Your Go-To Camping Checklist for a Weekend in the Woods

A weekend in the woods is a great choice for a simple family getaway. Whether you tent camp or hitch up a camper, a few days of simplicity will help you reset and reconnect. While packing for your first camping adventure, may seem daunting, keep in mind that you can often borrow gear from friends or family and many items recommended may not be necessary for what you have in mind.

This list compiles the most basic of necessities for a weekend camping trip—with or without the kids. If bringing them along, you already know you’ll need plenty of extra clothes and soap because they’re bound to get dirty, but they’ll have fun doing it!

Get Some Rest

Tent camping is fun and cozy. Simply limit everyone’s gear and you’ll have no problem packing in the whole family. For recreational vehicles, keep it stocked and you’ll be set to go at a moment’s notice. An extra small tent is always a good idea to offer privacy for older teens or adults.

Just Hang Out

The best part of camping is slowing down. So whether you choose to fill your day with activities such as hiking or fishing, or you just want to sit around the campfire, don’t forget these essentials.

  • Tarp, screen house or pop-up shade

  • Camp chairs

  • Folding table

  • Lanterns (with mantles if necessary)

  • Lantern fuel or batteries

  • Flashlights/headlamps with extra batteries

  • Games

  • Multi-tool or knife

  • Saw, axe or hatchet

  • Daypacks for hiking

  • Water bottles

In the “Kitchen”

Most of your gear will be related to food preparation and consumption, so plan accordingly. You can keep meals super quick and easy or go all out with camping gourmet.

  • Camp stove

  • Fuel

  • Firewood

  • Pots and pans (at least one fry pan and one cook pan)

  • Pot grabber or hot pads

  • Dutch oven with lid lifter

  • Charcoal (with fire starter)

  • Bottle opener or corkscrew

  • Can opener

  • Matches/lighter

  • Paper products or plates/bowls

  • Mugs/cups

  • Measuring cups/spoons

  • Utensils (knives, spatula, spoon or whisk)

  • Cutting board

  • Aluminum foil

  • Roasting sticks for hotdogs or marshmallows

  • Food storage containers

  • Trash bags

  • Coolers with ice

  • Biodegradable soap

  • Portable or standing camp sink

  • Drying rack

  • Wash rags or sponge and drying towels

  • Paper towels

  • Water container(s)

Like any activity, the more you go, the more you’ll know. Tweak this list for your own family’s personal needs and enjoy a weekend in the woods—more than once a year!

For a comprehensive list from another outdoor authority, check out this printable one at REI.

For a family-centered list, Inspiration Made Simple has a great one-page one available for download.