone is happy with eating with their hands, bringing some quality camp tableware is your next stop. From bowls made out of silicone with a collapsable design that are perfect for the compact camper to complete dinner sets with everything you'll need, choose the right type of camp tableware and make sure you aren't left with nothing but spoons when all you need is a knife.
Next, you will no doubt need something to cook your food in. There is a variety of camp cookware you can choose from including pot sets, compact frypans, spatulas and even egg storage containers to ensure no nasty breaks happen. If you are planning on cooking up a storm and making the most of your camping trip, then make sure you pack the right type of cookware you will need.
If you are like most campers, then emerging from the tent ready for a day of adventure is a bit of a struggle without a good cup of coffee or tea. And just because you might be miles from the nearest cafe, doesn't mean you have to go without your morning shot of caffeine. You can choose to pack portable coffee presses, mini espresso machines, campfire kettles and electric kettles if you have a generator - just make sure you don't forget!
One of the most disappointing feelings in this world is opening a warm drink on a hot day. To make sure no one at your campsite suffers from this terrible situation, remembering to pack a cooler is an absolute must. Apart from doubling up as a spare seat, a cooler is an essential camping item for food storage.
There is no point bringing food to cook if you aren't able to keep it cool and fresh. If you've got an army to feed or want a food storage option that is more reliable than a conventional cooler, then a portable fridge or freezer is the next step. From small 10 litre fridges to large 110-litre fridges/freezers, pick the right one for your needs and make sure that your drinks and food are kept nice and cool.
A camping stove or grill won't do you much good without some gas in the tank. Whether you will be needing a gas bottle, propane tank or more, just make sure you remember to include the right type of fuel you'll be needing on your camping checklist. Once you're sorted for fuel, make sure you bring along some matches, lighters and firestarters so you don't find yourself frantically rubbing two sticks together as the sun goes down.
Toiletries are another camping essential for many campers. So if the idea of getting eaten alive by bugs when nature calls doesn't sound like a fun time, then definitely consider the following camping items.
If you are camping off the grid and aren't too excited about having to squat in a latrine, you will need a comfortable place to do your business. From a simple bucket with a lid to modern porta potties, you have plenty of camping toilet options to choose from to ensure everyone has a comfortable place to go when nature calls.
When it comes to any camping checklist in Australia, sunscreen should always be at the top. The harsh UV rays of the sun will wreak havoc on your skin and ruin the rest of your trip without it - so always triple-check you've packed enough sunscreen for yourself and everyone else before setting out.
Apart from fun times and everlasting memories, camping also provides its fair share of potential dangers, especially when camping in Australia. From nasty bug bites and infections to cuts and bruises, every camping checklist needs a first aid kit filled with supplies such as bandaids, aspirin, bandages, thermal blankets, cotton buds, wound dressing and more.
No one likes being eaten alive by bugs when trying to enjoy the outdoor experience - so it's imperative that you don't forget to bring along enough insect protection for your trip. Depending on how you are camping, it could be a simple mosquito head net during a hike, wearing a mosquito patch, applying a coat of insect repellent or setting up a zapper lantern to establish a barrier around your campsite.
Long camping trips mean you and other campers are going to need a shower at some point, so here are some essential shower options you shouldn't forget.
Camping grounds will usually have access to shower facilities - unless you are roughing it out in the wilderness. If this is the case, then you will need to have a portable shower system to stay clean and feeling fresh. A major benefit is having access to a shower 24/7, plus you can also find solar-powered shower systems that take up barely any room.
As a classic example of a categorical syllogism: if you become wet, then you must become dry - therefore you will need a towel when you go camping. Whether you are happy packing the towels from the bathroom or packing a beach towel, just make sure you aren't reaching for an empty towel rack once the water stops running.
What is the point of having a shower without using body wash, shampoo or conditioner? Make sure you aren't left pondering this question in the shower by remembering to pack all the shower accessories you think you'll need.
Just like any trip, you are going to need to pack a change of clothes and plan your wardrobe according to what type of weather you expect to encounter - and of course, protecting yourself from the harsh Australian sun.
If you are camping in a location where you're expecting it to be pretty cold during the day or night, then don't forget to pack your thermals. A good pair of thermals will provide insulation and help regulate your body temperature, saving you from having to pack on layers of clothes to stay warm.
