What to pack for camping with kids.

What to Pack for Camping with Kids

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With two young children I’ve learned there are a few necessities when camping and some ways I can make camping less work and more enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, camping is indeed lots of work but being organized and prepared helps our weekend adventures run smoothly.

The first thing is first you need a plastic tub. Yes, a plastic tub that you most likely have a million of stacked and labeled in the garage with baby clothing, holiday decorations, etc. Try donating some items to empty one of those tubs so you can reuse it for camping items. Stack this with necessities that you use for every trip so your packing and preparation time on a Thursday or Friday (generally when we depart) is greatly decreased.

Items I have continually packed:

1.  Towels, Rags and Washcloths

After each trip and I wash, fold and add these back into the tub. I pack one towel and washcloth per person and a stack of rags for wiping down towels and feet!

2.  Clothesline

A must for hanging the wet suits, towels and rags and if you’re camping too close to another tent, use it to help create privacy! We often hang a sheet over the clothesline to create a wall between us and another campsite if we’re too close.

3.  Bare Necessity Bag

This includes medicine for late-night fevers, tweezers for slivers, and first aid kit, and sunscreen, insect repellent and small bottles of shampoo that are leftover from my travels. In addition, I include baby wipes for sticky hands and soap for washing hands or dishes. This remains packed at all times so I’m never without!

4.  Two Buckets

One bucket is for clean water and one is for recycling. Yes, we even recycle when we go camping!

5.  Trash Bags and a Rake

Our camping tub always has trash bags that are biodegradable and next to our filled tub is a rake. Raking the area before we lay out the tent helps prevent us from sleeping on sticks and rocks but we’re also a firm believer in raking our campsite before we leave.

6.  Welcome Mat

We take our shoes off when we enter our home and our tent! This helps to keep the dirt and “stuff” out of our tent.

kids camping

7.  Rain Coats and Sweatshirts

I make sure our tub has an old sweatshirt for everyone in the family and a few rain ponchos, or even a rain jacket. It’s easy to get caught in the rain or need some extra warmth. I wash when we get home and add these items right back into the tub.

8.  Paper towel

At home we don’t use a paper towel but when we camp I find it to be handy and so a package always remains in our camping tub.

9.  Lanterns and Batteries

We have two lanterns and extra batteries packed so we’re never without light! When it comes to walking my daughter to the bathroom in the middle of the night I’m thankful for the lantern!

10.  Activity Bag

I have a small backpack full of small items to keep the kids busy if it rains or they get “bored”. Playing cards, crayons, coloring books, Polly Pockets, mazes and other small trinket toys.  The children have added items to this bag they’d like to have but we keep it small and limited because we really want them exploring and using their imagination when we go camping.

11. Camping Gear

This is more a list of the things you want to camp in. Like your tent and sleeping gear.

  • Tent (with poles, stakes, and rainfly)
  • Tarp (ground cloth)
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pads
  • Pillows
  • An outdoor watch for navigating

camping cooking gear

12. Cooking Gear

  • Camp stove & Fuel
  • Pots & Pans
  • Cutting board & knife
  • Other Utensils
  • Plates & Bowls
  • Cups & Mugs
  • Water bottles
  • Corkscrew & Bottle opener
  • Aluminum foil or an alternative
  • Plastic bags for cleaning up
  • Tablecloth
  • Cooler if you are going in warm weather, or just to keep things fresh

So what do you pack when you go camping? How do you stay organized and prepared?

For other articles I’ve written about camping visit:

Camping and Emergency Preparedness

Camping Tips and Trips Video

9 thoughts on “What to Pack for Camping with Kids”

  1. I have a rechargeable weather radio and lantern. The Weather radio is also an AM/FM radio which is nice for entertainment or just to check up on the weather each day. Both also use regular batteries if we run the rechargeable battery down and can't plug it in to recharge it.

  2. My husband and I have both done a lot of backpacking so we usually have our stuff packed in our hiking backpacks. We have not attempted camping with our girls yet (just two years and six months) but we are thinking that a trial run in the backyard may need to happen this summer. The big tub sounds like a much more organized and easy to access way to pack for a family!

  3. You've got some really interesting ideas here! I love the organization and would have never considered bringing a rake.

    Being a Norwex consultant, I bring a lot of our biodegradable & chemical free products for cleaning purposes (both personal cleaning and for our grill, dishes, fruits and veggies, sponges, etc…) But I think I'm going to create a checklist from your post and start camping with a little more organization! Sounds like a huge time saver. Thanks a ton!

    Radically reducing the use of chemicals in personal care and cleaning.

  4. I am going to sheepishly admit that I have never taken my kids camping. I did a lot of camping in my youth, and I didn't enjoy it. So these days, we motel it. I'm sure my kids would love camping, but I'm not quite ready to suck it up for them.

  5. Mimilovesall8

    I enjoyed your story !
    But I LOVED your picture in the article ! You see this takes me back to the late 70's , where I live now, but where a JellyStone National Park used to be. My step-dad sold land there and I worked in the putt-putt golf area. This is the place I had my first kiss, my first love, my first heartbreak, and then later my first of so many memories.
    After 10 years JellyStone lost their franchise and it closed . The resort has long since lost the looks of any remains of Yogi and Boo Boo. I still miss is greatly!
    Thank-you for posting this picture ! Seeing Yogi again made my day!
    Annette mimilovesall8@yahoo.com

  6. greenandcleanmom

    The resort really hasn't changed much from the 70's either! Glad I could make your day!

  7. Great list! We just got a new tent and set it up in the backyard for a trial run. Can't wait to take it out to a campsite for the real experience.

  8. Erin Rockafellow

    Great list!  I was an avid camper but haven’t gone since before the kids were born thanks for the perfect jump point!

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