Kids camping gear list for first time campers. The only list first time family campers will need. I’ve put this list together to make finding the right kids camping gear a lot easier on you as parents.
It is one thing purchasing camping gear for yourself, but it’s a whole different ball game buying kids camping gear items that are actually worth the investment. Don’t be put off. Little preparation is needed and you don’t have to fork out lots of money in advance.
First things first,
1. Children need to sleep – find a sleeping bag
Finding a good sleeping bag for children should be a simple task but can quickly become overwhelming. There are so many to choose from and so many price ranges. I will say, a simple sleeping bag like this is all you need if you’re new to camping with kids and are planning to camp in comfortable outdoor temperatures.
We live in Baja California so the temperature is mild year round. If I’m concerned about the drop in evening temperature I’d rather use extra blankets on top of the sleeping bag. I’m a bigger fan of layers, especially when it comes to kids camping gear.
I love that the designers used some parenting logic and called upon their own parenting experience when designing this sleeping bag. It means that it has a few extra neat parts to its design that I’ve detailed below.
The Size of This Kids Sleeping Bag
This kids sleeping bag rolls up small into a little camping bag which is always handy when trunk space needs to be considered.
It’s good for all normal temperatures (no extremes)
This particular piece of kids camping gear is adaptable
I thought it was pretty neat that this kids sleeping bag can be turned from sleeping bag to comforter, or duvet insert as needed.
The benefits of this is that you can use it at home, for sleepovers, or better still you can adapt it on your camping trip depending on temperature.
If, like us you are camping in a warmer climate you can just open this kids sleeping bag up and use it the same way you would a comforter.
The best kids camping gear grows with your child like this
This particular piece of kids camping gear has an anatomical design that caters to a growing child over the years. This means your get more for your buck. I know it’s not the most expensive kids sleeping bag out there. However, it’s nice that it can last longer and accommodate your growing child.
Additionally, this kids sleeping bag is machine washable, and has a super cute pocket for your children’s toys.
2. Children need to walk and run
The general behaviour of children is that they have a knack for being able to go from 0 – 100 in a matter of seconds.
Their ability to go from being fast asleep, to on their feet and running in seconds always amazes me. Children love to move, and with that, comes exploration of nature.
Comfortable shoes that are made specifically for hiking are a good investment when making a list of kids camping gear that’s worth purchasing.
When camping with wildlings, there are two options for kids’ footwear. Either you opt for kids hiking boots or you opt for outdoor running shoes.
The Hiking Boots
If you’re keen for your children to be hiking with you as a family, and you know ahead of your trip that you will be doing some decent sized hikes.
You will want to look into these simple beginner low style, waterproof hiking shoes.
These hiking shoes are not a full on boot, and they’re not suitable for extremely cold temperatures. However, they are excellent if you want your children to wear more specific footwear when out in the wild.
These hiking shoes have velcro and closing laces making it easier for kids to put on and take off. They have good traction and are built with enough cushioning to support the foot comfortably. You won’t have to pack any wellies as these guys are waterproof too!
In reality, if your children already have sneakers and you are new to camping they will work just fine for the early camping adventures.
However, if you are actively looking for kids camping gear but don’t think your children need hiking specific shoes, these Kalenji AT Easy Athletic Shoes Kids’ are affordable, easy to put on for younger kids, and are comfortable.
One thing I’ve always noticed about sneakers is that they get grubby and worn quickly. These sneakers are affordable and easily replaced without feeling like less damage could have occurred if only your children were more careful.
3. Let them have cake!
Take the right snacks
If you have babies, toddlers, and really any child of any age you may find that they all love these baby and toddler snacks.
I know my teen daughter takes her toddler brother’s and baby sister’s pouches and waffle snacks. I usually let her have the waffle snacks as they have a whole load of veg and probiotics in them and they taste great too.
Food is an essential part of kids camping gear
Food is essential whether camping or at home. Investing, in high nutrition items and knowing what wholefood supplements you can easily incorporate into your camp meals is really something worth researching.
This supplement company have a good range of powder versions of supplements that are easy to sprinkle into foods. My children love sauces with added beef liver powder and bone broth powder. Both are rich in nutrients, and will allow you all to feel healthy when consuming camp side family meals.
