Have you created or updated your car camping checklist? I always use a checklist before I leave so I do not forget essential things such as a camping stove or lantern. The greatest benefit of car camping is that if you leave something behind you can always purchase it on the road. A well thought-out camping checklist will prevent any side excursions to Walmart or REI  to purchase camping equipment that was accidentally left off the list or at home.

I don’t advise going over-board with your checklist at first because it will evolve and change as you go on other trips. On the other hand, if you have never gone on a road camping trip, then it will be prudent to create a basic list of essential gear that you cannot live without.

If you make too big of a checklist, then it’s going to become work and your probably will not bother with it.  Make a basic list and check it off before you leave.  Remember the old saying about lists?  Keep it simple stupid-K.I.S.S.   Just don’t shoot from hit and go without a list unless you plan on shopping.

Separating my car camping check list into different categories keeps things simple.  Often, just the headings are enough for an experienced camper.   For example, create a clothing, staple foods, first aid , sleeping gear, automobile,  gadgets, etc., checklists.

A good camping checklist should take into consideration many factors including your  destination and the length of time that you will be on your road trip. Back when I was a single, I went on many wilderness trips that were thousands of miles from my home.  Once in the back country, whatever I brought with, I had to make the best of.  I never forgot anything that was essential.

Basic Car Camping Checklist Ideas

Water Is Your Life Line

  • BPA Free Water Storage Containers And Dispensers.  Stainless steel is your safest option.
  • Six gallon stainless steel water jug or dispenser.
  • Portable small water bottles for drinking in the car or on the trail.
  • Emergency water filtration system and/or water purification tablets.

Camping Coffee Brewing Equipment

  • Stainless steel French press pot.
  • Single cup cone brewer.
  • Coffee filters.
  • Fresh roasted coffee beans.
  • Burr grinder.

Basic Camp Kitchen

  • Stock pot for making soups and sauces.
  • Pressure cooker.
  • Heavy duty caste iron griddle or skillet.
  • Metal strainer for washing fruits and vegetables.
  • Small stainless steel drinking cups.
  • Assortment of light weight stainless steel or plastic flatware.
  • Measuring bowls and cups.
  • Stainless steel measuring spoons.

Essential Camping Equipment

  • Easy to put up camping tent or shelter.  Go for quality tents.
  • High quality 3 season down or synthetic sleeping bags.  Unless you are camping in the tropics, use a 3 season sleeping bag.
  • Self inflating camping pads or air mattresses.
  • New air mattress repair kit to repair the inevitable puncture.
  • Heavy duty ground cloth to keep ground moisture out of tent.
  • Synthetic car cloth or leather chamois to clean tent floor and ground cloth.
  • Camp Hatchet or ax.
  • Spare tent stakes.
  • Light weight rope for cloths line.
  • Small LED flashlights and lantern.
  • Power inverter with extension cord.
  • Large cooler.
  • Stainless steel water bottles.
  • First aid kit for emergencies.
  • Dried fruit, apples, oranges, nuts, and snacks to eat while traveling.
  • Solar LED charger for cell phone, laptop computer and other electronics.

Automobile Checklist

  • Assortment of car campground maps.
  • State and local maps
  • U.S. Atlas
  • Campground atlas.
  • Power inverter.
  • Small tool kit.
  • Flares.

I like to keep our checklist a living breathing document.  I don’t get too hung up on having the best looking list.  The one that we carry in our vehicle is ripped and stained with coffee.  Recently, I started using the yellow post it notes on my Iphone and found this to very practical because I can carry the list with me and update in real time.

I would like to close with my favorite quote about packing for a trip.  “If you don’t have it, you will not need it.”  Once you are on the road it’s a done deal.  If you forget a sleeping bag, you may be okay if you are camping out in the desert.  If you forget your stove, you will be eating raw foods.