Hubby and I have been avid campers since long before our daughter was born.
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In the beginning, things were really simple. We would go camping with a group of people, everyone bringing a bit of this and a bit of that. We’d throw our share of supplies into the truck and head up the mountain.
Once we moved from Oregon to Idaho, camping became a bit more difficult.
We didn’t know anybody, so we were flying solo when we went camping. We had to make sure we had all of our own supplies, but we still kept that list to a minimum. Just the basics we needed to stay semi-comfortable.
Then came the kid.
We took Bee camping for the first time when she was 10 months old. Hubby had a four day weekend over her first Memorial Day weekend and up to the mountains we went.
Note: we aren’t the “hit a state park” kind of campers. We’re more the “find a spot to camp that’s as removed as possible” type of people.
We don’t need running water or electricity. We’re fine with the nearest store being 30-60 miles away. What we want out of a camping experience is seclusion. The fewer people, the better.
I’ll be the first to admit that camping with a child under 1 year of age isn’t exactly relaxing. Even last year, when she was two, it wasn’t much easier.
Gone are the days when we could kick back, relax and listen to the sounds of the forest. Hiking down trails or old closed roads is much more challenging. Heck, even going for a sightseeing drive down a forest service road isn’t nearly as fun as it once was when there’s a kid in the backseat.
That hasn’t stopped us, though. We want Bee to grow up experiencing these sorts of adventures with us! Not to mention, her knowing how to “rough it” for a weekend isn’t exactly a bad skill to have.
We want her to grow up knowing how to navigate through unknown terrain in the Pacific Northwest (something I still struggle with). How to forage for edible food, start a fire, and survive a few days without access to technology (aside from a lantern and camera).
So, even though camping isn’t as simple as it once was, we take her camping every chance we can. She’s not quite three yet, but she’s already excited to go camping again this Memorial Day weekend.
This upcoming weekend will mark her two-year camping anniversary, although I’m not quite sure how many times she’s been camping with us. My best guess is 7 or 8 times.
If it weren’t for money being tighter these days because I’m a stay-at-home mom and Hubby working for a company that is busiest during camping “season”, we’d take her camping a lot more.
Yeah, things are a little less fun with a baby/toddler/preschooler in tow, but ya know what else makes the trip a little more miserable, too? Packing for our weekend away.
Gone are the days when I could throw a few cans of food, some drinks, a tent, and basic necessities to keep us alive in the back of our truck and take off.
Now I have a young child to pack for and the more prepared I am, the better.
Sure, I could keep it down to the bare minimum and just tough it out when she whines for a snack or gets bored with the stick she’s been playing with for the last 3 hours, but that makes the trip even less enjoyable for me as the parent.
Toys, wipes, extra clothes, towels, and fruit snacks aside, another mom sanity saver is having the right gear for the trip. I mean, you can get camping gear all over the place, but sometimes picking the right tent or sleeping bag makes all the difference in the world.
And although they aren’t exactly “must have” items, tent lights and games help immensely when you have a child in tow!
So, without further ado, I bring you my list of awesome camping gear that every parent needs to know about before they go camping this summer!
This chair is perfect for snuggling up by the fire with your spouse or even your little one! It’s made by Coleman, so you know it’ll last, too.
My parents bought this exact chair when I was 9 or 10 years old and they gave it to me about 5 years ago. It was still alive! Although, not for long. Hubby and I only had it for about a year before it started to fall apart.
But that means it lasted 14-15 years. It was definitely worth the money they spent on it!
This chair will keep your offspring happy!
What kid doesn’t love having their own chair? And the added canopy will give them a way to get out of the sun for a little bit, a definite plus when you’re camping in the middle of July.
Stools like these definitely come in handy. Although better for a family with kids older than mine, they are small, making them easy to transport, and great for an extra, inexpensive seat at your campsite.
You’ve gotta cook food somehow and this little stove is tried and true. It’s been around forever!
I honestly prefer cooking food over a fire. Maybe that’s because it’s something I don’t do in my day-to-day life. But sometimes you can’t have a fire. We always bring a propane stove and a few cans of propane just in case.
This thing is neat! It does something pretty cool, making it perfect for the modern family!
First, I have to admit that it’s not very big. It’s large enough to cook a meal for a small family like my own, but you won’t want to use it for a big group of people.
Now for the cool part. This little guy stores excess heat generated by the burning wood in a battery. The stored energy can be used later so you don’t have to start another fire.
You can also use the extra energy to, get this, charge devices! This stove has USB ports, so you can charge just about anything!
Where would a mom be without her morning coffee?
Hubby has always been a fan of using a percolator when camping, but I honestly don’t like it.
If you’ve got a propane camp stove already, this is a great little coffee maker that brews coffee just like the one at home!
Every kid loves roasting hotdogs and marshmallows over the fire, so be prepared!
You can find roasting sticks just about anywhere. Heck, you can use sticks from your campsite if you really want. But these guys will make things a little more fun.
Each stick has a different colored handle, so you don’t have to worry about kids fighting over which stick is theirs. Not to mention they fit comfortably in a handy carrying sack, making travel a breeze.
This kit is awesome because it takes up so little space!
Believe it or not, included in this cookware set is a pot, a pan, a mini stove, two mixing bowls, and fire starter, among other things.
With a convenient travel bag, this utensil kit is perfect for any camping kitchen!
It includes a small cutting board, a knife, spatula, ladle, rice paddle, and tongs.
