Tent Camping Checklist

Having a well thought out tent camping checklist can help you pack faster and more efficiently, be prepared for all conditions, and not forget important items. Before you leave on your next trip create a camping equipment checklist and inventory your gear. Here is an example of a detailed gear list for all seasons, used for our Wilderness Certification Program field trips:

Tent Camping Checklist - Primary Equipment:

  • Large Backpacking Pack (large enough to fit all the gear listed below) (the Kelty Coyote pack is a great example)
  • Small, Four-Season, Backpacking Tent (a tent that is light enough for backpacking and can handle all weather, including snow conditions - the REI Arete ASL 2 is an example of a four-season backpacking tent)
  • Four-Season Backpacking Sleeping Bag (lightweight & rated to at least 0 - such as a Marmot Trestles 0 Degree Bag)
  • Four-Season Sleeping Pad (full length, lightweight, & high insulation rating - such as a Thermarest Prolite 4 Plus)
  • Toiletries (soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, tissues, toilet paper, deodorant, etc…) (Dr. Bronner's soap is a popular natural soap and it can be also be used as shampoo and even toothpaste for the brave)
  • Small Towel (microfiber travel towels are an excellent choice. A small microfiber towel can do the job of a much larger conventional towel)
  • Small Personal First Aid Kit (include band-aids, gauze pads, antiseptic solution, medications, adhesive tape, & tweezers)
  • Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher is a good choice for maximum protection)
  • Water Bottles or Camelback (also bring a water filtration system if on an extended backcountry trip)
  • Small Mess Kit (plate, bowl, fork, spoon, knife, cup – metal mess kits are best because you can cook with them)
  • Compact Backpacking Stove and Fuel (lightweight and compact – MSR, Jetboil, and Primus are popular brands)
  • Notepad (a Rite-in-the-Rain notebook is very useful as it does not get destroyed when used in the rain)
  • Pencils or Pens (mechanical pencils can be a good choice for writing in the rain)
  • Daypack or Waist Pack (a small pack that is adequate for carrying lunch, water, notepad, jacket and other gear for a day of exploring)
  • Sturdy Survival Knife (3 to 5 inch fixed blade) (the Frost Mora Bushcraft or Ontario RAT 3 are good examples)
  • Watch (durable, water proof, and shock-proof, with a spare battery) (such as a Timex Expedition watch)
  • Baseplate or Lensatic Compass (these types of compasses allow you to navigate with a map and landmarks)
  • Bandana (multi-purpose item that can be used for many things including bandaging minor wounds, collecting and filtering water, shielding from the sun, etc...)
  • Pocket Lighter and Matches (it is important to have multiple ways to start fire)
  • Snowshoes (for winter trips) (can be rented from a camping store)
  • Flashlight or Headlamp with Extra Batteries (LED headlamps are a great choice as they have a long life and a red light option allows for nighttime work without harming your night vision)
  • 20ft of Rope or Twine (another multipurpose item that can be used to tie up tarps, repair items, etc…)
  • Small Emergency Whistle
  • Food (food items that are compact, lightweight, and do not require refrigeration)
  • Outdoor Clothing: (for all weather conditions – wool is one of the warmest, most durable fibers for outdoor clothing)
  • Waterproof Hiking Footwear
  • Warm Waterproof Winter Boots (for winter trips) (such as Sorels)
  • Warm Winter Hat (wool is a great option)
  • Warm Winter Gloves or Mittens (again wool is an excellent choice)
  • Sturdy Pants (wool pants are excellent for cold times of the year, and stay warm even when wet)
  • T-Shirts
  • Long Underwear (tops and bottoms for winter trips - wool, silk, or synthetic fibers are best)
  • Warm, Long-sleeved Shirts (wool is recommended)
  • Sweater or Sweatshirt (wool is recommended)
  • Swimming Suit
  • Rain Gear (rain pants & jacket, that can also serve as an outer layer / windbreaker in cold weather)
  • Warm Wool Socks
  • Warm Insulated Jacket (wool and synthetic materials lose less insulating value when wet)

Tent Camping Checklist - Optional Gear:

  • Camera (small, compact and waterproof. Nikon and Canon are excellent brands)
  • Binoculars (Choose a pair that works well with your eyes and is gauged for the distance you are observing from)
  • Mug for Hot Drinks (steel cups are great, as they can be heated up on a fire if necessary)
  • Mosquito Repellent (natural products containing lemon, eucalyptus, and citronella are effective)
  • Wool Blanket (for extra warmth on winter trips – available at most army/navy surplus stores)
  • Musical Instrument (small, durable portable ones such as a flute, ocarina or harmonica are a great choice)
  • Sunglasses (polarized glasses are equally helpful during snowy winters or blaring hot summers)
  • Local Field Guides (the National Audubon Society makes great introductory regional field guides)

Feel free to download and print a copy of this Tent Camping Checklist.

Gain more ideas for a tent camping checklist - further resources:

Backpacking Checklist at REI

Gear Checklists and Shopping Guides at Backpacker Magazine

Backpacking Gear Checklist at The Light Backpacker



Interested in wilderness skills training and adventure?
Check out the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program.



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