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Ultimate Camping Checklist | Car Camping Essentials

Sleeping Bags with view of Lake Blanche

It’s time to go camping, but now you are wondering if you have everything in order to have the ultimate camping trip. Well look no further as we got your covered with this ultimate camping checklist with all the necessary car camping essentials.

Obviously there are a few things that might differ between each camper, such as camp lighting options, a camp stove, type of tent, etc. But we will be sure to cover the car camping essentials and add on the extra items that can take your camping to the next level.

FREE printable checklist for the best car camping essentials at the end of this post.

This post may contain affiliate links. Disclosure policy.

Camping Gear Essentials: 

Camping gear essentials are what we feel are absolutely necessary to launch your camping expedition. You need “a roof over your head”, something to keep you warm and a comfortable barrier between you and the hard ground. So here are the camping essentials on the ultimate camping checklist. 

  • Tent (make sure you have all the necessary stakes)
  • Tarp or Ground Sheet
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad or Air Mattress (don’t forget repair kit)
  • Air Pump (if your pad requires it)
  • Pillow
  • Camp Chair 

Related Posts {Best Tents On The Market, How To Choose The Right Sleeping Bag, Ultimate Guide For How To Choose The Right Sleeping Pad}

Camping Kitchen Essentials:

Of course, you need a way to cook while your are camping. While you can definitely keep things simple and maybe put things in foil by the side of the campfire. We feel a camp stove really levels up your camping game. And you can’t forget the plates, cutlery, napkins, and more! These are the camping kitchen essentials on the ultimate camping checklist.

  • Cooler
  • Table
  • Campstove 
  • Fuel
  • Campfire Cooking Grate (optional)
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Cups
  • Cutlery
  • Knife
  • Insulated Water Bottle
  • Cutting Board
  • Spatula
  • Tongs
  • Can Opener
  • Corkscrew
  • Pots & Pans
  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Pour Over Coffee
  • Coffee Filters
  • Coffee Mug
  • Camp Soap (biodegradable)
  • Sponge/Rag
  • Trash Bags
  • Aluminum Foil/Plastic Wrap
  • Ziplock Baggies
  • Napkins/Paper Towel
  • Collapsible Tub/Sink Container (Such as this Sammart Tub)
  • Charcoal (optional)
  • Table Cloth (optional)
  • Oven Mitt/Pot Holder (optional)

Related Posts {Camping Kitchen Essential, Best Campstoves For Camping, How To Make The Best Cup Of Coffee}

Photo by Myles Tan on Unsplash

Camping Food & Beverage

Camping food and beverage has a wide range. While you can definitely make very cheap camping meals to keep the cost down, you can also go all out and cook a nice juicy steak over the fire on a camping grate. And Jake and I love to cheers a couple beers around the campfire, especially when camping with friends.

Also, you can’t forget to bring water! What we’ve learned from the past, ALWAYS bring extra. You use it not only for drinking but also for rinsing your hands, washing the dishes, putting out a campfire, etc.

  • Water Jug
  • Ice or Dry-Ice
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Snacks
  • Any other beverage (beer, box wine, LaCroix, etc)
  • Coffee Beans
  • Cold Coffee Drink (sometimes if you have room in the cooler, cold iced coffee is easiest)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Other seasonings
  • Condiments

Related Posts {How To Use Dry-Ice In Your Cooler}

Good Wipes are one of the bests way to stay clean between finding showers on the road
Emily cleaning her feet with Good Wipes

Camping Hygiene/Personal Essentials

Definitely can’t forget about camping hygiene. It can definitely be easy to let hygiene slip a little while on a camping adventure, but you still want to brush your teeth and maybe clean up before hopping into your sleeping bag. These are some camping hygiene essentials. Some things may differ depending on the length of the camping trip.

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Hair Brush
  • Toilet Paper (always pack extra)
  • Make-up Wipes
  • Hygiene Wipes (such as good wipes)
  • Shampoo & Conditioner (preferably biodegradable)
  • Soap (preferably biodegradable)
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Deodorant 
  • Glasses/contacts/contact solution
  • Eye Drops (optional)
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Razor
  • Shave cream
  • Tweezers
  • Nail Clippers
  • Any personal medications

Camping Extras

Here are a few camping extras on the ultimate camping checklist. From getting those tent stakes deep into the ground, to hanging those wet clothes you swam in earlier, these can make a camping experience even better. 

