Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

The arrival of summer means getting out as a family and, of course, camping! Don't forget to bring these camping essentials with you when you brave the great outdoors with the kids.

By Emily Rivas, Jessica Spera

Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Camping gear: Essentials for camping with kids

MEC Lodge 4+4 Tent

Want to stay up with the other adults, but scared you’ll wake the kids? No problem! With two separate rooms, this tent sleeps four comfortably, so you and your partner can sneak in and out of your “room” without disturbing the little ones. Sounds kind of perfect, right? Bonus: The mini hallway connecting the two rooms is floorless, meaning you can use the extra space to dry your wet clothes or as a sheltered dining area. Need more space? You can use the optional ground sheet and convert the hall into an additional bedroom that sleeps up to four campers. With unparalleled quality for a tent of its size, this baby will keep you sheltered for many, many summers to come. 


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

MEC Sleeping Bags

On those colder nights, you’ll definitely need a cozy, body-hugging sleeping bag in order to get a good night’s sleep. These ones from MEC are down-filled and available in different colours and sizes, making them a perfect fit for the entire family! What’s even better is they roll up fast and compactly, making them easy to pack and light enough to carry.

MEC Draco 0C Sleeping Bag – Men’s, $209-219,
MEC Delphinus -9C Sleeping Bag – Women’s, $239-249,
MEC Explorer -5C Sleeping Bag – Kids’ – Children to Youths, $139-165,

Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Alite Designs Meadow Mat

This waterproof mat is the perfect ground covering for any activity, from an afternoon picnic to a late-night star-gazing session. It’s super portable and lightweight. Simply unroll it and sit!


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Foldable baby gear

Camping in the outdoors with babies might be tough because there are limited places you can put them down. That’s where these KidCo products come in handy! The Go Pod is basically a portable ExerSaucer that’s easy to bring around and made for both indoor and outdoor use. There’s a locking feature for reassurance, a floor pad to keep baby’s feet off the ground, and adjustable height positions. There’s even great storage pockets for baby’s toys, drinks and snacks. The DinePod is the same idea, but more of a high chair so that your baby can eat at the table with the rest of the family. Both are lightweight and come with storage bags so that they can be easily packed away—an essential for anyone travelling with wee campers! KidCo has other baby products that are perfect for camping with babies, like a foldable playpen for naps and a diaper change station. 

KidCo Go Pod (Pistachio), $75,
KidCo DinePod (Midnight), $75, 

Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Huggies Simply Clean Fragrance Free Baby Wipes

Nothing says dirty more than a camping trip. Make sure to pack extra baby wipes (no matter what age your kids are) to be prepared for any messy situation—you’ll be glad you did. We especially like this non-scented pack by Huggies (which comes with 1200 wipes, so you’ll be good to go.)


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Outdoor Toys

If the kids finally decide to put the iPads down (hallelujah!) then you’ll need some classic toys to keep them entertained with. Unplug by flying a kite, kicking a ball around or throwing a frisbee back and forth. Even jumping rope or playing with something as simple as a scoop ball set will give you that much-needed, deviceless bonding time.

EMMAKITES Mr. Fox Diamond Kite, $18,
Inflatable Beach Ball (Watermelon), $25,
14-ft Long Speed Rope, $7,

Ogodisk-Mini (2 discs, 1 ball), $30,

Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Kids’ Newt Suit

Sometimes the weather isn’t always sunny on camping trips, so prepare for the rain with this waterproof suit from MEC. Besides the three awesome colours, the sizing is available for infants starting at six months to kids up to the age of six. The full-coverage nylon and polyurethane suit will keep them dry to the bone and comfortable while they explore the wet outdoors. Plus, it’s super easy for them to get in and out of for bathroom breaks, so don’t be afraid to let them get wet!

Infants, $59, Children, $75,

Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Ozark Trail Cozy Camping Chair

Whether you’re gathering by the campfire for spooky stories or just hanging out during the day with a good read, foldable chairs are the way to go. These ones in particular are more durable and wider than most, making them extra comfortable for everyone (plus, there’s an attached headrest and cup holder). They’re super easy to setup and easily fold back up into the carry bag.


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Munchkin Arm & Hammer Diaper Bag Dispenser

This one’s a lifesaver if you’re camping with babies or toddlers and there’s no garbage can in sight—think a dog poop bag dispenser, but for babies! It’s small enough to fit in your diaper bag, and gives off a lavender-scent while the baking soda eliminates stinky diaper odour. It comes with 24 bags, which should (hopefully) get you through the weekend.


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Outbound Dinner Set, 33-pc

Instead of packing disposable paper plates and plastic cutlery, go eco-friendly with this 33-piece, colourful dinner set. Included are dinner plates, bowls, spoons, knives, forks, saucers, drinking cups and one drink jug, as well as a carry bag for easy transportation.


