Ultimate Camping Checklist

Camping is one of life’s greatest gifts, especially for the city-dwelling type. But having a good camping trip requires remaining safe. No one wants to call their mom to tell her that a bear stole their younger brother.

So what do you need to have a safe camping weekend? From the right shelter to allergy bracelets to proper clothing to bear mace, here’s how you can have a safe weekend with your family and friends.

Firstly, What Type of Weekend Will You Have?

The first thing you’ll want to ask yourself is, “What’s my weekend look like?” As in, are you going to have a relaxed camping weekend or are you planning on hiking, too? Will you be doing strenuous hiking or will you be roaming through the woods? And, most importantly, what does the weather look like for your weekend away?

You’ll want to consider all of these questions and more to determine what gear is essential for your weekend getaway. Here are some of the basics you’ll need to cover (and more).

The Essentials Gear

Bedding, shelter and more

If you want to be as close to nature as possible, you might feel compelled to go without a tent — at most, bringing a sleeping bag. It sounds brave. But don’t test your luck when it comes to Mother Nature.

Your best bet is to bring along all the bedding and shelter essentials to stay safe while out in the woods. This will include items like a tent, a tarp for heavy rain, added blankets and more.

  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Sleeping pad
  • Compressible pillow
  • Tent
  • Blankets
  • Door mat
  • Tarp
  • Lights

Camping Gear

Basic site gear

Besides your tent and the essentials for comfort, you’re going to need more to make sure you have a safe and calm weekend. First of all, you’re going to need fresh water while you’re out in the woods. You might decide to pack out your own, but we also recommend bringing along a water filtration device.

Moreover, make sure to bring some other essentials with you, such as an axe, shovel and knives. Some campers might decide to bring firewood along with them, as they don’t want to go through the trouble of cutting their own and disrupting the local environment. But there is something you should keep in mind: If you’re going to bring firewood, buy local. If you’re traveling to a campsite from many miles away, you could be bringing in invasive trees that could be harmful to local nature. Rather, go to a local hardware store and get firewood that is from the region.

  • Water filtration unit
  • Water containers
  • Axe
  • Shovel
  • Knives
  • Firewood

Furniture

Comfort goes a long way to having an enjoyable weekend. Want to enjoy that firepit to the fullest every morning and night? Bring along some chairs to have a place to comfortably sit.

  • Chairs
  • Table
  • Hammock

Safety

Precaution goes a long way when out in the woods. You are, for the most part, getting yourself out in nature. That’s extremely calming, but it could prove dangerous. Prepare ahead before you head out for the woods. An accessory like medical alert jewelry could save your life, especially if other hikers and campers find you following a medical emergency. Similarly, (safely) carrying a knife can protect you against aggressive wild animals or humans out with bad intentions.

  • Medical alert jewelry
  • Knife
  • Firearm
  • Mace and/or bear mace

Health and first aid

As mentioned above, preparation matters most of all. Along with bringing your medical ID and personal protection devices, you should equally be sure to bring a first aid kit. This should include all of the basics you need — all that will keep you healthy and help you remain safe in the event of injury or allergic breakout. These include band-aids, antihistamines, sunscreen and more.

But it also includes basics like your daily medication. Depending on how serious your medication is, going without for a day or two could prove harmful, so it’s important you double-check that it’s packed before you head out for the woods.

  • Prescription medication
  • Soap and hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels
  • Paper towels
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
  • Shampoo
  • Tweezers
  • Bandages
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Feminine wipes
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Antacids
  • Antihistamines
  • Ibuprofen

Safety Kit for Camping

Kitchen essentials

No camping trip is right without food. Make sure you bring along everything you need to have a filling weekend, from plates and cups to skillets, utensils and food — whether fresh, canned or dehydrated.

  • Coolers
  • Water containers and dispensers
  • Utensils
  • Plates
  • Cups
  • Mugs
  • Stove
  • Bowls
  • Pot, pan or skillet
  • Potholder
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Snacks
  • Dried and canned food
  • Garbage bags

Clothing and layers

Clothing is just as important to keep you safe while in the woods. Sudden rain or snowfall can really dampen your mood. Moreover, a sudden wind or overnight chill can go a long way to making you uncomfortable and potentially giving you a cold.

  • Rain jacket
  • Shoe gaiters
  • Hiking boots
  • Comfortable pants and shorts
  • Moisture-wicking shirt, socks and underwear
  • Extra socks and underwear
  • Fleece jacket
  • Extra base layers
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Hat and beanie
  • Mittens

Gear in, garbage out

The most important thing to do when camping is to take all of your garbage with you. Leaving your garbage behind is wrong for numerous reasons. It’s bad for the environment, it can fatally harm wild animals and it can attract wild animals, like bears, to camp sites.

You should be able to find a collapsible garbage can at a hardware store near you, allowing you to readily store your garbage while camping and take it with you when you go.