The Minimalist Camper’s Checklist

Sometimes when you are planning a camping trip it is difficult to separate what you really need from the luxuries you want. Whether you’re glamping or camping here is a checklist of essentials to make your trip a success.


TENT – Sometimes we forget the obvious. Make sure it is waterproof.

TARP – Putting a waterproof tarp between the ground and your tent is always a good idea. It helps keep moisture out and protects the bottom of your tent from punctures (sticks & rocks).

SLEEPING BAG – Always check the weather forecast before you go camping then choose the appropriate sleeping bag. There is nothing worse than having a poor night’s sleep because you were too hot or too cold. My bag is from Outdoor Vitals.

SLEEPING PAD/AIR MATTRESS – Sleeping pads and air mattresses provide an extra measure of comfort while sleeping. Obviously, air mattresses are more for the glampers and I suggest you bring one if you are not backpacking. Sleeping pads, however, offer a similar comfort. If it’s going to be cool, consider an insulated sleeping pad, like the Klymit Statik V.


FOOD – Rarely does anyone forget food. But there are a number of times I have forgotten an element of a meal or even an entire meal. Make sure to plan out all of your meals, including snacks. Organize each day’s meals and double check you have all the ingredients before you pack your cooler. There are a ton of camping recipes on Pinterest for those that want to try out something new and fun.

DRINKS – We like to cut down on the amount of plastic we use, so we don’t pack single-use bottles. If we are at a campground we pack giant jugs of water and refill our water bottles throughout the day. You can find collapsable water bottles at a local sporting goods shop! You can always pack flavored packets to add to your water to mix it up.

COOKING UTENSILS, DISHES, & SILVERWARE – You can find a small set of lightweight dishes or utensils on Amazon for a reasonable price. I like it when I can get an easy and inexpensive set and I don’t have to pack a bunch of paper plates.

CAMP STOVE – Depending on the number of people you are hosting, you can get small compact stoves or a classic two-burner. Something like the Coleman Road Trip Propane Portable Grill LXE is ideal if you want to grill out and you are NOT backpacking. 

COOLER – If you’re planning on packing frozen food or things that need to be chilled, packing a cooler is essential. (Don’t forget ice!) We have found Yeti Coolers to be overpriced and not that much better than some less expensive coolers. Our Coleman Steel-Belted Portable Cooler has served us well over the years. Just make sure you bear proof it before you go for a hike or tuck in for the night.

DISH SOAP – A good soap is essential for cleaning dishes, hands and scrapes or cuts. Pick up a biodegradable one like Campingsuds.

PAPER TOWELS -We have tried, but we just can’t camp without paper towels. You can use them to clean up a meal, wash dirty hands and faces, start a fire or even as toilet paper if you get desperate. Make sure you bring plenty!

image.pngPersonal Items

DAY CLOTHES – Check the weather before you go! Pack base layers. It’s easier to add a layer than pack big bulky clothes. Don’t forget a packable rain jacket for sudden changes in the weather.

SLEEPING CLOTHES – If you are like me, you have a tendency to forget pack clothes to sleep in. Again pack what is appropriate for the weather. I tend to be a hot sleeper so I pack shorts and a t-shirt. On the other hand, my daughter is always cold, so she packs sweats.

SHOES -I bring two pairs of shoes, water-resistant trail runners for hiking around and river sandals for wading around in the river, lake or ocean.

TOOTHBRUSH / TOOTHPASTE -Again, a no-brainer but it will suck if you forget them.

image.pngOther Essentials

HEAD LAMP & FLASHLIGHT – We tend to favor headlamps over flashlights because of the amount of light, the kind of control and it leaves your hands free. The flashlights we do have can also be strung up and double as lanterns.

FIREWOOD – You can generally find firewood near any campground. However, if you go hiking you can almost always gather it for free.

MAGNESIUM FLINT FIRESTARTER – You never know when you will run out of waterproof matches or your lighter runs out of fuel. We never go camping without it. A magnesium flint firestarter could save your life one day.

LIGHTER -Let’s face it, we all want to light our fires the easiest way!

POCKET KNIFE – Not only is a pocket knife great in an emergency, you can also sharpen hotdog sticks or gut a fresh fish.

HATCHET – You are probably going to need to chop wood. Bring yourself a hatchet that won’t fall apart after a single use.

BUG SPRAY – With camping comes lots of bugs. Afterall, you are in the woods. Bring some bug spray to try and prevent those itchy bug bites! Personally, we use essential oils.

TOILET PAPER – Not all campgrounds have toilets. Be prepared! Even if there is a toilet or near your site, pack some extra TP.

HAND SANITIZER AND WIPES – We use wipes to wash faces and hands, followed by a little hand sanitizer. It will also help you de-funk if a shower is not immediately available.

FIRST AID KIT – Inevitably we need something out of our first aid kit every time.

HAMMOCK- Hammocks are easy to set up, light, and pack down to practically nothing. I have an Eagles Nest Outfitters hammock.  If you are hammock camping, don’t forget your under and over quilts. image.png

What are your camping essentials? Let us know in the comments below. I would love to know what you MUST have on your camping trips!


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