Packing Checklist for Freedom Camping

Freedom camping is a thrilling adventure for any experienced camper looking for a challenge. Since you don’t have a designated campground to stay at, you’ll need to think about everything you may need in the great outdoors. 

Whether you plan to freedom camp solo or with a crew, we know how important it is to be prepared. That’s why we’ve created the ultimate packing checklist for freedom camping. 

Below, we’ll share a comprehensive checklist of things you may need to pack from camping tools to toiletries. Then, we’ll share some of our top freedom camping tips we’ve learned from our own experiences. 

portable backpacking and camping chairs

The Ultimate Freedom Camping Checklist

This checklist is broken into 9 different categories. Note that you may not personally need every single item on this list. On the other hand, you may also need some things that aren’t listed here. 

Use this list to keep track of what you need to pack and use your judgement to determine if you need to make any personal changes before you camp on public lands. Every location has different rules and laws about staying on public property, so be sure you’re allowed to freedom camp in the area you’re considering.

Campsite Must-Haves

Note that the items you need depend on whether you’re planning to camp in a tent or in an RV. Keep this in mind as you pack your must-haves. 

  • Tent, footprint, and stakes
  • Mosquito netting
  • Bedding
    • Sleeping bag
    • Sleeping pad
    • Air mattress and pump
    • Pillow
    • Extra blankets or sheets
  • Lighting
    • Flashlight
    • Lantern
    • Headlamp
    • Fuel
    • Batteries
  • Camping Furniture
    • Folding table
    • Hammock
    • Cot
    • Mat or rug
  • Firewood and kindling
  • Water bottle
Camping Fire Cooking Bulgaria
We made quite the showing with our camping cookout, in the Balkan wilderness.

Camping Tools

Camping tools are important to set up gear and keep yourself safe. Remember everything you plan to set up at your camping location when choosing which tools to bring. 

  • Mallet or hammer (for tent stakes)
  • Clothesline and clips
  • Pocket knife
  • Multi-tool
  • Duct tape
  • Rope or cord
  • Tent repair kit
  • Solar panel
  • Compass
  • Portable generator
  • Binoculars
  • Camping fan
  • Inflatable mattress repair kit
  • Axe or saw (for firewood)
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Pliers
  • Water containers
  • Bungee cords
  • S hooks
  • Umbrella
there’s lots of different cooking supplies you can bring with you, from pans to kettles

Kitchen and Cooking

Your kitchen and cooking tools may depend on whether you have access to a portable kitchen or not. If you’re camping in a tent, you’ll need to bring the right tools to cook over a fire or on a portable grill. Pack the tools you need depending on your circumstances. 

  • Eating utensils
    • Forks
    • Spoons
    • Knives
  • Cooking utensils
    • Spatula
    • Serving spoon
    • Whisk
    • Tongs
    • Skewers
    • Measuring cups
    • Basting brush
    • Kitchen scissors
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Mugs and cups
  • Cutting board
  • Portable stove and fuel
  • Portable coffee maker
  • Charcoal
  • Lighter 
  • Pots
  • Pans
  • Lighter or matches
  • Bottle opener
  • Can opener
  • Water dispenser
  • Cooler and ice
  • Tablecloth and clips
  • Wash bin or camp sink
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Dish towels
  • Tin foil
  • Ziploc bags
  • Sponges
  • Oven mitts
  • Foot thermometer
  • Garbage bags
  • Paper towels
  • Coffee filters
  • Water filtration system
  • Jugs of clean water
  • Food (basic list, create your own menu)
    • Instant drink mix
    • Salt, pepper, and other seasonings
    • Canned goods
    • Fresh fruit
    • Fresh vegetables
    • S’mores
      • Graham crackers
      • Chocolate
      • Marshmallows 
    • Peanut butter
    • Granola
    • Trail mix
    • Chips
    • Bread and wraps
    • Coffee/Tea
    • Powdered creamer/sweetener
    • Condiments
    • Cooking oil
red and white rv camping trailer parked in the desert

Clothes and Shoes

Keep in mind the weather and time of year you plan to go camping.

