Search this site.

Camping Clothes

Packing the right camping clothes is important. You don’t want to pack more than you need, but you don’t want leave anything important at home, either!

First I'll help you decide how to pack, and then I'll talk about what to pack.

How to Pack Camping Clothes

There are three schools of thought on how to pack for a camping trip with kids:

1. Pack lots

This strategy makes sense if you have a big RV with lots of clothes storage space.

Bring along lots of changes of clothing for each child - more than you think you’ll need. When clothes get wet or dirty, just trade them for a fresh set.

2. Pack lightly - and do laundry

If storage space is limited and you stay at a full-service campground with a laundromat, this strategy might be for you.

campground laundromat

Pack just a few changes of clothing, and plan to do laundry every few days.

Don't forget to bring along the laundry soap. A laundry basket will come in handy, too.

If you don’t mind hanging laundry on the clothesline, you can save money - and time spent in the laundry room - by hanging laundry on your clothesline. Of course, you’ll need a sturdy clothesline, somewhere to hang it, and and lots of clothespins.

3. Pack carefully

If you have limited storage space and if you're not excited about the idea of spending part of your valuable vacation in the laundry room, there is another option:

Bring clothes that are loved, sturdy, multipurpose, and quick-drying.

This is the strategy I use.

Make sure that every item you pack is going to be worn.

Pack clothing that can stand up to rough use.

Choose items that can be worn for different purposes.

When something gets too dirty, wash it out and hang it to dry.

Camping clothes packing tips

Think “layers”.

By choosing clothes that layer well, you can avoid packing bulky items - and still be prepared for any temperature.

If you are camping in fall or spring, you might encounter unexpectedly cool days. This photo was taken on an Easter camping trip. It was chilly!

kids wearing fleece

Having lots of layers will let you be comfortable at any temperature.

Here are the layers you need:

  • a base layer (underwear)
  • an outer layer (fleece pants and fleece jacket)
  • a waterproof layer (raincoats or Gore-Tex)

boys in raincoats

By swapping around those layers, you'll be ready for anything.

Avoid cotton

Cotton takes a long time to dry. If you need to rinse out an item of clothing, you don't want it to be cotton.

Choose synthetics.

Synthetic clothing dries quickly.

Fleece jackets and pants are cozy!

boys in fleece jackets and hats

Another advantage of synthetics: they pack small. A warm fleece sweater is much smaller than a wool sweater of comparable warmth.

Leave the blue jeans at home.

Blue jeans take up a lot of space, and they take forever to dry if they get wet.

Of course, if you child wears nothing but jeans, you'll probably need to bring a pair anyway. These guidelines are just .... guidelines!

What to Pack

Camping clothes packing lists

Use these lists as a starting point. Modify them to suit your destination and season.

For babies

The secret to packing for a baby is to pack lots! That's easy, because none of it takes much room.

baby wearing sunsuit

You might want to pack each outfit in a zipped plastic bag so you can just grab it and go, rather than having to search in the bottom of a duffle bag for tiny little socks.

  • diapers
  • sleepwear
  • daytime wear: pants, shorts, Tshirts, long shirts, socks
  • booties or shoes
  • bibs
  • sunhat
  • warm hat
  • warm layer (one piece fleece)

For children

Before we go camping, I scour the thrift stores for good quality synthetic clothing. That way, if (or when!) the clothes get trashed from too much rough play, no one minds.

boy in synthetic shirt

  • socks
  • underwear
  • long underwear (base layer)
  • T-shirts
  • long sleeved shirts
  • shorts
  • long pants
  • pajamas
  • bathing suits
  • sweatshirt or fleece jacket
  • rainwear
  • windproof jacket
  • warm coat
  • mittens
  • warm hat
  • sunhat or cap
  • running shoes
  • sandals
  • beach shoes
  • spf clothing
  • bug clothing

For Adults

  • socks
  • underwear
  • long underwear (base layer)
  • T-shirts
  • long sleeved shirts
  • shorts
  • long pants
  • pajamas
  • bathing suits
  • sweatshirt or fleece jacket
  • rainwear
  • windproof jacket
  • warm coat
  • mittens
  • warm hat
  • sunhat or cap
  • belt
  • sturdy shoes
  • sandals
  • work gloves

Oh, and don't forget...

... to bring a laundry bag!

Now that you know my thoughts on how to choose and pack camping clothes, click here for more information about outdoor clothing gear.

Before you head out on your next camping trip, be sure to visit The Camping Family home page. There's lots of helpful information there!

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Most popular

Camping Lists

Food Ideas

Screen Tents

Tin Foil Dinners

Planning your Trip

Sign up for my camping newsletter!

Recipes, tips and more!

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you The Camping Family Bulletin.

Join our Facebook Community!

We talk about camping every day. Please join us!