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The Complete Tent Camping Checklist: Gear, Food, and More

Embarking on a tent camping adventure is an exhilarating way to reconnect with nature, but it can quickly turn south without proper preparation.

That’s why we’ve compiled the complete tent camping checklist for you, covering everything from essential gear to food and more. This guide will ensure you’ve packed every necessary item and haven’t overlooked anything that could potentially ruin your camping experience.

Whether you’re a camping veteran or new to the wilderness, this checklist is your ultimate companion for an unforgettable, hassle-free outdoor adventure.

So before you gear up, pack smart by reading this tent camping checklist.

A man and woman setting up a tent campsite, gear in the foreground. Tent camping checklist.

Accommodation Essentials


By now, you probably have the right tent, but what else should be on your tent camping checklist?

Packing a waterproof tarp (or multiple tarps) is hugely essential. It can serve as an extra layer beneath your tent to keep the base dry. You can also use a tarp as a rain shelter over a picnic table.

Always have some cord or rope handy. You never know when you might need it for setting up tarps, hanging up wet clothes, or even emergencies.

A small broom and dustpan are essential for keeping your tent clean and tidy. They help to sweep away dirt, sand, and other debris that can accumulate on the floor of your tent.

Don’t forget to add camping chairs to your tent camping checklist if you want to relax by the fire. They’re simple to set up and will provide a comfortable camping experience. And for a real touch of luxury, a camping rug adds that “glamping” feel to your tent campsite!

A cozy tent campsite with seating, a table, lighting, and cooking gear.
A cozy tent campsite.


Next, you’ll want to bring a cozy sleeping bag that can withstand the temperatures of your camping location.

A pillow and a sleeping pad or air mattress will provide additional comfort for a good night’s sleep. And while you’re at it, throw in a couple of extra blankets just in case the weather gets chilly.


The great outdoors might seem charming with its clear skies and twinkling stars. But when the sun goes down, the lack of artificial lighting can create a pitch-black environment.

No tent camping checklist is complete without a flashlight and extra batteries, which will come in handy during those late-night bathroom trips. A headlamp is another great tool to help light up your path while keeping your hands free.

A camping lantern can help illuminate your home base, providing the necessary light to do the dishes or play a game of cards. You also can’t go wrong with the glowing embers of a campfire for some ambient lighting.


If you’re camping in the spring or fall months, it might get a little chilly at night. Including an electric or propane-powered portable heater on your tent camping checklist is a smart addition.

Electric heaters are convenient but require an electrical source, making them ideal for campgrounds with power outlets. They’re also pretty affordable, especially the Amazon Basics Personal Mini Heater.

Propane heaters are typically more expensive than electric, but they’re perfect for off-grid camping since they run on fuel. We recommend the Mr. Buddy Portable Heater, which ranked first on our list of best camping heaters.

Regardless of the type of heater you choose, safety should be your top priority. Ensure it’s in good working condition, keep it away from flammable materials, and never leave it unattended.

Personal Hygiene

A camping mug with toothbrush and toothpaste by a stream.


Roughing it in the woods doesn’t mean you can’t be clean. Bring lake-friendly shampoo, soap, washcloths, and towels to stay on top of your personal hygiene in the great outdoors.

A solar camping shower comes in handy if you’re camping off the grid. Just fill the bag with water, let the sun heat it up, then hang it on a tree branch or tent pole for a warm shower.

If you’re not near a water source, biodegradable cleansing cloths offer a great way to get clean while tent camping.

Lastly, maintaining oral health is still a must while camping, especially if you’re indulging in s’mores and other sweet camping treats. Pack a toothbrush and toothpaste to keep those pearly whites clean.


One of the top camping skincare essentials is sunscreen, and lots of it. Since you’ll be outside most of the day, protecting your skin from light is important. Even on cloudy days, the sun’s harmful UV rays can still damage your skin.

Also, don’t forget the bug spray. Not only will it keep pesky insects at bay, but it’ll also prevent skin irritations caused by bites.

And if you find yourself with sunburns and bug bites, packing a bottle of aloe vera is a must-have on your tent camping checklist. It has soothing properties that will help your skin recover faster.


Using grill baskets to cool a camping meal.

Kitchen Gear

Bringing the right kitchen gear can level up your tent camping experience. After all, who doesn’t relish a good meal under the starlit sky?

The heart of your outdoor kitchen is the camping stove. Opt for a propane-fueled option that can be easily lit and controlled.

Complement it with a sturdy cutting board and lightweight pots and pans designed for campfire cooking.

Don’t forget to add cutlery to your tent camping checklist. Bring reusable knives, forks, spoons, even a bottle opener for cracking open a cold one after a long day of hiking. And to keep your perishables fresh and drinks chilled, a good cooler is indispensable.


Planning meals and snacks can elevate your camping trip from good to great. One pro tip is to prepare and pack meal ingredients in advance to save on cooking time.