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Coleman S’mores Maker

What’s a camping trip without some s’mores by the fire? If the kids are too little to roast marshmallows on their own, you can make three s’mores at a time with this camping essential. If you’re so over the basic s’mores kits, try out these different ways to make s’mores.


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Skip Hop Central Park Outdoor Blanket & Cooler Bag (Chevron)

This blanket and cooler duo is a must-have if you’re planning on doing any outdoor activity with kids. The water-resistant material is perfect for a day spent at the lake or by the fire, and collapses into a convenient pouch for toting. You can keep snacks and drinks fresh in the attached, insulated cooler which doubles as a detachable messenger bag. Available in other patterns.


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

My first Tilley sun hat

Tilley is known for making awesome sun-protection hats (they’re rated UPF 50+ which is the highest level of sun protection available), and now they have them in a kids’ sizes. This hat is perfect for spending days outdoors on hikes or out on the water, and they come in multiple colours!


Tilley sunhat for kidsPhoto: Tilley

Goal Zero Rock Out 2 Solar Speaker

It can get a little too quiet in the woods, so sync up your phone or iPad with this awesome bluetooth (and wireless) speaker. It’s easy to carry and can be charged in two hours by USB or in eight hours via a built-in solar panel—cool, right? It also has a run time of up to 10 hours and can pair with your device by AUX cord or from up to 10 metres away! So if you’re chasing the kids around or playing hide and seek, it won’t disconnect.

Available in Green or Black. $100,

Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

ECOlunchbox Kid’s Divided Stainless Steel Tray

Keeping food items separate is paramount for picky eaters, but this easy-to-wash, durable tray also makes mealtimes by the fire a treat, not to mention really easy. We recommend you prepare one of these make-ahead camping recipes—the kids will love the campfire cones.


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Outsunny 22” Portable Barbecue

If you’re spending a weekend in the outdoors, odds are you’ll need a variety of meals to keep the kids happy. This portable BBQ grill is perfect for burgers and hot dogs at a picnic or at the campsite. Try out these delicious camping food recipes, or prepare all your meals in your kitchen with these make-ahead camping recipes.


Portable BBQ grillPhoto: Outsunny

Salus Bijoux Baby Life Jacket

Little campers love the water. Take some extra precaution with this kiddie-sized life jacket. And make sure to read these life jacket safety tips


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Woods LED Collapsible Lantern/Flashlight

Chances are your kids will need to get up in the middle of the night to go to the washroom. Make sure you don’t trip over rocks or run into bears on the way there with this handy, collapsible flashlight. 


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Adventure Medical Ultralight .9 first aid kit

When you’re in the great outdoors, anything can happen, so it’s best to have a first aid kit handy. This super lightweight version comes with everything you need to treat a family of four and it's packed in a portable, waterproof and airtight bag so everything stays super clean and dry. 


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Bodom Travel Press Coffee Maker

Let’s face it: If you’re going to be in the woods with your hyped-up kids, you’ll need this. Keep yourself well-caffeinated with this on-the-go coffee maker. 


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Coleman 52-qt Xtreme 5 cooler

Ensure all your food and drinks stay cold with a cooler that’s big enough to hold a weekend’s worth of munchies for the fam. 


Picture of a Coleman 50-quart coolerPhoto: Coleman

Badger Lavender Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30

An all-natural sunscreen you can trust, like this one, is a camping must-have. Make sure to buy a couple of bottles. And bring aloe vera just in case someone gets too much sun.


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Deuter Kikki Daypack

Your little ones will most likely want to bring a ton of stuff with them. Keep it all safe and neatly packed up in a durable pack (that also happens to be a super cute ducky).


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel

After you spent time downloading all those podcasts and videos for the kiddos on your iPad, the last thing you want is for it to die out before you even reach the campsite. Keep things charged with this rugged, compact panel that runs on solar energy. 


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Saje B-Gone Chemical-Free Outdoor Mist

This natural bug spray protects little ones and reduces the chance of “I can’t sleep Mom! I’m too itchy!” (But pack some Benadryl just in case).


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Lightspeed Bahia Quick Draw Shelter

For those sticking to regular sleep schedules, we love this beach shade-meets-tent so you can still enjoy the great outdoors while the little one naps inside. 


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Gaiam EZ-Flip Water Bottle (Ash Leaves)

Swimming, hiking, grilling, walking, chasing the kids around…you’ll need water bottles to keep everyone hydrated. 


Camping gear: 27 essentials for camping with kids

Read more: 9 easy make-ahead camping recipes All the best family campgrounds in Canada 7 cool camping games for kids

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