The first time we ever went camping, the first thing I did was make was a camping checklist. Having a list of all the camping must haves makes life so much easier. I recommend getting a list together whether you’re putting together a camping gear list of what you need to buy before your first trip or even if this is your 100th trip. Having a camping checklist printable that you can quickly tick off each time you head off just makes the whole process easier.
If you’ve landed on this page because you’re making a camping equipment list, then no need, you can just print off our camping checklist PDF right here. However if you’re brand new to camping and looking for a list of camping essentials to buy to get you started, then I suggest you read on.
In this guide, I have a printable camping list of essentials that you can tick off as you pack as well as a comprehensive guide on exactly what to take camping, so if you’re brand new to camping, you can start buying all the essential camping gear.
The Ultimate Camping Checklist
Below is a super comprehensive list of things to take camping. Now of course you may not need all of this stuff. When I was younger and used to go camping with my friends, we took not much than a small tent and a sleeping bag. However this is meant to be a master camping list, which will see you well set for a very comfortable camping experience.
I’ve left off items such as clothes, toiletries and food, in this camping gear Australia guide I’ve covered everything you need to in terms of somewhere to sleep, cook and relax.
Shelter / Furniture
In this section, we’ve included all those major things you need for camping such as somewhere to sleep, sit, cook etc. All the necessary items for camping that make your experience comfortable.
When it comes to camping necessities, a tent should be at the top of your list! As to the sort of tent you need, depends on the kind of camping you do, how many people in your family, and how much money you want to spend.
We recommend investing in a good quality pop up tent that literally goes up in seconds. Gone are the days where a tent should take hours to set up. We have the Coleman Instant tent and just love it – honestly, I highly recommend it.
Our other recommendation is not to buy a tent, the size of the Taj Mahal! This was our first mistake. We bought a massive two room tent to start with, and it was just a waste of space and a nightmare to erect and pack away. Unless you plan on spending a few weeks in your tent, just get a tent big enough for everyone to sleep.
For the three of us, we have a six man tent; we also have a four man tent which is fine too. At the end of the day, a tent is for sleeping in, and that’s it, so there is no reason for it to be any bigger than your bed.
When packing for camping, a few other things you’ll want to bring along for your tent is a hammer or mallet to knock in the pegs easily and perhaps some spare pegs, rope and poles.
Camp Cupboards (Optional)
One of the optional things to pack for camping is camp cupboards for your tent. These are fold up cupboards that you use in your tent for storing your clothes and personal things.
We don’t use cupboards in our tent, as we store everything outside in the gazebo. In terms of our clothes and personal items, we just leave these in individual bags in our tent. Mind you, I probably wouldn’t mind some cupboards to help keep things a little more organised. If you were planning on going camping for a week or had multiple children, you would probably find a set of tent cupboards pretty handy.
For super short trips, a gazebo may well be optional – but for us, a good quality gazebo is must have camping gear! The gazebo is our living area and our kitchen and basically where we spend most of our time while camping.
We have a 3 x 3 gazebo, which is the perfect size for us. Make sure it comes with everything you need to tie it down securely. We have woken up in the middle of the night to find our gazebo perched high in a tree, during a windy night – true story!
Mesh Floor (Optional)
For the ultimate camping list – add some ground cover. This is entirely optional, and of course the grass is fine for your ground. But if you want a nice clean campsite and something you can clean off (highly recommended when camping with kids!), then I recommend getting some ground cover. It’s not expensive, and it makes your camping experience so much more comfortable.
We started with those crappy rubber mat things you put together like a jigsaw puzzle. Honestly give that a miss. I recommend you purchase a large mesh floor. These are great as they have small holes so the dirt will fall through and you can quickly sweep off any larger debris at the end of each day.
I recommend you get a ground cover the same size as your gazebo as this is where you will spend all your time.
If you’re just starting out, you don’t need the best camping gear when it comes to camping chairs, but if you’re planning on being regular campers, believe me when I say a super comfortable camping chair is well worth the investment.
We’ve had that many different camping chairs its ridiculous! We started with the cheap $10 ones from Bunnings – which are fine, I mean they do the job right. But then we bought some nicer mid range fancy chairs and have recently upgraded again! Now we have these nice Dune 4WS Deluxe Nomad chairs from Anaconda (see them on eBay).
Whatever you can afford is fine – but think about it – when you go camping you are likely to be spending a lot of time in that chair, so something comfortable is well worth it. At the very least I recommend you consider something with a little built in table for that all important glass of wine or beer.
No matter what sort of camper you are, all camping lists must have a table. The size and number is a personal thing, but for us, we have one super large table that we keep in the centre of our gazebo for preparing meals on as well as eating off and having things permanently set up like our radio, sunscreen etc. Then we have a smaller table that we have near our BBQ which we use for things like a kettle, water jug etc.
I also like to bring a table cloth too, as you can take it off at the end of the day and give it a good shake out. If you do bring a table cloth, be sure to bring something to tape it or clip it down; otherwise you’ll get annoyed with it flapping around in the wine.
