Camping Checklist

Family Tent Camping Checklist:

This list was put together by Dervla O Meara mother of 4. So please forgive that the list is mostly tailored for the family camper.

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omeara camping checklist


  • Family Tent. – Of course depending on the size of your tent and the size of your family this list below could be bigger or smaller. We have a huge amount of tents to select from and the staff are all experienced campers and some with young children so we know what is required.
  • Footprint  – These are great to protect your tent plus make for a faster take down time. No more cleaning the floor of your tent the footprint should take most of the mess. 
  • Tent Carpet  – Great invention for the camping makes your tent warmer and more comfortable.
  • Tent Extensions or Gazebo if your tent requires more room. If you want more room but don’t want to or cant afford to upgrade you might make do with one of these.
  • Proper Pegs (Ask the campsite what type of ground they have, as you Will need certain pegs for different ground types. See below). Rock pegs are a must have in my opinion for your peg bag.
  • Mallet. – Need this or a hammer. Some campsites will have very soft ground and you might be able to just push your pegs into the soil.
  • Sleeping Bags (See sleeping bag information section). – Remember you don’t want to be cold or your kids to be cold. You get NO sleep when your cold. You get what you pay for with sleeping bags. Cheap generally means Not Warm Enough!
  • Pillows.
  • Airbeds / Sleeping Mats / Camp Beds (if your airbed has a rechargeable pump please ensure its charged before you leave home). I could go on and on about this section. The most comfortable thing i have slept on camping was a self inflatable mat on a camp bed but I was 37 weeks pregnant at the time and I certainly wanted to be comfortable. This is of course an expensive sleeping arrangement. Airbeds are compact and inexpensive SIM or self inflate mats are lovely and durable and small enough in the car. Camp beds are bulky and take up a lot of room in the bedrooms of the tents so careful when purchasing ask first.
  • Pump & the suitable airbed connections. (If you have a new Air Tent then I would recommend you bring a spare!)
  • Lanterns / Torches / Head lights. – Totally up to the individuals I bring a range myself. Head torches for the kids running around at night. A couple of battery lights for when you sitting outside but its getting dark. And a mains light for in the tent living area.
  • Spare Batteries.
  • First Aid Kit (Burns, Insect Bits, Cuts, etc…).
  • Bottle Opener / Corkscrew.
  • Washing up Liquid & Sponges & Basin. – A lot of camp sites have wash up sinks but a lot do not have the stoppers in them so bring a basin this way you can even wash up at your tent. Just boil a kettle of water and away you go. I have done this many times especially if you have very young kids and cant bring them all over for the daily wash up.
  • Tea Towel’s.
  • Kitchen Roll, Baby wipes or Dettol wipes for the general spills.
  • Washing line or Rope + Clothes Pegs.
  • Washing tablets most camp sites have washing and drying facilities (for an additional charge) but you would also have to buy your washing tablets.
  • Dirty Clothes washing bag. (Or heavy duty plastic bag).
  • Matches or long lighter for gas cooker etc.
  • Dustpan & Brush (for cleaning your tent floor). I even brought the hand held dyson hoover before but i did get a few looks 🙂
  • Water carrier or container. You need to have water at the tent that’s for cooking like pasta, tea, coffee etc.
  • Bin Bags (Roll at least).
  • Ducktape or tent repair kit.
  • Table. – Range to choose from. All depends on how many you need to seat etc.
  • Kitchen Unit. – To put your cooker on you don’t want to be sitting on the ground cooking and some cookers will burn your table so be careful.
  • Folding Camping Chairs. – You pay for what you get again. I am all on for comfortable chairs for Mam and Dad and the kids don’t sit down much.
  • Storage Cupboard or Boxes.
  • Wardrobe (for clothes storage or plastic boxes if you have the space). Just cleans up inside your tent good when you are away for a period of time cause it can be almost impossible to keep a tent tidy with small kids so this way you have somewhere to put stuff.
  • Double Gas Stove, Gas Hose, Jubile Clips for Safety, Full Gas Bottle. – We would always recommend a gas bottle cooker as you will then have enough gas for your trip. We could again recommend the camping gas cylinders as they are small and transportable but they are expensive to initially purchase. We sell the gas cartridge cookers also but they eat gas so think about this carefully before you purchase. 
  • Pots & Pans. – You only need a couple as you are washing up 1-2 times a day.
