the ultimate camping planner and checklist 2Whether you are an advanced camper, or completely new to the idea of camping, this Ultimate Camping Planner and Checklist will help make your camping trip a big success!

For those who haven’t pitched a tent or built a fire, camping seems like a lot of hard work. Yet, with the proper planning and equipment, you can enjoy fresh air, starry nights, and s’mores around the campfire, and look like an expert. 

We have provided the ultimate camping planner and checklist for three different situations.

(We highly recommend that you save this Ultimate Camping Planner and Checklist to your bookmarks rather than just printing it, the links we have included here will save you a lot of time and effort)

So, let’s get you started on the path toward a unique outdoor experience.

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Find a Campsite

Of course, you need to find a campsite. If it’s your backyard, then reservations are pretty simple. If you want to camp in a state or national park, then book as early as possible to secure your spot.

State and National Parks

Two sites may help simplify your search for campsites at state and national parks. USCAmpgrounds.info provides data on 13,000 local and national sites in the USA and Canada. Meanwhile, the U.S. National Park Service offers a comprehensive list of tent/RV sites at their parks and national monuments.

Fees and Reservations

Fees and reservations are standard for many organized campsites. Reservations are extremely important, especially during peak seasons at some of the more popular locations. 

Fees vary per location. At national parks, you may need to pay the normal entrance fee and ensure you have a reservation. RV campers may incur additional costs for electric and sewer hookups.

Family Tent Camping Planner and Checklist

Family tent camping is a wonderful bonding experience. It provides opportunities to work together and enjoy each other’s company.

In addition to reserving the campsite, preparation is required to ensure you and your family are comfortable, well-fed, and ready for shifts in the weather.

Getting to The Campsite

If getting to the campsite requires nothing more than parking near the campsite, then it’s easy.. However, should some walking be required, you need to determine a way to transport your tents, sleeping bags, and other equipment

Short distances on fairly flat paths may mean nothing more than a few trips back to the car. Longer treks require collapsible utility wagons to load and deliver equipment to the site.

In this case, look for a lightweight camping wagon sturdy enough to withstand rough terrains. These wagons are also great for hauling firewood that you buy from the camping host, or chairs and blankets and coolers down to the lakeside.


Tents

Tents have come a long way from heavy canvas models of the past. Today’s tents are lightweight, waterproof, insect-proof, breathable, and fit more than a few people at one time. In fact, there are models currently on the market which sleep as many as 16 people. 

Your tent should be easy to set up and store. Windows and doors should be made of mosquito mesh and have the ability to be covered in inclement weather. The floor and roof should consist of a Polyethylene waterproof material. 


You want to buy a good ground cloth or tarp to go underneath the tent for extra cushioning and protection from the cold ground. Also, take extra tent stakes and rope in case those which come with the tent are lost or break.

Sleeping

Sleeping under the stars is a wonderful experience. But if you’re uncomfortable, wonderful can quickly turn into miserable. You need bedding that is comfortable and easily adjusts to temperature changes.

This is why a sleeping bag is a must. Choose one that is waterproof and weather-resistant. Whether you select a mummy bag or a sleeping bag that is wider and roomier depends on your comfort.

You also want to bring a sleeping pad for extra cushioning.

Those who can’t sleep on the ground might want to use an air mattress. Other than being waterproof, the most important thing to determine is how it inflates. Look for air mattresses with battery-powered, auto-inflate capabilities or powerful air pumps.

Other items to include for a good night’s rest are extra blankets and pillows. Additional batteries and a puncture repair kit are necessities for the air mattresses.

Eating

When it comes to eating at campsites, make sure all your food is stored in airtight containers and bags. Never leave any food out while asleep or adventuring. This leads to uninvited guests – raccoons and bears to name two – who may rummage and ruin your campsite.

You may want to consider one of the modern portable/collapsible camping kitchens that can go a long way to bringing convenience to the campsite.

