Table of Contents

17 Top Cabin Camping Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

cabin camping packing list
Updated on

Spending a few nights in a cabin is a great way to reconnect to nature without having to “rough it” in a tent. But, it can be tricky knowing what to pack. Cabin size and amenities vary from one place to the next and sometimes even within the same park! Rental cabins can range from the small, rustic, and bare minimum to the large, completely furnished unit that includes everything you would find in your own home.

No matter what type of cabin you settle on, it’s a great way to spend some quality time with family or a significant other and enjoy nature to boot. For an extra enjoyable time, use this article to make sure you don’t forget anything essential. We also let you know what to wear, what NOT to bring and answer some FAQs about cabin camping.

See our product selection criteria and guidelines here.

What to Pack for Cabin Camping – 17 Essentials

  • 1. Packing Cubes

    We think packing cubes are a must for any trip. It’s annoying, to say the least, digging around in your bag for 5 minutes in search of a particular item. (And messing any organization up even more in the process.) That’s why we highly recommend these handy cubes to keep everything in its place and easy to find.

    Packing Cubes

    View on ➜

  • 2. LifeStraw Water Bottle

    These reusable water bottles are handy even if you’re not taking them out on the trail where you need to filter water. You never know how the water will taste (or what’s in the water supply near where you’re staying, for that matter) and LifeStraw can help with this. Plus, you don’t have to worry about extra trash/recyclables with disposable water bottles!

    LifeStraw Water Bottle

    View on ➜

  • 3. Neck Wallet

    We highly recommend a neck wallet for any type of trip you might take. When it comes to cabin camping, they come in handy for a number of things: running to town or the camp store for supplies, hiking, going to the beach, horseback riding, and much more. Having all of your important cards in one place while deterring theft is a win-win!

    Neck Wallet

    View on ➜

  • 4. Portable Charger

    Small, portable chargers can be lifesavers. Charge it as soon as you get home from a trip, put it back in your travel bag, and you’re ready to go the next time! You might just need it if you happen to forget your regular charger, which we’ve all done before, right? We like this one in particular for its tiny size and fast charging capabilities.

    Portable Charger

    View on ➜

  • 5. Quick Dry Towel

    We love these because they come in handy for many things, from indoor activities, like exercising, to outdoor activities, like backpacking. If you plan on doing any water activities, like swimming or boating, you’ll be glad you brought these for their portable size and, well, quick-drying abilities. Or, you can use them as bath towels! More than likely, you will need to bring your own anyway.

    travel towel

    View on ➜

  • 6. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    Digging through a toiletry bag is almost as fun as digging through your regular bag. Plus, who wants their toothpaste, hairbrush, and deodorant mingling together? This convenient bag not only has compartments to separate all your goodies, but you can hang it up on the back of the door so everything is easily accessible while leaving you more counter space in the bathroom.

    Hanging Toiletry Bag

    View on ➜

  • 7. Cooler

    Unless you’re staying in a fully-loaded cabin, the likes of which you can find on Vrbo and other vacation rental websites, it’s not likely you’ll have a refrigerator in your cabin. So, it’s best to invest in a quality cooler. We love this one because it keeps your food cold for a ridiculously long time before needing to add more ice and has wheels to make hauling it from the car to your cabin way easier.


    View on ➜

  • 8. Bedding

    Again, unless you’re staying in a cabin that provides ALL the amenities, you will need to bring your own bedding. Instead of taking the whole shebang from home, we like using these large sleeping bag liners as sheets. During the hot summer months, it should suffice as a light blanket too. If it’s going to be cooler out during your stay, you might want to bring an extra blanket to use on top.


    View on ➜

  • 9. Travel Pillow

    Don’t forget your pillow too! That said, home pillows can take up a surprising amount of room in the trunk. These memory foam pillows are awesome because they compress down into a small bag, the way sleeping bags do. Not only are you saving room in your car for other essentials, but you’ll save room in your closet when you’re storing it too!

