When we went camping as kids it was either with the guides where we had to make our own racks for storing bags of food on. Or it was just in the garden for which all we needed was bedding and everything else was in the house. But going camping nowadays there seems to be more and more equipment available and why shouldn’t we want a bit of luxury when we can’t. Especially as an adult when it’s not as comfy just sleeping directly on the ground.
If you’re going camping in your car and have the space to take extra more luxurious items then here’s some of the camping equipment for kids that you might want to think about.
Camp bedding for children
If you’ve only got a small tent and a couple of small children and want to make the most of the storage space then why not look at bunk beds. They tend to be easy to put together and are pretty cool. When we go camping one of the most exciting things is having multi packs of cereal boxes for breakfast but I bet if N had a sibling, bunk beds would have beaten cereal boxes any day.
Initially we bought self-inflating mats or SIMs for going camping. We only had really thin ones but they’re pretty good and pack down quite well. N still likes to sleep on his, although we have now got air beds as they tend to be a bit bigger. You can get much deeper SIMs and they’re probably better insulated than air beds. This year I think we’re going to take our SIMs with us, and put them on top of the air beds for extra installation.
You can get doubles, singles or junior sizes but even for kids it’s worth getting a normal single size which grows with them.
Camp beds lift the children up off the floor and generally that means are less likely to be rolling off which I find the N does a lot from an air bed or SIM. Being up off the floor means that they won’t get as cold from the ground coming through an air bed. It’s also more similar to being on a bed at home. Anything to help them sleep more easily.
We stick with sleeping bags for camping although I do open mine as a duvet. N likes to be warm and snuggled, so a mummy sleeping bag is great for him. We do top the sleeping bags with blankets as well. Even in summer it can get cold at night, and warm is better than cold when it gets to camping.
I’d always get a junior sleeping bag rather than an infant one you can always fold the bottom end of it underneath as an extra layer if you don’t want your child escaping down and sleeping at the bottom of it by accident. Check the season and tog of a sleeping bag because even in summer you want them to be warm. If the sleeping bag is too hot for them, just unzip it like a duvet and then they got more airflow going round to cool them down.
Camping storage for kids
Go old school with a kitbag if you want, but we find a suitcase is so much easier. Just a small trolley case means we can fit all the clothes in one side and toys and activities in the other and there’s usually room for warm clothes as well. Having a suitcase that just the lid flips over and out again is so much easier for N to manage getting his own clothes out and putting things away rather than having to shove things back in and out of a rucksack where he can’t see where things are. Tents look messy at the best of times, so anything that helps keep all his stuff together is a winner with me. You can get reasonably priced cases from high street stores, or try online at Amazon.
Now N’s old enough to have his own suitcase (and mostly pack his own gear), he fits most of his toys into his own case. In the past a Trunki has worked well for us for toys.
Because we go camping with farming friends, he tends to take a few farming toys in a separate fabric shopping bag then he can easily move them between tents as needed depending on where they’re playing. As packing for camping is a bit like a game of Tetris, toys could even go into lidded plastic boxes to keep them tidy while away.
Other camping gear for children
You can get child sized camping chairs that will last a few years until they grow and need a standard sized one. Make sure you buy (or make) one with a carry bag. It’s a faff carrying chairs to the beach if they’re loose. Adding a tie and strap to sling over your shoulder would work if you’ve got no bag.
Inflatable seating is an option (kids love them), but make sure they’ll cope with heat if you’ll be camping in hot weather.
Most family friendly campsites have a playground their days, or at least a field or decent patch of grass to play games on. Outdoor games are great for all the family, and will attract other children over if they want to make new friends. A kite is good fun, football, frisbee and swingball are our essentials. We tend to set the children challenges, like the furthest Nerf Vortex throw etc.
The best ‘toy’ we took one year was walkie talkies. One of the dads was at base with one, and sent the kids off round the campsite on a ‘scavenger hunt’. Great fun, and we could see them down across the campsite and playing field while we were able to get some relaxing time without them hassling us.
Check with the campsite rules first, but taking bikes if you’ve got room always goes down well too. (Note to self, must get a bike rack this year).
Children’s camping wear
Children don’t need anything specific to wear for camping, but check the weather and be prepared for it. Hats – either sunhat or woolly. Waterproofs in case of rain. If you don’t want to wash clothes while you’re away, pack plenty (or have children who don’t mind wearing mucky clothes for more than a day).
For going in and out of tents, children want easy and quick slip on and off footwear for hanging around the campsite. Although ugly, crocs are ideal, or flip flops if kids can cope with them. Easy for nipping over to toilet blocks. N walks around in flip flops, then leaves them places and walks between tents barefoot, but there always seems to be gravel near toilet and shower blocks.
Onesies are great for children to put on after tea to keep warm in cooler evenings, or hoodies are easy and quick to slip on and off. Give them their own blanket for sitting round a campfire or using as an extra layer at night.
As with all camping gear, only pack what you can fit in, or buy things for children that they can use through the year or for several years on the go. And buy second hand where possible. There’s no point spending a fortune when items might end up getting broken or quickly grown out of.
What camping gear do you take for your kids?