We also have this really neat Coleman table and chairs set which we bring along. It’s excellent for taking down to the beach or just for having any extra table and chairs around the campsite.
Camp Kitchen (Optional)
A camp kitchen is another one of the completely optional things to bring to camp, and we have got by for years without one, however recently we got the Spinifex Weekender camp kitchen from Anaconda, and I love it! A camp kitchen is just a set of fold up cupboards with a built in tabletop so you can put away pantry items and cooking utensils as well as have somewhere to prepare meals. You can even get some with a built in kitchen sink in them.
Sun Tent for the Kids (Optional)
For families with smaller children, or who go camping with friends, you may like to add a little pop up sun tent to your list of things to take camping. A sun tent is an excellent idea for a playroom. The friends we camp with always bring one along, and it’s great as the kids can go and play games, or colour in there while the adults can have some alone time in the main gazebo area.
Plus if you are beach camping, you can easily take it down to the beach for some sun shelter too.
In this section, I’ve included all the things for camping that make your sleeping experience more enjoyable.
Air Mattress / Self Inflating Mattress/ Stretcher
Unless you’re hardcore, your list of things to take camping is going to include something to sleep on. We sleep in a Coleman All Terrain double high queen size, which is a good quality air mattress. I say good quality because I mean the kind that doesn’t feel like your in a water bed wobbling around all over the place every time one of us moves. If you bring an air mattress, you’ll also need an air pump too (these little ones look fantastic!).
To blow up the mattress, we use this Makita air blower. It has a rechargeable battery which is we swap for a range of Makita tools we use while camping including a vacuum, radio and light.
I’ve also slept on a self inflatable mattress before, which is like a pad. I find these really excellent, the only downside with a sleeping pad is that they are bulkier than an air mattress and so take up much more space.
The other option is a stretcher which is like a small bed. You can even get like bunk beds which is great for bigger families with a small tent.
In terms of what do you need for camping for sleeping, you may be surprised to hear me say that sleeping bags are not necessary. We do use sleeping bags only because they are nice and compact and don’t take up much space, but you could as just easily use sheets and blankets. If you do go for sleeping bags, I recommend the kind that completely unzips so you can use them like a blanket.
Andy and I just use the one sleeping bag unzipped for our bed (we have this Coleman Pilbara one), and our daughter has this Coleman Youth sleeping bag for her bed.
Sheet and Blankets
We also bring along sheets for our air mattresses – I guess that’s optional. You might also need to bring along some extra blankets if you’re camping during cold weather.
That’s self explanatory, I think!
Next up for your camping trip list, we will cover lighting – super essential for when the sunsets!
What you need for camping are excellent quality lights! There is such a vast range of lighting available for camping but, the first thing you need to consider is whether you’ll have power or not. Of course if you have power, this will give you more options. But we recommend that your camp set up is sufficient for a non-powered site – this just gives you the option for both power and non powered sites.
Don’t scrimp on lighting though. If you have poor lighting, you will become really frustrated not being able to see at night. We’ve had some terrible ones over the years. Unfortunately, you do have to pay a decent amount for top quality lights. We have some really great quality battery powered lights that do a brilliant job of lighting up our site. Probably the best one we have is this Makita light – I mentioned we use the blower, radio and vacuum above and just change the rechargeable batteries between all the things.
I recommended putting a headlamp per person on your camping gear essentials list. Headlamps are great for the kids, but I also like to wear one at night too. I usually keep it around my neck and mostly off, but if I go somewhere on the campsite which is not well lit up, I can just pop it on. It’s great for having your hands free if you’re cooking or something where you need both hands. But even if you just go off to the toilet, you won’t put it down somewhere and lose it.
We have headlamps from Kathmandu, or Coleman has some cheaper ones as well.
Torches of course always come in handy when camping – but if you have excellent quality lighting and headlamps you’ll only need one or two. The probably I find with torches is you put it down somewhere and lose it!
Kitchen and Cooking
Some of the best campgrounds around Australian have excellent camp kitchens, so it is up to you as to what to bring on a camping trip for cooking. You’ll even find some campgrounds have communal fridges, BBQs, microwaves, ovens, kettles and toasters.
However in our experience, we find it best to be completely self-sufficient. It’s nice to be able to cook right by your tent rather than having to cart everything up to the camp kitchen. Plus sometimes you might need to line up and worst still sometimes things don’t work.
We haven’t included food in the list below, as this is a personal choice. However we have included some consumables that we leave in our camp kit all the time.
Esky or Portable Fridge
Of course, your must have camping list has to include somewhere to keep your food cold. You can of course get by with your standard eksy; however you’ll need a few even just for a weekend of camping. We have a large 111l Dometic (Waeco) camping esky which does a great job of keeping our food cold. We find the ice will last in our esky for an entire weekend. Any longer than a weekend though and we need to restock it with ice.
If you want to go all out, you could get yourself a portable fridge, but you’ll also need something to power it too whether that be electricity at the campgrounds or solar panels.
