An irreplaceable checklist for campers: tips for your first camping expedition

An irreplaceable checklist for campers: tips for your first camping expedition
Pavlo Lysyy August 22, 2022 7 mins read time

A camping expedition is always an unforgettable experience. It takes you out of and away from your daily routine, takes your mind off your concerns and issues, brings you closer to your friends and loved ones, and completely recharges your batteries for months ahead. It is a big family event, and it takes quite a bit of preparation. If you have never camped out before, you must put in a big effort to ensure that everything goes well and the expedition leaves only positive memories.


Use a tent for expedition

There are lots of things you must be able to do and have on your checklist. One of the most important things is setting up your expedition tent. It is going to be your home and hiding place for another couple of days or so. It should be good enough to:

  • Keep you warm in winter and cool in summer
  • Keep you dry on a rainy day
  • Withstand strong wind
  • Provide comfort for you and your team
  • Provide a shelter from wild animals and reptiles.

Your shelter will manage all these tasks, providing it is made of high-quality materials and meets your requirements. Choose the best and the easiest-to-setup expedition tent you can afford. There are scores of tent types, and they vary in size, shape, height, etc.

Make a checklist of your items

Now that you have picked the right type of tent, you have purchased a good woods expedition tent, and you know how your trip should go. However, there are tons of points to remember and items to be included in your gear. Making a checklist of these will prevent you from missing an important thing and guarantee that you and your loved ones will not be disappointed. So what are the must-haves for a camping trip? Let’s take a look!

Clothes and shoes

No matter how big and cozy your shelter is, you are going to spend a lot of time outside. Weather may change pretty suddenly, so be ready to face its nasty tricks every moment. Make sure that you have at least two clothes kits per day (see how many days you are going to spend in the wild). Do not take any fancy clothes because they may get dirty or damaged as you walk through the woods or sit near a campfire.

Get some warm clothes even if you are going on a summer trip: it can get pretty chilly at nighttime, especially if you are traveling to a mountainous region. Your kit should include long-sleeved shirts and sweatpants. Apart from protecting you from the cold, these can prevent the bug problem. Also, make sure that you have:

  • Two pairs of shorts
  • An extra T-shirt
  • Several underwear kits
  • A sweatshirt or two
  • Caps
  • Hiking shoes
  • A raincoat
  • Two pairs of socks per day.

If you are planning to take up running or jogging, you should also take running/jogging suit and shoes. A bathing suit would be a good addition if you are going to a riverside or beach.

Nighttime items

Everyone who is going to live in an expedition tent for a while should place nighttime matters first. Sleeping in the wild is very different from sleeping in a cozy city apartment or rural residence. You should take all appropriate steps to collect items that should help you sleep comfortably and safely in your tent. In the wild, you are much less protected against weather and temperature changes, insects and animals, than you are at home. Second, there are no public electricity supply systems (unless you are traveling to a campground or RV park), so you must be ready to operate with a limited amount of light. In any event, make sure that your car battery is well charged and build your own power supply system for your shelter. Your list of must-have nighttime items should include:

  • Sleeping pads
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sheets, pillows, blankets
  • Flashlights, lanterns, candles, fuel, and batteries
  • Matches/lighters
  • Bug and insect repellents.

Bathroom and hygiene items

If you are going on a tent expedition, your body will need extra care. This requires a separate checklist of items and facilities because you want to have a healthy and decent trip, especially if you are traveling to a wild place, not a campground or RV park. The absolute musts for any camping trip are:

  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Soap and shampoo
  • Towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Shaving foam/cream and razors
  • Combs and brushes
  • Deodorants, lotions, etc.

Repair tools

Camping out implies quite a bit of handwork. Not unlikely, you will need more space for your camping area, remove dry or excessive trees, bushes, refill your stock of kindling wood, etc. You may need to repair your canopy’s frame, run a power line from your vehicle to your shelter, build a safe and reliable campfire area, or build a makeshift kitchen and/or dining area in or near your expedition tent. The following tools and items will help you do the job quickly and effectively:

  • Wrenches, hex keys, socket keys
  • A hammer
  • Pliers
  • Screwdrivers
  • A pocket knife
  • Duct tape
  • A saw
  • Nails, bolts, and screws
  • A drill
  • Ropes.

Food and kitchen utensils

Definitely, you cannot have a good camping trip without enjoying your favorite and healthy food. This point takes a lot of consideration: if you are traveling with your family or friends, you have to take their food preferences into account. Just make a list of ingredients, discuss it with your companions, and buy them beforehand.

Second, if you are leaving for more than one day, you must be ready for cooking outdoors. This can be a challenge, especially for first-time campers. Browse and learn recipes and share cooking duties with those who you really trust to cook. It is advisable to keep breakfast, lunch, and dinner ingredients in separate packages.

