Skip to main content

The ultimate packing list for summer camping (so you’ll never forget a thing!)

From TP and trekking poles to playing cards and pancake mix, here's everything you'll ever need in the wild.

camping packing list, tent in a forested campsite
Image used with permission by copyright holder
A view from the inside of a tent looking out on a campground.

Three words we’ve so longed to hear: Summer. Is. Here! It’s about time to break out all of your best camping gear from the garage and head out to enjoy nature. Chances are, you haven’t looked inside your gear closet or storage bins in a while, and some things may either be broken, outdated, or not particularly useful to you anymore. (In which case, here are the best ways to discard your unused gear.)

To help you out, we’ve put together our ultimate camping packing list to ensure you’re ready for a good time in the great outdoors. From the essentials (a tent, sleeping bag, and sunscreen) to the nice-to-haves (playing cards and pancake mix), here’s everything you might ever need to camp this summer.

The best tents for heavy rain can protect campers in even the worst weather.
Marek Piwnicki / Unsplash

The fundamentals

  • A reliable camping tent (with at least ten stakes)
  • Tent footprint or tarp (if your tent didn’t come with one)
  • Tent rain fly and/or sunshade (if your tent didn’t come with one)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Foam or inflatable sleeping pad
  • Folding furniture (based on your specific needs and headcount)
  • Light sources with batteries (think flashlights and/or headlamps)
  • Sunscreen (at least SPF 30)
  • Lip balm (at least SPF 15 with a moisturizer)
  • Any required camping/backcountry permits or parking passes
  • Paper map of the area where you’re staying & exploring
  • Guidebook of the area
  • Camera
  • High-quality Sunglasses
  • First aid kit
  • General repair kit for sleeping bags, pads, and tents
  • Your favorite multi-tool
  • Some cash and a credit card
  • Matches/lighter
Hiker with a backpack in silhouette walking over stones against the setting sun.
Usman Omar/Unsplash

Outdoor clothing

  • Moisture-wicking shirts and underwear
  • Quick-drying bottoms (hiking-ready pants and shorts)
  • Wide-brimmed hat for sun protection
  • Boots or shoes suited for the terrain
  • Water shoes
  • Cheap pair of flip-flops
  • Packable waterproof jacket (even if the forecast is 90 and sunny)
  • Socks (synthetic, quick-drying, and/or wool)
  • Quick-drying, packable towels
  • Waterproof gloves (based on the weather/adventure)
A camp stove cooking food with a desert landscape blurred in the background.
Alex Moliski/Unsplash

Camp kitchen supplies

The right food and beverages can turn a good camp into a great one. This is one area of your camping packing list that you don’t want to forget a thing.

  • Lightweight camp stove
  • Appropriate fuel for stove
  • Waterproof matches
  • Windscreen
  • Firewood (check with local regulations first)
  • Cast-iron pan or pot
  • Portable coffee and tea maker
  • Hard-sided camp cooler
  • Ice
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Water jugs (limit smaller bottles to limit campsite footprint)
  • Trash bags
  • Resealable plastic bags
  • Lightweight, insulated cups (one per person to limit campsite footprint)
  • Plates and utensils (biodegradable or light metal)
  • Paring knife
  • Chef’s knife
  • Aluminum foil
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Skewers
  • Can opener
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Collapsible water container
Camping food grilling over an open flame with a blurred couple seated in the background.
Myles Tan/Unsplash

Camp food (will vary based on specific needs)

What food you choose to pack all comes down to a matter of personal preference. You’ll likely want to consider how long you’ll be camping, any food allergies or sensitivities, and the types of adventures you have planned. If you’re planning on high-energy activities like hiking or mountain biking, for example, consider packing easy-to-prepare, high-calorie foods.

  • Coffee & tea
  • Bread
  • Eggs
  • Peanut Butter
  • Energy bars
  • Cooking oil/spray
  • Meat
  • Grilling vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Salt/pepper
  • Spice kit
  • Trail mix (your favorite kind)
  • Pancake mix
  • Drink mixes
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate bars
Row of toothbrushes lined up against a wood wall outdoors.
Henrik Lagercrantz/Unsplash

Personal items

These will vary from camper to camper, but there are some essentials that most of us just can’t do without.

  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Brush/comb
  • Eye mask
  • Ear plugs (especially if you’re a light sleeper)
  • Insect repellant
  • Deodorant
luckybusiness/Adobe Stock


  • Backup battery or portable power station (with correct USB connectors)
  • Playing cards
  • A good book
  • Water toys
  • Notebook/journal
  • Packable poncho
  • Trekking poles

Pro tip: Pack with an app

Unless you’re a packing nerd (this humble author proudly raises his hand), you probably don’t enjoy packing, and you probably enjoy making packing lists even less. But we’re speaking from experience when we say that they can literally make or break a camping trip. That’s why we highly recommend downloading a good packing list app to do the hard work of remembering everything for you. A little preparation can go a long way because when you’re miles from anywhere, hopping over to the nearest store to grab something you forgot might be impossible. Make one camping packing list (or steal ours) of everything you might ever need for your camping trips and live by it. We promise you’ll never forget anything ever again. Scouts honor!

Editors' Recommendations

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
Here’s everything you need to pack for a trip to Yellowstone National Park
From backpacks and boots to headlamps and hiking snacks, here are all the essentials you'll need.
best national parks rv camping yellowstone 2

Yellowstone National Park is one of the crown jewels of America’s National Parks system. It quite literally has it all: Majestic geysers, technicolor thermal hot springs, bison-filled forests and fields, craggy canyons, roaring waterfalls, and — you get the gist. Stretching nearly 3,500 square miles across northwest Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, Yellowstone attracts millions of visitors and tourists looking to revel in the beauty of the country's most spectacular landscapes (just don't get too close to the wildlife).

Indeed, it's an absolute bucket-list-worthy destination for adventure-minded people who want to visit beautiful national parks this year. If the idea of its picturesque landscapes gets you excited, here’s a list of the essentials you'll want to pack to stay safe and comfortable, so you can enjoy everything the park has to offer.
What to pack for day trips in Yellowstone National Park
Whether you’re planning to visit Yellowstone in the spring, summer, fall, or winter, there’s a whole host of items you’ll need to pack to ensure your comfort and safety. Here's our expert packing list:

Read more
The worst camping mistakes we’ve made (so that you don’t have to)
From washed out trips to cathole catastrophes, don't make these camping mistakes
The view from an MSR tent looking out over camping chairs and a lake.

They say that experience is the best teacher, and I have had my fair share of camping experiences. My list of camping fails is extensive, stretching back to my teenage years when I wasn't ready to listen to the advice of the grizzled old campers around the campfire. What did they know that I didn't already know?

I'm not going to go into my complete list of camping catastrophes — that would take too long and might make you question my camping authority. Instead, I've included my top learning experiences, a positive spin I like to put on camping fails to make me feel better about sleeping in a river, not having enough food, or having to cut a trip short. Experience is the best teacher, but it doesn't have to be your own experience.

Read more
Consider this before you buy a mountain bike (or you’ll regret it)
Mountain bikes are expensive, and we often cut corners and make sacrifices to bring that price down. But this may have you spending more money later.
A customer shops for a mountain bike

jotoya, Pixabay jotoya/Pixabay

Have you ever heard the phrase “buy once, cry once”? The idea is that spending more money on the front end of a purchase means you'll spend less in the long run. Mountain bikes are expensive, and we often cut corners and make sacrifices to bring that price down. But this may have you spending more money later.

Read more