It is too easy to turn to junk food or pre-made meal packets but if you have to opt for some fast cooking you can add in a scoop of these powders to get your kids to still consume a nutrients rich diet while camping.
4. Choose the right water bottle, and food containers for camping in the elements
Staying hydrated is so important when camping outdoors and is a huge part of kids camping gear. This goes hand in hand with purchasing suitable food containers for the kids to eat from.
My kids favourite water bottles (that have actually lasted and don’t leak after a few uses or a few drops to the ground) are these particular Stanley bottles that come in all sizes. They come in colors that match the lunch pail, if like me you like to color coordinate your kids camping gear then this will be the right choice for you.
I’ve always found that a lunch pail is an easy choice for packing food for the day and allows the children to eat through it all when they feel hungry. Nature can make us hungry in a different way to life in the city and you may find that your children want to sip water and snack more often.
A classic style lunch pail like this is an easy way to be prepared. It has a neat compartment for storing your children’s water bottles too, not to mention it works like a mini cooler, keeping food cool until your kids are ready to eat.
Check out the Classic Stanley Lunch Box here. All Stanley gear comes with a lifetime warranty which I love. Children seem to have a knack for breaking the toughest of items, somehow…
If you want the option of drinking all water you come across… check this bottle out
It comes with a built in water filter that kills off all bacteria and virus that may be lurking in bodies of water.
Using a bottle like this, your kids can safely fill up and drink any water that they come across. Kids like to taste everything, even if you tell them not too, so one way to do this safely is with a Water to Go bottle.
5. Do they need their own tent?
Tents need not be a pricey investment, especially if you are buying one for children. Small tents tend to be durable and affordable. If in need of a family tent then I’d recommend spending a little more for the quality and extra space.
However, if your children are of an age where they are comfortable sleeping in their own tent then this lightweight 2 person tent is a good affordable option. It is light enough for them to carry themselves, and simple enough for them to be able to have a go at putting it up themselves too.
6. Picnic mat for floor dining
I am a fan of floor eating and this is my all time favourite picnic mat (and I’ve had a few). Shwally sell handmade picnic mats and rugs that pack up small, but are large enough to comfortably seat a family.
They’re padded for babies and boast 2 beautiful reversible patterns. We take this one on every outing and camping trip.
Always prepare for floor eating when camping. While bringing tables and chairs are great if you have the car space, it isn’t always the best use of space when you have other camping gear to bring along.
7. Old comfortable clothes that can get dirty
Pack layers for children, and bring along any old clothing that you don’t mind getting messy, along with a waterproof coat and warm socks.
My daughter has a pile of leggings with small holes in them and old tshirts that we keep for camping trips. Little scrapes, falls and bumping into bushes and trees will only rip clothing, creating more holes.
If you invest in tonnes of new kids camping gear and clothing it will come as a fast disappointment when clothes are destroyed and damaged after a single adventure.
It is easy to buy items down the line, but initially don’t over invest. The camping experience with your family is more important that all of the items that you can invest in.
If you as a mother are in need of some outdoor clothes then this female led outdoor brand is great. They are family focussed and stock outdoor toddler carriers too.
Decathlon have a good range of kids outdoor clothing if you do need to purchase some particular kids outdoor clothes.
8. Small camping knife
Kids don’t need a camping knife, but you may like to gift them one as part of the camping experience. This small single folding blade knife is a great option for older kids. They might like to try their hand at cutting small branches, or peeling an apple.
9. Small bag with emergency tools
Depending on the age of your children their personal bag may be a rucksack, or small hip pouch. If you’re setting up camp in the wild, chances are you probably won’t be venturing too far from camp.
Your children should be able to come back to base as needed for refreshments. However it is always wise to encourage them to carry their own water bottle, a small snack and some band aids for reassurance. Kids need band aids like all of the time!
Every kid loves eating in nature and having their own source of food can be great fun for them.
A note on kids camping gear
Once again, when it comes to finding the best kids camping gear, you can feel torn between spending a fortune and feeling guilty for not wanting to invest more.
Try to think about it this way. If your children love camping and hiking, and you as a family decide this will be a regular part of your life then you can invest in higher end items.
Although, unless you are all pros at major hikes then I assure you simple hiking boots and simple kids camping gear will work effectively until your children grow out of it, and are ready for full size adult camping gear.
Have a wonderful camping trip!