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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Family Camping-Packing Lists & Organization

Camping can be a great way to have quality family time and not spend your college savings! Camping can also be a great way to drive mom crazy and dad crazy with all the packing and meals you have to prepare.  The way we enjoy family camping is to be as organized as possible. Organization also saves us money on last minute items we forgot.

We use the Tub System to streamline the packing and unpacking process. I was sick of packing the same thing over and over every year, just to forget one important item that I could get from the dollar store, but now have to play inflated prices at the Camp Store. 

We use 20- gallon CLEAR tubs from Walmart.  With my list (below) I bought and packed items from the dollar store or garage sales that STAY in the tub all year long. 

These tubs contain NO FOOD so they can be put under the table each night and no raccoons would get into them.

For Menus see my post on Family Friendly 4 Day Camping Meal Plan, with Grocery Lists
TIP- Buy items from dollar store, and after each trip replenish items you used (trash bags, alum foil) so next time you can just pull out tubs and be ready to go.

___Canteen/water bottle/coffee pot
filters/purification treatment               
__Stove with fuel/propane
__Charcoal/firewood/buddy burner
__Portable Gas Grill
__Fire starters/newspaper
__Tablecloth/thumb tacks/table clips
__Plates & bowls/paper plates & bowls
__ Real Coffee Mugs (silver ones too hot for us)
__Silverware/plastic silverware
__Measuring cups
__Heavy-duty aluminum foil
__Paper towels and wet wipes
__ MORE wet wipes (you can't have too many of these) 
__Trash bags
__Dish soap
__Clothes pins
__Cooking oil/Pam spray
__Containers for food storage
__Potholders/oven mitts/fire resistant gloves to hold pie irons
__Pots and frying pans with lids
__Cook utensils-spatula, knife, spoon
__Skewers/grill forks
__Can opener/bottle opener
__Folding table
__Dutch oven
__Pie irons
__Mugs/paper cups
__Mixing bowl
__Cutting board
__Ziplock bags-gallon and quart sizes)
__Napkins/paper towels
__Dish pan
__Dish rags/towels
__ two five gallon buckets for washing and rinsing
__ Biodegradable dish detergent
__Scrub pad/brillo
__Seasonings/sugar/condiments (keep in cooler with food, far away from site)
__Potato peeler
__Cutting knife

List for a Modern bathroom campground, plan accordingly if camping at  primitive campground.  
Some of the items listed are bigger than the tub, but they need to be on a checklist somewhere. 

__Reservations info./confirmation
___ Tent & Tent polls
__ Tarps-enough tarps to set under each tent to keep dampness out & rain cover
__old door mat to use at tent entrance
__small broom to sweep tents etc
___fire starter/matches
__ firewood/kindling
__Work gloves/heat resistant for working with fire
__ flashlights (bring one for each of your kids, it cuts down on arguments, trust me)
__Extra batteries/bulbs
___first aid-kit
__Hand wipes (you can never have enough hand wipes when camping)
__Small sewing kit
 __Small shovel
__Safety pins
__Thermacell Mosquito Repeller Lantern & Refills  (We seriously LOVE our thermacell Lantern!!!)
__Backpack for hiking or bike riding
__Camp chairs
__Rope or twine/clothes line
__Tent Fan (we bougth this one that hangs from the ceiling with the light, it is a great nightlight for as the kids go to sleep, we turn the light off once we go to sleep ourselves)
__Extension cords if electrical site
__ 2 rolls of toilet paper (camp bathrooms always run out!)
__Bungi cords/straps
__Duct tape/electrical tape/masking tape
__Extra Rope
 __Pocket knife
__Plastic grocery bags (for soiled clothes)
 __ Pop up laundry basket- get one from dollar store, great for kids because they can throw dirty clothes in easier than having to find a bag.

See post on Camping with Kids for more Info about keeping kids entertained while camping.
__ Book light (for reading in tent and not waking anyone else up)
__ Games/Playing Cards (include direction for any card games you might need)
__Hobby related activities (sketch book, knitting, whittling ) 
__Park map/guidebooks/trail maps
__ playdough for kids
__ Toys for kids (stay away from plush anything, needs to be easily washed
__radios/walkie talkies

Some of these can go into camp site tub if room.  I tend to put it in my big suitcase.

__Sleeping bag

__Air mattress/sleeping pad/cot
__Air pump
__Repair kit for air mattress

SUITCASES or CLOTHING TUBS-Clothes for each person

 __Shower shoes/flip flops 
__Play/Mud shoes for kids and hiking 
__Socks/tall socks for hiking
__Sleep clothes
__Rain gear
__Swim suit/towels/washcloths


__Soap in plastic case/shampoo
__Tooth brush/tooth paste
__Feminine products
__Other personal items
__Personal medications
__Sunscreen/ aloe vera
__ chapstick/
__ Cell phone/charger
 __Camera/battery/memory card
 __Money/ID/credit card/quarter

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  1. Love this, I have wanted to use tubs and organization and started putting one together. I love this thank you!

    1. So glad it could be helpful to someone else! My first camping trip made me crazy because we didn't do a system like this. Now I look forward to camping!

  2. I have done tub camping for a few years but you have some great ideas that I'll be using when we goi camping next. Thanks for putting this together!

