Arizona Desert Camping Checklist

April 29, 2017

Ah, Arizona deserts—full of miraculous wildlife, cotton-candy sunsets, and endless hiking trails. What’s not to love? These characteristics make Arizona deserts the perfect destination to camp, hike, hunt, and enjoy the great outdoors.

But, before embarking on your camping adventure, there are a few things you’ll need to prep, starting with a packing list. A well-organized packing list is crucial. You never know what may come your way in the desert, be it harsh climates, intensive hiking trails, or dangerous wildlife. It’s important to be fully prepared for all instances.

To help you prep for your excursion, we’re sharing the ultimate Arizona desert camping list. Below, you’ll find everything you need to bring with you, tips and tricks for surviving the harsh heat, and even a printable packing checklist to help you stay organized.

What you need to bring

Camping packing lists can be subjective. Some campers hate the idea of roughing it and pack every item they’d ever need and more. Other campers enjoy the art of camping with only a few necessary items.

For the purposes of this article, we choose to meet these opposite ends of the spectrum in the middle. Our packing list below includes all the basics you’ll need in addition to several other key items that aren’t necessary, but will benefit you greatly during your stay.

With that said, here’s what you need to survive your next Arizona desert camping trip:


We’ll first begin with shelter. During your stay, it’s important to have appropriate shelter. Shelter will help you feel comfortable in your camping site and protect you from the harsh elements of the desert.

For a safe and comfortable shelter, we recommend adding the following items to your packing list:

  • Tent
  • Stakes
  • Rope
  • Poles
  • Tarp


Next, be sure you’re bringing the right bedding. Not every camping trip equates to roughing it in the wild. In most cases, we recommend bringing plenty of bedding so you can get a good night’s rest. Trust us, after fishing, hiking, or hunting all day, you’re going to want a cozy sanctuary to turn in to during the evening.

When gathering bedding for your trip, don’t forget to bring the following:

  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Blankets
  • Air mattress
  • Air mattress pump
  • Batteries for pump
  • Cot
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Sheets
  • Hammock


Before taking off on your desert adventure, consider what you’ll eat during your stay. After days of embracing your inner outdoorsman, you’ll most likely work up an appetite. Make sure you’re ready to store, prep, and cook meals when your hunger strikes.

To get started, we recommend checking these items off your list:

  • Pots
  • Pans
  • Cooking utensils
  • Stove
  • Fuel for stove
  • Lighter
  • Water-proof matches
  • Firewood
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Silverware
  • Paper towels

When it comes to packing food, make sure you bring enough to last your entire trip. Depending on where you’re camping, you may be a long way from a grocery store. Plan accordingly and ration your meals if necessary.

Pro tip: When arriving to your campsite, take a moment to properly store and organize your food. Desert wildlife has a knack for getting into food that’s in easy-to-reach places. To avoid this, bring foods that are odorless and store them in a safe place. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy your meals before any animals do.


Just because you’re camping, doesn’t mean you should live like a caveman (unless you want to, of course). Personal hygiene is important and camping is no exception.

Make sure you’re brining these necessary toiletries:

  • Toilet paper
  • Shovel
  • Trash bags
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Soap
  • Bucket for water
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Towel


Packing the appropriate type of clothing, and in the appropriate amount is essential. There’s no need to make a fashion statement while camping, but it is important to feel comfortable in various climates, and protected when exploring the outdoors. For instance, while camping in Arizona, you may experience an extremely hot afternoon and a very cold night in one day alone. Be sure you’re ready for these rapid climate changes.

To give you an idea of what clothing to bring, we suggest the following:

  • Pants
  • Shirts
  • Hiking boots
  • Socks
  • Hats
  • Bandanas
  • Jackets
  • Rain gear
  • Windbreaker
  • Swim suit


Before taking off, don’t forget about the miscellaneous items. These items will come in handy during your stay:

  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Lantern/flashlight
  • Fire starters
  • Radio
  • Compass
  • Pocket knife
  • Binoculars
  • Money/wallet
  • Watch
  • Camp chairs
  • Trail guides/hiking guides
  • First-aid kit
  • Backpack/daypack
  • Maps of the area
  • Whistle
  • Mirror
  • Plenty of water

Desert camping tips and tricks

Now that you have your go-to camping list, your work here is done, right? Wrong. When it comes to camping in the desert, there are a few more essentials you should consider before leaving on your trip:

Time of year

Arizona summers are notorious for being scorching hot, reaching triple digits every day, on average. This means that summers may not be the best time to camp if you’re looking to experience afternoon outdoor activities. It’s important to take this into consideration when planning your trip.

Water, water, water

Unless you’ve spent a sufficient amount of time in the desert, it’s difficult to wrap your head around how hot it is and how much water you’ll need to survive. Generally, outdoor campers should drink four cups of water every hour, especially if you plan on partaking in any physical activities.

For first-time campers, consider settling at an established campsite, with access to water. That way, lack of water and dehydration is out of the question.

Sun protection

When camping in the deserts of Arizona, protection from the sun is vital. Approximately 400 Americans die each year from excess exposure to heat. Be sure to reapply sunscreen and wear protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats, bandanas, and sunglasses to avoid over exposure to the sun. Also, it’s best practice to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of dehydration, heat exhaustions, and heatstrokes before leaving on your trip. Knowing when to seek help is crucial.

Your printable camping checklist

Now that you’re educated on what you need to bring along with you, it’s time to get packing. Use the checklist below to help you prepare for your Arizona desert camping trip. Feel free to print, modify, or add any additional items to the “other” section. Do whatever you need to do to create a tailored checklist for your upcoming trip.

Arizona Desert Camping Checklist | Shoppers Supply

What’s next?

Looking for items on our checklist you don’t already own? Turn to Shoppers Supply. From clothing and camping supplies to lures, lines, and reels, you’ll find it all at our stores. Visit our Chandler or Apache Junction locations to get started.