Tent Camping Checklist for Beginners

In Beginners Guide, Buyers Guide by J. PenneyLeave a Comment

When you are going on a tent camping trip you have two different options. Some people choose tenting in a campground, which cost a nightly fee. However, some people choose to set up their tent in the wild, they decide they want to make it a backpacking trip. It is free, but you do not have the same access to things that you would at the campground. It takes some skill and a lot more work.

When making a tent camping checklist for your tent trip there are different things you will need, due to the different options. Choose from one of the two different categories: Tent Camping in the Campground or Backpacking

Tent Camping Checklist in the Campground

 When in the campground you are usually given a spot like this:

It may not be this exact shape or size, however, it will have similar features. Most campsites have a fire-pit and picnic table. In my experience, every time I stayed in a campground I was given a fire-pit and a picnic table. Moving on, this means the rest is up to you. I hope this gives you a brief idea of what you will be provided on site, helping you decide what you need to bring.

Choosing a tent is your first major decsision. If you need help on choosing a tent type the read through our 15 Types of Tents article. Or if you want to search through our “Best Tents of the Year“, click the following link.

The tent in the photo is a tent my girlfriend and I have used for a few years. It is the Coleman Tenaya Lake Tent, it is massive and provides us with a quality weather lasting tent. See a review on the Coleman Tent here.



 Checklist of Campground Essentials


-When camping in a campground you might have access to sinks and other luxuries. It is a good idea to bring some camping dishware and cutlery, this makes meals rather easy.

When I camp in the campground we also have our own washbin, we can just fill it with water and soap.


-Either reusable or a cheap one. The reason I would recommend a tablecloth camping is because the tables are left outside and may be old and not very clean.

Choose from a variety of color options with the spill proof cloth, available on Amazon.

  Camping Grill/BBQ or Stove


– Depending on how much you go camping and enjoy cooking food, get a nice camping barbecue, grill, or stove, because it will always come in handy. Yes, roasting wieners and marshmallows is a camping tradition, however grilling up bacon and eggs over the fire may be more difficult, use. Deciding on a good quality grill and stove makes tent camping much better.

– These grills require small propane or butane tanks and they are easily located at stores near you such as Walmart. Also if you have room, a regular size propane tank works, however, I certainly recommend packing light.

 Sleeping Gear

SoundAsleep Dream Series

Kelty Blanket

Teton Camping Pillow

– Having a good quality air mattress is very important, having a comfortable mattress keeps your overall sleep better causing more energy for the day. Also having comfort is just better don’t you think? Get a decent brand mattress because if you don’t the mattress may get a slow leak or the material can expand and you end up on the ground the next day, which is a pain in the back.

  • The SoundAsleep Dream Series is a highly picked mattress. It provides comfort and quality. Which is a great choice when camping in the campground.
  • If you are riding solo, the 1 person mattress Single/twin sized is a money saver. It will still provide quality and comfort!

– Depending on the weather you are tenting in, you can get a sleeping pad to lay over your mattress for good comfort, but also to stay warm at night. If it is cold outside, the air in your mattress can actually get cold which can make you freeze at night.

– Sleeping in a tent is something you do not want to risk. Staying warm is important. Since you are staying on a campground the weather is most likely decent, so go with a regular bed setting (sheets, duvet, cover). However, extra blankets to stay cozy is a must just to be sure. Having insulated blankets is great for tenting on campgrounds. The kelty blanket is great for tossing on top of your tent bed for extra warmth, it is great for everything. Check out our Best Sleeping Bags under $50 article.

– Lastly, don’t forget your pillows, grab a couple from home or pick up some extras for the road.  These are cool Teton camping pillows if you are interested.

Power Source

Power Booster / Source

Yeti Generator

– Having a power source is important. What I like to use is a booster pack that has a regular plugin, an a USB plug. It is always nice to have it fully charged before you start your camping trip. This booster power source is great to have for multiple reasons:

  • Charging your phones and other small accessories
  • plugging in laptops
  • booster cables can help with vehicle issues (Boost car)
  • Plug in portable pumps
  • ETC

You may need a DC inverter to plug in certain appliances!

– Also, a huge choice is the Portable Yeti Solar Generator, read the review by clicking the link. It is the best power source for camping through solar energy. 

– Check out our solar powered camping gear article, it includes our favorite solar gear for camping

Camping chairs

– Get a few chairs since the picnic tables are not very comfortable. It is great to have decent quality if you enjoy camping. The longer they last the better for you. These chairs can be easily folded and take up minimum space, great for tent camping. Grab an Affordable camping chair.

