When we had our giveaway a few weeks ago one of the most mentioned camping tips was to make some sort of camping box. A large waterproof tote that holds the majority of your camping supplies. The idea behind such a box is that you always have the bulk of your gear packed and ready to go. I could not agree more.
The problem is that it’s hard to keep ALL your camping gear together all the time (because a lot of stuff gets used for day adventures as well). Some stuff gets put away between adventures, but some stuff we’ve bought two of; it’s worth it to buy an extra set of supplies and make a kit that ALWAYS stays together.
I’ve already done posts that list out all the items needed to make:
- A Mobile kitchen: a bin that houses all our cooking essentials and a few other odds and ends.
- Mini Survival kit: a go-everywhere kit with random survival and medical supplies (although we still also bring a larger first aid kit).
You can also easily make dedicated camping kits for personal hygiene and dog supplies (see lists below).
To make packing the rest of the gear easier, we try to keep most if it together. We turned a corner of our garage, and a corner of our guest room closet into ‘gear closets’. They house the aforementioned camping kits, as well as our sleeping bags, sleeping pads, tent, tarp, climbing/kayaking gear, backpacks etc. When it’s time to pack, everything is easy to find.
When preparing for a camping trip we throw our mobile kitchen and survival kit in the van and use the checklist below (download a PDF of this Ultimate Camping Checklist here) to gather/remember everything else.
THINGS TO DO (some a day or two ahead of time IF needed)
- Take care of pet needs (if leaving any behind).
- Freeze water bottles for cooler (2 or 3 nights before–I like nalgenes, but don’t fill them too full)
- Do Laundry
- Stop mail or newspaper (depending on length of trip)
- Take garbage/recycling to curb
- Get gas, check all fluids in car, get them changed if it’s time
- Buy your groceries
- Get Ice
- Prep whatever veggies or other food items you need to prep early (see these dinner menus if you’re unclear)
- Charge camera, cell phones, iPod
- Turn down heat or A/C
- Water indoor and outdoor plants
THINGS TO BRING
CLOTHES (everyone has their own bag)
- Kid clothes (with thermals depending on the temp)
- Big people clothes
- Dirty clothes bag (pillow cases or extra stuff sacks)
- Shoes. Lots of shoes.
- Underwear and/or Diapers
OUTERWEAR (this all gets thrown in one big bag)
- Hats (warm and cold) and mittens or gloves
- Rain Coats
- Poofy Coats
- Snow pants if the season calls for it
HYGIENE (can easily be turned into a dedicated camping kit that always stays together)
- Hair fasteners, bandanna or buff
- Feminine hygiene products
- Face wash
- Hand wipes or baby wipes
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Biodegradable Shampoo
- Bum wipes and diaper rash cream
- Toilet paper
Tips on bathing kids while camping — here.
- Tarp to go under the tent
- Sleeping pads
- Sleeping bags
- Bouldering pad
- Dog bed if your pooch is spoiled
- Small broom and dust pan for the tent
- A piece of rug or carpet for the tent entrance
- Water jugs (estimate roughly a gallon per person per day, including washing, dishes, etc.)
- Water bottles
- Water filter
- Mobile kitchen (see PDF list here for what’s in this box)
- Cooler (with frozen water bottles) or Ice
- Roaster sticks
- Extra tarp (in case it starts raining on the kitchen) and rope
- Coloring books
- Kid pack
- Kid sunglasses
- Sand/Dirt toys
- Noise/music maker
- First Aid Box/Kit
- Tylenol (kid & adult)
- Bug repellant
- Survival kit
DOG STUFF (can easily be turned into a dedicated camping kit that always stays together)
- Dog food
- Poop bags
- Frisbee or Tennis Balls
- Dog medicine
- Cell phone charger
- Extra Batteries
- Camp chairs or Crazy Creek Chairs
- Wood/kindling/newspaper and a lighter (the lighter should be in your kitchen box)
- Caribiners, clothespins, and rope.
- Kid carrier
- Day pack
- Gear (climbing, biking, river sports?)
- Extra towels
- Camp shower or other washing mechanism
- Small hatchet or axe
- Small shovel (for digging catholes)
Finally, a few ideas on how I pack so that I can find everything…
- Make each of the kids their own clothing bag that they’re responsible for keeping clean and tidy (once they’re old enough, obviously). Their little personal hygiene bag goes in here too.
- Give each kid a separate small bag for their own entertainment items for the tent (books, headlamps, toys, etc.)–they’ll love putting it together… with our without supervision depending on age.
- In the car is the car entertainment bag–it stays there all the time–in it are cell phone chargers, battery chargers, iPod and other electronics stuff.
- All outer wear is in one giant duffle bag.
- Sleeping bags etc are stuffed into little crevices here and there in the car (or in a large tote if your lucky enough to have a truck), around the kitchen box (which houses my little lantern), propane tank, and water jugs. First aid is in a dry box. Dog stuff is kept in a bag that is easily reachable for the drive to camp.
- All odds and ends are in one extra duffle of just-in-case stuff (I love when I have to get in this duffle).
When I get home, the gear and kits go back in the closet. Clothing bags go straight to the hamper. And the other stuff (electronics, entertainment, outerwear, and headlamps) is separated out and put back into its place as daily-use gear.
What essentials did we miss that you always bring?