Campsite in the woods with a red canoe on a lake

Ultimate Camping Gear List

Summer is finally here and it’s time to get outdoors. Camping is the perfect trip to get away and social distance. Some of my favorite childhood memories are when our family went camping. Preparing to go camping can be overwhelming but we’re here to make it easy with our ultimate camping gear list.

View of the woods taken from the inside of a tent while camping. Ultimate Camping Gear

While this gear list may look intimidating at first, you’ll find that you already have a lot of these items around your house or from your road trip essentials. Start by gathering the important basics like your shelter and bedding first, then expand from there. 

Some of these items you might already have, but if you are on a tight budget, consider borrowing big-ticket items from a friend or family. Take what you have and grow your camping supplies.

Road trips and camping are a great way to save money while on vacation. We have some other awesome ways to save money while on vacation here.

Over time you will have everything you need and have your own ultimate camping gear list. But in the meantime, here are some of the essentials you will need when camping that our family loves.

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Camping sleep equipment

There are so many different options and price ranges for sleeping equipment and arrangements. Don’t necessarily take our advice for all of these and do your own research but here are some great and fun ideas for sleeping equipment while you are camping.

Blue and grey camping hammock shown set up and in a small bag. Ultimate Camping Gear
Green sleeping pad for camping also shown in different colors and in a small bag. Ultimate Camping Gear or tents

The best camping tents

Tents depend a lot on how many people you will have staying in a tent and if you will be backpacking. Coleman is a brand that we have used for years and this tent will hold up to 8 people. I recommend this tent if you are traveling with a large group. Or if you will be camping in one spot for a long time. I always love Coleman because they are durable and easy to set up.

Camping in a smaller group, I love this tent that sets up in less than a minute! It is also a Coleman tent so you know you will be getting a great tent. This tent sleeps up to 4 people.

Yellow camping tent set up in the snow to show ultimate camping gear.

A tent for the backpacker or smaller option tent for one to two people, you could consider the KAZOO lightweight tent. This lightweight (it only weighs 5lbs) tent is easy to throw in a backpack so you can hike to the best camping spot possible.

Don’t forget the sleeping bags

For summer camping or any camping above 50 degrees, this awesome and lightweight sleeping bag is perfect. The material is soft and you will sleep great. It is perfectly easy to pack and comes with a compression pack that makes it easy to pack and carry.

If you are going to do cold weather camping, you will love this mummy-style sleeping bag. This sleeping bag will keep you warm even in the coldest temperatures. The mummy-style wraps around your head which will keep your whole body warm.

For your kids, Amazon has fun sleeping bags with all their favorite things on it. My kids love the dinosaurs and the princess castle. These sleeping bags are not super warm so I would only recommend these if you will be camping during the summer.

Camping Furniture and Essential Gear

Cooking gear you need while camping

Camp Table- If you are staying in an existing campground you might be lucky to get a table, but if not here is another easy to set up camping table by Coleman.

Camp Chairs – Besides your shelter this might be one of the most important camping accessories to pack. One of the best ways to enjoy camping is just to sit back and relax. We like this compact camping chair with a side table and a cup holder. It gives an extra table space while camping.

Look at this camping chair! It has a cooler built right on the side of the chair, it will keep up to 4 cans of my Diet Coke cold for me at one time. It’s amazing.

Coleman Cooler Quad Portable Camping Chair, Blue

Once again Coleman makes a compact and easy to pack camp stove. This is also great for tailgating or even picnics close to home.

To add to your ultimate camping gear checklist, don’t forget you will need to wash dishes after you eat. We always pack these collapsible sinks with us to easily wash and rinse dishes. You can also put ice in them to keep your drinks cold.

Other ultimate camping gear

It’s always great to have flashlights but when you are camping, you need a later too. We like this LED High Efficiency and Water Proof Camping Lantern.

Camp Umbrella or Canopy – If you are not in the woods you will need something to give you shade. But even worse than being hot is being attacked by mosquitos all day. I love this canopy by MASTERCANOPY as it provides shade and has a bug screen to keep mosquitos and bugs out. It also gives you added protection for when it rains.

Camping canopy in the mountains at sunset. best camping tents

Camping Safety

  • Bug replant – We like these Mosquito Stickers. You stick them to your clothes and it helps to repel mosquitos. Plus they are nontoxic and you don’t put it on your skin. I like to put them on my kids’ backs and they don’t even though know they’re there.
  • First Aid Kit- Here is one in a waterproof pack. Our kids are always getting cuts when we’re playing outside.
  • Matches/Lighter
  • Sunscreen
  • Hats for tick and sun protection
  • If you are planning on having a campfire, don’t forget this mini fire extinguisher. It’s easy to pack and a lifesaver if your fire gets out of control.
  • Bears love camping food as much as we do and they are going to smell it! If you are going camping where bears are known, don’t forget your bear spray. It’s also a good idea to have bear spray if you are going hiking at high altitudes.