    Travel Pillow

    View on ➜

  • 10. Duffel Bag

    You’ll definitely want a big, sturdy duffel bag for all of your clothes, bathing suits, and extras. We like this one because it’s big enough for everything you need (and you might even have some extra room!), comes in lots of different colors, and has a shoulder strap as well as two carrying handles.

    Duffel Bag

    View on ➜

  • 11. Cooling Towel

    If you’ll be camping during warm months, you’ll want an easy way to keep cool. This cooling towel fits the bill. Simply wet it, wrap it around the back of your neck, place it on your forehead, etc and you’re good to go for up to an hour! These come in handy for a quick cool down while hanging outside the cabin, at the beach, or hiking.

    cooling towel

    View on ➜

  • 12. Insect Repellent

    Forgetting the bug spray on most camping trips is a recipe for disaster. Not only is this brand a well-known one in the outdoor industry, but picaridin itself has also been growing in popularity over the past several years as an alternative to DEET bug sprays and is just as effective. You can find it in lotion form too, but we think the good ole spray-on version is the most convenient.

    Insect Repellent

    View on ➜

  • 13. Umbrella

    As much planning as you do for any trip, you can’t, unfortunately, control the weather. Even if the forecast is looking good ahead of time, pop-up showers or storms can be a common occurrence in many places during the summertime. Make sure you’re prepared for unpredictable weather with a windproof umbrella.


    View on ➜

  • 14. Camp Chairs

    Most cabin camping places provide outdoor picnic tables. While convenient for eating outdoor meals, they’re not exactly designed to be comfortable to sit on for an extended period. Be sure to bring your own portable camp chairs for relaxing and sitting around the fire. We like these for the ventilated mesh on the back for some extra airflow and, of course, the handy cup holder.

    Camp Chairs

    View on ➜

  • 15. Charcoal

    No camping trip would be complete without grilling out at least once. Whether there is a grill provided or you’re bringing your own, don’t forget the charcoal! Kingsford is a well-trusted brand and you get two large bags for an excellent price, ensuring you won’t run out. Or, you can save one for home usage.


    View on ➜

  • 16. Daypack

    If you and your fellow campers are the busy body types, you’ll probably be out and about doing things during the day, whether it’s kayaking, fishing, hiking, or something else outdoorsy. It’s a good idea to bring a daypack big enough to fit some drinks, snacks, binoculars, maybe even an extra pair of clothes, and any other items you might need for your activity of choice.


    View on ➜

  • 17. Travel Insurance

    Whenever you’ll be traveling 100 miles or more away from your home, we highly recommend purchasing some affordable, but comprehensive, travel insurance. Accidents happen and plans may fall through for one reason or another. More than likely nothing bad will happen, but it makes good sense to get some traveler’s insurance for extra peace of mind. We like to use to compare policies from top companies to find the best one for us.

    Travel Insurance

    Compare policies at ➜

What to Wear Cabin Camping

Focus on casual, comfy clothes when packing for your cabin camping trip. You likely won’t be going anywhere fancy and will be prone to getting dirty and/or sweaty outside, so be sure to pack clothes you will be comfortable doing outdoor activities in. You’ll also want to make sure you wear light colors and ones made with quick-drying material to prevent you from overheating during the hot summer months. Comfortable shoes are a must too and will depend on what activity you’re doing. Be sure to bring some tennis shoes for hiking, horseback riding, etc, and flip-flops or slip-ons for hanging out around the cabin or the beach.

Water activities are also popular while cabin camping. Depending on your interests, this could be fishing, taking a pedalboat out for the afternoon, or splashing around at the beach or swimming pool. So don’t forget your swimsuit too!

What Women Should Wear Cabin Camping – (Click to expand)

If your stay is during warm months, you’ll likely be spending a fair amount of time outdoors. Be sure to take plenty of sun protection in addition to sunscreen: hats or visors, coverups, and sunglasses. And while you’ll want to wear cool clothing the majority of the time, it’s a good idea to take some pants as an added barrier from dreaded ticks if you plan on hiking.

