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Your Ultimate Camping Checklist

There’s nothing quite like sleeping under the stars, sitting around a campfire and spending quality time with the family. But for family campers, packing up the kids, setting up a tent and living in the outdoors can seem like a daunting task. Turn that family camping trip into an inclusive, comfortable and addictive pastime! Here are a few helpful tips on how to plan and pack for any camping adventure.

Choose your location wisely

Pick your campground early since the good ones fill up early. Many of the bigger national and provincial parks are very busy during the summer.

Choose a campground with amenities like flush toilets, hot showers, fire pits and running water to help make life outside a little easier.

Keep it close to home so if someone gets sick or you run out of s’mores, you can head home for supplies.

Get familiar with your gear

If you bought new gear or you are borrowing from a friend, set it up at home before hitting the road. Pitch the tent, light your stove and test the lantern. This will make it easier to set up when you get to your campsite.

Plan fast, easy and healthy meals

You don’t have to eat out of cans around the campfire! Plan some special meals and let the kids pick some treats to build excitement about the upcoming adventure.

Keep the ingredients simple and consider pre-packing meals into appropriate portions to avoid loading up your cooler.

Dont leave your family in the dark

Pack plenty of flashlights and batteries for those late-night bathroom breaks.

Make sure every child has their own flashlight or headlamp - they double as a toy!

Set boundaries

Assign a boundary for kids to stay inside, such as the perimeter of your campsite.

Bigger kids may be allowed to travel to the perimeter of the campground. Set clear rules: “Don’t cross this line unless you have an adult with you.”

Keep your campsite clean

Bring a reusable plastic tablecloth to preserve a relatively clean eating area.

Create a designated hand-washing station to keep germs away.

If required, bring a roll of quarters for the showers and use biodegradable soaps.

Plan for fun

Travel-size board and card games are perfect for when the sun goes down and are a great way to keep the kids around the campsite while dinner
is cooking.

Remember that camping tasks can be fun for the little ones. Ask for help sweeping the tent, gathering sticks and preparing the meals.

Let the kids bring a few extra toys and their go-to comforts.

Remember that youre the visitor

Pack food away in the car when it’s not being eaten to avoid hungry animals visiting your campsite.

Do not feed or play with any wildlife as it’s harmful for animals to eat human food and unhealthy for them to become accustomed to humans.

When you get home, keep your gear in one place.

Air out tents and sleeping bags to avoid mold or musty smells.

Store camping gear together in large containers and include a packing list to avoid having to check and re-check equipment every trip.

Having the right gear

Here’s a list of essential camping equipment you’ll want to have for your family camping trip.

Shelter and Sleeping:

  • Pillows
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pads
  • Tarp
  • Tent

Cookware and Kitchen:

  • Camp stove/fuel
  • Coffee maker/kettle
  • Cooking utensils
  • Cooler
  • Cutlery
  • Knives/cutting board
  • Leftover containers
  • Plates/cups/bowls

Campsite Cleaning:

  • Biodegradable dish detergent
  • Broom/dustpan
  • Dish pan
  • Dish rags
  • Pot scrubber
  • Bath and Hygiene
  • Biodegradable shampoo/soap
  • Footwear for showers
  • Towels


  • Axe/hatchet
  • Bluetooth speaker
  • Bug spray
  • Bungi cords
  • Camp chairs
  • Candles
  • First-Aid kit
  • Flashlights
  • Lanterns
  • Lighter/matches
  • Multi-tool
  • Rope
  • Travel games/cards

May these tips help you and your family enjoy the great outdoors even more!

MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) is a Canadian consumers’ cooperative, which sells outdoor recreation gear and clothing exclusively to its members. MEC is notable for its commitment to environmental protection and other causes. For more information, visit


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