  • Kettle. – If you are getting electricity on the camp site then you can have a mains kettle I just use the whistling kettle.
  • Plates, Bowls, Cups, Glasses (Melamine is more resilient). Melamine is very good stuff as it is both dishwasher and microwave safe.
  • Cutlery. – make sure to pack enough not just 1 item of each per person as if you do this everything will be dirty after your first morning fry up.
  • Sharp Knifes
  • Chopping Board. You wont have the same space to food prep in a tent as you do at home so chopping boards are great.
  • Tin Opener.
  • Strainer / Sieve (if cooking such as pasta).
  • BBQ. – If you like the BBQ then don’t forget the utensils or even if you don’t bring the BBQ bring the utensils anyway you might just feel like it when your at the camp site and then head off and buy one of the disposable ones. Cant resist the smell of a BBQ.
  • BBQ Utensils.
  • Cooler Box & Ice Packs or you can use ice. – Best option in these cases is both a plug in cooler for your Milk, butter, cheese etc and then a ice box for the drinks like water, juice, beer etc… Be careful in choosing these items ask for advise as some cheap plug in coolers barely cool so don’t expect your milk to be cold! but again you pay for what you get .The Dometic brand is a very good brand of cooler. As for the ice boxes again the thicker the insulation the longer your stuff will stay cold. Some ice boxes will have the ice melted within the day and the better ones will hold the ice for 2-5 days in some cases.
  • Kitchen Roll.
  • Coffee, Tea & Sugar.
  • Essential food from your home (pepper, salt, cooking oil, pasta, sauces, soups, tomato sauce etc).
  • Wash Bag (Shampoo, conditioner, soap, sponge, tooth brush, tooth paste.)
  • Toilet Paper (maybe required at times). bank holiday weekends especially..
  • Towels (beach towel and shower towels).
  • Insect repellent.
  • Sun screen and aftersun.
  • Wet gear, Wellies, Flip flops or crocs, You are nearly always walking on wet grass so any footwear that doesn’t require socks and runners as hard to dry them.
  • Pants that are not touching the ground this will save you again trying to dry things
  • Buckets and shovels for the kids, depending on the camp site there could be fishing sailing skiing etc. check out the camp site for details
  • Swim wear so that you can head off to the pool for the day or go to the beach.
  • Warm jumper for sitting around at night
  • Blanket for sitting around outside again at night or in case your sleeping bag isn’t warm enough
  • Water bottles – handy to have and never use.
Optional Extras:
  • Electrical Hook up Lead (Provides you with electricity on site for a small extra cost). If you go down this route there are lots of items from home which you can bring to plug in like the i pads, phones, portable tv for the kids,lights, toaster etc.
  • Heater (Low wattage as you are restricted in your power consumption on site).
    • ​​Most campsites will offer electric hook-ups on some or all of their pitches. These provide a 230V supply, which can power most of the appliances you might use at home. However, campsites tend to have restricted supplies (they are generally rated at 16A or 10A, sometimes as low as 5A on campsites abroad), so you need to be careful what you use to avoid ‘tripping out’ the system. Tripping the electrical supply can make you unpopular on site. The least you will need to do is contact the site manager to ask him to reset the system. In some cases you will also have stopped the electricity supply to your neighbours’ pitches and on a cold winter’s night this will not go down well… Don’t bring a heater of 2000Watts
  • Camping Toilet. – These are brilliant especially if the toilets are a bit of a trek away or you have some kids. I use one and find it brilliant having 4 kids cant go back and forth to the toilets 10 times a day.
  • Suitable toilet chemicals. – Household chemicals will not kill the smell. 
  • Windbreakers. – Some people like them some don’t. Great for the beach or to keep the kids close to the tent.
  • Kid’s Game or Board Games, colouring books and colours. Toys, Glow sticks etc.
  • Walkie talkies are great for the kids.
  • Plastic containers for collecting frogs insects etc if your into that (great for when at Rancho Reillys)
  • DVD Player or I Pad and some movies for the wet days or to help get them off to bed at night.
  • Camera. – Your phone these days will do it all.
  • Radio & Speakers. – Blue tooth speakers for a little light music during the day.
  • A good Book.
  • Chargers. – for Everything unless you want to escape technology for a couple of nights.
  • Wooden skewer sticks and marshmallows for the open fire
  • Bubbles and anything like that.I have even seen small mini paddling pools on the camp sites.