What Men Should Wear Cabin Camping – (Click to expand)

Unless you’re camping somewhere or some time of year that stays pretty warm overnight, you will likely want to pack a variety of clothes for fluctuating temperatures. Especially in the spring and fall, it’s a good plan to bring a jacket for those chilly evenings around the fire. Some close-toed shoes of some sort and a flannel shirt will help keep you warm too.

Dressing for the Seasons

SPRING – March, April, May

In general, the eastern half of the U.S. is usually pretty rainy in the spring. If that’s where you’ll be headed, be sure to pack a rain jacket. No matter what part of the country you’re in, temperatures can still be pretty chilly, at least at night. You’ll want some tennis shoes or boots in the evenings if you’re outdoors as well as a fleece jacket. With widely varying temperatures, you’ll likely need long clothing and short clothing during your stay.

SUMMER – June, July, August

Most places are warm enough by this time of year that you can just bring shorts, t-shirts, and sandals and not have to worry much about bringing pants or jackets. (Always check the weather right before you leave!) For outdoor activities like hiking, you’ll need some lightweight, wicking clothes and a broken-in pair of tennis or hiking shoes. If there is a lake or pool nearby, don’t forget your bathing suits.

FALL – September, October, November

Cool weather returns this time of year, though for some parts of the country it arrives earlier than others. If your trip is closer to the end of fall or you’re traveling somewhere farther north, be sure to bring your sweaters, jeans, jackets, and other long pants and shirts.

WINTER – December, January, February

Staying in a cabin during the winter can make for a nice romantic getaway when there isn’t much else to do. Be sure to bring layers, your winter coat, a hat, and gloves, especially if you plan on doing any outdoor activities, like snowshoeing. Some waterproof boots are a good idea if you plan on doing any hiking.

Dressing Appropriately for the Activity – (Click to expand)
Swimming: You’ll want everything you would normally take for a swimming outing: swimsuit or trunks, a coverup for the ladies, sunglasses, flip-flops/sandals, and maybe a sun hat for added protection or if you plan on reading a book at the beach.

Snow sports: For any kind of winter sport, whether it be downhill or cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating, be sure to wear layers, snow pants, a wicking socks, a hat, and gloves. A fleece jacket is an excellent idea for one of your layers because you might find that the heavy coat is too much after you get warmed up from moving around.

Water sports: For boating of any kind and fishing, you’ll want some light-colored, lightweight, and quick-drying clothing so you don’t get too hot out in the sun and don’t stay wet for too long. Especially with boating, you’re inevitably going to get a little wet, which can feel good on a hot day. But, staying wet for too long makes for an uncomfortable time. It’s also a good idea to wear some sandals with a heel strap in case of any fall-ins.

Hiking: You’ll want similar clothing to what is listed in the water sports section above except for hiking pants instead of shorts. (Again, extra protection from bugs, poison ivy, etc) Additionally, some comfortable tennis or hiking shoes are a must as well as wicking socks to prevent blisters.

Lounging: It’s all about comfort when you’re just lounging around the cabin. Casual, comfy clothes are fine as well as some easy-to-put-on shoes, whether that’s slip-ons, Crocs, or sandals.

What NOT to Bring Cabin Camping

By now you’ve probably figured out that you need to bring just as many items for cabin camping as you would traditional camping. However, there are a few things you can leave off your list.

  • 1.DON'T Bring Fireworks

    If you’re staying at a state or national park, fireworks just aren’t allowed in them. Period. Even many listings on vacation rental sites prefer that you not bring them either. Save the fireworks for home or find a big display nearby.

  • 2.DON'T Bring Unnecessary Valuables

    It’s always a good idea to keep super expensive items at home, if possible. Though not very often, break-ins do happen.

