How to Pack for Camping in a Tent (Ultimate Guide)

Since I have been camping for so many years. I have learned how to pack for camping in a tent. What the essentials are. And how to maximize the space. So that everything you need to tent camp, will come to the campsite.

So if your wondering how to pack for camping in a tent. How to pack for camping in a tent. The Ultimate Guide:

  1. Make a Camping Checklist
  2. Organize your gear into Segments
  3. Arrange your meals
  4. Use Water proof containers
  5. Pack lite, but efficient
  6. Pack for the weather
  7. Double Check before you leave

These are 7 broad topics. If you want to see how its done read on ….

Make a Camping Checklist

First you need to make a camping list. Basically taking a piece of paper and writing everything you will need. Keeping in mind that you are tent camping. So this means the only way to get the job done. Is to take it with you. If you need some help with ideas. Then take a look at What to Bring while camping in a tent.

Once you have made your camping list. You can always add to it. When you find items that would come in handy at the campground. Remember to keep your camping checklist. This way you can use it every camping trip.

Organize Your Gear into Segments

After you have compiled what you are bringing. Use your camping list to check off what you are going to bring. I like to separate what I am going to bring into piles.

Like for example; kitchen Gear, Inside the tent gear, and outside the tent gear. Food/Water, Clothing, Camping toiletries. And last but not least camping toys.

Example: Note this is not a complete list.

Kitchen GearSilver ware – cooking utensils – openers/ Cutting boards etc.Cook warePaper Products
Inside Tent GearSleeping Bag – Cot/Air MattressSheets/PillowsLighting
Battery Packs
Camping ToiletriesToilet Paper – Toothpaste -Toothbrush – DeodorantSoap Shampoo Towels -Face Cloth
Outside GearHammers – Hatchet – binoculars – Propane – Matches – lightersBug spray – Ice chest
fishing tackle
Food/WaterEverything to eat and drinkSnacksExtra water
ClothingWater proof Shoes & Boots Warm clothingExtra’s
Socks Etc
Camping ToysCamping Games Frisbee Croket

Related Article: What food to take camping (Check list & 5 easy recipes).

Use Waterproof Containers

After you have went through the list and gathered everything. Use Containers that are of the same size. So that everything will be uniform. And easy to get into your car or truck.

I like to use water proof containers. To protect against possible wet weather. This will ensure your goods stay dry and clean. I use plastic totes. And really like them. Because they are water resistant & close securely. You can see them here on Amazon.

When packing your gear into the containers. It’s a good idea to use Masking tape. And write some items on the tape. So that you know what’s in the containers.

It’s also a good idea because it keep things organized. It will just make everything a lot easier when you get to the campsite.

Some items you will probably only use when camping. So the containers are great for storage. Once you have them set up. Then you will simply transport the containers to and from the campground. Easy Peasy!

Pack for the Weather

Remember to always pack for the weather. You are going to be out in the elements. If it’s warm outside you should have summer clothes. Shorts, T-shirts, crocks. Clothes that are going to keep you nice and cool. If you are near a lake, then bring a swimsuit.

But always pack for the “what if”. What if it gets cold at night. What if it rains. Camping can be so much fun. But if your cold or wet. Then not so much.

I always pack extra clothes. Even if it’s warm weather. I will pack blue jeans, Hoodies, Sweatpants. And always extra socks. I love wearing crocks on my feet. But I always take a rugged pair of shoes with me. Waterproof shoes, Or boots.

And a jacket is a must have. You never know, one minute its sunny, the next its pouring rain. So you need to be ready for what ever mother nature sends your way.

For my clothes I have a duffel bag & a backpack. Depending how long I am going for depends on if I need to take both. Most of the time all my clothes can fit into a backpack.

Related Article: What to do camping in the rain.

Pack Lite & Efficient

With a camping list you are able to pack only the essentials. The tools and gear that you are going to absolutely need. With a well thought out, and planned camping list. You are able to pack lite and efficient.

This way your only bringing the essentials to the camp. The more organized you are when planning your camping trip. The easier it is to pack for the trip. And easy to set up when you get to the campground. This way you will know where everything is. You will have also brought, only the necessary stuff.

Arrange Your Meals & Pack Them

One of the most important things to pack is food. I have found that really a second list is the best way to organize your meals. Again it’s not that hard you just need to get organized.

Think about how long you are going to be at the campground. And how many meals your are going to eat. Then here’s where it get’s fun. You need to figure out what your going to eat for your meals. After that you will know what to buy to get the job done.

I personally like to eat a big breakfast, a small lunch or even just a snack. And a nice dinner.

After you get the food that your taking on the trip. Next you need to organize and pack the food. This is a reoccurring theme – Organization. I just think that the more organized you are packing. Then the better off you are to find what you need. When you get to the camp.

I use the same container/tub for paper products. Packing them into one container. Paper towels, napkins, paper cups, plates and bowls. Also plastic knives, spoons and forks. You get the idea!

Related Article: How can I eat cheap while camping?

A Packing Hack for Cereals and Mixes.