Before you leave, plan your meals and determine if you’re going to take everything with you or purchase groceries as you go along. Furthermore, determine how you want to cook your meals.

If cooking over the campfire you’ll need kindling like starter sticks, to get things going Next, you’ll need waterproof matches or a propane lighter to get things going. Once the fire is started, you can cook directly over the flames with a stainless-steel cooking grill.

You can also work with a propane-fueled camp stove. When it comes to camp stoves, there isn’t much better than the Coleman Classic Propane Stove.

One pot chefs may only need a single burner stove while gourmet cooks may want to bring a multi-burner stove. No matter the design, the camp stove needs to be collapsible or have a cover for easy and safe transport. 

Paper plates and plastic utensils aren’t nature-savvy. So, take stainless-steel or other types of dining materials which can be washed and reused. As for utensils, look for a camping kitchen utensil set.

Three additional items to pack. One, garbage bags, because you’ll need to take the trash with you. Two, large jugs filled with water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. Three, graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows, because it’s not a camping trip without s’mores.

Clothing

No matter the season, pack clothing to be worn in layers. You never know when a warm summer day can turn cold and rainy. Or a chilly & cloudy fall morning can become a warm & sunny afternoon.

Pack items which are flexible, well-ventilated, and wick away moisture for quick drying. Don’t wear anything too bulky. Remember, if it gets taken off you have to carry it. 

Sturdy sneakers or hiking boots/shoes should be the norm with family tent camping. If not waterproof, protect them with waterproof silicone spray. Ensure the material is strong enough to prevent punctures or tears should they get snagged.

Additional Items for Family Tent Camping

There is a whole list of additional items for family tent camping detailed in our checklist. Some of the highlights include a first aid kit to handle minor and medium injuries, a sewing kit for rips in tents and clothing, headlamps or flashlights, extra batteries, sunscreen, insect repellent, and maps. 

If there are no bathroom/shower facilities nearby you may want to pack a portable camp shower and toilet, toilet paper, towels, soap, and shampoo. 

The list of necessary items may seem overwhelming. However, if you buy them now, packing for future camping trips will be much easier.

Family Tent Camping Checklist:

Campsite

  • Make reservations
  • Check on fees

Shelter

Bedding

Eating & Drinking


Cooking


Clothes

  • Long/short sleeve shirts
  • Pants & shorts
  • Sweatshirts/sweaters
  • Bathing suit
  • Sneakers/sandals/hiking boots
  • Moisture-wicking hiking socks
  • Sleeping attire
  • Undergarments
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Rain jacket
  • Light down jacket
  • Gloves/scarf

Toiletries

  • Toilet paper
  • Toothpaste/toothbrush
  • Soap/shampoo
  • Razors
  • Towels/washcloths
  • Deodorant
  • Comb/brush
  • Portable shower and shower tent – if needed
  • Portable toilet if needed (especially useful with young children who need to go at night, or early morning)

First Aid Kit (We recommend this one)

  • Pain medication
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibacterial cream
  • Hydrocortisone cream for poison ivy/rashes
  • Aloe for burns
  • Benadryl
  • Antacids
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Adhesive/roll bandages
  • Gauze
  • Scissors/tweezers
  • Sting kit
  • Thermometer
  • Heat/cold packs
  • First Aid manual


Miscellaneous


RV Camping Planner and Checklist

RV camping can be similar to family tent camping, feel like you’re glamping, or somewhere in-between. It depends on the type of RV and where you stay. 

RV Size

The size of your RV makes a difference when it comes to RV camping. Those who own or rent a smaller folding tent trailer or travel trailers have more flexibility when choosing a campsite. Owners of Class A RVs or towing 5th Wheel Trailers need to camp in spaces made for these oversized vehicles.

Hook-Ups

Try to choose a site with sewer and electric hookups. Most home-away-from-home RVs have powerful deep cycle batteries to run electrical functions as long as they are driven every few days to recharge them. For longer stays, an electrical hook up is needed to avoid excessive battery drain.

