Camping season is full in effect and with Labor Day weekend approaching we thought it would only be right to share our 10 essentials for camping with the family. Since our children have been only months old we have been camping with them. Something about escaping our every day chaotic lives and really getting to unplug and spend uninterrupted time together is a thing we truly cherish.
1. Two Room Tent. When camping with children we highly recommend a two-room tent. We prefer to use the front room as a changing room and the back as the bedroom. That way we can change their clothes and shoes in the front room and keep the dirt and sand out of the bedroom area.
2. Foam Sleeping Pad. We like these versus air mattresses because air mattresses need constant air. By the next morning you are practically laying on the ground. Not to mention the need to replace the air mattresses after a year. With foam sleeping pads you don’t need to mess with any air and can sleep comfortably. Plus they are lighter to carry than air mattresses and easier to pack up.
3. Battery Powered Lanterns. Although gas lanterns are cool, you can’t beat the convenience of an electric lantern. These days they are affordable and come in different sizes, making it perfect for kids. We like to have one for the picnic table, one in the tent and one for each of the kids to take around and sleep with. You can never have too many, just make sure you pack extra batteries just in case.
4. Coleman 2-Burner Propane Camp Stove. Cooking on a charcoal grill is great but the convenience of also having a stove top range when tent camping is the best. This makes cooking, especially breakfast, as easy as it is at home.
5. Mountain Hardwear Kid’s Mountain Goat Adjustable Sleeping Bag. Not only will these sleeping bags have your children seriously warm and comfortable, but they grow with your child! The unique drawcord system allows you to adjust the bag’s internal length to grow as your child does.
6. Leatherman Multi-Tool. You never realize how much these come in handy until you are camping. I can’t tell you how many times we have used ours. The Leatherman multi-tools are perfect because of the versatility. A typical Leatherman includes a knife, scissors, screw drivers, file, tweezers, bottle opener, pliers, can opener, saw blade, etc.
7. Portable Camping Chairs. There are really so many to choose from. For the kids I recommend a basic camping chair with a cup holder and possibly an umbrella to keep the sun away from them. For the parents I recommend the Sport-Brella Reclining Chair. I never knew the importance of a good chair while camping until I had this chair. The Sport-Brella is seriously the ultimate chair when it comes to portable chairs. Not only does it have an umbrella and removable foot rest, it also has an insulated pocket, cup holder, and bottle opener.
8. Good Quality Ice Chest. This is extremely important to keep your food from going bad. The ice chest is your fridge for the weekend so you need one that is well insulated to prevent your ice from melting in one day. We personally love the Igloo brand which we purchased at Costco.
9. Fire Wood. Be sure to check with the campsite before you travel. A lot of places now (at least in California) won’t allow you to bring in outside firewood. If they do allow, plan on bringing your own. If they don’t they usually sell to you right at the campsite.
10. Pack of Playing Cards. Cards are fun no matter the age. There are so many varieties of games you can play. It’s a great tradition around the campfire and something the children will cherish.
11. Sun Screen. This should be a no brainier but I thought I would add this to this list because, well, it’s extremely important. Please make sure to pack a bottle sun screen for the family when getting everything ready for your camping trip. You’ll need this when you’re spending your days in the sun.
12. Smore’s Kit. You don’t have to go out and buy a kit but make sure to bring some marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers. Seriously, how could you camp without these?!