Dusting off your gear:

1. Check your tent. You carefully repaired and cleaned your tent before it went away last winter right??? But its always worth your while to open it up again before going away to make sure that everything is ok. Check that your poles are all there and intact and that your tent was dry and no mould or mildew has grown on it.
2. If repairs are required best to do them before you go away and do not postpone.
3. Open & Air or even wash your sleeping bags have them fresh for your camping trip.
4. Check your airbeds for any leaks and repair or replace if required nothing worse then sleeping on the cold hard ground.
5. Unpack your gas stove and check that its working and make sure you have enough gas for your camping trip.
6. Check that all your Lanterns and Torches have fresh batteries or bring the spares along.
7. Clean out your ice box and freeze your ice packs for your first day camping have some spare ice packs to place in the campsite freezer when you arrive but have them labelled.(Better ice boxes will keep ice for a few days now.) It is worth checking out the section on ice boxes.
8. Check for any latest items that will make your camping experience even better this year. Perhaps the Wardrobe or the Camping Toilet so there is no more late trips to the bathrooms with the young ones.

​Setting up your Tent:


  • It is essential to practise erecting your tent before you go on holiday. That way you can check that all the components are there, and you will know that you’re not going to make a hash of it when you get on the camp site. Dome tents also need to be erected at home prior to using.This sensible tip will avoid any problems when you are away. Large dome tents do need practise. Some can be very difficult to erect for the first time. Practise of course does help hugely. Most of the Tents have tension straps on the outside of the tent which are attached to the ring and pin system for the Pole Tents or Pegging Point for the Air Tent which can be adjusted.
  • Please ensure that the tension straps are not tightened too much as this will put pressure on the Tent zips and internal connecting bedrooms. Please also look at our tips for Air tents,
    It should be noted that all new and used tents should be weathered before holiday use. The canvas or tent covering material requires a few soakings before it fully closes. The first time it rains a fine spray will probably come through, but it will soon stop. If you pitch a tent in a period of drought do not resort to weathering it with a hosepipe. If a seam persists in leaking they can be proofed with a wax treatment, Fabsil can be applied or indeed seam seal. Always apply seam seal on the inside of the seam. Remember that all needle holes make a hole in the tent material. The stitching is designed once it gets wet a few times to expand. Once expanded the stitching seals the needle holes. Most modern tents have a pre seam sealed tape applied to the inside of the fabric covering the majority of these stitching holes.

  • Remove any sharp stones from the area you pitch your tent on to avoid damage to the groundsheet. Avoid pegging the pegging points and guy ropes too tightly to allow for strain from e.g. strong wind and children tripping over the pegging and guy ropes points. Ensure zips are closed during pegging & erection. Hammer pegs into the ground at an angle for greater stability keeping the tension even on all sides. Dirt should only be removed from your tent by a soft brush and clear water. Do not use detergents, as this will effect the waterproofing of your tent. If however your tent requires to be cleaned you may have to reproof it afterwards.

  • Be gentle with zips:  
    If you want to stay warm and comfortable inside your tent, take care of your tent zips.  Never force them. Take the strain off by cross pegging at the base and keep them closed when they’re not in use. Peg out your tent with the zips closed. Metal zips can be waxed if they become too stiff to use, nylon ones do not need attention providing the teeth are kept clean. Always close zips before packing up your tent. Make sure there is not too much tension on zips and do not attempt to use them while they are under tension. Tension can be released by bringing the pegging points closer together either side of the zip. (Because of the general misuse of zips tent manufacturers will not guarantee zips.) Treat zips with care.

    Zips are not guaranteed. 

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