The memories you make camping with your family can last a lifetime. Knowing what gear to bring can be daunting if you didn't grow up camping. Before you spend a paycheck at REI, consult this list of the best camping gear for families to evaluate your needs!
Resist the urge to go with a pop-up tent here. Yes, they look convenient, but they’re usually more trouble than they’re worth. Packing them up can be a major pain. Get a large, budget-friendly tent. Make sure your tent is rated for more people than will be sleeping in it (i.e., a family of four should go for a five or six-person tent.) You also want a vestibule for storing gear outside of your sleeping area.
Notice I didn’t say daypacks. This is a list of the best camping gear for families. You likely have extra gear to carry for the kids. While it’s great to get the kids their own little daypacks, you want at least one larger backpack for gear. If you’re camping with really young children, you can go for a pack your child can ride in for convenience.
Don’t skimp on this one. It’s one thing if you’re cold on your own, but a whole other if you have children in tow. A good sleeping bag is essential. If you want something to wear by the fire, get a sturdy blanket. You can even pair the two if temperatures drop.
For comfort’s sake, you may want a thick inflatable mattress made for car camping. Closed-cell foam pads are cheap but not nearly as comfortable. If you plan to go at least a few times per year, it’s worth the investment.
Large Enough First Aid Kit
You’ll need something with enough Band-Aids and Neosporin for the whole family. Don’t just throw things in a bag and call it a day. Make sure all the basics are covered.
If you plan to cook over a fire, your list is simpler here. If you plan on bringing a stove, go with a two-burner and something easy to clean like cast iron. That setup just fits the camping ethos best anyway.
Don’t let anyone tell you the concrete tables at campsites are comfortable. They aren’t. Even a simple soccer chair is better and won’t cost you much.
A basic Swiss Army Knife is plenty here. I recommend not bringing an axe at first, though. You’re better off buying pre-cut firewood if it’s your first time camping with the family.
Really any extra layer will do. Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean night temperatures won’t get chilly.
I saw someone using this in the backcountry once, and it’s genius. You can buy a portable outdoor clothesline and hang wet gear to dry. You’ll never need to bring wet and dirty clothes into the car again!
A lantern and a headlamp are ideal here. The lantern is great for overall illumination, and the headlamp is key if you need to get out of the tent during the night.
As long as you have all the basics covered and fun activities planned, a family camping weekend is something the kids will always remember fondly!
Author: Joe Coleman