A quality pair of sunnies goes a long way in protecting your eyes from the harsh UV rays beating down from the Aussie sun. Polarised sunglasses are a must on any camping checklist, whether you plan on doing some hiking, 4WD driving or hanging out at the campsite.
You can't mention the great Australian outdoors without sun protection - specifically a hat. When planning what camping essentials to bring, a hat can't be forgotten. Wide brim hats will provide the most protection from the sun as with legionnaire caps for the back of your neck, and if the weather is expected to be chilly, then make sure you bring a beanie. If you're camping somewhere tropical where there are a lot of flying bugs around, it wouldn't hurt to bring along a mosquito head net as well.
As the weather can change from one minute to the next, you don't want to be caught in a rain shower without appropriate rainwear. Make sure you pack the right rainwear, and if you are planning to do some hiking, make sure it's big enough to cover over your backpack and pack a pair of rain pants for full-body protection as well.
Whether it is freezing or sizzling, you are going to need to pack a few tops. Depending on how long your camping trip is, it's a good idea to always pack a couple of short sleeve shirts for when the weather is warm and a few long sleeve tops when it gets chilly. Long sleeve shirts are also perfect for protecting your arms from the sun and any sharp branches that might scratch you when hiking, so don't forget to pack a few!
Once you've got your tops sorted, it's now time to pack a few good pairs of bottoms. As with tops, it's a good idea to pack a few pairs of trousers and shorts so you're always prepared for what the elements throw at you. If you are wanting to pack light or can't decide between the two, pack a pair of convertible pants that unzip around the knee and turn into a pair of shorts for when the weather starts to heat up.
Since you will be camping in the great outdoors, you are going to need some good-quality footwear to protect your feet. If you are going for a hike, then don't set out unless you've packed a pair of durable and comfortable hiking shoes or boots. When chilling out at the campsite, then a pair of sandals is perfect during summer or a pair of casual shoes if it's a bit cold.
No camping outfit is complete without a high-quality jacket. A puffer jacket is not only an iconic piece of Aussie outerwear but also a perfect jacket to take along to keep you warm and comfy in colder weather. If you're camping up in the mountains where there's snow, then you'd be crazy to not bring along a good snow jacket to keep you insulated
Now that you've got most of the camping essentials ticked off your list, it is now time to have a think about how you plan to enjoy the downtime when hanging around the campsite.
Sure, sitting around the campfire at night listening to the crickets chirping and the fire crackling is great, but during the day you or your group are going to want some tunes. To ensure you aren't huddled around a smartphone as the only source of music, bringing along a pair of portable/Bluetooth speakers will ensure that the tunes don't ever stop will go a long way.
When camping with your family or a group of friends, having a fun camping game to play is an enjoyable way to pass the time when waiting for dinner or before going to bed. Ideal for entertaining the kids (and adults), remember to bring along a camping game such as Connect Four, Jenga or Pick-Up Sticks that everyone can play.
When returning from a long day of hiking and exploring, nothing beats relaxing in a comfy chair and watching your favourite movie or tv show. Bringing along a portable projector will easily turn any dark space into your own movie theatre. If you are looking for some entertainment during the day at the campsite (or when exploring), then a drone is great to bring along as it's great for taking breathtaking photos and even used to scout the surrounding area.
Finally on your camping checklist, you are going to need to make sure you have enough fuel, batteries and other power sources so you aren't caught out with no gas for the barbie or working batteries in the flashlight.
If you are planning to bring along camping equipment such as an air compressor, a portable fridge/freezer and other electrical devices, then you are going to need to bring along a suitable generator to ensure the power is always flowing. Just make sure you look into what type of generator you will need depending on how much power you think you will be using to ensure you bring the right one.
Whether it is for charging items such as your phone, laptop or digital camera, remembering to pack a battery charger or power bank is essential for ensuring they will always have power. To make sure you bring along the right charger/power bank you will need, make a list of all the devices you will need to power and the types of ports they are compatible with first before choosing. It also pays to bring along a few packets of spare batteries as well.
If you will be bringing along a generator to power a few devices, then it pays to bring along a few extension leads as well. They are also great for setting up the entire campsite with lighting for long trips or large groups, or just for ensuring that everything can be reached and plugged in.
To make sure you have everything you need on your camping checklist, explore our entire hiking and camping range for all your camping essentials. Once you have got your camping checklist all sorted, be sure to check out our Adventure Centre for loads of camping ideas, helpful tips and much more.