How To

The Essential First Time Camping Checklist

First Time Camping Checklist | ActionHub

Every camper starts somewhere. When you’re preparing for your first trip, it can seem a little intimidating, but you don’t need to worry.

Camping is actually a lot easier than most novices think it will be, you just need to be prepared and bring along the right stuff.

We’ve put together the essential list for first-time campers, so you know exactly what you need to bring along with you.

Going Shopping

If this is your first time heading out into the wilderness, then you will probably need to get quite a few things first. While it may be tempting just to get the cheap stuff over at your local WalMart, that equipment won’t last you very long.

It may survive your first trip out, as long as you’re lucky with the weather, but if you expect to be taking many more trips from now on, then you should invest in some decent quality equipment.

If you don’t want to take the plunge on expensive gear just yet, why not borrow or rent until you have a better idea of what you want? You can always scale up to more sophisticated gear over time, once you get a better idea of the type of trips you want to take and locations you’ll be visiting.

When you start buying your equipment, take the time to shop around. You can usually find some decent deals online, particularly for items in last year’s patterns and colors.

What to Take

We’ve put together a pretty comprehensive list of camping equipment, but you may find that you don’t need some of the stuff on the list. Keep weather and location in mind and pack accordingly.

If you know you definitely won’t need a bottle opener, then skip it, but don’t leave anything you might need in case of an emergency.

Campsite Gear


  • Tent, poles, stakes (spare stakes)
  • Ground cloth/tarp
  • Mallet/standard claw hammer
  • Tent repair kit
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad/mat
  • Pillows
  • Extra blankets
  • Headlamps or flashlights (spare batteries)
  • Lantern (including fuel or batteries/pole)
  • First Aid Kit



  • Water bottles/canteen
  • Camp stove
  • Fuel for stove
  • Waterproof matches/lighter
  • Firewood/charcoal/buddy burner
  • Newspaper/fire starters/kindling
  • Campfire grill
  • Water bucket (to extinguish fire)
  • Mess kit (plate/bowl/mug/cutlery)
  • Cutting board
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Pot & frying pan
  • Cooking utensils (pairing knife/wooden spoon/tongs/spatula/strainer)
  • Food storage containers/Ziplock bags
  • Pot gripper
  • Over Mitt
  • Folding table
  • Tablecloth/clips/thumb tacks
  • Food cooler
  • Ice/coolers
  • Thermos
  • Stove top coffee pot
  • Trash bags
  • Paper towels
  • Can opener/corkscrew
  • Dutch oven
  • Roasting sticks/skewers/grill forks
  • Biodegradable dishwashing soap/sponge/dishcloth/dishtowel
  • Dish pan
  • Heavy duty aluminum foil
  • Measuring cups/spoons



  • Drinking water
  • Cooking oil
  • Seasonings/condiments
  • Coffee/tea bags/hot chocolate
  • Sugar/sweetener
  • Non-dairy creamer
  • Milk
  • Cereal
  • Hot dogs
  • Bread
  • Bagels
  • Snack bars/granola bars/dried fruit
  • Fresh fruit
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Marshmallows, Hershey bars, graham crackers (for S’mores)
  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Rice
  • Butter/margarine
  • Pancake mix, syrup
  • Pasta/spaghetti
  • Pasta sauce
  • Meats: chicken, beef, fish, pork
  • Cold cuts & cheese
  • Chips/pretzels/snacks
  • Popping corn
  • Soda/juice



  • T-shirts
  • Sweatshirt/sweater/light jacket
  • Heavy coat
  • Rain gear
  • Jeans/long pants/belt
  • Shorts
  • Socks (pack extra)
  • Underwear
  • Bra
  • Sleep clothes
  • Shoes/boots
  • Hat
  • Bandana
  • Laundry bag
  • Watch
  • Shower shoes/flip flops



  • Toilet paper
  • Shower gel/soap (in plastic case)
  • Shampoo, conditioner
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Dental floss
  • Towel/washcloth
  • Razor
  • Shaving gel
  • Deodorant
  • Brush/comb
  • Feminine products
  • Shower bag or 5-gallon bucket
  • Shower pump/camping shower
  • Personal medications (pack extra)



  • Sun lotion, lip balm
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand/body lotion
  • Bug Spray
  • Hand sanitizer gel
  • Water filters/purification/treatment
  • Camp chairs
  • Whistle
  • Compass/GPS
  • Maps (road & trail)/guidebooks/directions
  • Candles
  • Camera/Battery
  • Radio
  • Saw/ax
  • Pocket knife
  • Binoculars
  • Rope/clothes line
  • Duct tape/electrical tape
  • Bungi cords/straps
  • Small shovel
  • Safety pins
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Scissors
  • Leather work gloves
  • Swimwear
  • Hammock

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of ActionHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.

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