If you Google the term camping list right now, you will get just under half-a-million hits. That’s a lot of lists! I’m not a big fan of lists, I suppose they’re fine for things like shopping, where you have a lot of things to do or get and all the things are different each time you go, but I think their utility for camping is greatly overstated.
Like most hobbies and sports, camping is something that becomes more natural with experience, and no list is going to be a shortcut for experience. The problem with lists is that they’re either generic to the point of uselessness, or so detailed that you’re just as likely to overlook something on the list, itself.
Just because you don’t use a list doesn’t mean you have to be unorganized. A lot of experienced campers use storage totes to organize their camping gear. They might have a tote for cooking gear, a tote for sleeping gear, etc. I know a backpacking family that uses totes to store all their gear at home. Each member of the family has their own tote with all of their backpacking gear, which not only makes packing easy and organized, but also makes each family member’s total load easy to judge.
It’s important to realize that no matter what method you use, a camp list, totes, gear layouts, etc., you will forget things. It happens to all of us, including people I know who have been camping a lot longer than I have. Camping experience means learning to deal with adversity and adapt to unforeseen situations, though, so forgetting something is not the end of the world, or even your camping trip.