Most campgrounds have BBQs, so a portable BBQ is not necessary for your must have list for camping. However, as I said above, we like to be able to cook at our tent. We have the Ziggy by Ziegler & Brown and just love our little portable BBQ, it’s well worth the investment as we also use it on day trips to the park too.
As well as our BBQ we also bring a little Coleman 2 burner stove. You don’t have to bring both, in fact if the campground has a camp kitchen you don’t need either. However, I would recommend you at least bring a small stove with you. This allows you to cook basic food and even boil the kettle for a cuppa in the comfort of your tent site.
Of course if you’re going to bring along a portable BBQ or stovetop, you will need something to power it up. Make sure to check the gas before leaving home!
Lighter or Matches
You’ll also need something to get the BBQ or stovetop going, so be sure a lighter or matches is on your camping essentials checklist.
Saucepan and Fry Pan
You’ll need to bring at least a fry pan or two and maybe a saucepan – this will depend on what you plan on cooking. You can either buy a dedicated camping cookware set, bring whatever you use at home or by a cheap set from K Mart or something.
A large water jug is a must for your camping supplies list. Also make sure everyone in the family brings their water bottle to fill up throughout the day too.
For those cuppas first thing in the morning a camp kettle is a must have for camping. We have the one pictured which is a 4l Whistling Kette Steel Kettle from Anaconda (check it out on eBay).
Plates and Bowls
Essential items for camping are of course plates and bowls. Make sure there is at least one of each for everyone in the group and get either plastic or melamine so they don’t break. We have this Wanderer enamel dinner set from BCF.
Any camping must have list must also have mugs for those morning cuppas. Again make sure there is one for everyone in the group and that they are not breakable. Mugs made from enamel are best for keeping your cuppa nice and warm. Everyone raves about these ones from Yeti – but they are expensive!
Don’t leave the glasses at home – especially the wine glasses! Make sure you bring plastic ones. I prefer good quality camping ones. We have these Palm Tumblers from BCF as well as the Palm wine glasses – almost as good as drinking from glass!
You’ll also need something to eat with, so be sure that you have at least a full set of cutlery per person.
Large Serving Bowls, Plates and Trays
Make sure you bring along something to serve all the food – this will really depend upon what you plan on cooking. I recommend looking for a couple of collapsible bowls like these to save on space.
Bring along at least one cutting board.
Make sure you have everything you need to cook and serve all the food such as thongs, flipper, knives, spatula and serving spoon. Also make sure you have things like a bottle opener, can opener and vegetable peeler too.
We find packing a range of reusable containers is great for storing left over food items. Get ones like the collapsible ones I mentioned above or see here.
Glad Wrap / Tin Foil
We prepare to use reusable containers were possible, but sometimes glad wrap and tin foil also come in handy.
Always handy for cooking, cleaning up mess and dirty hands.
In our camping kit, we always keep on hand the basics like oil, salt and pepper etc. Saves us having to pack it every time we head off.
Tea and Coffee
As above, good to have it in our camping kit so we don’t forget.
Below is a list of items for your camping must have list in terms of keeping your campsite clean and tidy.
Broom and Dust Pan
Even when camping I want everything to be clean and tidy, so things I need for camping are a broom and dustpan to the tent and gazebo area clean. In fact Andy brings along a blower which makes cleaning a breeze!
Spray and Wipe
Something to clean off the tables before and after meals.
Always comes in handy to clean tables and dishes.
To clean the dishes after meals.
Large Bucket for Dirty Dishes
We always like to have a large plastic bucket in our campsite for dirty dishes. Then once it gets full somewhere can take it over to the camp kitchen or tap to clean. A collapsible sink like the one pictured it good as it saves on space too.
Make sure you have plenty on hand for drying the dishes.
Pegs and a Line
You’ll usually find somewhere around the campsite to string up a line – this is good for drying your tea towels, towels and swimmers.
Bin and Rubbish Bags
We have this foldable camp bin which is really compact, but great for rubbish around the site.
Whether you’re camping at a powered or unpowered site, you are going to need power of some sort. Below we cover off on the basic.
For all your lighting, don’t forget plenty of space batteries – make sure this is on your camping gear checklist! In fact make sure you have spare batteries for any of your gear that requires batteries.
We’ve never camped with a generator before, I think you can do just fine without one. However if you’re going camping for a long period of time, it may come in handy to keep things powered up.
Solar Panels (Optional)
Like a generator, we’ve never camped with solar panels before either, although Andy has been thinking about it of late. There is a huge variety in solar panels from reasonably cheap to really expensive and all price points in between. Lots of people recommend getting solar panels from eBay.
Power Boards and Extension Leads
If you’re camping at a powered site, or have a generator or solar panels, bring good quality powerboard along to plug everything into. You’ll also want a quality extra long extension lead to plug into the power source.
Be sure everyone brings something to keep all their personal devices charged up. I have one of these large capacity chargers which will keep my iPhone and camera etc charged for days.