Camping seems to divide people. You either love camping or you hate it. I do get it; the outdoors, the smoke from the fire, sleeping on a mattress, a hole in the ground for a toilet, no showers!!! I could go on! But we absolutely love camping (to be honest I am happy at either extreme – rough bush camping or a 5 star resort. They both have their place in our adventures). It is rare these days for us to go totally bush with the kids so there is usually a toilet (that should get you non campers across the line, yes?).
Before we had kids, Ross put this camping check list together for us. A few things have been added since the kids came along but we actually do refer back to this each camping trip!
We are lucky that we have enough room in our garage so we store the majority of our camping items in big tubs that we can transfer directly into the car.
We are tent campers. We always have been and to be honest I think we always will be. Ross and I could put up our old tent in the dark, with our eyes closed in a few minutes. Our new, bigger tent doesn’t take much longer to be honest.
We are also border line ‘luxury’ campers (well not really!). But we do take pillows and doona’s with us for comfort.
What you can find in this post
Here’s what we take with us:
- Tent – We have a Black Wolf Tuff Dome Twin. Features include –
- Easy quick set up
- Large awning/vestibule
- Stronger alloy poles
- Heavy duty waterproof and strong floor
- Access from either side
- Fixed guy rope stash pouches – this is so much neater than having ropes hanging everywhere
- Colour-coded poles
- Power inlet
- It sleeps 8. Yes, 8! We are comfortable with the 4 of us. This is a double mattress, 2 single mattresses, our clothes and the kids bits and pieces (strewn around!).
- It’s nearly 15kg and quite big once packed up so have a think about space in your car.
- Pegs and hammer or mallet
- Ground sheet or tarp – especially needed if the ground is wet. Keeps the tent dry underneath and easier to pack up a dry tent and one wet tarp.
- Mattresses for all. We have heavy duty rubber mattress and we have found these to be the best. The other types we have tried are very easy to get a puncture. They are hard to find though. We bought ours on E-Bay.
- Air pump – we have recently upgraded to a pump we can plug into the car. Woo Hoo. No more breaking the back bending up and down with a manual pump. They are readily accessible.
- Picnic rugs – we have a couple of picnic rugs for under the mattress. It stops a little of the cold coming up from the ground.
- Doona’s – Ross and I pack two doonas. One goes on top of the mattress with a fitted sheet over the top (again, to stop some of the cold creeping through) and one to cover us.
- Sleeping bags. Ned and Olive were gifted sleeping bags which actually attach to the mattresses like a fitted sheet. They are meant to hold the kids onto the mattress. They are a bit stretched though! They are also very thin so we pack a normal sleeping bag for each of them.
- Fitted sheet – for our double mattress
- Hot water bottle – I am the only one who has one
- Doormat – we use a carpet cut off. Great for wiping feet before getting into the tent
- Camping chairs – There are so many to choose from. Visit a camping store and try a few out. There are kids sizes available also. Make sure you store your camping chairs away over night. In the flap of the tent or in the car. Otherwise you may end up with a wet seat from the dew.
- Hammock – We have a hammock packed into one of our tubs but it doesn’t get much use these days
- Table – we have a fold up table. It lies flat which we need to fit into our car. There are many different types or tables and they all fold up differently. I’d recommend visiting a camping store and having a play around and thinking about how you will fit it into your car.
- Picnic rug
- Washing powder – we have a small container always packed
- Washing bowl
- Dishwashing liquid
- Plenty of tea towels
- Dish drying rack
- Esky. If you are camping for a few days with no access to buying ice then I would recommend a decent esky. We have a Techi Ice Esky.
- A top tip from Ross is a week or so before your trip to freeze small (half sized) ice cream containers of water to put in the bottom of the esky. It is amazing at the end of a trip of 2,3,4 days there is quite often a couple of big chunks of ice left.
- Remember to ‘wee’ your esky regularly.
- Stove Stand (our stove stand packs flat under our table – Ross the Engineer making sure everything fits in the car)
- Gas bottle (with gas!!!!)
- Chopping boards
- Fly cover
- Pots and pans – we generally get by with a frying pan and a small saucepan
- Cutlery – we store everything in a pencil case
- Wine glass
- Cheese grater (or just pack pre grated cheese!)
