Hawkshead Blog Posts

The Ultimate Family Camping Checklist

Mum and dad arriving at a family festival with tent and picnic basket

If you’re heading off on your first camping trip with the kids it can be difficult to know what to pack. What you need will depend on how old the kids are, where you’re going and the time of year, but there are plenty of things that should definitely feature on any camping essentials checklist.
So have a read through our camping with kids checklist and make sure you’re fully prepared for your trip.

Tent Camping Checklist

The tent may be the most vital piece of equipment on your camping essentials checklist, but there are a few other things it’s worth remembering:
• Tent
TIP: Choose a bigger tent than you need for the number of people you have in the family. That way you’ll have space for all the ‘stuff’ that you will invariably take with you.
• Tent pegs to peg down those guy ropes, and a mallet to bash them in with.
TIP: Take a hammer with you and use the claw at the back to save bags of time when removing the pegs at the end of the trip.
• A brush to keep the tent swept and tidy.
• Electric hook up – The ability to ‘plug in’ can be invaluable for a low wattage heater, an electric cool box or perhaps a mobile phone charger.

Setting up camp

Credit: Jorge Flores

Making Camp

Part of the fun of camping is setting up your home from home on the campsite, so make sure your camping equipment checklist includes these items:
• Table and chairs – for family meals.
• A windbreak for a bit of extra shelter – also useful if you’re trying to light a BBQ on a windy day.
TIP: If you’re camping with friends, create a mini camping village across 2 adjoining pitches by facing your tents towards each other and using windbreaks to create a private area. Most sites will allow you to do this as long as you don’t encroach on anyone else’s pitch.
• Clothes horse or washing line – Having wet towels hanging around in the tent can cause a damp, musty smell.
• Bin bags for rubbish and recycling.

Credit: Tegan Mierle


You may have come to terms with the fact that the kids are likely to get less sleep than usual during the trip, but make everyone as comfortable as possible at night by adding these things to your checklist for camping:
• Warm sleeping bags
• Extra blankets
• Air beds and a pump
• Extra layers of clothes – it’s surprising how cold it can get in the middle of the night. Onesies over pyjamas work brilliantly for kids.
TIP: If you’re a light sleeper consider investing in ear plugs – even if it’s not your little darlings waking the campsite up first thing in the morning, we can guarantee somebody’s will be. Remember also, you will almost certainly be required to chaperone several night-time toilet trips – so torches should be kept handy, and wellies at the ready.

sleeping in a tent


Hoping to cook up a campsite storm? Then make sure you tick these things off your camping trip checklist:
• Camping stove and / or BBQ and associated fuel. Don’t forget the lighter.
• Pots / pans and a kettle for use on the stove.
• Cooking utensils – think paring knife, wooden spoon, spatula and tongs as a minimum.
• Plates / bowls / cups / cutlery
• A container to collect water for drinking or cooking.
• Bottle opener / cork screw / tin opener
• Washing up bowl / sponges / washing up liquid
• Cool box
TIP: If you have an electric hook-up, a little 12V cool box can be great for keeping the essentials cold. Alternatively, many campsites offer ice block exchanges so you can safely store cold items in a standard cool box.
• Food and drink
TIP: Why not get an online grocery shop delivered direct to the campsite? This will save on packing space in the car.
• Kebab sticks and marshmallows – no camping supplies checklist is complete without those!

Camp fire cooking

Credit: Clem Onojeghuo

Daytime Activities

Keep your options open in the daytime, by remembering these things:
• Plenty of layers of clothing, including waterproofs, hats / gloves / scarves and sensible footwear for all weathers.
TIP: Pack flip flops for use in the shower blocks
• Take plenty of campsite games – balls / bats / bikes / a kite etc. – so the kids can keep themselves entertained while you relax.
Rucksacks for day trips.
• Picnic bag / picnic blanket / thermos flask
• Maps of the area.
• Beach stuff, including swimming costumes and buckets and spades.

Camping With Kids Checklist

If you’ve got younger children with you there will be a few more things you need to add to your basic camping checklist:
• Travel potty or similar – to avoid the regular speedy dash to the toilets.
• Battery-powered night light
• Travel cot
TIP: For little ones in a cot consider a black out blind / cover for the cot – it can be hard to get a small child to sleep on lighter summer evenings and bright mornings.
• Hot water bottle to warm the kids’ beds on cooler nights.
• Baby carrier for outdoor adventuring.
• Battery-powered monitor – Great if you’re camping with friends – A monitor allows you to sit a little further from the tent so you won’t disturb the kids, but you’ll still hear if they need you.
• Quiet activities like sticker books or colouring, for when your little one wakes before it’s socially acceptable to send them outside.
• Antihistamines / insect repellent / sun cream / first aid kit

BONUS TIP: Store all of the items on your camping gear checklist in large plastic lidded crates in the garage or loft. That way when it’s time to pack up you can just grab and go.
So what do you think of our family camping gear checklist? Is there anything we’ve forgotten? Print it out, tick everything off, and there’ll be no reason you’ll turn up at the site with a crucial piece of equipment missing.

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