You need to create a list of 10 essential things that you always bring camping. This will make it not only easier to get out the door, but it will also bring you piece of mind that you have can make the night, even if you forget a few things.
Having a list of 10 essential things we always bring camping makes it so much easier to get out the door, and actually go on a trip. Let me explain. Every time we need to get out the door and go ANYWHERE it takes us two hours to get ready. This includes everything for everyone. Showers, getting dressed eating breakfast – everything.
If you then add to that, that we need to reinvent the wheel and think up a list of things we need to bring, two things can happen. Either we don’t go, this was the most likely option for years, or we forget something. After we made our permanent list of things we always bring camping, we are so much more likely to actually get going.
We find it easier to get out the door and away once we have established what it is we really need when we go camping. While your list might be a little different, these are some of the things that are good to think about when you go camping.
Others are also reading: The beginners guide to family camping
These are some of the things that we always bring camping. You can also check out this list to see some of the not so common things that we like to bring if we have the extra space. You can read all about those things here.
10 essential things we always bring camping
1. A place to sleep – A tent, camper or a tarp.
You need to bring a place for your family to sleep. That can be a caravan, or arranged with a cabin that you sleep there, but somehow you have to take care of the roof that will be over your head.
We love tent camping, and always bring a tent. Getting a tent that fits our family is one of the best investments we have done. We camped in this Coleman tent for many years, with to separate bedrooms and lots of room to play. It was brilliant when we needed lots of space inside the tent for play (we went on a 3 week scout trip with endless rain). With a toddler in the rain, you need some space where there is no mud!
While we loved that tent, it was very heavy, so recently bought a new tent – you can read all about that here – and we really love our family tipi. That is one of the best investments we have done into our camping trips.
2. Some kind of bed
While a trip in a tent is not the same as a good comfortable bed, we have invested in gear that make our camp beds come quite close to our beds at home.
I really don’t like it when everyone is grumpy because of bad sleep, and I love that we now have better equipment for everyone. For the adults we have older versions of this, Exped SynMat XP 7 – Large wide. It doesn’t get much better than that – and complete luxury with the extra length and width.
For the kids we have self-inflating term-a-rest sleep pads. They work just fine for the kids, if they want bigger mats at a later date we will have to look into that.
You can read our guide about what to look for in a sleep pad here, you can also find our guide to finding the perfect toddler camping bed here.
3. Sleeping bags or covers.
Bring sleeping bags or covers for everyone. Sleeping bags is actually one of the essentials we use for the kids to feel safe even when we go on a trip. They can sleep pretty much anywhere when they know that their sleeping bag is there.
When you invest in sleeping bags for the entire family you need to think about how you are as a sleeper. Are you cold or warm when you sleep?
I’m one of those cold sleepers making me wanting a winter sleeping bag even in summer. Jens and the kids are warm sleepers so they don’t need as warm sleeping bags during the summer. This is something you have to think about when you get a sleeping bag for yourself.
Some people don’t like sleeping in a sleeping bag because it makes them feel tight inside the sleeping bag, Like they cant move around. This can be solved by an elastic sleeping bag or an added bag expander.
You can read all of our best tips on what to look for in a sleeping bag here, and about finding a toddler sleeping bag here.
4. Cooking equipment
One of the most common questions I get when I talk to people about camping, is “What should I make for dinner when we go camping?”. It can be a jungle of what you need to bring and how to make it work with dinners when you are away.
We always bring something to cook on and things to prepare food. While you can rely on making a fire and cooking that way (if its allowed at the campsite of your choice, always check with local authorities), we like a smaller gas powered stove.
We always bring our trangia. That is a quick and easy way to heat something. We have cooked full simple meals on the trangia as well, but you have to think about how many pots you have for the stove etc.
If we are away for a longer time, and we are not hiking there, we like to bring our dutch oven as well. A campfire dutch oven is a really great and versatile way of making everything from pulled pork to cinnamon swirls. If you are wanting to know more about cooking with a dutch oven you can read our full beginners guide here.
5. Ax and knife
We love a good campfire (Again – always check the local requirements for fire!) and that is just so much easier with a small ax and a good knife. We have invested in this axe. If you have one at home, choose that one, just make sure they are sharp and can chop the wood you need them to.
Now we bring an ax and knives to a campsite, with kids, and to us it is just as important that the kids learn to be around knives, just like we have shown them how to build a fire from scratch.
You want to be mindful about bringing these tools, and teaching your kids to be around them if you do. A great way of getting kids started with making kindle in a safe way is to invest in a kindling splitter, like this one, that way the kids will only handle a hammer and not the actual axe.
6. Lamps and Headlights
We always bring plenty of light when we go camping. We want our kids to enjoy the vastness and the darkness only found in the great outdoors. But at the same time, in winter in Denmark we have very short days, and not bringing light would make everything unnecessary hard.
We have invested in headlamps for all of our kids, like these ones. Its really empowering for the kids that they have their own light on dart days. With the lights comes the discipline to use that light, in a way that is not disruptive to others. We always go with simple rules of – no light directly into the face of anyone – point it towards the ground when you walk.
Somehow we still end up being able to spot the kids far away when you see the flashlights pointing towards the sky. We still hope that they will remember eventually.
We also bring a simple lamp to light up inside the tent, we have one much like this one. That gives us enough light to carry out the tasks we need after dark inside the tent. Usually we make sure that we have most of our tasks inside the tent done during light hours.
7. Clothes for everyone
When we go camping we bring enough clothes. With two young kids, a baby and a toddler, we need enough clothes for every situation. While one of the things I love about our new tent is the ability to dry clothes inside it, it is just not something that I want to HAVE to do. I’d rather bring enough clothes.
Now the issue is what is enough clothes when you go camping with kids? I know this is one of the issues for everyone, but the real answer is that you just have to try and go out camping and look at the average when you get back. We have one kid that can go a week with one pair of pants, and another that needs 7 (He is the type of kid that finds every puddle)
We like to keep the clothes in big bags, inside a backpack. I always try to pack clothes for each day in a zip-lock bag, so that the kids just have to find a bag and change the clothes that is in there.
For the first few camping trips I counted how much clothes was left when we got back home (In the clean clothes pile) and then I kept a tally of what I needed on a permanent trello checklist. That way I can go back every time we go camping and see what we need.
8. Matches, lighter or fire starter
However you want to start your fire, you need something to help you get that first fire going. Our cooking equipment requires a flame of some sort, and its no fun to leave home without it.
You might also like: How to start a campfire
9 First aid kit
Accidents happen, and we always bring a first aid kit to a camping trip. Maybe its the scouting background of being prepared, but its always good to have a few things with you so that you can help your family out if needs be.
We never go on a trip without at least a deck of cards. You can bet on that being bitter experience and having to spend a weekend trapped inside a tent in the rain, without anything to entertain. Luckily this was when we were young scouts and not with kids, but still, I’m betting that would be worse! Anyway, some games or activities are great when you are out on a trip and just have family time.
That is 10 things that we always bring – what do you have on your list? What would you always bring? Let us know!
Until next time