Considered by most to be the “original” camping tableware set, you really can’t go wrong with these guys.
There are enough plates, bowls, cups, forks, knives and spoons for a family of four. If your family is larger than that, you either need to look elsewhere or purchase two sets.
RTIC has great reviews and is considered by many to be an amazing alternative to Yeti coolers.
Known for the fact that they are half the price of Yeti, purchasing one of these will definitely save you a lot of money and you’re ice will still stay frozen for days!
As much as I’d love an RTIC cooler, it’s still a bit out of my price range.
I purchased this less expensive cooler for a camping trip last year and I love it. There was still ice in it when we got home after a 3 day weekend in the mountains. I’ve used it multiple times since then and have absolutely no complaints at this point.
I was never interested in camping lights until I had a child.
These lights are super handy. You can hang them inside your tent, so when you’re trying to get the kid to bed or someone needs to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, you can actually see what you’re doing!
Camping lanterns are a must! We only have one right now, but I’d love to have more. A four pack doesn’t sound like a bad idea!
Honestly, I’ve always just brought a garbage bag and hung it from a tree, but this seems like it’d be a little nicer.
Not to mention I could have my daughter throw garbage away. Sounds like a win to me.
You never know when a lighter will die! These waterproof and windproof matches are great to have just in case.
A first aid kit is a definite necessity when camping, with or without kids. You never know what might happen out there!
For the price, this kit is a great buy! A 115-piece medical supply kit for under $20!
OZARK isn’t exactly the highest quality tent out there, but we’ve had ours for over 5 years now. I can’t even begin to guess how many times we’ve taken it camping. It’s still alive and well.
This isn’t the model we own. When we purchased ours we were child-free. We opted for an 8 person single room tent similar to this one.
For the price, this tent is a great deal. It comes with two room dividers so you can create three separate rooms inside the tent.
This bunk bed is really neat! If you have more than one kid, it would definitely help save on space inside the tent.
Each cot has a weight tolerance of 200lbs and comes with its own set of storage bags and a drink holder, too!
This sleeping bag is a bit spendy but worth every single penny.
It’s really big, especially for myself and Hubby who are both under 5’6″. We own two and zip them together when we go camping or hunting and we have a ton of space.
The bag is rated to 0 degrees Fahrenheit and, although I’ve yet to test it at temps that low, I can say it definitely keeps you warm in the 20’s.
Not only that, but we’ve had two of these bags for about 4 years now and they are still in amazing condition. The only downside I can think of is that they are so large that it’s impossible to wash them in my washing machine. I take them to a laundromat once or twice a year to get them clean.
If you’re uninterested in a bag that costs nearly $100 and don’t need to be protected from really low temps, this bag may be the one for you.
It’s nearly identical to the bag I listed before, but it’s lighter weight and only good down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Perfect for most spring and summer family camping trips!
It can be hard to find a youth sleeping bag that is rated for temps below 40 or 50 degrees, but this one is good to 20!
Just a tad more expensive than the lighter, more common sleeping bags, but if you ask me, it’s worth the extra money. I’d hate to think my kid was getting cold at night and spending an extra $10 or $15 could have prevented it.
This is all we usually use when camping, but over the last 6 years, we’ve gone through two of them.
All things considered, it’s pretty cheap and not horribly uncomfortable. I have, however, spent hours trying to find leaks with no success.
It isn’t my “dream” camping bed, but it’ll get the job done for a couple years.
This is the type of bed I’d really like to have for camping. Self-inflating, light-weight, and great reviews! It seems like the perfect bed to throw in a tent.
I’ve always wanted to take a hammock camping with me! Honestly, I forget every single year. Then we get to our campsite and I finally remember.
So, I’m sharing this item for both you and me. Hopefully, it helps me remember to purchase one and for you, well, I think it would be a lot of fun for both kids and adults!
These bad boys can serve two purposes: entertaining the kids and making it easy to keep tabs on the older ones if they venture too far from camp.
I chose this set in particular because it has a 4-mile range and it’s decently priced. Not to mention kids will probably like the colors.
I’m a bit of a Canadian Whisky enthusiast. Not gonna lie. That doesn’t mean I’m wasted all day or anything while we’re camping, but I like having a flask with me.
I’ve been through many flasks over the years, but this one is by far my favorite.
The entire top opens up, not just the opening you drink from. It makes filling it extremely easy!
I purchased mine at Walmart about 6 years ago and it’s still going strong! It doesn’t leak and it’s pretty tough. It’s survived who knows how many falls onto concrete and rocks.
Normally, when we go camping, we travel to locations where we get little to no cell service. Prior to having Bee, we’d turn our phones off and throw them in the glove box the entire trip.
These days, I like to have my phone with me in case I want to snap a picture of our little one or record a video of her doing something new for the first time.
Having a portable charger comes in super handy for this! Plus it’s good to know that if something were to go terribly wrong and we needed to leave camp and find service, our phones will have enough battery power to call someone.
I’m listing this ladder ball set simply because camping is more fun when your kid is entertained!
There are great reviews for this AmazonBasics set, too, and it isn’t going to break the bank.
I have never played this game before. Heck, I don’t think I’ve even seen it for sale anywhere. But, again, entertainment!
Adults and children alike love cornhole! Hubby and I have a set and have been known to pull it out and get a bit competitive.
My almost 3 year old loves to get in on the action, too! It makes for great family fun!
What’s your must-have camping item as a parent? Is there one thing you couldn’t possibly do without? Did that item make my list or did I miss it? Let me know!