– For the best camping chairs, read our “Best Camping Chairs for Bad Backs” article. You will find nothing but the best!


Coleman Cooler Xtreme


– Since most people don’t bring a fridge tenting, get a cooler that is reliable since it is taking care of the quality of your camping food. A cooler is an insulated box that keeps your food and drinks cold. Coolers vary in size, grab a size that suits you to have around or in your tent. Furthermore, have a portable cooler that you can take on hiking trips, beach days or wherever your camping trips take you.

-The cooler I have is the Coleman Xtreme Cooler, it has a large size and keeps food and drinks extremely cold.

Ice bags packs stay cold up to 48 hours, they are great to have if no access to ice


Tent Footprint

– Are great for tent camping. Having extra tarps are great for many of things, creating privacy, protection from weather, extra tent protection and most anything. Tarps also known as tarpaulin, is a large sheet of water resistant material that can be hung up, or placed over items to protect them. I sometimes put tarps up in my camping sites if I am to close to my neighbors, it gives privacy from others. Just attach to a tree and “bam” a new wall is formed. Tip – use bungee cords to hang them tightly so the tarp is not easily affected by wind.

– What is also very important is to have a tent footprint. Some people choose a tarp as a footprint or actually buy a real tent footprint. See the differences by reading our Tent Footprint vs Tarp article, is it worth it?

– Pack everything in bins, this makes it easy to stay organized.

The above items are some main tent camping accessories I would consider getting before you go on a trip.

– Cooking tip – Put tinfoil the on grill and put oil on it, makes a perfect frying pan!

– Main tips for a nice relaxing tenting trip are:

  • stay warm
  • stay hydrated
  • eat right

Follow these tips and you will have a good tenting trip in the campground.

Backpacking Checklist

Explore the wild to your own limits. Back country tenting is all about minimized packing. Whatever fits in your hiking travel bag is really up to you. Through experience, lighter packing makes the trip much more enjoyable. Here I can show you some packing tips on what you could put in your backpack. If you don’t have a backpack then pick up a starter bag, the SUNVP backpack is high quality and has a good price.

Small but weather proof tent. Have a tent that is very light, because you are carrying it wherever you explore. Size is not needed for the wild, your tent is a mini weather shelter to get rest and sleep. Easy to put together so you are not wasting energy.

– 1 person tent

– 2 person tent

– 3 person tent

– 4 person tent

Pocket knife
 a nice portable camping pocket knife is very handy, it can be used for many different tasks. Use it for eating, hunting, cutting ropes, and much more.

Utility pocket knife –  7 In 1 camping tool includes : Fork, Knife, Spoon, Can opener, Bottle opener, Corkscrew, Small knife

Tough camping knife, 5 year warranty. Sportsman folding knife.

Food – Etc
  • Have a food planner-keep note the days you are going and pack for food correctly, depending on if you hunt or not. Compact meals in your bag.
  • Grill-bring a portable mini camp grill that can place over a fire
  • Cooking pan – bring an old pan or skillet from your house or pick one up, does not have to be large!
  • Canned Goods-Canned food is easy for wild tent camping because you can place the can itself on the fire.TIP-place hole on top of can.
  • Scramble food in Ziploc baggies for more room. Take oil or butter.
  • Main tip – bring what you want really, prioritize your space. What food is most important to you? Bring enough.

Make sure you pack what you will need for your food. Take your time and don’t rush. Trust me from my own experiences, it is not good forgetting things on a trip in the wilderness.

Small Axe/Hatchet
– get a axe/hatchet you can attach to your bag. This is a need for supplying wood to stay warm. Also your fire is important for your food! This emergency tool is a must, it has every tool you can need camping, CLICK HERE to check it out.
Matches and lighter
 bring both just to be safe. Get a good lighter that can handle the weather.
– Bring camping clothes. Warm, water proof and weather proof. You never actually know what weather you will come in contact with. Have extra clothing, when one pair needs cleaning you can put outfit number 2 on and rinse and dry the others. Where supportive and tough boots that can handle tough situations. Read our “Proper Camping Attire” article to know exactly whats right!
Camping pad
– since there is minimum space for a inflatable mattress get a sleeping pad which is great for sleep and rest.


Enjoy heading into the wild, I hope some of my tips on what to bring for the two types of camping can help! If you have any suggestions or cool ideas feel free to write a comment in the section below.

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