3 Day Camping Checklist – Preparing for a Long Weekend

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When it comes to long weekends like Veteran’s Day, Labor Day, or
something similar, you get the opportunity to take a short, but extended
weekend vacation. To enjoy it like anything else requires preparation.
That is all it takes. For these, you need a 3 day camping checklist. In
this article, you will find out all you need to do and get for your
trip.

Where to?

A proper camping checklist is more than just a list of items to bring. It is also a list of things to do. First and foremost on that list is deciding where to go. This is a big question though. There are a lot of places to choose from. In my home state of California, there are hundreds of camp sites to pick from. It can be mind boggling. That is why you need questions to guide you.

  • What do you like? Each of us has our own preferences and quirks. Some would not mind hiking through the desert heat while others prefer the shade of a giant sequoia. Knowing yourself directs you to where you want to be. If you have been thinking about going to this one place but have vacillated, plan it out and just go. Life is short.
  • What are your goals? For any camping trip, there are a number of different activities you can do. Some sites offer kayaking and swimming, while others provide hiking and mountain biking. No two places are alike, so each will offer its own unique qualities.
  • What do you want to look at? Parks can have canyons, redwoods, birch, Joshua trees, rocks, or even volcanoes. Each feature of the park culminates into the experience it offers. Prioritize something you want to see and then find the park that offers it.

With these questions in mind and your answers to them, you can choose where you want to go. The place you choose may not be perfect, but the most important thing to do is to go and enjoy yourself.

Important Things to Do

On top of deciding where to go, you need to make a number of arrangements before your trip. This ensures that everything is in order for it.

  1. Get a permit. Depending on where you go, you may need to get a permit. Some sites let you just show up, but others require a bit more planning. There is an online application for most camp sites. If that is unavailable, then call ahead of time. You want to get a permit at least a month advance.
  2. Create a meal plan. As a guy with a high metabolism, I hate being hungry. When I do not eat, my stomach nags at me. If you are anywhere near similar to me, then you should create a meal plan. Set aside food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
  3. Plan out your days. Life goes slower when you are camping. The days are more gradual and relaxed, moving at a consistent but not overwhelming pace. For some, that can be scary. What do you do with all that free time? Fill it with books, games, hikes, and activities you can only do camping. Enjoy yourself.

Once you have taken care of all you to dos, then you are ready to start picking up gear for your trip.

The Checklist

For any good trip, you need a clear list of items to bring, so you do not forget anything. Thoroughness in preparation helps to make for a wonderful experience.

Camping Gear

  • Sleeping bag, one of these is essential. It will be your bed each night.
  • Tent with rain fly, it would not be camping without a tent. Be sure to get one that is appropriate for your group size. Also, you want to have a rain fly. The weather can change in an instant. It can be quite disillusioning to have to sleep in a wet and soggy tent.
  • Air mattress or pad, the ground can be rough, so be sure to get something to lay on the ground before falling asleep. It makes sure that you do not wake up in the morning with a bad back.
  • Cooler, if you are bringing hot dogs, meat, vegetables, or other perishable items, then you will want a cooler to store them all.
  • Firewood, my favorite experience of camping is the fire. It has a way of bringing people together. People gather for its warmth and the stories it brings.
  • Pillows, while they do take up a bit of room, pillows are important. They prevent neck cramps and give you the good night’s sleep you need for the next day.
  • Blanket, the nights spent camping can be chilly. Sometimes the temperature can underestimated, so bring something that can keep you warm.
  • Flashlights, you do not realize how dark it can get until you go camping. When you are fumbling to the bathroom in the dead of night, it helps to have a flashlight to guide your footsteps.
  • Chairs, it may be nice at times to sit on the ground or on a log, but chairs are a lot more comfortable.
  • Tarp or footprint, when placing your tent, you need to make sure that your tent is not directly touching the ground. A tarp or footprint helps to increase the longevity of your tent.
  • Lantern, besides being a way to keep bugs away from your meal, lanterns can be your light at the dinner table.
  • Batteries, every now and again, electronics fail you. This is not the city though. You cannot go run to Safeway to get batteries. Bring them so you are ready in case they run out of juice.
  • Backpack, when you are hiking or traveling somewhere, it helps to have a place to store your belongings. A backpack is perfect for that.