  • 3.DON'T Bring Alcohol

    You should be ok with alcohol if you’re renting a private residence. Most state and national parks don’t allow alcohol, though, so be sure to check the rules before you go.

  • 4.DON'T Bring Pets

    There are some pet-friendly cabins out there just like there are pet-friendly hotels. Like some of the other items listed above, check in advance to make sure that your four-legged friend is welcome before planning on bringing them.

  • 5.DON'T Bring Firearms

    Like alcohol and fireworks, most parks don’t allow firearms.

  • 6.DON'T Bring Lots of Cash

    It’s good to have some extra cash on hand in case your debit or credit card doesn’t work. But too much cash can feel like a burden, making you worry more about your wallet or purse getting stolen.

What NOT to Wear Cabin Camping – (Click to expand)
Like any type of camping, it’s all about being comfy and casual. There’s no need for formal attire or special evening wear. You also don’t need to dress up like a cowboy or cowgirl. You don’t need to look like a rough frontiersman to go camping. What you normally wear at home is fine. Finally, don’t take uncomfortable shoes! You’ll likely be doing a lot of walking around. Even if not, camping is about relaxing, not mending blisters and other aches.

FAQs about Cabin Camping

  • 1. Does staying in a cabin count as camping?

    Absolutely! You still get to spend plenty of time outdoors with the added luxury of having a real bed to sleep in at night and a real roof over your head in case of rain. Plus, for the most part, you have to pack just as many items for a cabin camping trip as you would a regular one.

  • 2. What amenities do cabins have?

    What amenities do cabins have?

    This depends a lot on where you’re staying. And, as we said in the intro, it can even vary from cabin to cabin within the same park. Smaller, more rustic ones tend to just have beds, maybe a small table and counter space indoors. Outdoors, you may just have a firepit with no picnic table. Upgraded ones will have an actual kitchen area, including a stove, refrigerator, and sink. The beds may already have linens too and there will likely be a bathroom inside the unit. If you’re booking a place through Vrbo or the like, pretty much everything will already be included. You’ll be responsible for washing any linens and dishes you used before you leave.

  • 3. Do I need to bring my own linens?

    Again, this just depends. More than likely, if you’re staying at a cabin inside of a state or national park, the answer is “yes”.

  • 4. Do cabins have bathrooms?

    Do cabins have bathrooms?

    This usually depends on the size and location. Smaller ones without many amenities will not. You’ll have to go to the shower houses like you would staying in a campground. Even within the same park, the smaller ones will likely not have bathrooms while the larger, more updated ones will. You should expect to have access to a bathroom whether it’s private or shared.

  • 5. Do I need to bring my own cooking utensils?

    Unless you’re staying in a larger or more equipped cabin, yes.

  • 6. What can I do while cabin camping?

    What can I do while cabin camping?

    Lots of things! Hiking, horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, swimming, jet skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating are just a few things that come to mind. You can go out exploring nearby towns or parks too, antiquing one day, going on a cave tour the next. Or, you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the sounds of nature. You can do a lot while cabin camping or you can do a whole lot of nothing. It’s up to you and how you like to relax.

  • 7. Do cabins have kitchen appliances?

    In general, larger ones do. In smaller ones, you may get a coffee maker, microwave, or mini fridge.

  • 8. What are the perks of cabin camping?

    What are the perks of cabin camping?

    There are a lot of reasons people like cabin camping over traditional camping. For starters, you don’t have to buy a tent or travel trailer! Second, cabin rentals tend to be more affordable than hotel rooms. Third, it’s nice to be able to get out of the rain without worries of leaks. Some people don’t like the thought of wild creatures roaming around at night while they’re asleep, so take comfort in having solid walls and a roof surrounding them. Plus, you can eat indoors if the bugs or weather gets too bad. (It’s not a good idea to eat inside tents because even the smell of crumbs can attract some critters.)