Camping Gear That Does Everything (Except Pitch the Tent)

From sleeping bags for kids to solar lights that can charge your phone, this list has all the camping gear you need for your next outdoor adventure

It’s always the perfect time of year for outdoor adventure. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a week-long camping trip, we’ve got the scoop on the best camping gear for families from our editors who love outdoor adventures. 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. Get ready to roast up some s’mores in the great outdoors.

The Best Tents, Cots & Sleeping Bags 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

Cots and Mattresses: 
If sleeping on the ground is not your jam, bring along a foldable cot. You'll feel a lot warmer without the cold ground sucking out all your body heat and you won't wake up with an arm that has totally fallen asleep. We love the easy setup of this Stoic Adjustable Cot and you can pop up the head for reading in bed. Bonus: It's actually quite comfortable! 

Those looking for extra comfort with portable ease should try out the Foamy Mattress from Hest. We tested it and give it our highest sleep rating which is pretty impressive for a camping mattress. The Foamy Wide is especially good if you think you might have a small camper join you on your mattress during the night. Want to lock two mattresses together to keep them from moving around during the night? Both mattresses have clips that will do just that. Add on the Hest Pillow and you'll be in dreamland in a flash. 

Sleeping Bags: 
For sleeping bags, you want to know a few things: weight, size, and temperature rating. Those sleepover bags aren't going to cut it when you are out in the woods so make sure you invest in a good sleeping bag. We like the SJK Youth Middle Fork for summer and fall camping and the SJK Kit 40 for summer camping. If you are looking for a mummy-style bag for colder nights, the SJK Ronin is rated to zero degrees and is super comfortable. It has a dual zipper so you can open either side to cool off during the night. 

Gear for When You Take Babies & Toddlers Camping

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! 
  • 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. 

The Best 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 comfier than what you are used to in an outdoor chair. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 


  • 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. 

All the Cooking Gear That You Need for Camping

camping stove from Coleman for family camping gear

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: 

  • 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.  
  • If you don't want something quite so big, go for a Coleman 2-Burner Stove that packs up into a small carrying case for easy transport. 
  • A good piece of cast iron cookware goes a long way and this cast iron skillet is one of our favorites for bacon and eggs or Dutch babies. If you really want to up your camping game, snag the Poler Cast Iron Dutch Oven and whip up a Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Your little campers will be asking for it over and over, we know it. 

Cook Sets & Tablewear That Are Perfect for Family Camping


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. 

  • The ECO 5-Piece Mess Kit from UCO Gear is the perfect way to get your family started on reusable dinnerware for camping. The bowl and plate lock together so you can bring a meal on the go and the whole thing is easy to wash and hang dry for your next meal. Kids will love the "Switch Spork", we know it. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 

Related: 11 Reasons Why You Should Try RV Camping with Kids

Campsite Gear That Families Love


Make your life easier and add these items to your camping list. 

  • The lightweight, packable hammocks from Coalatree are perfect for any outdoor enthusiast to take on their adventures, be it backpacking through the deep woods, a lazy afternoon at the local park, or a sunny day at the beach. It packs into itself so you're always ready for adventure. Two ropes are included
    with carabiners making it easy to secure your hammock anywhere and the price can't be beat. 
  • The Poler Campforter Puffy Blanket is a great addition to your camping gear list as you can tuck it into a sleeping bag for some extra coziness or it also has a slit for your head if you want to bundle up by the campfire. 
  • The Grove Co. is all about making camping easier. You can pick up their Clean Camping Kit and The Cookout Cleanup Set when you have a camping trip on the calendar and they will set you up for success. Full of environment-friendly items like 100% recycled trash bags and reusable sandwich bags, you'll know that you're on the right track to leave no trace. We also love their Hand Soap Sheets to bring along to the camp bathroom. 
  • 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! 
  • 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, and it is water-resistant and UV-treated to prevent fading. 
  • 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 backup 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. 

Related: The Best Camping Games to Try This Summer

Headlamps, Lanterns & Flashlights for Kids

Third Eye Headlamps

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 Nightlight Bundle from BioLite is our fave as it comes with two AlpenGlow lanterns that can charge up and change colors, two SiteLight String lights that are perfect for hanging in your tent, and a 10,000 mAh battery to keep the lights on even longer. 
  • 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 LuminAID 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 ideal 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 for Families


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). We love the crossbody fit of the 6L Run Sling from Nathan. It is a comfortable size for both kids and adults and is a great way to get your kids hiking farther distances as they can store their own snacks inside. 
  • 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 it lets 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. 
  • Journey PerfectFIT[TAG8] 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.
  • 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 for Family Camping

Give yourself some peace 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. 

  • If you're one of those "plan for every emergency" type of people, you'll definitely want to add this Portable Power Station from Shell to your camping gear box. It can power up things like cellphones and laptops, and will give you peace of mind to know that even when you are off-grid that your family is safe. Bonus: it's great to have at home for when the power goes out. 
  • We love everything about the Signature GoKit from KEEP>GOING First Aid. Think cute patterned bandages, antiseptic wipes, safety pins, and anything else you'd need when going on a hike or camping with your family. The small size means you can easily keep it in your car or backpack. 
  • 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 all the items that you might need for a campfire emergency or hiking blister. 
  • If you really want to make sure your family is protected, go for My Medic's IFAK. It has everything you need to deal with bleeding, burns, broken bones, sprains and more. It will give you the peace of mind you need to head out into the woods. 
  • 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. 
  • 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 handy tins are something you can always use. 

Related: 45 Ideas That’ll Make You a Campground Pro

Hiking Boots for Kids


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 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. 

Check out the full list of our favorite hiking boots for kids here

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 fog-proof (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 it 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 an Internet connection. Get one here

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