  • Multi-Tool
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Axe or Hatchet
  • Firewood
  • Lighter/matches
  • Fire Starter
  • Paracord
  • Clothes Pins
  • Towel
  • Duct Tape (there is always a use)
  • Bug Repellent

Related Posts {Best Insect Repellents For Camping}

Camping Safety Essentials:

Absolutely can’t forget the camping safety essential gear on the ultimate camping checklist. Accidents happen and it is definitely better to be prepared. And most likely when camping in some of these epic locations, you won’t have great cell service. 

  • First Aid Kit
  • Sewing Kit
  • Water Purification Tablets
  • Map
  • Collapsible Shovel

And if you plan to get way off-grid, consider some of these Campervan Off-roading Essentials.

Camping Clothes

Now, onto the camping clothes. This category really ranges depending on the weather you will encounter during your camping trip and the duration of the trip. But I always find it better to be more prepared than not.

It’s always best to be prepared for rain, just in case. Sometimes you think it’ll be warm at night, but a cold front runs through. So in my opinion, always pack more if you can! Layers are always key when going on any camping adventure.

  • Shirts (preferably merino wool)
  • Pants/Shorts
  • Undergarments
  • Down Puffy Jacket (Such as the Patagonia Nano Puff)
  • Rain Jacket (possibly rain pants too)
  • Socks
  • Hat and/or beanie
  • Camp Shoes/Sandals
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Neck Buff
  • Swimsuit 

Camping Light Essentials

Camping light essentials on the ultimate camping checklist are my favorite special touch. While headlamps or flashlights are car camping essentials for getting around camp at night. I also love to add fairy lights, or some lights that can jazz up the campsite.  But be sure to limit any light pollution that may bother your “neighbors”.

  • Headlamp/Flashlight (make sure you have extra batteries)
  • Lantern
  • Fairy Lights (such as these Revel Gear Lights)

Campervan with the Jackery Portable Solar-Powered Generator
@kyles_car on Instagram

Camping Electrical

Camping electrical is basically a way to step up your camping game on this ultimate camping checklist. While sometimes it is nice to totally disconnect from the internet, it can also be nice to have the camping electrical essentials for safety. So having a way to charge your cell phone, whether it just be a cord you can plug into your car, or a battery pack is always a good idea for backup. 

Jake and I run this website (that you are reading right now), so we like to have a way to stay connected and keep our electronics charged up when we can. So here are some of the camping electrical essentials.

  • Cell Phone Charging Cords
  • Cigarette Lighter Charger
  • Charging Cords For Other Devices
  • Battery Pack
  • Solar-Powered Generator (Optional)
  • Solar Panels (Optional)

Related Posts: {Best Portable Solar-Powered Generators For Car Camping}

Luxury Car Camping Extras

Lastly, these are the special touch to any ultimate camping checklist. This will help you level up your camping game and live your best life out in nature!

  • Extra Blanket (Such as this Get Out Gear Puffy Down Blanket)
  • Sleeping Bag Liner
  • Outdoor Rug (for your shoes outside your tent)
  • Sunshade (Such as the Moonshade)
  • Bug Net
  • Outdoor Floor Mat (Such as the CGear Sand-Free Mat)
  • Camping Games (Cards, Kan Jam, Spike-Ball, Volleyball, etc)
  • Hand warmers or foot warmers
  • Hammock
  • Hammock Bug Net
  • Solar Shower
  • Camera 
  • GoPro Camera
  • Remote Jump Starter
  • Bluetooth Speaker
  • Rooftop Cargo Box/or Hitch Carrier

Related Posts: {Best Games For Camping, Best Awnings For Campervans, Best Additional Storage Options For Camping}

Using the bug net, canopy sunshade to stay cool in summer vanlife

Takeaway | Car Camping Essentials – Ultimate Camping Checklist

Camping is one of the best ways to get in touch with nature. It’s your escape from civilization where you can finally hear yourself think away from the busy noise. Plus, it is a rather cheap way to explore the outdoors. While getting all your car camping essentials initially will cost you, it should be gear that will last you many years to come. This ultimate camping checklist has everything you possibly need to have the best camping trip!

Shop our favorite car camping essentials here.

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