Your 2021 Van-Camping Checklist

couple sitting in camping chairs looking out at a mountain campsite

Camping has evolved a lot in recent years. Van Life & Van Camping are trending upward with no signs of slowing down, so pitching a tent is almost old-fashioned. Our core crew at FLPSDE grew up in the country, traveling for motocross events, and riverfront camping with family. We're familiar with finding the perfect camping spot, but van camping in our custom FLPSDE transit van adds a few extra items to the checklist.

There are a few things you need to prepare when van camping that you don't necessarily have to think about when backpacking or tent camping. If you're using your van as a mobile hotel, you'll want to be sure your amenities are in check.

Check list for prepping your van for camping

  1. Make sure your van is primed with a full tank of gas, up-to date oil change, spare tire, and a good cleaning - A clean van gets better gas mileage.

  2. Know your climate & bring appropriate tools. For example, if you're trying to be the first one on the lift, van camping at the base of a snowy mountain might require a shovel and ice-scraper. Similarly, a shovel could come in handy when beach camping.

  3. Make your reservation ahead of time. Spots may be taken or check-in could close before you arrive.

  4. There's nothing more irritating than trying to relax sideways. Pack levelers.

  5. Make sure you're well stocked with healthy road trip snacks because, depending on where you go, many gas stations have little to offer in the way of healthy snacks.

Now that the "hotel" is primed, it's time to check the rest of the essentials off the list. Camping, by itself, is a minimalist experience. There's no room for extra so it's important to make the most of what you bring, starting with where you sleep.

Check list for your van camping sleeping space

  1. Memory foam pad. Air mattresses require an air pump and electricity; this is why we roll with a memory foam mattress.

  2. Your favorite pillow(s). If you're like us, your knees need their own pillow. ;)

  3. Sleeping bag or blankets. For moto, and super cold campsites, we like a good mummy sleeping bag for staying toasty.

  4. Light. Unless you're running a generator or hooked up to power, when it gets's friggin dark! Pack a battery-powered lantern & a flashlight for midnight bathroom breaks.

  5. Fan. Having a fan in your van is helpful for two reasons: 1. Clutch after hot moto or MTB sessions, and 2. White noise for when the quiet of being in the middle of nowhere is a little too quiet.

So, when you're not sleeping, you'll want to be prepared for filling the day with activities; ideally disconnected from your devices. For most, camping includes hiking, biking, fishing, snowboarding or something similar (We also like to bring a deck of cards and a good book). Things are going to get dirty, and you won't want to be sleeping around stinky, muddy, wet gear.

Van camping gear cleanup checklist

  1. Solar shower; maybe with a pop-up shower tent (also great for outdoor toilet).

  2. Speaking of toilet, a camping toilet can come in really handy when camping at the track, on the beach, or a crowded campsite.

  3. Muck mat. Somewhere to put your dirty, muddy gear that isn't your chill space.

  4. Towels. Be sure to keep your clean and dirty towels separate.

  5. Eco-friendly soap. We like Dr. Bronner's.

  6. Power washer. If you can swing it, a power washer is super handy after your extra adventurey days.

  7. Clothes line and clips for drying your wetsuit, swimsuit or hand-washed gear.

  8. Small room and dust pan.

Between the chillaxin' and outdoor activities, you need fuel. Food. Water. Snacks...lots of snacks! Depending on the level of your van camping boujeeness, you might have a fridge or mini-kitchen. If your ballin on a budget, a bonfire will be your oven and a cooler your fridge.

Van camping kitchen and cooking checklist

  1. Fishing for dinner? Pack your poles, tackle, bate, bucket, knife & cutting board.

  2. FIRE! Matches, coal or wood, fire starter, and grill tools (including seasonings).

  3. Ideas: Dutch Oven, Grate, Kettle, Coffee Percolator,

  4. Axe for cutting firewood.

  5. Portable mini grill. Pssst! This can double as a mini fire pit.

  6. A big cooler with lots of ice. Tip: The right cooler can double as a seat.

  7. Reusable plates, drinkware, silverware, napkins and containers.

  8. Eco-friendly soap & cleaning bucket with sponge.

  9. Trash and recycling bags. No one likes a litter bug...don't be that guy!

Speaking of chillaxin'...the outdoors are now your living room and dinning room. There are a few essentials we always like to have packed for van camping.

Van camping chill area checklist

  1. Outdoor rug.

  2. Awesome camping chairs.

  3. Food prep & eating table.

  4. Canopy for sun protection.

  5. Citronella candle.

  6. Eco-friendly bug spray.

Surely you have some of your own personal touches to complete your van camping checklist, but we're confident that with these items and a FLPSDE reusable water bottle with snack storage for every camper, you'll be fueled for adventure and leaving your camping area better than you found it. Happy van-camping!

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van camping bed looking out on a mountain campsite