Minimalist Camping Checklist

For many people, the joy of camping is spending time experiencing the outdoors. But it’s difficult to truly appreciate nature if you bring all the comforts of home along with you. This is where minimalist camping comes in.

Minimalist camping means different things to different people. Everything from completely living off the trail to a backpack with only the essentials can fall under the minimalist camping umbrella. What it truly comes down to is bringing less. Less stuff, less weight, less unnecessary luxuries. Bringing only what you need for a safe and enjoyable camping trip. If this sounds like fun, here is a checklist to help you plan your minimalist campout.

Minimalist Camping Checklist

1. Backpack

Even the most minimalist of camping trips will require a means to transport your supplies. For most minimalist campers, this is usually a backpack. Especially if you are hiking to your desired camping spot.

Choose a backpack you can carry comfortably for the length of your anticipated hike. And one big enough to carry all of your essential gear.

Take a practice hike around your neighborhood before your camping trip. Few things motivate you to bring less than experiencing how difficult a full pack can be to carry.

2. Backpacking Tarp or Tent

Some minimalist campers plan to sleep under the stars and that can be a wonderful experience. But if you prefer to have some shelter from potential weather a backpacking tarp or tent is a great option. There are a number of ultralight tents and tarps available that are specifically designed for carrying in a pack.

3. Sleeping Bag

Like the backpacking tarps and tents, a sleeping bag specifically designed for a backpack is going to be small and lightweight. Perfect if you’re carrying your gear. And it is equally important to find a sleeping bag rated for the weather you expect to encounter.

4. Water

You will need water to drink and possibly to cook with on any camping trip. Water is heavy to pack so for a minimalist camping trip, it is best to bring a water filtration device or water purification tablets.

5. Food

As a minimalist camper, you may want to try living off the trail in as many ways as possible. Fishing, for instance, is a fun way to have fresh food on a campout. But even the luckiest fisherman strikes out once in awhile and you may crave more than you can catch.

There are plenty of healthy, calorie dense food options for your trip. Consider protein bars, instant hot cereals, dehydrated food, dried fruit, or nuts as some easily packable options.

6. Multi-tool

A multi-tool with a can opener and a knife is an essential minimalist camping item. And it’s handy because most tools can be worn on your belt instead of taking up room in your pack.

7. Cooking Supplies

Check out your local outdoor supply store for a dinnerware set with a bowl or plate, cup, and utensils that can fit inside a cook pot or pan. Plan ahead how and what you will be cooking so you bring only the cooking supplies you really need. These items can be cumbersome, so you don’t want to bring anything extra.

8. First Aid Kit

Stock your first-aid kit with bandages, antiseptic, fever reducing medicines, sunscreen, and your Bug Bite Thing to ensure minor injuries or illness don’t ruin your trip.

9. Flashlight

A flashlight might be your only light in a remote area. If your flashlight takes batteries, make sure you bring an extra set. LED flashlights are typically a lighter and more energy efficient option.

10. Lighter or Matches

If you’re planning on a campfire for heat, light, or cooking, make sure you bring at least two lighters and matches in a waterproof case. A homemade firestarter will also come in handy to make sure your match or lighter produce a usable flame.  With something this essential, you want to have a backup plan.


  • Kevin Boock

    Thought of one more item, a fire-steel/fero rod with a striker (back of the saw blade on the multi-tool).

  • Kevin Boock

    I personally add a small folding saw because I enjoy having a fire when I am out camping (where legal). The folding saw is lightweight and worth the efficiencies that you gain. Also, I like to utilize a “JetBoil” when hike-in camping with Mountain House Meals.

    One thing I want to add to my pack is a packable fishing rod/reel.

  • Gregory

    A decent sized knife. I can’t imagine being outdoors any length of time without a knife, not just a multi-tool.

  • Roger Smith

    Some great ideas. Can’t wait for our next family camping trip!! Thanks.

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