Camping Gear That Does Everything (Except Pitch the Tent)
With parks and campgrounds slowly reopening across the country, many families are looking to try out camping this summer. So whether you’re looking for a weekend or a week, there are some products out there to really make your life (and campsite) way easier. From special tents and baby beds to accommodate the youngest campers to green products that keep your ecological footprint to a minimum, this list has it all. Scroll through for some camping inspiration!
The Best Tents for Families
Whether you are looking for a car camping tent that will fit a big family or a tent that's perfect for your first backpacking trip, we've got the list for you. Check out all of our family tent recs here.
Gear for Babies & Toddlers
Don't write off camping with little ones, the fresh air can have a magical effect. Here are some of our favorite gear to bring when camping with a baby or toddler:
- Your big kids love snuggling in their mummy bags, but your tot needs a special spot when it comes to tent sleeping. We’re crushing hard on KidCo’s PeaPod Travel Bed, an easy pop up that functions as a tent within your tent, so your little one has his own space. It collapses flat and pops up with ease, which is entertainment in and of itself for wee ones. And if they think that’s amazing, just wait until they crawl in and curl up at the end of a long day of outdoor adventuring. They’ll sleep like a cozied up log! $56.10
- Because wrangling a toddler around the campfire during mealtime isn’t on your camping to-do list, pack the Summer portable high chair with the rest of your must-take gear. Just like mom and dad’s camping chairs, this high chair easily unfolds and gives baby a spot to sit. $27.99
- Trade your at-home sleep sack for a wearable sleeping bag when you take babies and toddlers camping. Morrison Outdoors' 20 and 40 degree Little and Big Mo Sleeping Bags keep kids cozy and warm in the great outdoors. And when baby outgrows the first size, trade it in for cash toward the next size up. Sleep tight! $84.95
- Keep the kids cozy around the fire or in their sleeping bags with the Kelty Galactic Blanket. This silky friend features toasty 100% ethically sourced 550-fill down from Allied Down and has a durable 50D polyester shell and lining. We like to have it in the tent for kids who are in a too-big sleeping bag. Stuff it inside and they'll be toasty warm all night long! $99.95
Seating & Tables for Around the Campfire
The highlight of a family camping adventure is the nightly campfire. Here are some of our favorite chairs for your crew:
- REI Co-op Outward Low Padded Lawn Chair: We love this chair for around the campfire or for a day at the beach. It's super easy to cart around as it has backpack straps so you can use your hands to carry other gear. Warning: The kids are likely to snag it for themselves as the padded seat is way more comfy that what you are used to in an outdoors chair. $79.95
- We love the Kelty Low Loveseat Chair because it is perfect for snuggling the kids around the campfire. The height is low enough that you can use it at outdoor movie nights and concerts, but high enough that you don't feel like you are sitting on the ground. The low height also makes it easy for kids to climb up. The mesh seat version is great for bringing down to sit in the creek and watch the kids skip rocks or taking on your next beach day. $109.95.
- As parents, we love the Kijaro Rok-It because it offers one feature that other camp chairs don't have, the ability to rock back and forth! This portable rocker folds down and can easily fit into the carry bag making it easy to store with your other camping gear. The chair also has padded armrests and a flip out cupholder. This collapsible rocking chair will keep you cool with the mesh back, and the custom rear chair feet help you rock smoothly all day long. $49.95.
- Duluth Trading Pack A Long Camp Table: No need to balance that plate of campfire burgers on your lap while eating around the campfire. This lightweight but sturdy packable table is the perfect option to bring along on your next outdoor outing. The small size means you can keep it in the back of your minivan for impromptu stops at the park or Little League games. $64.95.
You'll want to be able to cook up some scrambled eggs and bacon in the mornings. These cooking options are easy to use and easy to pack up:
- We love the idea of ditching those green propane bottles for good and this cooking option does just that. Ignik’s 2-in-1 Heater-Stove delivers both heat and cooking fire, and includes a 2-foot hose/regulator that is compatible with Ignik’s refillable Gas Growler to make a sustainable system. We liked that it was super stable (which is exactly what you need with little campers under foot). $139.99 (stove), $129.99 (gas growler).
- Coleman's new 4-in-1 Portable Cooking System allows you to cook four ways—wok, stove, grill and griddle. It provides a large, sturdy cooking surface to place on your picnic table and packs up easily when it's time to head home. $97.
- This Camp Chef Explorer Double Burner Stove is the workhorse you need when you're cooking for a crowd. The legs come off so you can store them in the carry bag. It attaches to a refillable propane tank so you don't have to waste those green bottles. $124.99
- There's nothing worse that not being able to get your fire started when you are camping, especially when the kids are along. Bring Pull Start Fire with you and you don't have to worry about too much wind or wet logs getting in the way of s'mores time. Start your fire with just the pull of a string. $29.97
Cook Sets & Tablewear
While it might seem easy to go for paper plates while you are camping, push yourself to go green and invest in a cook set that you can wash and reuse.
