Camping is my happy place. I camped as a child with my parents, with friends in college, with my husband, and now as a family with our kids, and often our extended family. We’ve got tricks and hacks GALORE, but sometimes it comes down to having the right gear for your trip.
We’ve rounded up the best camping gear for families. Whether you have a family camping trip on the agenda, or you are just looking for the best gear to gift your favorite camper, we think this list has you covered!
If you’re serious about your outdoor adventures, you need a good camp stove that can hold up to cooking bacon and flapjacks for a small army. Camping works up an appetite and trying to cook over a small stove or trailer cooktop is madness. MADNESS. Stand in the great outdoors, tie on your apron, and get after it. Camp cooking is some of the best cooking around.
Solar Charging Station
Let’s face it. Camping with kids still requires a little connectivity. If you are like me your main camera is your phone and I need a full battery to grab those pictures. And if you are like me, I’m also a ninny in an emergency and want to be sure I can call for help after I’ve been attacked by a wild squirrel. Just kidding about the squirrel . . .
Either way, this solar charger is AMAZING. (And also great to have around the house in case of an emergency . . . like a squirrel invasion . . .)
A plug-and-play, silent, fume-free generator for emergencies, camping, or wherever you need power. Your gas-free source of portable power to keep lights, phones and laptops powered on through any situation.
For wrapping up in by the fire. As an impromptu dog bed. Picnic blanket. The list goes on. Why wool? Wool blankets are STURDY. They lend themselves to dirt and smoke and being tossed into the back of a truck. You need a blanket that you don’t have to baby.
Swiss Army Knife
We’ve used ours to cook a meal, remove a splinter, repair a tent, MacGyver a rain shelter out of a tarp and rope, the list goes on…
A dutch oven is the slow cooker of the great outdoors. Get a good one. Season it. Take good care of it and you’ll be passing down to the next generation of campers. Whether or not you pass on your secret recipe of camp chili is totally up to you.
A Big Roomy Tent
I like to go up a few “people” when it comes to the size of my tent. My family of 4 and dog need the room allocated to sleep 6-8. That way we have room for our bags and a place to stand to stand without standing on a sleeping bag. Doesn’t seem like a big deal until it rains and you have wet, muddy shoes AND a dog to wrangle into a tent. You wanna sleep on a pillow someone accidently stood on with a wet boot? Me neither.
I think you should sleep on the ground. Or in a trailer. But my love for a packable cot is as a seating spot for little ones. Two kiddos can sit next to each other, one kiddo and a dog, a kiddo and toys, or one really spoiled dog can sit up off the cold ground.
I’m a big fan of letting kiddos play in the dirt and the rocks, but sometimes….let’s say when they are finally clean for the day and are in their jammies and ready for bed…it’s nice for them to have some space to play that is out of the dirt. Containment is also handy for when you need to turn your attention to something like cooking without worrying about them getting near the campfire.
We got one of these for our first child after hauling a pack-and-play on a trip to Zion National Park. The pack-and-play was a bust, this portable crib was AMAZING. Packs down really small and my kiddos slept like champs in it. It’s perfect for sleeping in a tent, but also works great as a shade for small babies outside.
These make ALL packing a piece of cake. Stuffing a sleeping bag into a sack is MUCH easier than rolling it up and coaxing it back into the bag it came with. Stuff sacks also work great for hauling dirty laundry home, and packing stuff like socks and undies (get small bags for each person for that purpose.)
Sun Hats for ALL
A wide brim that goes all the way around will go a long way in keeping the high-altitude sunshine off faces and ears. I like ones that have a dark lining under the brim…they make a bright day easier on the eyes.
Ever tried to help a little kid to the campground bathroom while holding a flashlight? It’s all fun and games until you need both hands in a rustic, dark restroom, if you catch my drift. It’s also great to give kiddos their own headlamp so they don’t stumble on anything in the dark.
First Aid Kit
Kiddos trip. Bees sting. Fires spark. Make sure you’re ready for a range of minor first aid needs on your trip. Get a dedicated first aid kit that stays with your gear, that way, you’ll never forget to bring it along.
A Slack Line
We love slack lines for the bigger kids. Easy to set up between two trees and keeps them busy for hours. Adults can’t resist joining in (at least I can’t). We have a kid friendly Gibbon Funline. You can find them on Amazon or in your local REI.
Some families play cards while camping. I like dominos because little kiddos that are learning to count can participate with a bit of help. The great outdoors has a TON to offer, but sometimes you need a little downtime to recharge your batteries.
A campfire can only do so much. A good lantern for your camp table, that can move to your tent is a must have…unless you want to do it all by headlamp, but I don’t recommend it. This one can also come apart and provide four handheld lights. Boom!
Hot Dog Roasters
These telescoping roasters work well for hotdogs and marshmallows, and since they pack down into a compact size, they are perfect for travel!
Kiddo Sized sleeping Bag
I believe in putting kiddos in smaller bags. They stay warmer and it frees up valuable floor space. Plus the patterns are usually pretty darn cute.
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