  • Shirts
    • Long-sleeve
    • Short-sleeve
  • Pants
  • Shorts
  • Belt
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Bras
  • Pajamas
  • Sweater
  • Jacket
  • Raincoat or poncho
  • Winter coat
  • Swimsuit
  • Sunhat
  • Knit hat
  • Rainboots
  • Sneakers/Tennis shoes
  • Hiking boots
  • Flip-flops
  • Shower shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves
  • Watch
  • Bandana

Hygiene and Toiletries

  • Portable toilet
  • Portable camp shower
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels
  • Biodegradable shampoo/conditioner
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Lotion
  • Moisturizer
  • Washcloth/loofa
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Deodorant
  • Nail clippers
  • Contacts
    • Case
    • Solution
  • Razor
  • Shower cap
  • Menstrual products
  • Shower shoes
  • Sanitation trowel
  • Mirror
  • Baby wipes
  • Lip balm

Optional Recreational Gear

  • Card games
  • Cornhole
  • Art supplies
  • Camera and lenses
  • Field guides
  • Star chart

Safety and First Aid

  • First aid kit
    • Adhesive andages
    • Antiseptic wipes
    • Adhesive cloth tape
    • Antibiotic ointment
    • Hydrocortisone ointment
    • Anti-itch cream
    • Aspirin
    • Cold compress/ice pack
    • Nonlatex gloves
    • Gauze bandages
    • Gauze pads
    • Oral thermometer
    • Tweezers
    • Emergency blanket
    • Breathing barrier
    • Eye drops
  • Bug repellant (spray/candles)
  • Waterproof matches
  • Bear mace
  • Sunscreen
  • Whistle
  • Printed directions to closest hospital
  • Hand sanitizer

Miscellaneous Items

  • Writing utensils
    • Pens
    • Pencils
    • Markers
  • Journal
  • Book
  • Optional: Pet food/supplies
  • RV wheel chocks

Personal Items

  • ID card
  • Cell phone
  • Portable charger
  • Medication
  • Cash
  • Credit cards
  • Keys
just a bit of camping furniture can make all the difference on your next trip.

Freedom Camping Tips

Now that you’re packed, here are our top freedom camping tips before you hit the road and start camping in the wild. 

Plan Your Route Ahead

The more planning you do up front, the better your trip will be in the long run. There are so many options for you when it comes to freedom camping that it can get overwhelming if you don’t have a solid plan in place. 

Do some research on common freedom camping routes in the area you plan to camp in., Reserve America, and Campendium are three great websites and apps to start doing your research. Reading about past experiences from others can help you prepare to take the trip yourself. 

You should also keep important pitstops in mind as you head to your destination. Look up important locations such as public restrooms, drinking water points, emergency phone points, First Aid stations, and local hospitals on your route. This will make the trip much less stressful on you if you need one of these locations during your camping trip. 

Keep it Simple

Though you can go as lavish as you want when it comes to your camping trip, sometimes keeping it simple is best. Try not to weigh yourself down by overpacking more than you really need to take with you. Focus only on the items you definitely plan to use while you’re enjoying the great outdoors. 

You should also try to keep your setup simple. Don’t plan to cook any extravagant meals while you’re freedom camping. Try to plan easy meals like cereal, soup, or sandwiches that don’t take too much time, effort, or equipment to prepare. Remember: the bigger you go, the more stuff you have to lug with you. 

Freedom camping should be a fun, enjoyable experience. The easier your trip is, the happier you’ll be. 

Put Safety First

No matter what, always put safety first. Anything can happen from sudden weather storms or animal appearances. Make sure you carry tools for self defense and protection at all times, from bear mace (if bears are spotted in your region) to ponchos and umbrellas. 

Find a Safe Spot

You should always make sure the place you’re camping in is safe for camping. Try not to stay in any valley areas that are at risk of flooding in the rain, or on hills where you run the risk for lightning strikes.

You should also look at whether or not it is common to see dangerous animals in the area you’re considering. Areas that are designated as safe for freedom camping tend to be safer than random places, as people have successfully camped there before.

Protect Your Site

Any time you leave your site you should lock up your valuables or take them with you. You never know when a potential thief will find your spot. The more secure you can keep your items with locks or by taking them with you, the safer you’ll be. 

Also, make sure you don’t leave behind human waste and always put your food away to prevent attracting animals to your location to rummage through your snacks.

Prepare for Emergencies

As a backup, have printed directions to the nearest hospital and First Aid station with you at all times. You should also never go anywhere without a basic first aid kit on you, in case someone accidentally trips, cuts, or burns themselves. Nature is beautiful, but it can also be unpredictable. 

freedom camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors at your own pace.

Final Thoughts

Planning and packing for your freedom camping trip is what will make it so enjoyable in the end. With this ultimate packing checklist, you can have peace of mind knowing you won’t forget anything important. 

Remember that everyone’s camping experience is different. The location and time of year of your trip will greatly impact what you bring, so be sure to pack according to your own needs. Make sure you also focus on safety, as you never want to be unprepared in the event of a dangerous or unexpected situation. 

Before you hit the road, check out some of the best RV camping spots in the United States. Perhaps you’ll visit one!

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