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Camping Essentials For Kids (10 Lightweight & Affordable Ideas)

Camping is a great way to introduce your children to the outdoors. However, many of us oldies have no idea where to start when it comes to buying camping essentials for kids. Luckily, making your children’s camping trip fun and comfortable doesn’t have to be difficult with our top picks.

10 camping essentials for kids are:

  1. Mummy sleeping bag
  2. Portable crib
  3. Outdoor explorer camp set
  4. Camping flashlight
  5. First aid kit
  6. Scavenger hunt
  7. Rechargeable power bank
  8. Wet wipes
  9. Kid-friendly food
  10. Camping pillow

Getting your kids interested in the outdoors early on can be a transformative experience for them, but only if they have a positive experience. Although the quick answers above cover the basics, you’ll need to delve a bit deeper to make the perfect purchases. So, let’s get into it!

10 Camping Essentials For Kids

1. Mummy Sleeping Bag

When it comes to keeping the kids happy on a camping trip, it is important to consider their comfort. Nothing guarantees a miserable outdoor experience like shivering away in a tent all night. To avoid any temperature-based drama, invest in warm and cozy sleeping bags for all the family.

Extra Warm

There are plenty of different types of sleeping bags on the market, but these are not all made equal. When purchasing a sleeping bag, you want to look out for something lightweight that retains heat. A mummy sleeping bag ticks both of these boxes and any child that has already started learning about the Egyptians is sure to love them!

Although a child can of course snuggle up in a sleeping bag designed for an adult, it’s far better to invest in a specific sleeping bag tailored for kids their age. This saves you lugging around extra weight and the bag will better fit their body size, helping to retain heat.

Sleeping Bag Ratings

Most sleeping bags will be given a comfort and season rating that indicates the temperatures and season that the bag is intended to be used in. It naturally follows that different environments will experience different temperatures,so make sure you know what to expect from your destination when investing in a sleeping bag.

PROS:

  • Retains heat
  • More lightweight than alternatives

CONS:

  • Can feel claustrophobic
  • Restricts movement

2. Portable Crib

If you are camping with a baby, you’ll need to consider how you are going to keep them comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. A portable crib is a great way to keep your little one safe and cozy while providing peace of mind for mom and dad at the same time.

Travel beds for kids are great in that they can be used for a variety of purposes. Primarily, they act as a portable sleeping bed, but many also double up as a contained playpen that allows you to pack away your gear knowing that your child is safe and secure.

Lightweight And Easy To Use

Most of the travel cribs on the market are lightweight, which is a relief for tired parents who don’t want to be lugging heavy beds to their campsite. Make sure you look for a portable crib that is easy and quick to assemble. Whilst this is a product that will primarily contribute to your child’s wellbeing, it is also designed to save you stress too!

PROS:

  • Provides peace of mind
  • Keeps baby safe and secure

CONS:

  • Can be expensive
  • Varies in weight and assembly

3. Outdoor Explorer Camp Set

Even though we were all kids once, few of us really remember how it feels to see the world through a child’s eyes.Of course, comfort is important to campers (both big and small), but adventure comes in a close second.

For your little scout, invest in an outdoor explorer camp set. These kits can be bought on the internet or easily put together yourself if you’d rather do your own version. Traditionally, they feature binoculars, a bucket hat, torch, rucksack, compass, bug catching jars, a whistle, and a magnifying glass.

Inspiring

Although the recommended age for one of these camp sets tends to be between 3 and 12 years old, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. An explorer camp set will inspire kids to spend time outside and discover the world around them.

Wholesome Fun

As well as making camping more fun, these kinds of sets also enhance children’s skills and teach them how to discover the world without the influence of technology, helping them get back to nature.

PROS:

  • Customizable
  • Fun

CONS:

  • Quality varies
  • Generally not suitable for teenagers

4. Camping Flashlight

Even though a lot of kids won’t admit it, the dark can be a pretty scary thing for them. If you have a child who is afraid of the dark or won’t leave their room without a nightlight, you’ll need a decent camping flashlight to make them feel safe on their next trip into the outdoors.