Cooking Items

  • Stove, I like hot cooked meals. They make everything seem more cozy. A stove, while not as near as big as a kitchen, lets you make the cooked meals you would like to eat.
  • Stove fuel, you can only eat from a stove if you have fuel to run it. Otherwise, it is an expensive arrangement of different metals.
  • Pots and pans, if you want to cook bacon, eggs, vegetables, or anything else, then you need the pans to cook them in.
  • Water basin, these help not only to wash your hands, but also let you wash your dishes. There are some that are completely flexible.
  • Table cloth, camp tables can be dirty and grungy with who knows what on it, so a table cloth acts as a barrier between your meal and
  • Trash bags, pack in what you pack out. The outdoors are there for everyone to enjoy, so be sure to do your part and pack your trash.
  • Silverware and plates, it may be nice to eat out of pan, but plates and silverware make the experience smoother.
  • Food, like Napoleon said, “an army marches on its stomach.” My own variation is that, “a camper munches on its stomach.” A lot of times, your stomach sets the pace for the day. It is a powerful organ. If it is not satisfied, your stomach will make you feel it.
  • Paper towels, at times, there is something icky to pick up or my hands need to be cleaned, so I use a paper towel.
  • Roasting sticks, whether you are roasting marshmallows or hot dogs, it helps to have roasting sticks.
  • Biodegradable soap, you may or may not be okay with reusing dishes without cleaning them. I am not, so it helps to bring some soap to clean dishes and your hands.
  • Ice, if you bring perishable food, then you will want ice to keep it cool.
  • Cups and mugs, when I wake up in the morning, I have to drink my tea. It sets the tempo for my day by keeping me calm and focused. I am sure you also like a hot drink.
  • Matches or lighter, if you want a campfire at night or a start to your stove, then bring these.
  • Reusable water bottles, if you have plastic bottles that you drink out of on a regular basis, then recycle them and get a hydro flask or something similar.
  • Water, it is essential that you have some. You can use it in cooking or for any day excursions you may have planned.

Personal Items

  • Biodegradable toilet paper, sometimes you are hiking and there is no bathroom in sight. Bring some toilet paper, so you are not wiping yourself with leaves.
  • Toiletries, these include toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, mouthwash, and anything else you may need to start or end your day.
  • Soap, it is a great way to keep clean. Aim for the all natural and biodegradable soap to ensure that you are taking care of the environment.
  • Sunscreen, if you are hiking in a sunny area, then you will want some sunscreen to prevent burns.
  • First aid kit, sometimes there are emergencies in the wild. You stub your toe or bruise. Keep a first aid kit to clean up those minor injuries.
  • Insect repellent, when you are in the outdoors, there are more bugs than you realize. You can bring some insect repellent to keep them at bay. Personally, I do not bring any because it is one less item to worry about.
  • Poison oak and ivy medicine, every once in a while, you will run into poison oak or ivy. It is nothing to fear. As soon as you see it, clean the area with cold water and soap. Then apply some ointment to it. Some options are calamine lotion and tecnu.

Clothes

  • Swimsuit, some parks have a stream or a lake that you make want to take a dip in. Fresh water is by far the best to swim in.
  • Tight thermal, this is a long sleeved t-shirt that goes underneath your main shirt, keeping your heat in your body and you warm.
  • Hats, it can be hot outside and the sun can do damage to your skin, so bring a hat.
  • Gloves, it can be quite cold in the morning and it may take some time for your hands to warm up. Gloves keep you hot despite the weather.
  • Rain gear, as has been said before, the weather can change in an instant. One moment it is bright and sunny. The next it is pouring rain. I suggest bringing a poncho or an umbrella, so you are not caught off guard.
  • Shoes, if you are camping, you will also go hiking. Be sure to get ones that will hold up to the rigors of the trail.
  • Sandals, if you ever use a camp shower, then you should be aware that it can be quite grungy. Walking barefoot in the stalls risks staff infection or athlete’s foot. I always wear sandals in public showers.
  • Sleepwear, when I sleep, I like to wear pajamas. They are comfortable, but you may want something else.
  • Bandanna, besides protecting you from the random post apocalyptic dust storm (that was a joke), bandannas are great for catching sweat and wiping anything.

Extra Items

  • Camera, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. A camera helps you to capture the memories of your trip.
  • Area information or a map, when camping, you want to know the area well. A map can tell you about what there is to do and sights to see.
  • Pet supplies, if you would like to bring your dog or pet along with you, they help to enhance the experience. Be sure to bring what they need and do not let them wander too far off.
  • Toys and games are a great way to keep you entertained and bond with your fellow campers.
  • Reading material, camping offers a lot of down time, but it can make you restless if you are not careful. Bring a book, magazine, or something similar to keep your mind occupied.

