The Secret to an Organized Camping Trip

Keep the chaos out of your camp life with this guide.

This story is part of our The Great Guide to Outside in the July issue of Milwaukee Magazine. To read the full guide, order your copy today!

Yes, you will be “roughing it” on your camping trip, but that’s no reason to make a trip rough with poor packing.  Be sure to remember the necessities; use a checklist and pack carefully. And before you load up, think containers. You definitely want a good cooler large enough for your trip’s food and insulated enough to keep things cool for the entire stay. Sturdy storage bins with a lid and handles can keep all your dry goods and camping supplies handy and organized. In addition to the larger camp items, we like having three main bins: the two laid out in the list below plus another for food that’s best kept in the car. 

Quick Tips:

1. Remember the cribbage board and a deck of cards!

2. Freezing jugs or bottles of drinking water lets  them do double duty as ice – and will keep your cool food drier. 

3. Lanterns are useful for illuminating the space and great for group activities, like a game of cards. For activities that require both hands free, try a headlamp. If you go rustic with no electric outlet at camp, don’t forget charging packs. 

4. Don’t bring your own firewood; buy it on-site or as close to the park as possible to avoid spreading tree-killing parasites. A hatchet can quickly make kindling, but foraging sticks and pine needles works, too. 

Camp List

Make your home away from home.

Larger Camp Items

Tent and poles

Tarp for under tent

Sleeping bags or pads and blankets


Camp chairs (with cup holders, we say)

Kitchen Bin 

For more detail, and strategy on what to do with this stuff, read [INSERT STORY HERE]

Camp stove and fuel, or grill and charcoal

Frying pan 


Skewers, tongs, flippers

Oven mitt

Aluminum foil


Dish-washing tub

Plates, utensils, cups, mugs, water bottles 

Knives and cutting board

Dish rag and towel

Utility Bin

Toiletries and smaller items to keep camp.

Extra rag to clean tent

Trash bags/box

Matches and/or lighter in dry bag


Hatchet (optional)

Toothbrush, toothpaste 

Soap, shampoo

Bug spray




Extra roll of toilet paper 

Any required meds, EpiPen

First aid kit: bandages, tweezers, safety pins, scissors, pain relief, antiseptic cream, Benadryl, sunburn relief. 


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s July Issue.

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