There’s a mind-boggling array of camping gear on the market these days, and while much of it is incredibly high performing, not all of it is appropriate for camping with kids. When there’s kids (and possibly dogs) involved, you want hard-wearing gear that’s easy to clean and affordable. You need to create lots of areas for sleeping, sitting, eating and playing plus the ability to feed the tribe quickly and without much fuss. Kids love camping, but making sure you have the right ensures you have a good time too, so we’ve scoured the best family camping gear out there right now to provide you with our top picks, from palatial tents to easy-clean stoves
Family tent: Vaude Badawi Long 6P
Obviously, you need a sleep shelter fit for a tribe and these days you can find positively palatial tents with separate rooms that are still easy to put up when the kids are asking when dinner will be ready. We’ve tried and tested the best family camping tents and the Vaude Badawi Long 6P serves up two-bedrooms for a little privacy at a reasonable price. This tall 6-person tent also has plenty of communal space for cooking and playing games and lots of ventilation options for warm weather.
Air mattress: Big Agnes SLX
Sure, kids can sleep anywhere, but you can definitely cut down on those midnight wake ups by recreating the comfort of home in your sleep system. Instead of thin sleeping pads meant for backpacking, why not throw down a couple of air mattresses instead? The generously thick Big Agnes SLX made our list of the best camping mattresses and cradles two adults or three small children and provides customizable firmness for happy campers all night long.
Children’s sleeping bag: Kelty Kids Callisto 30
For younger and smaller children, you might want to get a children's sleeping bag since a larger adult bag might allow in too much cold air or be too technical. Of course, your kid is going to outgrow this sleeping bag so you don’t want to drop a wad on it either. That’s why we love the Kelty Kids Callisto 30 – for a reasonable price, you get protection at 30F temperatures, a roomy design that doesn’t confine your child and no hood which means their face doesn’t end up covered while they sleep.
Camping tarp: Amok Hammock Rain Fly Skjold 10
Even with a large tent, it’s a good idea to have a separate covered area where you can set up your camping table and hang out in the shade or shelter from the rain during the day. For a premium price, you can lug a popup shelter, but a good old-fashioned tarp is a versatile piece of gear that provides great protection from the elements. Out of the best camping tarps, we love the Amok Hammock Rain Fly Skjold 10, high-tech, lightweight rainfly designed to clip into the Amok hammock but equally good used as a stand-alone shelter. The easy-to-use guy lines are reflective to prevent little ones tripping over them at night and with peg points close to the ground this tarp could see you through a night of extreme weather without too many problems.
Hammock: Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest
Kids love hanging out in a hammock and it’s a nice place for you to kick your feet up too while they’re playing away. The Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest is great because it fits two, meaning no squabbles about whose turn it is. This generously sized hammock is also fit for sleeping in if you need more bed space with a large group, or if your sulky teenager needs a break from the little ones.
Camping table: Decathlon Folding Camping Table
Though there’s a good chance you’ll have a picnic table at your campsite, your camping kitchen set up should definitely involve a folding camping table. This means you have an extra surface for doing food prep while the kids play games (because you’ll have taken their screens away, after all). We love the Decathlon Folding Camping Table because at 47in x 23.5in it’s bigger table good for six people at a bargain price, and comes complete with four small stools that can be stored inside it so you have extra seating available too.
Camping stove: Coleman Classic Gas
To avoid tantrums, save the campfire for roasting marshmallows and bring a double-burner stove you can easily whip up large amounts of hot, tasty food to serve to the masses. The Coleman Classic Gas made our list of the best double-burner stoves because it’s so great for those starting out building their family camping kit. This affordable, versatile stove has a matching pair of burners that are independently controlled to give you a lot of flexibility. The cooking grate can hold a 12-in and 10-in pan at the same time and the removable, chrome-plated cooking grate makes cleaning easy. That translates into a stress-free cooking experience and a well-fed, satisfied group of campers.
Camping lantern: Biolite Sunlight
A good light source is essential once the sun goes down to help prevent trips and spills near the campfire, but let’s face it, headlamps disappear within minutes when they’re in the hands of small children. Instead, pepper affordable camping lanterns like the Biolite Sunlight around your campsite and inside the tent. These are charged by the sun during the day (or via USB if it’s cloudy) and provide great power. This is a bit of a party option too, with three coloured LED light versions which your kids will love.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.