The same can be said for an RVs waste disposal system. Those with bathrooms have holding tanks to store waste. When not hooked up to a sewer connection the tanks have to be manually emptied every few days. Connecting to a sewer line, preferably in a straight line with a slight downhill slope, allows the tank to properly drain.

Heating and Cooling

RV camping can be an all-year event, so you need to review your heating and cooling options. For compact trailers without the capability for power hookups, you may need to rely on warm sleeping bags and propane heaters. Just make sure you have proper ventilation to maintain air flow. Larger RVs have the ability to store propane tanks to keep their interiors cozy on cold nights.

Keeping cool in RVs with air conditioning or ceiling fans is pretty easy. Still, you want to orient these vehicles away from the sun so the cooling units don’t work as hard. For RVs without AC, there are a few things to do to stay comfortable on warm days. 

First, make sure the skylights and windows are covered. Second, ensure there is proper cross-ventilation to allow any breezes to flow through from the shady to the sunny side. Third, cook your food outside to reduce the amount of heat. If these don’t work, move to a cooler location.

Sleeping in an RV

Be it a king-sized bed, pull-out, or simple mattress, sleeping in an RV doesn’t require too much preparation. You simply load the proper amount of sheets, pillows, and blankets. Pack some extra camping blankets to adjust to changing weather conditions.

Most travel trailers come with a sleeping area, but the mattress may be thin. If you’re looking for some extra comfort, consider adding one of these great memory foam toppers.

Dining While RV Camping

Dining while RV camping varies from the simple to gourmet. Smaller RVs and camper vans have basic refrigerators and stovetops while Class A vehicles can contain fully-stocked kitchens with stainless steel refrigerators, multi-burner stovetops, and full-size ovens.

No matter the size, you want to prep ahead of your trip. Purchase all the perishables and dry goods for meals and snacks. Load the shelves with plenty of water and the freezer with ice. Also ensure you have the right amount of plates, glasses, and utensils needed for your family and any guests.

To cook your meals outside, bring a portable, propane camp stove or small grill, either gas or charcoal. Make sure these can be easily and snugly stored in the RV while driving.

Clothing for RV Camping

Clothing for RV camping is the same as family tent camping. You want to dress in layers which are light, wick moisture, and keep your body warm or cool depending on the weather.

A benefit of RV camping is the ability to prepare for different footwear needs. For example, sandals for trips to the lake, sneakers for nature walks, and hiking boots/shoes for rough terrain. Make sure your sneakers and boots are waterproof or are sprayed with silicone for a moisture-proof layer.

Additional Items for RV Camping

The additional items for RV camping are the same you would have in your home. Make sure you load toilet paper, soap, shampoo, sunscreen, and insect repellant. If your RV has a television, get some DVDs to watch at your campsite. Books and board games are an alternative to watching hours of television.

For outdoor activities, high-quality flashlights and fire starters for campfires are required. Make sure you have a few camp chairs as well to sit around the campfire as you watch the stars emerge.

The Kelty Low Loveseat Camp Chair is a great option for two people.

How You Pack

A note on how you pack for RV camping. Regardless if it’s a camper van or a 30-foot Class A, you are driving around more weight than an average vehicle. Packing your entire house into the RV adds additional poundage. In turn, this means lower fuel economy and heavier tongue weight.

So, carefully examine what you’re packing. Compress everything you can. For example, use vacuum-sealed bags to store your clothes. Stock the kitchen with lightweight plates/cups/utensils. Store everything as tight and light as possible. 

Overall, be safe. Take it easy while driving, especially on narrow mountain roads. If traveling through desert terrain, don’t overtax your RV with too many electronics. Finally, if you get drowsy, pull off the road and rest to keep you and your family safe.