Think pre-marinated proteins and veggies that you can easily grill or cook over a fire. Or consider tossing together a salad ahead of time so it’s ready to be served with dressing.

Don’t forget about snacks- trail mix, granola bars, and dried fruits are healthy and convenient for those trekking adventures.

If you’re backpacking or tent camping without a car, consider stocking up on some freeze-dried food. These pre-packaged meals are lightweight and designed to fit in a small pack.

You can find many types of freeze-dried meals, ranging from chicken alfredo to beef stroganoff. All you have to do is add water, heat it up, then chow down.

We also have a whole section on Camping Food for easy recipes you can make on the fly.

Remember to store your food properly to ward off critters. A well-fed camper is a happy camper, so plan your meals and snacks wisely for your next outdoor adventure.

Cleaning Supplies

A dishpan will come in handy for washing up after meals, along with biodegradable soap and a sponge for cleaning your cookware and cutlery. A drying mat provides an absorbent surface to let your dishes air dry.

Always keep garbage bags handy to ensure you leave your campsite as pristine as you found it.


Most modern campgrounds offer a water supply, but you may want to bring your own water for drinking. Stock up on a couple of large jugs before you head out to the wilderness for extra peace of mind.

If you’re tent camping in the backwoods, consider bringing a water purifier to create your own drinking water.


Hikers walking along a trail.

Lightweight Layers

If you’re not sure what to bring tent camping, start with the basics: underwear and socks. You’ll want breathable, moisture-wicking materials to help keep you dry and comfortable.

Next, think about layers. Temperatures can vary greatly when camping, from chilly mornings to hot afternoons and cool nights. Pack lightweight, quick-drying items that can be easily layered such as long-sleeved shirts, fleece jackets, and convertible pants.


Choosing the proper footwear for camping can make a world of difference. The best shoes for camping should offer comfort, durability, and excellent traction.

Hiking shoes are a tent camping checklist must-have, since they can withstand different terrains and weather conditions. Lightweight trail runners are another great option for those who prefer something less bulky.


Unless you’re camping in the middle of a desert, waterproof gear is a must.

A rain jacket and rain pants will shield you from the elements and allow you to continue exploring even when the weather doesn’t cooperate. You may also want to bring a pair of rain boots if you have space.


Adding a hat to your tent camping checklist is always a good idea. A wide-brimmed hat will provide shade during sunny days, while a beanie will keep your head warm during cold nights.


A camping chair by a lake with a book lying on the seat.

Board Games

Camping is a fantastic way to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, but as evening falls and the initial excitement wears off, you may wonder how to stay entertained.

Cards and board games should be a definite addition to your tent camping checklist. They’re compact, lightweight, and can be enjoyed by campers of all ages.

Think about adding a deck of waterproof cards to your camping kit, or stock up on some compact board games like Jenga or Boggle for some old-fashioned fun.


Consider bringing along books or an e-reader for some quiet downtime. A good book under the shade of a tree or in the glow of a lantern can be incredibly relaxing.


For music lovers, a portable speaker or a small instrument like a harmonica or ukulele can set up a delightful campfire concert. Just keep the volume down to respect your fellow campers.

Outdoor Activities

A frisbee, football, or a set of badminton rackets can be a fun addition to your tent camping checklist. Most campgrounds offer unparalleled views of the night sky, so consider bringing a telescope for some stargazing.

Safety and Tools

A backpack with a first aid kit.

In Case of Emergency

When it comes to camping, preparedness is key. You never know what will happen in the great outdoors, so adding some emergency items on your tent camping checklist is key.

A first aid kit tops the list. It’s crucial for treating any minor injuries or health issues that might arise during your trip.

An emergency whistle is another must-have. If you get lost or need assistance, it can be heard from far away and lead help to your location. If you’re camping near a body of water, a life jacket is also important.

Power Bank or Solar Charger

Just because you’re out in the wilderness doesn’t mean you can’t be without power.

A solar charger or power bank helps keep your devices charged even in the great outdoors. It’s powered by the sun, so as long as there’s daylight, you’ll have a way to charge your devices.

We love the Hiluckey Power Bank, which ranked first on our list of the best solar chargers for camping.


A multi-tool can be a compact lifesaver, handling everything from cutting ropes to opening cans. This handy tool is also affordable and takes up minimal space, making it perfect for backpacking.

If you’re staying at a campsite with electricity, bringing an air pump will make your life a lot easier when it comes to inflating your air mattress.

Lastly, an ax or hatchet is a great tent camping checklist addition to help with chopping firewood.

Start Packing With This Complete Tent Camping Checklist

A cozy tent campsite set up near water.

With this tent camping checklist in your back pocket, you can set yourself up for success on your next outdoor adventure. Download and print our PDF checklist, so you’re sure not to forget anything!

Check out our Tent Camping page for more ways to get the most out of your tenting adventure.