- Stanley Adventure Full Kitchen Base Camp Cook Set: With all the tools needed to prep, cook, serve and clean up, this Cook Set is ideal for both outdoor + everyday indoor use. There are enough place settings for a family of four and it is sturdy enough to be a part of your camping gear for years to come. $80
- Stanley Adventure Even-Heat Camp Pro Cook Set: if you are looking to cook for a crowd (or at least a few hungry tweens), this one's for you. We love this cookware set that features a superior 3-ply stainless steel construction, so food heats more evenly. It also packs up small so you don't have to waste any space in the back of the minivan. $140
- Stanley Classic Stay Hot French Press: Skip the plastic or glass French press options and go for this heavy-duty French press that's big enough for your whole crew to get appropriately caffeinated. Vacuum insulation keeps your coffee piping hot until the moment you’re ready to pour. It's built rugged for the outdoors so you don't have to worry about breakage when you pack it up to head home. $65
- ESPRO Travel Press: If you've only got one coffee-drinker in your crew, pack light and go for this product that combines a French press and a travel mug in one. It will keep your coffee warm long into the day and you can brew up a fresh cup in a flash. $39.95
- Snowfox Glassware: Stylish and camping go hand in hand when you choose Snowfox glassware for your green drinking option. They’re shatterproof, lightweight and the double-walled design prevents condensation, so the glass won’t sweat. While they are geared more towards adults with a martini, wine or a champagne option, the highball glass and rocks glass are great sizes for big and little kid drink options. $24.99 and up per pair.
Make your life easier and add these items to your camping list.
- Tarpestry: The best-looking tarp you'll ever own, Tarpestry ups your campsite game whether you use it as a tablecloth over a picnic table (full size) or as a tarp outside your tent (mini). You can also have it as back-up protection from the weather that just might sneak up on you. When you aren't camping, keep your Tarpestry in your car for impromptu picnics or beach days. $88-169
- Rainleaf Microfiber Towel: Let’s be honest, camping is a dirty business. Between the campfire, wooded trails and your kiddo’s seemingly innate ability to find dirt anywhere, it’s hard to avoid the mess. That’s why we’re crushing on this easily packable microfiber towel you can throw in your pocket, clip to your daypack or keep tucked in your tent. Dirty faces and hands—be gone! $8.99
- CGear Original Sand-Free Mat: Keeping the dirt out of your tent is a major issue when you are camping, especially when you have kids going in and out all the time. We like to set up the CGear Original Sand-Free Mat outside the tent door where it serves as a spot to take off your shoes before your head inside. The mat has corner D-rings so that you can secure it to the ground with tent pegs. Plus, it's basically invincible—sand and dirt don't stick, it's water resistant and UV-treated to prevent fading. $59.99 and up
- Nakie Eco-Friendly Recycled Hammock: Kids and parents will love having a hammock set up at the campsite. We love the Nakie hammock as it is super easy to set up with the included straps and with each purchase the brand will plant 4 trees in their reserve in Madagascar which employs local villagers. $102
Headlamps, Lanterns & Flashlights
You won't believe how dark it can get in the woods so you'll want to be decked out with both headlamps and lanterns. Here are some of our favorites:
- Take our word for it and get yourself some rechargeable lighting for your campsite. This fun design from Solight will look great hanging in your tent or sitting on the table when the sun goes down. Bonus: it will also charge your phone! This smaller Solight lantern packs up super small and has a very affordable price tag (it's also rechargeable)
- Third Eye Headlamps are perfect for camping with kids—not only because of their fun designs but also because they have everything you need (six light settings including red so you don't ruin night vision) and are environmentally sound (members of 1% for the planet, recyclable, etc.). They also come with the best warranty in town—no questions asked—in case your kid breaks it. The colorful headbands mean that each family member can get his/her own design (so there's no fighting, yay!).
- The PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger is a solar inflatable lantern and phone charger that packs flat for easy carrying and charging on the go. It's the perfect all-purpose solar device to light up your campsite, family tent, or provide backup power to your devices when you need it most. On low mode, you'll get the perfect amount of ambient light to get the kids to sleep, and it can go all night if you need it.
Backpacks, Hydration Packs & Carriers
Whether you are looking to carry a kid, some water or your gear, we've got some great options for you.
- If you are going to do any hiking with your kids, you'll want to invest in hydration backpacks (for you and for them). Outdoor Products has the roomy and affordable Mist Hydration Backpack that comes with a 2L hydration bladder and plenty of room for all those snacks. Kids will love having their own and the Tadpole Hydration Pack is a great choice. Super little ones will love the Peapod Waist Pack for carrying snacks or treasures found along the hike.
- Redwing 36 from Kelty: This reliable pack from Kelty just got an upgrade and we are loving it. This super lightweight pack (2 lbs. 9 oz.) is perfect for your day out in nature. It's roomy enough to carry the gear for the whole family and let's you stash your Nalgene bottle and personal items within reach. Adding your hydration bladder lets you get out for longer trips and the AMP-Flow ventilated back panel keeps you cool. $99.95.