RV Camping Checklist:

Campsite

  • Make reservations
  • Check on fees
  • Check on electric/sewer hookups

Bedding

Eating & Drinking

Cooking

Clothes

  • Long/short sleeve shirts
  • Pants & shorts
  • Sweatshirts/sweaters
  • Bathing suit
  • Sneakers/sandals/hiking boots
  • Moisture-wicking hiking socks
  • Sleeping attire
  • Undergarments
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Rain jacket
  • Light down jacket
  • Gloves/scarf

Toiletries

  • Toilet paper
  • Toothpaste/toothbrush
  • Soap/shampoo
  • Razors
  • Towels/washcloths
  • Deodorant
  • Comb/brush
  • Baby wipes
  • Lip balm

First Aid Kit (We recommend this one)

  • Pain medication
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibacterial cream
  • Hydrocortisone cream for poison ivy/rashes
  • Aloe for burns
  • Benadryl
  • Antacids
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Adhesive/roll bandages
  • Gauze
  • Scissors/tweezers
  • Sting kit
  • Thermometer
  • Heat/cold packs
  • First Aid manual


Miscellaneous


Rough Country Camping (& Hiking) Planner and Checklist

Rough Country

Rough country camping is normally for those who wish to backpack deep into a park and camp in areas with no services. Permits are required for rough country camping, so it’s best to review the park’s website or contact their administrative office for additional information.

Camping and backpacking in rough country is much different than RV or family tent camping. The luxuries and conveniences are fewer, but often the views and experiences are much grander.

This means carrying a backpack with compact and condensed supplies for sleeping, eating, dressing, and keeping clean. In other words, being lightweight and efficient is the goal when you are rough country camping.

Permits for Rough Country Camping

The reason permits for rough country camping are needed is twofold. First, it helps authorities track visitors to prevent overcrowding and damage in sensitive natural areas. Second, it alerts them if your party is overdue or lost.

Therefore, it is extremely important to complete your permit with the days you’ll be camping and any emergency contact information.

Backpacks for Rough Country Camping

The importance of proper backpacks for rough country camping can’t be stressed enough. The decision on which to purchase stems from how much equipment you will bring, how bulky it is, and the length of your trip.

If you are going rough country camping, look for a durable frame backpack that holds plenty of gear. It should be sturdy enough to expand with your equipment yet be breathable. In addition, it needs to have the ability to properly organize your materials to avoid weight shifts.


Tents for Rough Country Camping

Tents for rough country camping should be light and easy to store. In other words, 16-person accommodations are probably out of the question. Look for two-person tents that weigh between three and five pounds. They should be easy to set up, waterproof, and offer proper ventilation to keep things comfortable while sleeping or during inclement weather.


 You’ll need a ground cover to place the tent on as well as extra stakes and ropes. The latter are not only in case the original equipment breaks. They also help keep the tent stable during extreme weather conditions.

Sleeping Well in Rough Country

Sleeping well in Rough Country is important. You want to be fully rested for activity-filled days. The sleeping bag you choose depends on when and where you go.

If you travel during the summer, then a lightweight camping blanket may be the best to keep you warm enough when nighttime temperatures dip. If you are a year-round camper, 4-season sleeping bags are recommended. 

You also need a lightweight quality sleeping pad. Look for a lightweight, durable pad with a high R-value for maximum comfort and insulation from the cold ground.

Eating in Rough Country

Eating in rough country is easier than you think. For hot meals and drinks consider portable stoves which weigh between a few ounces to several pounds. What you select depends on the type of fuel you want to use – propane vs. isobutane canisters – and what you will use it for.

Many camp stoves are an all-in-one setup. They come with a pot to quickly boil water for coffee or food items. This includes a variety of dehydrated meals. Simply boil the bags and eat them right from the package. 


Plan your meals out ahead of time and stow one or two extra in case you stay longer or get stranded Make sure to have plenty of trail mix, energy bars, and pre-made sandwiches for your trip. Basically, anything which contains proteins, complex carbohydrates, and starches to maintain your fuel while backpacking. 

Water in Rough Country

Obtaining drinkable water in rough country is important. So, you need a way to filter, purify, and store it. 

