You have signed on for (or at least began to explore) the adventure of camping with your toddler (and maybe your younger baby or older sibling, too). But where do you even begin packing? Our camping checklist details everything you need to start gathering and loading up your car and the items you can leave behind! Need more tips about navigating the actual adventure? Head over to our Essential Guide for Camping with Toddlers.

After years of camping we have fine-tuned our pack list to include all of the gear and supplies to make the trip fun and safe and leaving behind the things we found we just don’t use. We also have to store our camping gear in a small corner of a storage loft (NYC living, folks) so while we don’t own or bring any of the “additional items” I assume we might if we could make it work! Throughout our family camping checklist, we have included links to several of the products we use and love. 

Bringing our cute baby is on our camping checklist
Bringing our cute baby is on our camping checklist!

Campsite Essentials Checklist

If you have been camping before this is likely the gear you already have on-hand and may of these will work even for your expanded family unit! If you are new to camping this is the essential gear to get you started setting up your outdoor accommodations.

  • Tent and Footprint (or Tarp) + mallet to hammer in the stakes + duct tape or repair kits
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pads
  • Pillows
  • Headlamps or Flashlights + extra batteries
  • Camp Chairs
  • Portable Table
  • Lantern
  • Firewood (locally sourced!)
  • Small broom and dustpan
  • Clothesline

Health and Safety Checklist 

Families venturing into camping with toddlers often fear all of the what-ifs and everything that might go wrong. While you cannot plan for everything here are a few items we always bring with us while camping to help keep everyone having fun and a few items for when less than fun camping ailments arise. Also, ensure you are doing tick checks if exploring in regions where ticks are common. By August my kids are reminding me at the end of the day to check them for ticks.

  • Mosquito and tick repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Alcohol-free hand sanitizer
  • Glow sticks (turn into a necklace or bracelet for added visibility at dusk)
  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Toiletry kit
  • Quick-dry towel
  • First-aid kit
  • Antihistamine for kids and adults (check with your pediatrician on dosage before you go!) 
  • Pain reliever/fever reducer + syringe (again, check with your pediatrician for dosage beforehand)
  • Anti-itch cream 

Kid Gear Checklist

It wouldn’t be an adventure with kids if there wasn’t a bit of additional gear on the checklist just for them. We keep our camping checklist pretty lean when it comes to kid gear, we don’t have product recommendations for any of the “additional” suggestions since we would never recommend a product we don’t use but these items seem to think they are worth adding!

Additional Kid Gear 

  • Travel High Chair* we don’t own one or bring one, but I feel like this would be a great addition if you had room to store!
  • Bucket for catching crawdads
  • Jar for catch and release fireflies

Camp Kitchen Gear Checklist

Cooking for a family of three or more at your campsite will require quite a bit of cooking gear. Many items from your kitchen will work just fine, but you may need to buy or rent a few additional tools as well. We have been working hard to reduce our single-use plastic and paper products as well as embracing leave no trace principles, we hope you will join us in this effort!

  • Biodegradable soap
  • Washcloth or sponge + Dish Towel
  • Dishwashing bin 
  • Food + Snacks (lots of snacks!)
  • Reusable Water Bottles
  • Cooler + Ice 
  • Cutting board + Knife 
  • Mugs
  • Plates and Bowls
  • Can Opener
  • Cooking Utensils (Tongs, Wood Spoon, Spatula)
  • Matches
  • Dutch Oven
  • Grill Pan
  • Eating utensils
  • Trash and recycling bags
  • Small food-storage containers/bags/foil

Additional Items: 

  • Camping stove + fuel (a great fire alternative that we used in the past and are looking forward to trying again this fall!)
  • Corkscrew/bottle opener
  • Portable coffee/tea maker
  • Marshmallow/hot dog roasting forks

Clothing and Personal Items Checklist

Depending on your location the overnight temperatures may be drastically colder from daytime highs. We tend to overpack a few additional layers for the little ones and a few more extras just-in-case outfits since you just don’t know when you might run into rain, leaking water bottles, or ‘I was too busy playing with sticks in the dirt to listen to my recently potty-trained body … for the second time today” situations. I am not naming names here, but it happens.

  • Hats for everyone (warm hats for night + sunhat for the daytime)
  • Pajamas + Sleepsacks
  • Swimsuits (+ Swim diapers)
  • Closed-toed shoes 
  • Quick Drying shirts (short and long sleeve) 
  • Quick-drying shorts and pants 
  • Sweatshirts or fleece jackets
  • Water sandals (useful for the shower, too)

For a downloadable .pdf of our family camping checklist: Printable Family Camping Checklist (coming soon!)