Camp in style!

There is nothing more memorable and unifying than a family camping trip in the great outdoors. Being together in nature does wonders for the mind, body and soul. Whether you are backpacking or car camping, the number one rule of thumb is to always be prepared. The basics are essential. Packing for a multi-person wilderness getaway doesn’t have to be a daunting experience, as long as you are organized.  Campsites book up quickly, so it’s in your best interest to be ready to go when the opportunity arises. Don’t find yourself setting up camp only to realize you’ve forgotten a staple item. Natrel and Play Outdoors Vancouver can help you enjoy the prep just as much as the adventure. Practice these mindful camping tips and use our checklist to make your next outdoor adventure as unspoiled as nature itself.

Tip 1

Pillows are a camping luxury. Comfortable and practical, fill a pillowcase with clean clothing at bedtime and you’ll feel like you are really roughing it.


  • Tent, tent fly, poles and stakes
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pad/ air mattress or foamy
  • Air pump
  • Minimum 2 tarps (one for under the tent and one as rain shelter)
  • Rope
  • Pillowcases
  • Camping chairs

Don’t forget to bear-proof your food source and keep your site free of scraps and scents. When car camping, be sure to keep your coolers locked and inaccessible to wildlife by sealing them at night with zap straps. Pack up food, store it inside your car at night and don’t forget to close all the windows and doors. If you are bush camping, the rule of thumb is to suspend your food in canvas or dry bags at least 12-15 feet off the ground and at least 8 feet away from the tree trunk.

The Camp Kitchen

  • Zap straps
  • Stove
  • Fuel/propane
  • Grill
  • Water storage and bottles
  • Pot with lid
  • Coffee press & mugs
  • Oven mitts
  • Fry pan
  • Bottle opener / corkscrew
  • Can opener
  • Plates, bowls, serving bowls
  • Garbage bags
  • Tinfoil
  • Ziplocs /food storage
  • Cutting board
  • Cooking utensils (spatula, flipper)
  • Paring knife and chef’s knife
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Pot scrubber & dishtowel
  • Cutlery
  • Water filter

Trendy, manufactured marshmallow and hot dog roasting sticks may seem like a novel idea, but they’re awkward to pack and cost a bit of money. Instead, make it a family activity to see who can find the best roasting stick. On top of being fun and adventurous, it's long been a part of the camping experience. Just make sure not to cut any healthy tree branches – use sticks that you find on the ground instead. After all, we need to respect Mother Nature!

Fire and Ice must haves

  • Cooler(s)
  • Matches and lighter
  • Dry bag or duffel bag for food storage + rope
  • Shovel and axe (unless there is a fire ban in effect)
  • Firewood
  • Ice

Tip 4

Outdoor yoga is all the rage and you don’t even need a mat, just nature and the sounds of the birds and bees. Find a secure area to practice some of your favourite poses or simply sit and meditate while Mother Nature takes care of the rest.


Fun makers: A deck of cards, camera, bikes, do-it-yourself scavenger hunt, water toys

Personal Items and Toiletries

  • First aid kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • TP (toilet paper)
  • Personal toiletries (biodegradable if possible) (shampoo/toothpaste/toothbrush/hairbrush)
  • Towels
  • Hand sanitizer

Tip 5

Open your mind to Mother Nature and see just how many solutions she offers at no cost. Brighten your site with a handpicked flower arrangement, search for unique rocks to secure your tablecloth, use driftwood as table décor or a large rock as a hammer. Even beach sand in a mason jar makes for a crafty candleholder. Do make campsite chores fun activities for the kids. Make it a game and reward the most unique daily find with a get-out-of-dish-duty-free pass for the day.

After Dark must haves

  • Lanterns + fuel
  • Flashlights
  • Headlamps
  • Batteries
  • Candles

Tip 6

Store all of your camping essentials in plastic bins organized by category so that when the outdoors beckon, you just need to cross-reference your checklist.


  • PFD
  • Rain gear
  • Sun hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Quick dry T-shirts /tanks
  • Underwear
  • Synthetic or wool socks
  • Pants and shorts
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Sweater or fleece
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Water shoes
  • Hiking boots or appropriate footwear
  • Sleepwear

The Menu: Possibly the most popular camping activity is cooking and eating, as food simply tastes better outdoors. Put some thought into planning the menu and packing the right amount of food. According to wilderness guides, the best way to calculate daily food portions is 1.5–2lbs per person per day, taking into account summer activities and energy output like hiking, biking and swimming.


It’s amazing how something as simple as a dash of spice can make anything taste gourmet outdoors.

Food items and ingredients:

  • Natrel milk
  • Coffee/Cocoa/Tea
  • Butter/Margarine
  • Oil
  • Eggs
  • Spices & Herbs
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Rice/Pasta
  • Pancake Batter & Syrup
  • Jam & PB
  • Breads
  • Granola or oatmeal
  • Meat or alternative
  • Drink crystals
  • Fruit
  • Veggies
  • Cheese
  • Energy foods and snacks
  • Chocolate and sweets
  • Marshmallows
Drinks and smoothies
S’more hot chocolate