- BBQ mate – if BBQ’ing
- Zip lock bags
- Larger serving spoons
- Bottle opener
- Stubbie Holders
- Camp oven – we have a small camp over which we love! But we have only used it a couple of times
- Head torches – Gone are the days of big heavy torches. We all have head torches and this is all we need.
- Kids night lights (which will probably go flat!)
- There are some lights which you can hang up the top of our tent. We have never needed to try them
- Insect Repellent
- Loo paper
- Plastic bags
- Rubbish bags
- Zip lock bags
- Water container – we generally take our 10L container of drinking water
- Dustpan and broom
- Pocket Knife
- Wet wipes – always handy
- Anti bacterial gel
- First aid kit
- Lip balm (my lips are always very dry camping)
- Any reservation details or printed directions (if no phone access)
- Newspaper for lighting the fire
- Kindling – if it fits
- Fire Wood – if it fits
- Fire pit – we don’t have one but our friends do. Some places they are provided others it is make your own!
- Thick gloves for sawing wood
- Fold up bucket
- Tablets/I-Pads (not always packed)
- Paper, pens and pencils etc
- Sticker books/activity books
- Kids sleeping toys
- Cricket set
- Totem tennis
- Blue tooth speakers
- Swing rope – a new addition that can be strung up on a high branch for hours of fun
- Buckets and spades
We rarely take our kayaks camping these days, but when we do we make sure we have the following :-
- Life vests
- Waterproof bags
- Big Sponges
- Spray Jackets
We don’t always take our bikes but when we do we make sure we have the following :-
- Shoes (if use clip on pedals)
- Spare tube
- Cleaning gear
Obviously the food you take will depend on what you are making but standard items include –
- Things for S’mores – various recipes but we like to use Chocolate Digestives with a melted marshmallow between two bickies
- Salt and pepper
- UHT milk
- Cheese, bickies and dip for a nibbles platter
- More chocolate
- Alcohol including Baileys!
Some easy camping meals include the following
- Spag bol/other pasta and sauce
- Gnocchi is a great one – the fresh gnocchi we buy from the South Melbourne Market only needs to be heated through with the sauce so it’s a one pan dish
- Potatoes and corn in the fire
- Sausages in bread
- Smoked salmon with salad
- Sometimes lettuce leaves do go a bit funny in the esky if too close to the ice.
- I love to make a quinoa salad
- Mexican i.e. taco’s
- Curry to re-heat
- Toasted sanga’s (on the frying pan works fine) for lunch or dinner
- Wraps are easy to keep fresh
- Cans of drink are easy to pack into an esky and if you are bush camping with no access to rubbish they are easy to squash down to transport out
- Grabbing cheese and bacon rolls from the bakery for the first lunch upon arrival – nothing worse than worrying about finding food when you first arrive.
- Chocolate slices/other slices that fit nicely into the esky
Campfire Cooking Times
Damper – 8 minutes
Corn – 20 minutes
Potatoes – 30 minutes
Tips for cooking in foil on the coals
- Make sure you cover your potato’s or corn in an even layer of foil
- Scrunch up the ends rather than have one end with an extra layer (this will help with even cooking)
- Clear a section of the fire and scrape some coals across, place the food onto the coals and then cover with a layer of more coals. You shouldn’t need to turn them if they are all covered. The cooking times have always worked for us but we always plan cook extra in case of a disaster. I generally cater potatoes as 2 each for the men, 1 each for the girls and kids and a few spare.
- Packing cubes of course
- Camping is not a fashion parade. Comfort is key. Pack extra to what you think you may need.
- Trackie pants
- Thongs (a necessity if you are camping in a caravan park and using the showers)
- Jumper – pack a couple if it’s looking wet
- Rain Jackets
- Socks (long if cold)
- Towel (we normally share to save on space)
- Undies – extra spare undies for the kids
- Toiletries – as per normal including dry shampoo
- Change of clothes if heading out to lunch or dinner
- Day pack
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This list is a fair bit longer than what we pack on an overnight hike. Check out that list here.
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Get packing and get excited about camping!!