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Essential Camping Checklist

Camping Checklist: Not-So-Essential (But Fun and Helpful) Things to Pack

Nothing says camping fun like a friendly game of chess.
Nothing says camping fun like a friendly game of chess.
Jupiterimages/Getty Images/Thinkstock

Besides bringing you closer to nature, another great reason to camp is to get front-row access to some of your favorite outdoor pursuits -- like singing folk songs by the campfire, geocaching, prospecting for gold and whispering ghost stories by flashlight. For your added camping enjoyment, we offer two secondary lists of items that might be fun or helpful (but not strictly essential) to pack on your next camping trip:

Helpful Non-Essentials


  • 10 x 10 canopy for portable outdoor shade
  • air mattress
  • bungie cords and carabineers
  • camp chairs
  • collapsible shovel
  • flint and steel for making fire without matches
  • headlamp for spelunking, or hands-free restroom navigation
  • Magic Fire Starter
  • multifunction knife
  • multifunction watch with compass and altimeter
  • personal locater beacons
  • pocket water filtration
  • small folding table for setting up your camp kitchen
  • small hand axe for cutting firewood
  • umbrella

Fun Non-Essentials

  • board games and games in general (here are some ideas)
  • bicycles
  • binoculars
  • books
  • camera and/or film
  • geocaching instructions
  • guitar, hand drums and other musical instruments
  • hammock
  • hiking staff
  • kite
  • mesh pan for gold prospecting
  • mobile app for stargazing, such as SkySafari
  • playing cards
  • radio
  • telescope
  • walkie-talkies

Now, let's review to see how much essential camping knowledge you've retained. Surprise a bear on the trail? Check -- back away slowly and make a lot of noise. Creek's rising fast? Check -- climb to higher ground. Snakes on a Stick? Check -- they're not reptiles; they're just refrigerator biscuits baked over an open fire! Do you really need to pack a portable toilet? Well, it's probably not strictly necessary, but plenty of campers prefer it to squatting in the woods.

You know what else campers prefer? More knowledge about camping! Find it below.

Related Articles

More Great Links


  • Dooley, Tammy. "Camping 101: Knowing What to Pack." April 2009. (Feb. 14, 2012)
  • George, Jean Craighead. "My Side of the Mountain." Puffin Books. 1959.
  • U.S. Forest Service National Avalanche Center. "Learn How to Identify Red Flags." (Feb. 14, 2012)
  • L'Engle, Madeleine. "The Moon by Night." Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. 1963.
  • Sutton, Keith. "What to Pack for Camping." (Feb. 14, 2012)
  • USDA Forest Service. "Safety Around Wildlife." (Feb. 14, 2012)
  • USDA Forest Service. "Weather Safety." (Feb. 14, 2012)