Car Camping Packing List

Car Camping: A Packing List
Family Car Camping: Comfort Is King (Photo © Photodisc)

Car camping means that everything and the kitchen sink could make the list—after all, it's the perfect synch between comfort and the outdoors. That said, the trick is to bring enough items that stand in for traditional home-bound amenities while still reinforcing the pleasures of being outdoors. To ensure this, bring enough outdoor toys (soccer balls, footballs, Frisbees—the list is endless), never let anyone retreat to the mini-van DVD player, and, most important, take a page from the backpacker's philosophy: Leave No Trace—pack out what you pack in, keep the trash far away from the fires, and leave the place the way you found it. Not only is that the environmentally savvy thing to do, but it also bestows the right message to your young ones.

And when it comes to food, plan by meal based on your schedule, then aim for one- or two-pot meals like pancakes or stew, and be sure to pack enough fruit and other snack items to stave off hunger between meals.

Shelter and Sleeping
Ground cloth
Tent(s)
Sleeping pads for everyone
Portable chairs and stools
Sleeping bag (rated to 20 to 50F)
Pillows

The Camp Kitchen
Stove (be sure to test it each time before you go)
Stove fuel
Charcoal and lighter fuel (if grilling)
Firewood and kindling (if allowed)
Matches/lighter
Cooking pots and pans
Extra water (to keep at your site)
Utensil set (including spoons, knives, forks, and cooking utensils such as serving spoons, knives, and spatulas)
Can opener
Mess kits for everyone (plates, cups, bowls)
Cooler and ice
Dish detergent
Dish towels
Sponge/scraper
Plastic basin (for washing dishes)
Paper towels
Tablecloth
Trash bags
Foil
Ziploc bags
Hot pads
Citronella candle

Food Items
Snacks
Fruit
Peanut butter and bread (very quick and handy if your kids like it)
Butter/cooking oil
Condiments (salt, pepper, multi-spice, and mustard/catsup when applicable)
Beverages (juice boxes, milk)
Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate
Milk, sugar (if needed)
Desserts
Makings for s'mores (marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate)

Handy Campsite Tools
Rope
Clothespins
Duct tape
Multi-tool/utility knife
Small handheld broom (for sweeping out the tent)

Light Sources
Lantern (at least one per tent makes camping much more enjoyable)
Headlamps for all

Toiletries
Bath towels and washcloths
Soap
Hand sanitizer
Shampoo
Quarters for pay showers
Toothbrushes/toothpaste
Deodorant
Razor
Toilet paper and trowel
Sunscreen
Lip balm
Baby wipes (very handy for campsite cleanup)

Family Medical Kit
Bandages
Benadryl
Poison ivy treatment such as CORTAID® Treatment Kit
Antibiotic ointment/wipes
Burn ointment
Thermometer
Bug repellent
Aspirin
Tweezers (good for removing splinters and ticks)
Moleskin

Clothing for All
Trail-running shoes or hiking boots (broken in and waterproofed)
Sandals/flip-flops (for public showers)
Wool socks
Synthetic long-underwear bottoms and tops
Synthetic shorts or convertible pants
Underwear
Synthetic/wicking t-shirt
Rain/wind jacket and pants
Wool or fleece sweater or jacket (vest, if warmer)
Pajamas
Bathing suits
Sunglasses
Wool or fleece hat*
Wool/fleece gloves or mittens*

Play Equipment
Swim towels
Water shoes (if needed)
Daypacks
Water bottles
Camera and film
Video camera
Reading material for all
Guidebooks and maps
Camping reservation info

Kid Stuff
Outdoor toys (Frisbee, kites, soccer ball, football, Wiffle Ball, etc.)
Whistle
Toys, board games, or deck of cards
Water toys or floats
Child's potty

Baby Gear
Diapers
Wipes
Changing pad
Port-a-Crib
Bug netting for crib and stroller
Baby blankets
Portable high chair or sassy seat (the latter is esp. good for picnic tables)
Bibs
Formula
Bottles
Baby spoon
Baby bowl
Baby food
Stroller or baby jogger
Child carrier (backpack style, or front carrier)

*Indicates optional/depending on climate and geography


Published: 7 Jun 2006 | Last Updated: 2 Sep 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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