Multipurpose

Many of the camping flashlights on the market come with multiple light settings, meaning that they double up as nightlights or tent lanterns, depending on what you want to use them for. More of them are lightweight and collapsible than ever before too. This is a huge plus for campers who want to keep their base weight down.

Waterproof And Sustainable

To get the most out of your flashlight, look for something waterproof so that it can be used inside and outside of your tent. It is also a good idea to opt for something solar-powered. There should be plenty of time to recharge your lamp on your camping trip and you won’t need to worry about carrying extra batteries.

This is also a great way to instigate conversations with the kids about the importance of sustainable energy and caring for the planet!

PROS:

  • Helps prevent falls in the dark
  • Makes children feel secure

CONS:

  • Solar options are more expensive
  • Can be bulky

5. First Aid Kit

If there’s anything that parents know about children, it’s that they are prone to accidents. Hiking, fishing, biking, and bushcraft are all activities that come with risks, and guardians need to be prepared to tackle a few bumps and scratches.

Customizable

A first aid kit is essential for any camping trip and not very costly to buy. As standard, most come with plasters, bandages, cleansing wipes, safety pins, and scissors. However, it is well worth adding a few extra items to make sure you are covered for all the common camping dangers.

Sunscreen is a worthy addition to any first aid kit, along with aloe vera for treating sunburn. If you are in an area where ticks flourish, make sure you bring tweezers to remove any of the little critters who find their way onto your skin.

Insect Bites

Insect repellent is necessary for many wild environments and will definitely be appreciated by those prone to bites. Nothing ruins a camping trip like itchy welts all over your body! Antihistamines are also worth taking in case someone has a bad reaction to a bug bite.

PROS:

  • Useful for all campers
  • Offers peace of mind
  • Makes trips more comfortable

CONS:

  • May need to add extra items to cover all bases

6. Scavenger Hunt

Whether you plan to download one online or make your own, a scavenger hunt is a brilliant way to get kids to enjoy the great outdoors. If you are camping with just one child, this activity is a good way to bond parents and children. Scavenger hunts also work well for groups of families camping together.

Fun For All Ages

To get older children and even teenagers involved, introduce a bit of healthy competition into the game. Offer a prize for the winner and tailor the hunt to suit the ages of the children taking part. If you are putting together your own scavenger hunt, explore the area yourself first for ideas. From here, it is easy to put together a list of things for the kids to tick off.

Experience Nature

There are two types of scavenger hunt: experiential and collective.The first of these is more suited to older children and will involve the kids doing things in their new environment, like catching a fish in the river. The second of these is a better option for younger kids who want to tick off sights from a list or collect things, like pinecones or different types of leaves.

For excitable children, scavenger hunts are the ultimate in camping entertainment. They get to run around for a few hours and completely tire themselves out while getting their hands dirty and bonding with either their parents or other children. Bedtime will be a doddle when it finally rolls around!

PROS:

  • Fun for all ages
  • Embraces nature
  • Promotes teamwork

CONS:

  • Can be frustrating for some kids (and adults!)
  • Takes time to prepare

7. Rechargeable Power Bank

If you’ve embarked on a camping trip with all the family and you’re hoping that this will be the moment when your children fall in love with nature, it helps to remember that the road less traveled will not be smooth.

Some days, your kids will love digging for bugs in the dirt and hunting for firewood. Other days, they’d rather just watch TV all day. Of course, we all know that the purpose of any camping trip is outdoor immersion. However, being a parent is all about choosing your battles and some simply aren’t worth the fight.

For those days when the kids just won’t be without their tablets, you’ll need to make sure you have a plan in place. After all, there aren’t many plug sockets in the backcountry! In order to keep all your electronics charged, you’ll need to invest in a rechargeable power bank.

Types Of Power Banks

There are hundreds of different types of power banks on the market, but some are more fit for purpose than others. When you’re heading out on a camping trip, consider opting for a smaller power bank as these are easier to pack.They also pack a punch with a 10,000 mAh power bank holding around one and a half charges for a brand-new smartphone and even more for older models.