Wonderful! Now you know all the gear you need to bring with you on a camping trip. Bringing the proper gear makes all the difference for a camping experience.

Final Thoughts

Prepping for a camping trip requires a number of steps. These include figuring out where to go, taking care of the to dos, and getting the proper gear. It may be a hassle to prepare, but it is well worth the effort. After arriving at your camp site, you can enjoy the hearing bird calls, towering trees, and bonding with your fellow campers. Good luck and have fun!

If you have any questions, thoughts, or think I missed something, please do comment below and I will be sure to respond. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

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18 Comments on “3 Day Camping Checklist – Preparing for a Long Weekend”

  1. You covered it all, going on vacation is a big process and if your like me, no matter how good you plan, you will forget something. This is a Good guide to go by.

    1. Fred, I appreciate the compliments. You are right that it does take time to plan a vacation. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

    1. Deepika, it is nice to know that you are prepared because of this article. I appreciate the compliment. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  2. My husband and I love to get out in nature and go on camping weekends. This is a great to-do list for preparation. Like others, I too, often find myself forgetting something. We like to call that roughing it but it really just puts a damper on a good time so thank you for the helpful tips!

    1. It is nice to hear about your husband and you, Christina. You must both have a wonderful relationship. You are right that not having everything can put a damper on a good time. It just takes practice to know what to bring. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  3. Hey there. My hubby has been wanting to go camping. I’m always the preparer though so I’ll be saving this for later. Also, I noticed that you didn’t include anything for poison ivy. I’ve never had to deal with it but I’d assume going out in the wilderness, you might encounter some. What do you use for it if you come into contact with it?
    Thanks for sharing,
    Marlinda

    1. Marlinda, it is nice to hear that you will be going camping with your husband soon. Also, thank you for pointing out that I forgot to add poison ivy medicine to the list. I will add it now.

      For poison ivy and oak, you want to clean the infected area with cold water and soap. This clears the skin of the oils. After that, I put on Tecnu, a wonderful over-the-counter ointment. It is the best for dealing with poison ivy. The quicker you do this, the better it will be for you. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it an itch free day! 🙂

  4. This is just what I was looking for. I’m planning a family camping trip and was looking to see if there are some things that I’m missing from my own list. Turns out there were a lot so thanks for this comprehensive checklist, it really has helped.

    1. Lee, that is wonderful to hear you are planning a family camping trip. They are always an experience. It is nice to know that this list has helped in that process. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  5. Thanks for this very informative and detailed post about camping preparation. I’m just curious about one thing. How do you shower at your campsite? If the campsite doesn’t have any toilet…?

    1. I appreciate the compliment Jerry. When it comes to showering, you can go without showering, bring your own, or use the communal shower if there is one.

      If there is not toilet, then you can use biodegradable toilet paper and a shovel. Just be sure to go at least 25 feet away from a water source. Thank you for asking these important questions and I hope you make it a great day!

  6. Man, I love camping! I even enjoy rain, as long as it´s now when we actually pitch the tent. But in a nicely set up camp, I really enjoy a wet day, too!

    Where is your next trip going to be? 🙂 I just did the Abel Tasman Walk in New Zealand. I can recommend that to all of you camping guys out there. It´s magic!

    What do you eat if you go out for three days? I find this so hard to keep it lightweigth and so on!

    Thanks for feedback man, nice website!

    1. Hey Manny, that is great to hear you enjoy camping in the rain. You have a unique gift. For my next trip, it will probably be in Oregon, I am visiting my sister there over the holidays. If I visit New Zealand, I will do what you recommend. 

      If you are wondering what to eat, consider this helpful guide I created. It should answer your questions. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  7. I’ve wanted to go camping for a while but I have never been before so I was worried of forgetting something important. Now after reading this article I know exactly what I need to bring in order to have a good experience camping.

    Thanks a lot for posting and I will be sure to keep up to date with your posts.

  8. Hi

    Great Information on how to prepare for a long weekend of camping adventurers.

    This checklist would of been handy when I did some hiking in the Purcell Mountains in Canada last year. None of us were really that experienced, but we survived and had a pretty good time.

    I will point this post in the direction of some of my hiking buddies.

    Cheers

    1. Hey Chris, it is nice to hear you found this guide helpful. The Purcell Mountains sound very nice. You must have had a blast with your friends. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

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