So I admit I have a problem… working at an outdoor retailer for the past 8 years has turned me into a bit of a gear junkie. To your advantage though because it has allowed me to compile this list of the best family camping gear!
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Camping with little ones changes your priorities. From choosing gear to choosing a specific campsite, I know I put in way more research and thought once I had my daughter. While I am a firm believer that you don’t have to have all of the coolest/newest camping gear to have fun, I do believe in investing in high quality essentials whenever possible. If it is your first time out as a family it’s a great idea to rent from a local store (just make sure you setup the tent at home before your trip for practice;) If you are excited to camp and know it will be a family tradition for years to come, then quality gear is a great investment. Read on for some great family camping gear ideas to make your trips more effortless, comfortable, and fun!
Best Family Camping Gear
Growing up we had an old dome tent we would setup in our yard and ‘campout’ in during the summer. That tent took us on countless trips and was a staple in our summer adventures. If you invest in a good tent it should last your family till your kids have moved out and started camping with their own families! The REI Kingdom 6 is my pick for our family of 3 + Dog. A six person tent for 3 people you ask? Yes! Tent sizes are based off of a 20″ wide sleeping pad, nowhere near the amount of space you need for kids, gear and playing. This tent is perfect in that it has a divider wall…hello semi privacy! It also has a nice sized vestibule area for storing stinky shoes (or even a plastic potty for potty training;) Tall families will love this one with it’s 75″ peak height and nearly vertical walls which make for a lot of livable space. Don’t forget to grab the Footprint too, to save wear and tear on the floor of the tent (little people are hard on gear;) This is a 3 season tent and while I’ve never had a problem with rain, it is a fairly vertical tent which means you hear and feel the wind a lot more than you would with a dome tent. Never fear though, there are plenty of guy-lines to firmly secure the tent if you think a wind storm is on the way. This also comes in a 4 person (minus the divider wall) or an 8 person. While my husband and I can set this tent up in about 5 minutes, give yourself a test at home to practice the first time since it is more complicated than a traditional dome tent. You can also purchase the Garage for some extra covered space in case of weather. Of course this tent also comes with REI’s fantastic return policy, but I doubt you’ll need it:) If you are in the market for a tent, this is my number one pick for family camping gear!
This is such a perfect first sleeping bag for your little one! It is really warm, rated to 25 degrees F (Experts recommend getting a bag rated 10 degrees colder than the coldest temp you’ll experience, so this bag would be good for those not going anywhere colder than 35.) It’s synthetic fill, which will keep your kiddo warm even if it gets wet. The best part about this one is that the stuff sack is attached to the bag, allowing you to ‘unstuff’ to the length you need, then cinch down the stuff sack to cut off the unused portion of the bag. Since your body gets colder the more air space it needs to heat up, the fact that you can close off the unused portion of the bag for smaller toddlers is fantastic! Another great thing about a mummy bag for kids is that the hood portion tends to keep them from slipping out of the bag, toddlers move so much in their sleep!
We’re parents, so coffee is a must right?! Two things I love about this thing: insulated and durable. At home we do pour over but I’ve found that on chilly mornings at camp, by the time I finish pouring it has started to get cold, no good! I use the GSI enamelware percolator (minus the inner workings) for boiling the water, pour into the Javapress and by the time I have finished starting the campfire the coffee is done (and HOT!) GSI makes great stuff, and their customer service for replacement pieces etc. is top notch.
4. LUCI Lights
There are so many things to love about these lights and this company! I initially got a Luci light for backpacking with my daughter. I was looking to lighten up our pack but still wanted a lantern in addition to my headlamp for nursing at night in the tent etc. It is now a favorite for all our camping trips though! They are surprisingly durable for being inflatable, and hold a charge really well. My daughter loves our color changing one, but they also have new Pro versions where you can charge via usb before you leave. The Pro version can also put about a 30-50% charge on your phone if needed. The company has a mission to bring safe and clean light to places where they have traditionally relied on dirtier fuels like kerosene, they use sales in developed countries to provide them at lower cost elsewhere. I love a company that can marry a cool product with doing good. We leave these on our picnic table during the day and they are ready to go at night, even in overcast weather. Bonus, they have an educational curriculum! For kids 7+ they have a kit you can make your own Luci light, I am getting one to make with my 3 yo because how cool is it to make your own solar light and then use it camping?!
Along with becoming more of a planner once I had my daughter, I am now much more organized! These action packers are the best. Super heavy duty and durable, the handles keep little 2 and 4 legged critters out. Not bear proof so of course always use provided bear boxes for that! I have one for food and another to store our kitchen kit, which makes unpacking and storing our camp gear that much easier. I chose this family camping gear item because these action packers have eased the transition from camping with just adults. It can be overwhelming getting out there with kids the first few times, and the best part of these boxes is it makes it so much easier to go on a spontaneous trip, since everything is in one place already! Bonus, they are sturdy enough to sit on;)
TIP: I hit up the thrift stores for some camp kitchen gear like can opener, knives etc. so that I don’t have to worry about packing (or forgetting it;) every time.
What is your favorite family camping gear?
Does your family have a go to piece of gear? A camping hack that makes everything easier? Let us know in the comments! Also check out our Family Camping Checklist for a comprehensive list for camping with kids! Be sure to follow us on Pinterest for more camping hacks and recipes, and probably a few more family camping gear lists as well, because, I can’t help myself;)