Solar Chargers

Of course, the main downside of power banks is the need to recharge them using mains electricity, which can be hard to come by in the great outdoors. For a potentially limitless power supply, why not buy a solar charger instead? These charge using sunlight so can be topped up as you go about your daily activities with little effort.

PROS:

  • Keep your electronics charged
  • Can be very small in size

CONS:

  • Hold different amounts of charge
  • Standard power banks only use mains electricity

8. Wet Wipes

Ask anyone with kids what their number one must-have item is, and they are likely to respond with wet wipes. Let’s face it, children can be a messy bunch at the best of times, and keeping them clean can be a challenge. Add the great outdoors into the mix and things suddenly get a lot harder!

Adaptable

We all know that the appeal of camping is getting out into nature, but nobody wants to smell bad! Many parents will already use wet wipes to clean off toddlers after a meal, but they can also be used to keep kids clean when there is no access to a shower or bath.

Antibacterial Gel

To keep any nasty germs at bay, pair your wet wipes with antibacterial gel to sanitize your child’s hands before they eat. You can never be too safe these days!

PROS:

  • Multifunctional
  • Hygienic

CONS:

  • Bulky
  • Not environmentally friendly

9. Kid-Friendly Food

Nothing puts children (and adults) in a bad mood like being hungry. With no McDonalds for miles around, the kids are likely to wonder whether a camping trip qualifies as a holiday at all! Luckily though, eating al fresco in the wilderness doesn’t have to be boring.

Healthy Snacks

Snacks suitable for consumption on the go are ideal for campers so make sure you stock up on these before you embark on your adventure. Cereal bars, dried fruit, crackers, and chips are all handy trail snacks that kids love. If you want to opt for something healthier, why not make your own protein balls or prepare some carrot sticks beforehand?

Group Cooking

When it comes to larger meals, the best way to keep children engaged is to get them involved in the cooking process. Cooking over a campfire can be really fun for kids and it also helps them learn a useful skill. Plenty of delicious meals can be cooked on a campfire, and most of these aren’t too hard to get right. Think grilled mini pizzas, nachos, pasta, and s’mores for inspiration.

Chubby Bunny

Got some marshmallows leftover from your s’mores? Try a game of Chubby Bunny! This hilarious camp game involves stuffing as many marshmallows in your mouth as you can and shouting Chubby Bunny. It’s fun for all the family!

PROS:

  • Customizable
  • Teaches life skills

CONS:

  • Not everyone likes the same food

10. Camping Pillow

The key to a successful camping trip with kids is a good night’s sleep. To give yourself the best chance of getting everybody to sleep easily, you need to make sure they are comfortable. While some children will sleep easily in the wild, others require a few more home comforts.

Restful Sleep

Pair your child’s mummy sleeping bag with a camping pillowto make sure that they are as comfortable as they can be. Many of these pack down extra small and are easy to clean which is great for parents who regularly intercept their kids dragging camping gear outside.

Multipurpose

As well as offering a more restful night’s sleep for children, camping pillows can be used on long car journeys too. They take up considerably less room than standard pillows and you can even get kid-friendly designs that make them look like a cuddly toy.

DIY Camp Pillow

If you don’t fancy spending money on a camp pillow for your child, you can easily fashion one yourself using extra clothing. Fleeces and down jackets make great camping pillows when rolled up and can be easily secured into place using the arms.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Easy to make a DIY version using clothes

CONS:

  • Can take up a lot of room in your backpack

Final Thoughts

Buying camping gear for youngsters can be a little overwhelming at first. There is so much to consider, from the ages of the children to how much they enjoy their home comforts. But, once you learn the golden rule of buying camping essentials for kids, it becomes easy. Prioritize comfort and fun.

None of us are happy when we are cold or wet and kids are no different. Keep them warm with a high-quality mummy sleeping bag and make sure they feel safe with a camp flashlight. When it comes to fun, they need to feel like they are on an adventure. This mix of contentment and excitement will mean they make memories that last a lifetime.