Camping With Kids: The Gear

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So you want to go camping with your kids, but you’re not sure what kind of gear to buy. How will they sleep? Do they need a kid-sized sleeping bag? Chairs? Potty?

We’ve been hanging out with our kids in the woods since the youngest was just over 1-year-old. While we missed the whole tiny-infant-in-a-tent stage, we dove in during one that was slightly harder — giant baby who can sprint off while you’re not looking.

So what do you pack? Here’s my thoughts.

How much room do you have?

Depending on the age of your child you could bring All The Things with you on your camping trip. My rule of thumb is this: the more comfortable the kid, the happier he is — and the happier the kid, the happier the parents. I want my camping trip to be as relaxing as possible. That is not a thing if my kid is crying.

One of the reasons we bought our truly giant tent, the REI Kingdom 8, is because it comfortably fits cots for everyone. And when our youngest was little, it also fit a pack-and-play crib without any problem.

Camping with kids? We know what to pack.


Here are the thing we would haul with us for baby comfort when he was younger that we have since stopped taking: pack-and-play, portable booster seat, stroller, Ergo baby carrier and the little, portable potty chair so that we could easily keep the potty-training on track.

The problem, is of, course that all of that stuff takes up space. For a long time we hauled a whole extra tow-bed to be able to have room:

Camping with kids? We know what to pack.
Whew, glad those days are over.

Kid camping gear for the older set

Now that our kids are 3-years-old and 6-years-old we are able to take less stuff with us. For each kid we have: one kid-sized cot, one kid-sized water bottle, one normal-human sized sleeping bag, one kid-sized camping chair and one normal-person sized headlamp. That’s it!

Camping with kids? We know what to pack.

The kid-sized chairs are my favorite purchase, and here’s why. Not only are they portable and compact, they are the perfect size for pulling up to the picnic tables. Those table benches are always too short for the kids to reach the table — this way they have their own little “table.”

Camping with kids? We know what to pack.

Why we didn’t buy a kid-sized sleeping bag?

After doing a lot of research, we decided to skip the more expensive kid-sized options and just buy cheap, full-sized bags.

Camping with kids? We know what to pack. with kids? We know what to pack.


Our reasoning was this: we aren’t backpacking, we’re car camping. So there goes the reason to skip the bulkier bag. Also, we don’t often camp in cooler temperatures. That means it doesn’t that a bigger bag means a colder kid. When it is cooler outside, we just tie the bottom of the bag off below their feet. Easy.

What do you pack for your kids?

3 Responses

  1. Excellent article – we’ve been camping with our little ones the past few years, and car camping is definitely the way to go. it seems like kids need quite a bit of gear to stay comfortable & happy, and I think backpacking with all our gear PLUS their gear would be quite the task.

  2. Such an insightful read! Camping with children is truly an enriching experience. Teaching them about nature and fostering their curiosity is invaluable. Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips. And for those seeking the perfect campsite, WildKamp is the ultimate guide!

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