How to pack

Your summer camping checklist

Ahh summer… a time of the year where our priorities shift from the daily grind to long sunny days filled with adventure, and holiday memories to last a lifetime. And what better way to tick off both than with a summer camping trip!

Whether you want to venture offshore for a little island time, pitch a tent somewhere remote with few distractions, go off-road 4×4 style or even bring your pooch along; Queensland offers camping experiences from the outback to the ocean and all that’s in between.

But no matter where you decide to set up camp, there a few packing essentials that don’t discriminate by location.

So we prepared this ultimate summer camping checklist to keep you in check. (Psst. Total camping newbie? You might appreciate these tips.)

Health and hygiene


The phrase ‘slip, slop, slap’ is so much more than just a summer motto, it’s the Australian way of life. Avoid an awkward (read: painful) singlet tan and looking like a lobster by loading up with water-resistant sunscreen packing some SPF 50+.

While it’s quite the compliment to be found so incredibly delicious, you’d rather avoid the unwanted attention of mozzies, so don’t forget insect repellent and a mosquito coil for back-up.

Hand sanitiser, toilet wipes and a first aid kit should also be packed in the event of an emergency (because for some, finding a drop toilet instead of a real loo can be quite the crisis).

A tip for the ladies: leave the fancy hair products and straighteners at home, because 1) camping is an opportunity to embrace the au naturel maybe-she’s-actually-born-with-it look, and 2) there’s really just no point because the humidity is going to stuff up your efforts anyway.

Dress code


If there was ever a more appropriate time to wear thongs, this is it (minds out of the gutter people, we’re talking about the footwear kind). You’ll also want to pack a pair of runners so you can go and explore your surroundings.

And just putting it out there… if you want to bring a pair of Crocs there will be no judgement here. I myself have a pair of the sandals and they are comfy, durable and fabulous. Let the haters hate!

Guys, bust out those biceps because you’ll be living in singlets and boardies. Girls, bring some flowy pieces like summer dresses and skirts to avoid those obvious wet patches on your denim shorts after your third swim of the day.

Togs (aka swimwear, bikinis, budgie smugglers), floppy hats and caps, and sunglasses with UV protection are also summer camping staples.

Setting up camp


If you plan on using a tent, make sure it’s waterproof (summer is also our wet season) and you’ve got a foam mat to put between you and the ground for a comfy night’s sleep.

Prefer sleeping under the stars? All swags come with a mattress, so you just need to look out for one with good ventilation because as Nelly predicted, it’s going to get “hot in here”.

It goes without saying that sleeping bags and pillows are a camping necessity, but you would be surprised at how many people end up having to use their backpack and its contents as cushioning. SO DON’T FORGET THEM.

Take it from my personal experience, your iPhone flashlight is not going to cut it camping. Bring a torch with spare batteries and a lantern/lamp so you can get around easily at night.

If you’re camping out for a lengthy amount of time, why not bring a tarp for some shade, camp chairs and a fold-up table to really make the place feel like home.

Camp kitchen

The summer heat teamed with water fun and full-day adventures = one hangry camper, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve packed enough food and water – along with the right cooking utensils – to keep you energised and hydrated throughout your trip.

Food and water

First things first, before heading off check whether the campsite has access to clean running water and whether it needs to be treated (e.g. boiled) before drinking. Even still, it’s a good idea to pack your own water and bring more than you need, taking into consideration how many days you’re going, the number of people, and how much water you’ll need for cooking and utensils that have to be cleaned.

If there’s no supermarket close by, you’ll want to stock up on non-perishable foods that won’t spoil. Start with anything canned or in a packet: tuna, spaghetti, baked beans, soups, noodles, even dehydrated foods (honestly, they’re not as bland as you think). Crackers, biscuits, nut bars, rice cakes, apples and other non-bruising fruits also make for handy snacks during the day.

If you want to bring cold goods (because what would a summer camping trip be if they weren’t some snags on the barbie?), you’re going to need more than just your average cooler bag or Esky to keep them from going off. Ice boxes can keep your food from spoiling anywhere from a couple of days up to a week, depending on the size and make.

Cookin’ up


Investing in a gas stove or portable BBQ is totally worth it if you want a decent feed, especially since prices start at a measly $25 for single gas burner from camping stores like BCF. Not to mention you’ll feel right at home when you can have a cup of tea, fry up bacon and eggs for brekky and make some mi goreng!

Want to cook over a fire? Get yourself a standing plate and grill or tripod and make sure you have water and a fire extinguisher on-hand.

Extra tidbits on the camp kitchen checklist: matches, lighters, cutlery, cooking utensils, sauces, bowls and plates, cups and mugs, pots and pans, extra gas, dish soap, paper towels and garbage bags.

(Note: If there are no bins on site, make sure you take all your rubbish with you and leave only your footprints.)



Long days spent with friends and family can get boring tiresome if you don’t keep yourself occupied. Do some research beforehand to find out if there are any cool walking trails or sights to explore.

If you’d rather stick close to camp, pack a cricket set, frisbee and footy for a little fun in the sun. Water sports more your thing? Bring along some fishing gear and your surfboard/body board, kayaks, tubes and inflatables, if location permits.

For most, camping is a chance for a little downtime. Have books and magazines handy for when you find that perfect spot under a shady tree.

Although technology isn’t considered a high priority on the camping packing list, having some portable speakers ain’t a crime when you want to bust out the beats to liven things up!

Last but not least, make sure you bring your camera – fully charged with enough space on your memory card – because you’re going to want to remember these epic summer adventures for life.

Where are you going on your summer camping trip?