Systems range from simple gravity filters to full-on purification systems. While filters do the trick most of the time, purification systems are important in high use areas where there are concerns about animal and human waste. 

Once the water is filtered or purified you need to store it. Many backpackers use non-BPA bottles to keep their water handy. Others use reservoirs built into their backpacks with hoses for drinking on the go. 

Dressing in Rough Country

Durable and comfortable are the words when dressing in rough country. You want sturdy clothing and footwear with moisture-wicking and thermo-regulating capabilities. 

Baselayers are essential when packing for this trip. Polyester is good in these situations as it is durable and helps absorb moisture. But if you’re looking for the same features in more comfortable garments consider items made of merino wool. Hiking pants should be weather-resistant and have numerous pockets. You may also want to look at pants with zip-off legs to convert them into shorts as it gets warmer.

The right hiking shoes and socks determine if your experience is comfortable or filled with dampness, heat, and blisters. Hiking boots or shoes should be flexible enough to handle long walks. Trail-running shoes are also a good choice if you know your path isn’t filled with too many rough obstacles.

Hiking socks need to be able to regulate temperatures, wick away moisture, and have the proper amount of padding. Cotton socks won’t do this. Instead, look for ones made with merino wool or polyester to keep your feet cool and dry.

Finally, outerwear. A lightweight rain jacket is necessary even if there isn’t a chance of precipitation for it can protect you from other weather elements like extreme wind. Also, pack a down-insulated jacket for cold mornings and evenings. Gloves and hats are a must on chilly mornings to maintain your body heat. 

Additional Items for Rough Country Camping and Backpacking

Additional items for rough country camping and backpacking include sunglasses, sunscreen, and a complete first aid kit. A headlamp with extra batteries is required if you know you’ll be hiking well before sunrise or sunset.

On the hygiene side, you need to pack amenities like toilet paper and toothpaste.

In addition, since you won’t be near a shower, body wipes are a necessity to keep yourself clean after a long day of hiking. 

***

Camping and Backpacking in Rough Country – Checklist

Prior to Departure

  • Check on fees
  • Complete rough country permit

Backpack

  • Determine the amount of equipment 
  • Determine the bulkiness of your equipment
  • Backpack should hold up to 70 liters of volume
  • Needs to expand to avoid weight shifts
  • Ability to properly organize equipment
  • Breathable for ease of travel


Shelter

Bedding

Eating & Drinking

Cooking

  • Small camp stove
  • Propane or isobutane fuel canisters
  • Windproof lighter
  • All-in-one pot for boiling water/cooking
  • Cooking utensil kit
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Garbage bags
  • Storage bags

Clothing

  • Baselayers made of polyester/merino wool
  • Long and short sleeve shirts
  • Hiking pants with zip-off legs
  • Hiking boots/shoes
  • Trail running shoes
  • Moisture-wicking hiking socks
  • Undergarments
  • Bathing suit
  • Rain jacket
  • Down or synthetic jacket
  • Gloves/hat
  • Sunglasses

Toiletries

  • Toilet paper
  • Toothpaste/toothbrush
  • Body wipes
  • Tissues
  • Razors
  • Towels/washcloths
  • Deodorant
  • Comb/brush

First Aid Kit

  • Pain medication
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibacterial cream
  • Hydrocortisone cream for poison ivy/rashes
  • Aloe for burns
  • Benadryl
  • Antacids
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Adhesive/roll bandages
  • Gauze
  • Scissors/tweezers
  • Sting kit
  • Snake bite kit
  • Thermometer
  • Heat/cold packs
  • First Aid manual

Miscellaneous


We’ve provided you with ultimate planners and checklists for three camping experiences. Now, it’s time for you to determine which way you want to go. Start planning now for an exciting journey into a world filled with the amazing wonders of nature!

We hope that this guide has been helpful in planning your camping trip. We wish you a great adventure and many blessings.

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