In the next tub I like to put any food that does not need to be refrigerated. Coffee, tea, sugar, pancake mix, cereals, salt & pepper, canned items, condiments etc.

Then I take any individual items that need to stay dry. And place them in small containers. These containers are also the same size, so that it is easy to pack. For example the sugar.

If you leave it in the bag or box, once you have opened it. It gets moisture in it and the sugar gets hard and clumpy. The best thing I have found are plastic canisters with screw on lids. Everything stays nice and fresh in them. And the ants cant get in. You can get bigger size canisters for cereals and potato chips too.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money on fancy canisters. Take a look at these ideas. Cashews the coolest little canister out there. Just start saving containers. And before you know it, you will have enough for your camping needs. Look at the canisters I use.

I also use different canisters at home. To store batteries, these canisters can be used for a lot of different items. And the best thing is they don’t cost a lot. Especially if you are already buying the product inside anyway.

So the next time your in the grocery store, see what foods you use. That have a screw on lid that is in a canister.

Related Articles: What to bring while camping in a tent.

Packing the Meats & Veggies

Your always going to need a grade A ice chest. Maybe two depending on how much food your going to need to keep cold. Again it is a lot easier to pack the ice chest when you have a clear vision of what your going to be packing. And this will become clear after you have made your camping list.

Long before I go camping. I take the meals and especially the meat. And make little packages. For example I set up the hamburgers in tin foil. Counting the burgers that will be used at one setting. Then I wrap them up.

For example if you know there are 4 people, you would wrap 4 burgers. And methodically I take each meal and wrap the meat up in tin foil. And do the same with chicken, and steak. Usually hot dogs I leave in the package.

After packing the meats and putting them in the cooler. Then I put the fruits and vegetables, Salad, butter, orange juice, eggs, Bacon, and food products that need to stay refrigerated. Another little hack is: Pack the cooler so that what you are going to be using first, ends up at the top of the cooler.

Packing Water and Drinks

Always Pack more than enough liquids. When your camping you can never have to much water. I recommend storing your water and drinks in a separate cooler. A cooler with bottled water, and any drinks you want to take with you. But then besides the water that is in the cooler I always take a case or two more. This water is usually aside from the water that is in the cooler. In the camping essentials you can get water carriers here.

Use a Camping list & Double Check Item’s Your Taking Camping

Don’t forget to double check what your taking with you. You can check it off as you go along, when packing. Use your camping check list that you made. Or after it is all said and done. Check it once over. To be sure your not forgetting anything. I like to check it as I go along. This way it’s more accurate.


Your going to want a bin for all the bathroom items. Again you will know exactly what you need from the camping list. Keeping all the items in one central tote, makes it easy to find. When you need to use that item.

Some items in this bin will be of course toilet paper; Soap, Shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, wash cloths, towels, and inside this bin you can store your first aid kit. Which you should always have on hand. You always want to be prepared for the unexpected.

Also don’t forget about sunscreen and bug spray.

Related Articles: How do you go to the bathroom when camping.

Camping Cookware

Now that you have packed all your food goods. Part of your camping essentials is cookware. Remember when your tent camping you have to supply everything you need to get the job done.

A good way to keep track of your cooking utensils is to store them in a container/bin. This is everything you can think of. That you will need to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Spatulas, wooden spoons, ladles, pots, pans, dishes, bowls, plates, can openers, bottle openers, cutting board, knives, measuring cups, spoons, pot holder, prongs, Coffee Pot, mugs, you get it.

Along with these items, you are going to want to pack propane for cooking. You will need matches or a lighter.

Then there are the bigger items that you are going to want to pack. And check off of your list of camping items. Such as a Sink for washing the dishes. And a folding table.

Also Camping stove, and a Griddle are two handy cooking accessories. You should see my recommendations for the best griddle here.

Use your container to pack paper towels, paper plates, cups, plastic, knives, forks spoons, pot scrubber, and a towel for washing dishes. And don’t forget to pack trash bags.

Related Article: What kind of camping stove should I get?

How to Pack Your Tent Gear

Of course your still going to pack your gear for inside the tent. And your tent. Some of these essentials are sheets, blankets, sleeping bags, cots and sleeping pads. A good way to carry these items. To make sure they are going to stay dry, is in a garbage bag or bin.

I can store multiple sleeping bags with blow up mattresses in one container/bin. Or you can always just use a garbage bag. One of those industrial garbage bags. They are big, durable, and easy to carry.

Packing Essential Camping Tools

You are always going to need a hammer, and sometimes a hatchet. Also tools that you don’t think of, like extra battery packs for your cell phone. I have found the best Solar battery pack. Link to it here.

I really like the fact that it is solar. Never run out of battery again. Other tools to pack are flashlights, and a lantern, multi tool knife, and rope. These items can also be kept in a container for easy access.

Camping Essentials that Don’t fit into a Tote

There is a lot of items that won’t fit into a container, nice and neat. Like the camping stove, griddle, tent, camping table, chairs, hammock, cots, canopy, ice chest, camping games and more.

