The first time we ever went camping, the first thing I did was make 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 so much easier.
If you’ve landed on this page because you’re making a camping equipment list, then no need to make your own; 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. This way, if you’re brand new to camping, you can start buying all the essential camping gear right here.
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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 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 as that can be somewhat personal. Instead, I’ve covered everything you need in terms of somewhere to sleep, cook, and relax in this camping packing list.
Shelter / Furniture
In this section, we’ve included all those main things you need for camping, such as somewhere to sleep, sit, cook etc. All the necessary items for camping that make your experience comfortable.
A tent should be at the top of your list when it comes to camping necessities! As to the sort of tent you need, that depends on the kind of camping you do, how many people are in your family, and how much money you want to spend.
We recommend investing in a good quality pop up tent that goes up in seconds. Gone are the days when a tent should take hours to set up. We have a Coleman Instant tent and just love it – honestly, I highly recommend it. You can read our complete guide on choosing a pop-up tent and our picks for some of the best currently on the Aussie market here.
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. So unless you plan on spending a few weeks in your tent, just get a tent big enough for everyone to sleep in.
We have a six-man tent for the three of us; 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; we just leave our clothes in backpacks inside 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 is 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 adding some ground cover to your camping essentials list. 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. Instead, 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 and a must in terms of what to bring camping.
We’ve had that many different camping chairs over the years; it’s ridiculous! We started with the cheap $10 ones from Bunnings, which are fine; they do the job right. But then we bought some nicer mid range fancy chairs, then we went for some super fancy ones (pictured above), and now we have gone to lightweight, good quality ones. This is what we’ve currently got. We just found the big fancy ones were just far too bulky.
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. You might even want to consider something with a little built in table for that all important glass of wine or beer. You can read our complete guide on choosing the best camping chairs here.
No matter what sort of camper you are, all camping lists must have a table. The size and number of tables 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 near our BBQ which we use for things like a kettle, water jug etc.
I also like to bring a table cloth, as you can take it off at the end of the day and give it a good shake out. If you bring a table cloth, add tape or some clips to your camping check list; otherwise, you’ll get annoyed with the table clothing flapping around in the wind.
We also have a really neat table and chairs set like this, which we bring along. It’s excellent for taking down to the beach or 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.
In this section of our camping checklist Australia guide, 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 will include something to sleep on. We sleep on 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 you’re in a water bed wobbling around all over the place every time one of us moves.
If you bring an air mattress, an air pump is also one of the essentials for camping (these little ones look fantastic!). However, we use this Makita air blower. It has a rechargeable battery which 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 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 are great for bigger families with a small tent.
You can read our complete guide to choosing a camping mattress here.
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 for your camp list. 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.
Sheet and Blankets
We also bring along sheets for our air mattresses – I guess that’s optional in terms of things to bring camping. You might also need to bring some extra blankets if you’re camping during cold weather.
Ne sure to add some pillows to your camp checklist – 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 have to pay a decent amount for top quality lights. We have some 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.
Torches always come in handy when camping, but if you have excellent quality lighting and headlamps, you’ll only need one or two. Unfortunately, I find with torches that you put them down somewhere and lose them!
Kitchen and Cooking
Some of the best campgrounds around Australia have excellent camp kitchens, so it is up to you 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 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 used to have this large 111l Dometic (Waeco) camping esky, which did a fantastic job keeping our food cold. We found the ice lasted in our esky for an entire weekend. Any longer than a weekend though, and we needed to restock it with ice.
A few years ago though, we upgraded to a portable fridge – we bought am Adventure Kings fridge which we’ve found perfect. But, of course, if you go with a portable fridge, 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 too. They are expensive though – but well worth it!
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.
Check out our complete guide to choosing a camp stove that’s right for you.
Of course, if you bring along a portable BBQ or stovetop, you will need something to power it up. So make sure you add a gas cylinder to your basic camping list and check the gas before leaving home!
Lighter or Matches
A lighter or matches is also one of the essential camping needs for getting the BBQ or stovetop going. So be sure a lighter or matches are on your camping essentials checklist.
Saucepan and Fry Pan
Other camping items for cooking include a frying 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 buy a cheap set from K Mart.
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.
For those cuppas, first thing in the morning, a camp kettle is a must have for camping. The one pictured is similar to what we have. This is an Adventure Kings 2 litre stainless steel camping kettle. Click here for more information.
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 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 and the Palm wine glasses – almost as good as drinking from a glass! Definitely top camping list essentials in my view.
You’ll also need something to eat with on your camping pack list. Be sure that you have at least a full cutlery set per person.
Large Serving Bowls, Plates and Trays
Other camping basics include 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.
Ensure 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.
You can buy some pretty neat camping sets which have everything included, like this camping cookware set.
We find packing a range of reusable containers is great for storing leftover food. Get ones like the collapsible ones I mentioned above, or see them here.
Glad Wrap / Tin Foil
We prefer to use reusable containers where possible, but sometimes glad wrap and tin foil also come in handy.
Paper towel is a must on any camping essentials Australia list. These are 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. Having these permanently in your camping things saves you from having to pack them every time you head off.
Tea and Coffee
As mentioned above, good to have it in your camping kit, so you 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 keep the tent and gazebo area clean. In fact, Andy brings along a blower which makes cleaning a breeze!
Spray and Wipe
Every camping list Australia has must include 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
Must haves for camping include a large plastic bucket to keep in your campsite for dirty dishes. Once it gets full, someone can take it over to the camp kitchen or tap to clean. Also, a collapsible sink like the one pictured is good as it saves on space.
Make sure your camp essentials include 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. We also this Bushranger spare wheel bag for our 4WD which we also use for rubbish. If you’re after a spare wheel bag, read our guide here.
Whether you’re camping at a powered or unpowered site, you will need power of some sort. Below we cover off on the basics.
Don’t forget plenty of spare batteries for all your lighting – make sure this is on your camping gear checklist! In fact, make sure you have extra 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, it may come in handy to keep things powered up.
Solar Panels (Optional)
We’ve started camping with solar panels in the last few years and love them. They’re essential if you want to camp off the grid. There is a huge variety of 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 a good quality powerboard 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.
Of course, you’ll all need a towel each. If you have room, I recommend bringing one for swimming (if you’ll be swimming, of course) and one for the shower.
We’ve either camped where there are facilities or taken our trailer, which has a built in shower, so we’ve never needed to use a camp shower. But if you’re thinking of heading into the wilderness and need to be self-sufficient, you’ll need to invest in a camp shower.
You might also want to look into a little pop up shower room for privacy – we’ve got this small Oztrail one that does the trick. You can read our guide to choosing the perfect pop up shower/toilet tent.
If you want to camp off the grid and be self sufficient, you’ll need to get yourself a camp toilet. Even for some campgrounds where the facilities are a drive or a long walk away, a camp toilet could come in handy.
And there you have it, our ultimate camping guide! Don’t forget to download your printable checklist here to make planning your next camping trip that much easier!
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