I love being outdoors with the family, from hiking to skiing to boating, anything outdoors is my happy place! I’ve always wanted to go camping with our kids, but I wanted to wait until Easton was a little older to help make the process somewhat smoother. Now that he is three and we have the mountains at our fingertips, we decided it was time and took the kids camping for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It was everything I expected and more. While I didn’t sleep the soundest due to being a very light sleeper, it was worth in so many aspects, especially seeing the gorgeous night sky and the millions of stars that light it up.
The main reason I love camping with my family is we get away from the electronics. I am not checking my phone or working on Instagram because well, I have no service. The kids aren’t asking to watch TV because there is none. My husband finally gets a break from working and talking on his phone and we just focus on hanging out together. We laugh, tell ghost stories, roast marshmallows and cuddle in sleeping bags together. I. love. it!
Since this was our first camping trip, we had to get a lot of new gear, and we wanted to make sure we had everything to ensure a fun and happy camping trip for us and the kids. I researched a lot about products and below is my gear checklist for camping:
- Sleeping Bags
- Sleeping Pads
- Roasting Sticks
- Camping chairs
- Firewood (some campsites sell it, but its a good idea to bring your own too)
- Hammer (for nailing down your tent)
- First Aid Kit
- Bug Spray
- Disposable Toilet Seat Cover (these were awesome to use with the kids as campground toilets are never the cleanest)
When researching tents, we wanted two things out of it. Tall enough for us to stand up in it and connects to our SUV or Truck. Napier Tents has a great selection of tents that can connect to your truck or SUV, and we used the SUV Sports Tent. I LOVE this tent. It is huge, giving us lots of space. At 5’10”, I can comfortably walk around in the tent without slouching. It is incredibly easier to set up, taking us about 5 minutes to get it up which is fantastic with kids (you don’t want to be dealing with a frustrating tent while trying to keep an eye on your little one).
The best part is it can be used as a stand alone tent or it can connect to your SUV to give you more space. We used it both ways, and I personally loved having it connect to our SUV. It was really simple to connect to the car, and once connected, we just left the truck open. Mike and Easton slept on the tent floor while Emmie and I slept in the back of the car. It gave us more space as we basically now doubled our sleeping space, and it gave me piece of mind sleeping off of the ground.
I love how it has lots of zip up windows than you can open completely or with the screen still on, allowing lots of light to come through. We loved this in the morning as we just unzipped one side so we could still see the mountains. It also comes with a tarp that can go over the top to protect from wind or rain and a canopy that can be set up in the front to provide shade.
We absolutely love this tent for its ease of use, durability, size and extra features, like connecting to our car. I can’t imagine a more perfect tent for a family who likes to car camp.
Our sleeping bags came from Cabela’s and I couldn’t be happier with them. It gets cold here in Colorado, so we wanted something that would keep us warm on the chilly nights. This one I got was rated for 20 degrees, but they even offer ones rated at 0 degrees. Not only are they adorable with their red flannel print, but they are super cozy! We ended up getting two as the kids had their own sleeping bags from Pottery Barn. While the kids sleeping bags were cute, they are not thick or warm, so we will be getting two more of these Cabela’s sleeping bags for the kids to make sure they stay toasty warm too!
Just as important as the sleeping bags are the sleeping pads! You might be thinking you don’t need one or it isn’t worth the extra cost but trust me, you WILL want one! The ground is rocky and rough at a campsite, so you will want something to make sure you don’t feel that hard and bumpy surface. The sleeping pads we got from Cabela’s were awesome – light, compact and easy to inflate and deflate. You will need one for every person in your camping crew!
I also recommend bringing some extra blankets. We used blankets when we were chilly and wanted some extra warmth around the fire, or just to lay on the sleeping bags at night.
As far as your grilling goes, check with your campsite before you go to see if it offers a fire grate, grill, etc. We brought our own grill with us just to make it easier and quicker for cooking. This tabletop grill from Cabela’s is light, efficient and works awesome for grilling some veggies or burgers! Another critical item for camping is roasting marshmallows! It wouldn’t be a camping trip without s’mores, and these are our go to roasting sticks. We have looked around at a few, and these are by far the best ones out there! They are nice and long so they kids don’t have to get too close to the fire, and they work great for hot dogs too!
When your camping, it gets completely dark at night without any light pollution around so you will need to bring some flashlights or a lantern with you. We always bring a lantern that we can set on a table outside if we need too, but I also found these portable tent lights on Amazon and love them! They are great as they have a hook on the end of them, so you can hang them from your tent ceiling, sides or you car.
Once you have your gear covered, make sure you have everything you need for your meal prep too. Below is my food checklist for camping with kids:
- Food storage bin (plastic 18-gallon bin is what I used to keep all my food stored safely)
- Cutting board
- Metal Spatula
- Paper plates
- Garage Bags
- Plastic Utensils
- Frying Pan
- Fire starter log
- PAM Spray
- Hand sanitizer
Recommendations for kids
While our kids loved being outdoors, climbing on rocks and hiking, there was some down time to at the campsite so I recommend bringing a few other items to help keep them entertained. We brought a soccer ball, a Frisbee, some books to read, a notepad for drawing, a few of Easton’s swords, our tree hammock and corn hole. Definitely don’t bring anything electronic as it takes away from the experience, but bring a few extra toys in case you need to keep them entertained between hiking and s’mores!