Operation: Camping Checklist! Check!

In a constantly evolving effort to be more efficient when on family camping trips, I decided that it was time to sit down and take inventory of what is actually in those disastrous camping bins of ours! First, I reorganized them, then I made an inventory list. I’m not a list-maker by nature (or even a frequent user of the word “inventory” for that matter), or at least I wasn’t before I became a mother (haha), but when you’re out in the middle of nowhere with a toddler, it never hurts to be extra prepared!

toddler hiking
Exploring the Limekiln River in Big Sur, California

So, in anticipation of our Sequoia camping trip next month, I sat down and created a packing list for our camping bins! We have been using the bin system for a few years now. It definitely cuts down on our packing time and we are less prone to forget the little things! Most of the items in our bins are permanent bin fixtures. When we get home, they get cleaned and put back into the bin, so they are ready to go for the next trip!

Psst, want to know another way to make camping even easier?! Rent camping and backpacking gear, delivered to your door. Free shipping and returns. Full Kelty camping kits from GetOutfitted.com start at $18 per day. Doesn’t get easier than that!

Side Note: This bin list is catered to car camping where you have easy access from your tent and campsite to your car.

Camping Bin #1

This is what I lovingly refer to as the kitchen sink. It contains all of the necessities to prepare and cook our meals and a few other essentials.

Camping Bin #2

This holds all of the necessary tools for seeing, burning and cleaning.

The Kid Bin

A must have for any camping family because even though you are out in nature with so much to discover and explore, kids still get bored. I have also found it to be comforting for our two year old to bring a few of her favorite toys along.

toddler playing with bubbles camping

Make Ahead Camping Meals

I also plan our meal menu ahead. I have found this to be the most economical and efficient way to do things. We used to just go the the store on our way out of town and we would end up spending TOO much and usually only use HALF of what we bought. Planning and prepping everything before we leave means, saving money, less work at the campground and more time relaxing and exploring!

toddler sitting in the woods
A little down time…

I buy a box of the gallon Ziploc freezer bags and use them for all kinds of prep like marinating the meats, filling them with pre-chopped veggies to roast over the fire or make-ahead salads that only needs to be dressed when it’s time to eat. I also love to make easy-to-grab, finger food lunches like quiche and zucchini fritters, perfect to throw in the backpack and eat on the trail!

What are your camping bin essentials? Your must-have make-ahead meals?

13 thoughts on “Operation: Camping Checklist! Check!

  1. I usually make chili for the night we arrive, something easy to heat while we set up. Then I usually make a couple salads, cabbage, bean, or maybe pasta. Everything else we usually make there!

    Love your list and enjoying exploring your blog!


  2. We do the camping bins too! We have another bin that is all the non-cooler foods too (referred to as the 'pantry bin'). And I definitely make the first night's meal at home to make evening #1 easier. My 'kitchen sink' bin also has one of those flimsy, thin cutting boards which is helpful. And I use a Monday-Friday pill holder as my spices holder. Oh and I also have a baggie full of old 'chip clips' to seal half-eaten bags of stuff.


  3. Great list! I am seriously going to print this out and use it. I need to get my camping life organized… the words I'd use for our packing are probably not appropriate on this blog!


  4. Awesome, Kate!! So glad this will be helpful for you! I figure the more efficient we can become, the more trips we will want to make! Camping with kids and packing all of the paraphernalia can become daunting when you're not organized! I know, we've been there!


  5. I love using a bin when we go camping, my “camp kitchen” bin has a lot of the things you mention but we also pack a kitchen sink (a foldable coleman model), we use enamelware plates & utensils, pots, pans & we can't forget the coffee pot & supplies! I started pre-paring our food for cooking while on the grounds and freezing the meats in their marinades. My son is 11 so no toddler games but we bring chess, checkers, cards and a nook color allows for monopoly and life around the campfire in the evenings.

    I love the idea of using multiple bins and will probably implement this for next year!


  6. I precook a lot of our meals when camping – beef chili, white bean chicken chili, pulled pork (made in the crockpot), pot roast, hard boiled eggs (peeled and stored in a hard container), chicken thigh skewers (marinated chicken thighs precooked, eaten cold for lunch) hummus with carrot chips (carrots cut on the diagonal for large surface area), baby peppers (red, yellow, orange), small cucumbers, apples, homemade peanut butter or almond butter, sweet potatoes (wrapped in foil and placed in the coals) premade egg muffins, strata, frittata, or quiche. Chicken apple sausages (adells) cooked at the camp site, applegate farms turkey or ham, cheese cubes, homemade larabars (made into balls), coffee (with French press coffee mugs) and cocoa, homemade cookies
    We use a kitchen box from REI that makes camping so easy. It has a built in small table that can be unfolded and attached to the top, soft containers that fit perfectly inside. I keep dishpans for washing, a cast iron skillet and small enamelware pot for heating water, MSR dragonfly stove and fuel, tongs, spatula, silicon hot pads, etc. in the box all the time. With the box mainly prepacked, we can pack at a moments notice for camping. We live in Florida, so we camping in fall, winter, and spring. We are just waiting for it to cool down and then we will be camping at least once a month from October until May.


  7. This is a great checklist you have here. I love the kids bin, what a superb idea! We also love camping with our girls although we haven't done any national parks yet. We live in Sydney so camping here is popular and we tend to choose holiday parks that cater for kids too. I actually just compiled a camping checklist of my own. I think you might find some of the ones not mentioned here useful. Take a look if you get a chance: http://lovetoexplore.com.au/camping-checklist/


  8. We use the bin system too! The only difference is we keep a huge duffle bag stashed in the bin for the actual car-loading. That way we can stuff more into it for our trip. And, I'm so excited to have new camping recipes to try. We have a rotation of our favorites, and I love them, but my kids are getting bored. Here's our favs: http://backroadramblers.com/the-10-easiest-car-camping-meals-for-families-on-the-go/ I love the idea of premaking meals – like the banana bread, but I think if I had to do that we would never get out the door.
    Awesome post!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s