  3. I started doing something similar when camping, but only had one tub and a bunch of mismatched containers and bags. It was anyone's guess whet the cutlery, tp, extra tent pegs and frisbee were... I was the only person to ask too....ugh, so frustrating and illogical of me. Tub system looks great, will buy ones that fit on my garage shelving

  4. i do the same thing with 2 five gallon buckets with lids; one is "camp kitchen" and the other is "camp bathroom" can put lots of stuff in those buckets. the kitchen bucket --empty-- becomes a sink, and the bathroom bucket, with a liner, a folding seat, and some kitty litter, becomes a potty. I keep these packed with everything on my checklist in the camping notebook...most of the things on your list, plus other stuff like: soft folding water carrier, solar shower bag, vinyl shower curtain, etc. Easy to grab and throw in the car!

    1. That is a great idea! The campground we go to has modern bathrooms and showers, but I will definitely use that bucket system if we go primitive camping!!

  5. We do this, and it works great!

    We use cheap plastic, reusable, plates and silverware instead of throw-aways.

    NOTE: I would add a few things:
    *2 rolls of toilet paper (camp bathrooms always run out!)
    *old door mat to use at tent entrance
    *enough tarps to set under each tent to keep dampness out
    *small broom to sweep tents etc

    1. Great additions! We have the tarp rolled up with our tent, but they should definitely be on the list! Thank you!

  6. our camping gear lives in the garage in the tubs, we have lists for last minute items but it all just gets shifted to the trailer. All we need to think about is food and clothing as we refresh the the tubs after each trip so they are ready to go. Over the ears we have accumulated specific pans etc for camping so always packed. Living in a flood/bush fire prone area this also gives us a sense of being ready in case...

  7. LOVE this! Just wanted you to know it was featured on our site today: Thanks so much for sharing!!! XOXO, The Dating Divas

    1. Thank you so much Becca!!!I thought I had replied earlier, sorry about that! I really appreciate you sharing!!!!!

  8. Just an extra note, I also use tubs to camp but I also pack our clothing in another tub to keep it dry! It works great and then we don't have 5 different suitcases or bags floating around too.

  9. I'm excited to try this out. I'm going camping for the first time in 2 weeks with some church friends. This takes the "overwhelming" out of getting ready to go! Thank you!

  10. This is a great system that works really well! I use clear packing tape to fasten a list of each tub's contents to the lid- no more rummaging around in the wrong tub. My favorite recent camping tip: get a cheap over the door shoe organizer with clear pockets, hang near your "kitchen" area, and fill the pockets with commonly used items. Utensils in one, napkins in another, salt and pepper in a third, and so on. Makes cooking and preparing for meals so much easier!

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  12. we've been doing this for years..although our totes are very large and have locking latches on side also has tote has camping supplies...all the kitchen/eating stuff stays in it..the other has the tent supplies and our air mattress in it..when it's empty it gets some of the overflow food items...they're latchable and we've never had an issue w/coons getting into them...our main food tote is clear and it goes in the truck at night

  13. Growing up camping in a tent with my parents...we always did this. To this day, I now use many if not all supplies I used when I camped with my family 30 years ago....even the canope and tent are the same and in primo condition! Anyway, something else we used to do and I still do with my own family is packing all clothes, swimsuit and beach and bath towels in a banana box. Reason is, they are easy to pack and stack b/c they are all the same size, have handles easy for carrying, and with the kids....if it fits in the can go....if says home! Cuts down on nonsense items being hauled with us that end up never seeing the light of day! :-)

  14. Great idea - this is exactly what we do. Only thing to add is a check-list taped to the side of each tub (use the plastic page protectors) with the contents - that way everyone knows what is in the tub and makes repacking it that much easier.

  15. Tent camping can be a great way to have quality family time and not spend your ...

  16. This is a great way to have everything organized by type of item. I think it is good to be prepared for camping, especially if you have kids with you. However, it is a lot harder staying organized when you have a bunch of kids in a camp site with you!

  17. Would love to email you about something we found very helpful for camping with kids. You can find a link to it here:

  18. Tube camping is really great idea. It is always hassle to keep staffs in elsewhere. Clear tube is perfect for RV camping.

  19. This checklist rules! I hope that you can share some moving checklist? I am going to move to another town next year and I don't know what to take with me and what to leave. Most of my furniture are old and I won't take them with me, so I am completely confused!

  20. Excellent suggestions for camping and for any possible disasters where you need to evacuate at a moments notice i.e emergency prepardness. Knapsacks would be a suggestion for kids clothes and emergency items like a flashlight or light stick(s), small toy or cards, power bars emergency blanket, picture of family and contact info. and of course water bottle

  21. Thank you so much for the lists & tips!

  22. I use clear contact paper for the lists on the tubs that always have the same thing in them and just stick it over the lists on the top of the tubs. For things that change I have used the shiny, heavyweight sheet protectors and have put check boxes on the lists (on the computer) and then check off the boxes with a china marker (grease pencil) on the sheet protector as I go

  23. Amazing site, Distinguished input that I can handle. Im advancing and might apply to my present place of employment as a pet sitter, which is exceptionally pleasant, yet I have to extra grow. Respects. Omeals

  24. Two things, the first being I've found those plastic cases for soap can get broken pretty easily. We use a plastic baggy. Wrap a washcloth around the bar soap first and stick it in the bag. Second, put one day's clothing in a plastic bag. I'm a former Girl Scout leader, and this one tip has helped more than one girl or leader a time or two. The backpack was completely soaked but the contents were bone dry :-)

  25. I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. Mark Gill

  26. Good ideas. I've sort of done similar but not all the way. I had a small closet where I used to store all the camping gear in one place.Then my husband took it over and our stuff is now scattered. I'm getting ready for a camping trip right now and could have used your ideas a lot sooner. But I do have most of my stuff dedicated strictly for the camping.

  27. What a beautiful thing this is and will be - both for the eyes and for the spirit!

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