Getting Started with Camping: Family Camping Checklist Printable

A handy family camping checklist printable of essentials for those just getting started out with camping and some great beginner camping tips.

If you’ve never been camping before – or at least not with kids – the prospect of gearing up for the experience can be a little daunting. Which items are essential and what can you do without? Is there any way to help reign in the costs? The beginning family camping checklist below is a great start. But before you take a peek at the list, we have some tips to help determine your family’s camping needs.

1. Do you have time for a “trial run” at camping in the backyard?
Backyard camping can help you test out your gear to see what might be missing. Plus, it’s a great way for kids to get a sense of what “real” camping will be like. If you can, make time for it before the ‘real’ thing.

Camping checklist for first time campers

2. Can you borrow supplies from friends or family?
Before we purchased our tent, we borrowed two different ones from friends to find out which would be best for our family. It’s also how I learned that unless I wanted to wake up with severe back pain, I’d need to purchase an air mattress. You might like to check out our list of family camping essentials.

3. What is your camping style?
Do you prefer car camping, RV’ing or backpacking? Do you intend to camp during warm weather, cold or both? The answers to these questions will impact what supplies you will bring along.

4. Can you recycle any of your pre-kid camping gear?
If you’ve camped before, you might be able to put your former gear to use (think: sleeping bags, sleeping pads and camp kitchen equipment). Re-using a couple more items here and there makes it less expensive than buying all new.

Camping checklist printable

Beginning Family Camping Checklist

This is our family’s fairly basic family camping checklist. Pick and choose from (and add to) the list to meet your family’s specific needs – there is a printable copy of the checklist below so you can print and check off supplies to make sure you have everything you need.

The Basics
These items are your “must-have’s” – and usually your big ticket items as well. Borrow or invest as needed.

  • Tent
  • Ground cover/tarp
  • Sleeping bags (or sheets & blankets)
  • Sleeping pads or air mattresses
  • Portable crib for younger kids
  • Pillows & kids’ favorite items for sleep time

Beginning camping checklist

Clothing & Helpful Equipment

This list will obviously differ depending on when you camp, the resources available on-site (bathrooms, water, etc.) and how long you go.

  • Clothing (plus plenty of extras for the kids!)
  • Pajamas
  • Jackets, hats & gloves (it gets cold at night)
  • Diapers/nappies (if applicable)
  • Camp chairs
  • Beach blanket
  • Baby wipes (they’re good for just about everything)
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Toiletries (for each member of the family)
  • Toilet paper
  • Camp towels (one per person)
  • Flashlights/headlamps (one per person) Fire starting tinder, kindling & firewood for the fire pit
  • Matches or lighter
  • Insect repellant

Camp Kitchen

Printable camping checklist for first time campers

We prefer to keep our camp meals simple, so our camp kitchen is pretty minimal. You can add on as needed.

  • Camp stove & propane/butane
  • Plates, cups & utensils (plastic utensils help to keep it simple)
  • Cooking utensils, pots & pans
  • Cooler with ice
  • Reusable water bottles for everyone
  • Portable high chair or booster seat for younger kids
  • Food items for meals, plus plenty of snacks
  • S’mores supplies (graham crackers, marshmallows & chocolate)
  • Water & other drinks of choice
  • Formula or baby food for infants as needed
  • Paper towel
  • Trash bags

RELATED: 9 Easy (and Delicious) Family Camping Meals

Fun & Games

Most kids don’t need much in the way of entertainment. Being active and outdoors is usually plenty enough excitement but these items may come in handy:

Family camping checklist printable

Printing Your Family Camping Checklist

Click here to download: Family Camping Checklist . Save the PDF to your computer. Open the PDF and print the page you require. When printing, select “Fit to printable area” (or similar) to ensure the page fits with your printer type and local paper size (these have been created at A4 size).

Having trouble accessing or downloading the file? Please try a different internet browser.

Please note: All Childhood 101 printables are for personal use only, you may not use any part of this content for  commercial purposes-that includes selling the document, giving it away to promote your business or website, or printing the file to sell. You may not share, loan or redistribute these documents. Teachers may use multiple copies for students in their own classroom.

What’s on your family camping checklist?


  1. This is so timely for us as we are heading off in a few days to go camping – our first time in over three years and since having our second child. I was about to google a camping checklist and this turned up in my inbox – perfect! I especially love the idea of glow sticks and I know my little girl will do too. Thanks!

  2. Thank you for this awesome list! Definitely a lot of help for first time campers, seems really daunting but with your list it might just be manageable. Thanks!

  3. This is a pretty through list, our kids love their glow sticks at night they are also perfect for marking out tent strings so you don’t trip over them at night, as a seasoned camper with 3 children (now 2, 6 and 10), we also include
    a small blow up swimming pool to use as a pool, bath, or a little play arena
    pop up washing baskets for washing, dishes etc

    1. Great additions, Amber! The blow up swimming pool would be a real treat!

  4. Thanks a lot
    We are planing our first fmillly
    Camping been in USA for over 16 years and I’m ready hahah
    I remember in Cuba we do it almost every weekend

  5. WOW! What a bunch of great information. Thanks for taking your time to sharing this. I think I have got enough ideas for our trip.

  6. Thanks Debi, I find this a complete family camping checklist. I have learnt a lot for my upcoming camping trip.

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