Last but not least are the cooking and kitchen utensils, without which cooking would not be possible. Your list of kitchen items should include:

  • A folding table and folding chairs
  • A tablecloth
  • Dishes and cups (preferably plastic)
  • Spoons, forks, and knives
  • Pots and pans
  • Barbecue
  • Bottles with drinking water
  • Cutting boards
  • Foil
  • A bottle opener
  • A can opener
  • Garbage bags
  • Dish and paper towels, soap, sponges, etc.
  • Oven mitts
  • Food and water bowls for pets.

Safety and precautions

If you are going to an unknown wild place, always stay close to each other and keep an eye on your children. Don’t let them walk away from your camping site without supervision! Prior to moving out, check your route twice and choose the safest path. Check the information about the place you are going to, particularly about wild predators. Make sure that your shelter is designed to prevent snakes from crawling inside. Check weather forecasts for several days ahead. If they are reporting bad weather, postpone or cancel the trip.

If you are camping in winter and are using a stove, take fire precautions. Many campers use tent stoves, so if you are one of them, make sure your woods expedition tent is good for that. Its stove area should be equipped with a fire-resistant mat and a stove jack — a device that holds the flue pipe in place.

It is absolutely imperative that you get it all covered before burning your stove. Browse websites and instruction videos on how to burn it safely and effectively. Do not leave it burning without attendance or when everyone is sleeping. Before turning in, put out the fire without leaving the coals glowing or smoking and check the draft. Failure to do so increases the risk of carbon dioxide poisoning — a deadly condition, which requires emergency care! Please get some training on providing emergency care prior to leaving for your trip.

Moving out into the wild implies the possibility of contacting poisonous plants, getting stung by insects, falling down, and getting a bad scratch or wound (this pretty much refers to active kids). Stings and substances contained in some wild plants can cause allergies in some people. Anaphylactic reactions can be very severe. Make sure that your first-aid kit includes antihistamines, tweezers, bandages, ibuprofen, gauze, etc.

To avoid food poisoning, do not take perishable foods with you. If possible, choose a location where mobile networks are available, so you can stay in touch and call for help if necessary. The following items should always be with you:

  • A first-aid kit
  • Prescription medicines
  • A compass
  • Mobile phones
  • GPS
  • Whistles (make sure everyone has one!)
  • An extra set of batteries and power banks, solar power, etc.
  • A fire extinguisher (you should have one in your vehicle)
  • Light reflectors which will make your tent visible for vehicle drivers at night.

Fun stuff

Needless to say, the main reason why you want to spend a few days in your woods expedition tent is your thirst for a little rest and good time after months of dull work. Yes, you do need to have fun sometimes, and a camping trip is just the right occasion for that. Feel free to use every possible way to entertain yourself and your loved one. You and your kids will be happy to play football, volleyball, badminton, so take whatever stuff the trunk of your vehicle can handle. There will be time when you all will get too weary for active games and exercise. Board games, books, movies, shows, etc. will give you joy and help you relax at the same time. The following items, to name a few, will keep you active and take your mind off of issues and problems you have left behind:

  • Board games (monopoly, scrabble, etc.)
  • Balls
  • Badminton kit
  • Books and magazines
  • Legos
  • Card games
  • Dolls.

Pet stuff

If you have a dog, there is hardly a more genuine way to share the pleasure and strengthen the bond than taking your pet on an expedition with you. Dogs, regardless of breed and size, appreciate fresh air and an opportunity to finally run a good distance, spend a whole day playing ball, fetching, and even hunting. Make sure your pet has everything it has at home and make a little checklist of pet items:

  • Pet food and bowls
  • Leash
  • Pet coat (for small breeds like Chihuahua)
  • Plastic bags and a dog feces scooper
  • Pet toys.

Use this information and make your own checklist of camping items based on your and your companions’ needs and preferences. If you do it properly, you won’t miss a thing, and your whole team or family will have an experience, which will leave good memories only.



🏕  Why should I make a checklist of items prior to moving out on a camping trip?

If you have drafted a checklist of items, you can have it close at hand and use it for reference when buying and/or packing items, which you will need to use during your expedition. If you use it, chances are you will not miss a thing and your trip will go as planned.

📦  How do I choose a tent for my expedition?

Choose a tent that can accommodate all your companions and your gear. Make sure it features a water- and weather-proof canopy and is designed to prevent snakes and other reptiles from crawling inside.

💡  Is it safe to heat a tent with a stove?

Camping stoves are designed to make the burning of wood as safe as possible. Many shelters are equipped with fire-resistant mats and stove jacks that keep the flue pipe steady. Follow safety recommendation and precautions and enjoy your expedition!


Gwen Small

Gwen Small said:

This checklist truly is irreplaceable

Amir Legge

Amir Legge said:

Making a checklist beforehand will really help you out

Ollie Logan

Ollie Logan said:

First camping experience can be tricky but definitely worth it!!

Sachin Berger

Sachin Berger said:

Are there any beginners here?

Dominic Petty

Dominic Petty said:

Yes, me! I went camping for the first time last week and loved it

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