Depending on how you are getting the big gear to the campground. Meaning a car or truck, depends on how to pack them into the vehicle.

I like to put the containers in first as they are all uniformed in size. Which makes them easier to load. Then on top of them and on the sides. I put the flatter items. Like the camping stove, and cots.

Usually the tent goes on top of the containers. And then I can fit the ice chest in. How ever you decide to place your gear, is totally up to you. These are just some things to think about. If you are strategic about it, you will be able to fit all your gear.

Related Article: Camp blanket instead of sleeping bag: The pros & cons.

Related Questions

Some Fun Things to Bring Camping

Don’t forget some fun things to take to the campsite. After you get all setup, now it’s time to have fun! Yes some campgrounds have lots of amenities. for kids like bouncy balls, arcades, and mini golf.

But not all campgrounds are the same. And they may not have a lot of fun things to do. But you can bring your own fun.

Some really fun camping games are:

  • Ring Toss
  • Horse Shoe
  • Badminton
  • Cards
  • A Super size block game (Jenga)
  • Bean Bag Toss
  • Wiffel ball
  • Croquet

If it’s Raining you can still have hours of fun with:

  • Yahtzee
  • Monopoly
  • Trouble (my personal favorite)

These are some fun games for camping. One of my favorite games is Trouble. If your not familiar with this game. It’s great fun for kids and adults.

The game has a plastic bubble in the center of the board. With dice that are inside the bubble. Each player has 4 pegs. Which are your players.

In order to move one of your players out to the main part of the board. So that you can make your way around the board. You need to roll a 6. With the two dice, that are in the bubble.

To roll the dice you simply push on the bubble. Which is spring loaded. This action moves the dice. You can not move one of your players, until you have rolled a 6.

The object of the game is to get all your players on the board. Then rolling the dice, work your way around the board. To get your players back home. There are obstacles; Like if another person rolls and lands on one of your players.

Then your player has to be put back to home base. This could be a good strategy to use to help you win the game. Also when you are almost back to home base. You have to roll the exact number, that you need to get your player back in its spot. At home base. Which can take longer than you think.

But this game is so much fun to play. I keep it with my camping stuff. And take it every time I go camping.

Related Article: What to do camping to make lasting memories.

Camping Gear List for Beginners

A lot of the items on the list can be found in the camping essentials here.

  • Tent
  • Stakes
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • sheets
  • cot
  • Sleeping pad
  • Lantern
  • Flashlight
  • Solar Battery Pack
  • 2 Tarps
  • Canopy
  • Chairs
  • Folding Table
  • Stove
  • Griddle
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • bottle opener/can opener
  • Pots/Pans/cooking Utensils
  • Frying pan
  • coffee pot
  • Propane
  • Sink for washing dishes
  • Scrubby for washing dishes
  • Dish washing towel
  • Dish rack
  • dish washing soap
  • Ice Chest (ice)
  • Silver ware
  • Water bottle
  • Plates, cups, Bowls, mug
  • Paper plates, cups, bowls,
  • plastic knives, spoons, forks
  • Paper towels, napkins
  • pot holder
  • Towel
  • Trashbags
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Sanitizers wipes

Camping tools

  • Swiss knife
  • Hatchet
  • Hammer
  • Rope
  • Bungee chord
  • Matches
  • Lighter
  • Compass
  • Fire starter
  • First aid kit
  • Fire Glove
  • Extra stakes/spikes
  • Insect repellent’s

Related Articles: What tools do I need for camping.

Clothing to wear Camping

  • Warm clothes
  • Hoodies
  • Hat
  • Rain coat
  • Extra socks
  • Blue jeans
  • Sweat pants
  • Swimsuit
  • Gloves
  • Beanie
  • Crocks
  • Waterproof shoes
  • Boots
  • Hiking boots


  • Toilet Paper
  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Razor
  • Towels
  • Facecloth
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Lip balm
  • Brush/comb
  • Portable camp shower

Related Articles: How to care for RV black Tank – Ultimate Guide.

Camping Extras

  • Sunglasses
  • Binoculars
  • Battery pack
  • Headphones
  • solar portable power
  • Dog essentials (Gear)
  • Camping Games

Make sure that you take plenty of food and water. If you are looking for some of the above mentioned items in the list. Take a look here in the camping essentials.

What Not to Bring Camping

There could be hundreds, maybe thousands of things that you would not want to bring camping. But here are just a few to remember.

You probably don’t want to bring a hair dryer. Because that’s the fun of camping. And that is, your roughing it. Also don’t bring anything that is light in color, like white pants or shirt. More than likely they will get stained with dirt. And that will be the end of your white pants. source

You don’t want to bring a boom box. As this might be a little irritating to other campers. So when your playing your radio. Be mindful of the other campers around you.

You never want to bring high heal shoes. This would be a quick way to end up at the ER with a sprained ankle. Just wear some good ole waterproof comfortable shoes.

You may love to bring your pet camping. But your cat is not a good camping pet. So you don’t want to bring your pet cat. A dog may be a better choice. See the topic here: Can I take my dog camping.

Recent Content