- Journey PerfectFIT Elite Child Carrier from Kelty: A well-fitting child carrier is invaluable for parents who want to get out in nature with their little ones. The child carrier from Kelty offers everything you could possibly need like extra compartments for bottles and diapers. Little ones sit high in this carrier offering them better views of the world (instead of just the back of dad's head). It is designed for kids 16-40 pounds and you can even add your hydration pack. We especially love the two side pockets that make it easy to access your water bottle and cell phone while on your hike. $299.95.
- Wet Bags from Bumkins: We love to bring these along with us on a campout or beach day because you can take those muddy/wet kid clothes and pack them away from the rest of your clothes. Also great for transporting water shoes, swimsuits and baby clothes post blowout. You will thank us later.
First Aid & Safety Gear
Give yourself some piece of mind and get all these essentials ready for your next camping adventure. While Duck Tape is definitely worthwhile to pack in your camping gear, these first aid and emergency supplies will make you feel more secure when you head out into nature.
- Duluth Best Made Small First Aid Kit: Take our word for it, you don't really know what first aid supplies you need until you really need them. The experts at Duluth know what it's like in the great outdoors and they've sourced out all the items that you might need for a campfire emergency or hiking blister. $49.95.
- Leatherman Signal: Just trust us and don't leave home without your Leatherman Signal. Whether you need to mend a broken sleeping bag zipper or start a fire when you've left the matches at home, your Leatherman has you covered. It will do pretty much anything you need when camping, minus making the early morning pot of coffee. $119.95
- Welly Bandages: There's nothing that can dry up those ouchie tears like a snazzy new Welly bandage. Their Bravery Bandages come in cute-for-kids styles like tie dye and space and the hand tins are something you can always use. $7.99
- If you have older kids helping with food prep or who want to give whittling a try, we love the kids folding knife from Opinel. The tip of the blade is rounded for safety and it helps kids learn proper knife-handling techniques. Bonus, it comes with an integrated survival whistle. $25
Hiking Boots for the Whole Family
You'll want to make sure everyone is protected and comfortable when you head out on your camping adventure. Northside offers all-season hiking boots that are waterproof and reasonably priced. Get the kids outfitted in the newly-released Rampart Waterproof Hiking Boot or the Monroe Low Junior Hiking Boot that has a sneaker-like fit. Made with kids in mind, it's an extremely durable, lightweight and comfortable shoe that makes longer hikes a breeze. There are hiking boots for mom and dad as well, with the Women’s Freemont Waterproof Hiking Boot and Men’s Mens Snohomish Leather Waterproof Mid Hiking Boot topping the list. They'll keep your feet dry through all sorts of hikes.
Clothing & Accessories
Comfort and conveniences are key when camping. This gear does it all, and packs it away when it's time to head home.
- Tommy Breeze Trucker Hats & Beanies: Everyone needs a good hat for camping and this line by Tommy Breeze is a family favorite. Tommy Breeze is a California artist who customizes high-quality hats into works of localized art. Tommy's approach to design seeks to draw out the essence of local landscapes. Tommy sews every patch onto its hat, to ensure durability and quality. This process is time consuming, but simplifies small-batch customization while adding a maker's touch that can't be replicated. They come in many different styles from trucker hats to classic snapbacks. He also has beanies for those who are looking for warmth + style.
- California Cowboy High Sierra Shirt: This shirt will be your camping favorite as it combines comfort with useful pockets for everything you want to carry on your person during a camping trip. Flannel lined with cotton modal thermal will keep you warm and the special pockets for your phone, bottle opener, pen and frosty beverage will have everything at the ready. Men's and women's styles are available with short sleeve as an option as well.
Fun Additions to Your Camping Bag
Sometimes all it takes to make your camping trip one to remember is a fun new gadget to bring along. These are some of the ones that we love:
- We love these binoculars from Nocs because they are ultra durable and perfect for kid hands. Not much adjustment is needed to get these going and they are waterproof (yay!) and fogproof (yay!). Easily packable in your day pack, or keep them in your car for viewing on the go, their portable size means they can join in all your family adventures. Be sure to snag a tapestry strap to go along with your Nocs.
- Whether you are looking to up your camping game or give the kids some chill-out time before they hit the sack, CINEMOOD is the ultra-portable option for your next outdoor movie night. Set up a sheet on the side of your tent or project onto the side of an RV. Choose from a huge CINEMOOD digital library that includes 40 Disney e-books and 25 safety videos and stories. You can also download Netflix or Amazon Prime videos directly on CINEMOOD to enjoy anywhere, without WiFI or Internet connection. Get one here, $399.99. Use code REDTRI to save $100!
The ultimate camping checklist.
From what type of gear to pack to little things you might not think of, we've created the ultimate camping checklist. You can print it out by clicking here.
—Kate Loweth & Allison Sutcliffe
All photos courtesy of featured companies, unless otherwise noted. All prices current and time of publication.