Camping Fun

This is where camping and getting away from reality really take helps us recharge our batteries. This is where we also reconnect with each other. This where memories and bonds are created. Some of my best memories have been on USA road trips or camping with my family.

Kids on paddle boards on a lake with the mountains in the background. best camping tents

Fun on the water

If you are lucky enough to camp by a body of water or a river, don’t forget to take some toys along. Here are a few of our favorites for kids and adults.

Camp fire and yellow camp chair, roasting s'mores on the fire

Ideas for Camping Fun on Land

Road Trip Essentials

If you are going on a road trip while you are camping, don’t forget anything on this road trip essentials list so that your road trip is fun and easy. This list includes on-screen and off-screen entertainment for kids in the car. You’ll never have to hear “are we there yet” again.

Road on a sea cliff along the pacific coast camping tents

Wrap up on the ultimate camping gear list

This summer will be unique all over the world, everyone will be looking for ways to social distance while still vacationing. I think road trips and camping are the perfect way to enjoy a vacation together and social distance.

Road trips and camping can still be one of the best ways to create memories as a family. Here is a great road trip through the Southwest USA to Yellowstone National Park. When you go in prepared it helps to reduce the stress of traveling with kids. Don’t forget to pack the things on this ultimate camping gear list and you will have a great trip!

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Camping essentials Pinterest image. Sunset over a lake with kids in a kayak.


June 7, 2020 at 5:55 am

Wow, this is a fantastic list! Thanks so much, this will come in handy when we can camp again!

June 20, 2020 at 6:37 pm

Squeee I am so excited to go camping again this year. I have to admit, although we have the basics, we don’t have camping chairs or a shelter for eating. I would quite like to get camping chairs for days when we’re car camping.

When we’re camping further into the wilderness, we tend to carry as little as possible – then just find rocks to sit on! 😉

    June 22, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    It’s so hard to go camping without a carload of stuff. You definitely need the camping chair with a cooler attached to it. It’s my favorite thing, I can keep my drinks cold and never have to leave my chair 🙂

June 20, 2020 at 6:41 pm

Love this list! I just posted about camping tips as well. I think we’re all going to be doing a lot more camping this summer!

June 21, 2020 at 11:15 am

I love the hammock! We will be travelling full-time hopefully very soon and so I’ll be adding that to my shopping list before we get on the road.

June 21, 2020 at 1:42 pm

I was actually looking for a hammock, well more for home, but might as well get one I can also take camping 😀

June 21, 2020 at 6:38 pm

Great list! We go camping with out kids every year and it’s so special for kids to have the opportunity to get away from all their devices and get back to nature. Thanks for sharing!

June 29, 2020 at 2:56 pm

This is a fantastically thorough list. We’ve moved to a travel trailer, but it covers what we had at the height of our tent camping days 😀

June 29, 2020 at 5:01 pm

Thank you for so much helpful advice on camping gear! This will be really helpful! 🙂

June 29, 2020 at 6:05 pm

Great list! I always take a water filter as well, just in case we run out of water and there is not a potable water source.

July 4, 2020 at 7:48 pm

You and your family look like you have a ton of fun camping. I like this list of camping gear for a safe and fun front country camping experience.

July 4, 2020 at 8:20 pm

Great list! Camping is something I’d love to do one day, I will refer to this list when I finally make it happen.

July 5, 2020 at 12:33 am

Great list! Used to camp all the time when I was younger but I haven’t gone in years! This will for sure be helpful!

July 18, 2020 at 5:41 pm

We are doing so much more camping these days because of travel restrictions. I agree a good sleeping bag is CRUCIAL to having fun while family camping! At this point we have just about all the gear we need, but we should get one of those collapsible sinks. It’s nice to save as much space as possible to make more room for the water toys!

    July 21, 2020 at 2:52 am

    I totally agree a sleeping bag can make or break a good camping trip! Camping has become so popular this year. I’m glad you found something you could use on this list!

July 20, 2020 at 2:57 am

We have been doing a lot of camping lately, and this is definitely a great is of must haves!! Thanks for sharing!

August 22, 2020 at 6:13 pm

Yay! Thanks for putting this together! I’ve been doing more camping this year and keep meaning to put together a comprehensive packing list in my bullet journal but haven’t gotten around to it yet. This is super helpful! :]

August 24, 2020 at 12:14 am

Such a great list! I haven’t gone camping in years, but I always loved it! Saving this for when I finally get to go again!

September 26, 2020 at 8:47 am

Outdoor sports is more popular, I love camping and it’s the best way to travel, Thanks for sharing!

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