Campers Recommend Everything You Need To Go Camping With Kids

All the camping gear necessary for little ones, from safety items to games that are fun for the whole family.
A metal bucket and kids tools and metal kids cups

Whether you hope to pass down your love of the outdoors or reluctantly get roped into a nature-based family reunion, you may find yourself camping with children. Unlike a vacation to a different city, where drug stores and Door Dash are abundant, you’re heading into nature, so you have to anticipate everything you’ll need before you hit the road. To set you up for success as you venture into the wild, we asked the readers of the HuffPost Parents Facebook page for all the things they take camping with kids.

From safety needs to practical finds to entertainment items, they really ran the camping gamut, giving us all sorts of tips and tricks to make the most of outdoor time with little ones. While we can’t ensure a weekend free of temper tantrums and accidents, we can help you narrow down the packing list and prep your family for success.

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A 100-pack of glow sticks
A whopping seven people on the HuffPost Parents page sang the praises of a bulk set of glow sticks for camping with kids. Dawn Marie suggests wearing them as necklaces or putting them on your pup to keep everyone visible in the dark. Ericka VanMaren Zagorski recommends using them in the tent to "make 'lights out' a little less intimidating." Some parents use them in outdoor scavenger hunts, as prizes for good behavior or just to bring some color and light to your campfire.
A waterproof door mat
To limit the mud that gets dragged into your tent on dirty shoes, Drea Zummo suggests taking a waterproof shoe mat with you. This way your little ones can wipe their feet and it may serve as a visible reminder to take their boots off before getting into the tent.
A metal shovel and bucket
Holly Mautz recommends bringing along some shovels and buckets to keep little explorers busy and engaged. Mautz urges you to ditch plastic beach buckets and spring for some better-quality metal ones that will hold up in mud and dirt. "It’s amazing how much fun my kids have with simple tools," Mautz said.
A clear set of drawers
"Clear stacks of drawers to put the snacks in!" Brittany Pruitt suggested. "I usually slide it under the picnic table so it’s easily accessible but out of the way. That way they don’t get strung out, I don’t have to keep getting them, and I don't have to worry about putting them away at night." (If your campsite is the target of hungry raccoons or other animals, you may still want to stash these in the car at night.)
Plenty of bug spray
While it may seem like an obvious one, Christina Brown offered a reminder to pack plenty of bug spray, hopefully keeping irritating insects from bothering your little ones. This Off! for kids is made with 100% plant-based oils, so it's gentle on little ones six months and up.
A kid-sized sleeping bag
Another obvious but useful item is a kid's sleeping bag. Because they're smaller than adult sleeping bags, they will take up less room in the car and tent and make your little one feel super special and snuggly. We love the underwater print on this bag that comes in kids and youth sizes, measuring 61 inches and 73 inches long, respectively. The smaller size comes with a backpack-style stuff sack so kids can carry their own bags, while the youth size comes with a easy-to-tote stuff sack for the same reason.
A snuggly camp blanket
If you're driving a long way to get to your campsite or the weather cools down in the evenings, Julia Thompson recommends getting a camp blanket for each of your kids, allowing them to snuggle up and stay cozy. We like this one with a fun mountain print that folds up nicely, is water- and wind-resistant and can go right in the wash when you get home.
A card game or portable board games
Multiple people on the HuffPost Parents page suggested bringing lightweight card games and activities or portable travel board games. "Having something handy when the weather turns and a way to entertain them ... is priceless," Athena Barnes said. We like this travel set that comes with a variety of kids' games. The convenient tin contains the cards and pieces you need for three separate games.
A first aid kit
Christina Brown recommends keeping a good first-aid kit with you, in the event of scrapes or blisters while you're in nature. We like this set with a water-resistant case and tons of inner pockets and compartments that comes filled with 130 items from tick removers to burn cream to waterproof bandages.
All kinds of wipes
To ensure clean hands before eating, or to deal with accidents or general body grossness, many parents suggest bringing a plethora of wipes with you, like hand wipes for getting mud and dirt of little fingers and baby wipes for more delicate cleaning.
A four-pack of adorable animal-themed kids head lamps
Emily Wirth suggests setting each kiddo up with their own headlamp. This kid-approved set comes with four animal-themed headlights so no one has to fight over whose is whose.
An eight-pack of marshmallow roasting forks
"Marshmallow forks!" Julia Thompson said. "Seems like a luxury item, but they are longer than bamboo skewers and cutlery and don't burn. So much safer!"
A Jetboil instant outdoor coffee maker
A happy family may mean caffeinated adults. Angela Lamoureux says that while it's certainly a splurge, a Jetboil camp cooking system guarantees hot coffee every morning in less than two minutes. This coffee maker includes a silicone French press, allowing you to make your cup of joe directly in the boiler.
A soothing sound machine with light projections
Another popular item across the HuffPost Parents Facebook page: white noise or other soothing sound machines. "During our first camping trip with kids ages one and two, we were visited by coyotes in the middle of the night and my older son freaked," Drea Zummo said. "But we had an old elephant that makes stream noises and a light pattern on the ceiling, and that helped!" This Bubzi elephant is soft and snuggly but also works as a soothing noise machine and light projector to set a serene vibe in your tent. Three AAA batteries are included.
A set of five reusable kids cups with lids
When keeping little ones hydrated outdoors, Drea Zummo suggests using "drinks with tops to keep out dirt and insects." This set of five kids' cups are made from high-quality metal with color-coded bands, allowing everyone in the family to have their own cup. They come with removable tops and straws, keeping all the yucky stuff out of your drink.
A hammock
Four different parents on the HuffPost Parents page recommend bringing hammock for kids. Tara Ladendorf Robbins says these swinging recliners are great for kids of all ages (even adults). "A couple of my kids even prefer sleeping in them," Ladendorf Robbins said.

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