Our family LOVES to camp. Even when the kids were babies, we ventured out with them swaddled in MEC Chuck Roast onesies, strapped in to Baby Bjorn carriers and hiking backpacks to introduce them to the great outdoors.
Taking the kids on even a modest camping trip is no small feat. In addition to cooking, cleaning, and providing the usual supervision, you need to anticipate their needs that may be unique to the outdoors. This adds up to a lot of preparation, not to mention a lot of gear.
Every parent knows that when you have children, the sheer amount of stuff you need to carry around with you increases about tenfold. This rule should be roughly doubled when heading out on a weekend camping trip with the kids. Camping is basically recreating a livable environment in the wilderness, and while it may be fun to do that on a minimalist basis as an adult, your kids will be less likely to complain with a few of the comforts of home.
The best way to ensure that you don’t need two vehicles full of supplies for a simple getaway is to select items that can perform “double duty”. These camping item hacks all save time, space, or money. The best examples of this are water bottles you can freeze to save space on ice packs, and then use as drinking water as they melt, or packing your non-perishable cooking supplies in a hanging shoe organizer, which you can roll up when not in use.
Our friend Amy Whitley’s guide to camping hacks for families details how to execute these hacks, as well as some great campfire recipes!
Now that you’ve got the basic essentials of camping covered, we can move on to the items that will take your camping trip from functional to fun. These camping items aren’t necessities, but they can make a weekend in the hot sun much more bearable, so for that reason we label them camping “luxuries”.
A good, sturdy sun shelter can be purchased for around $150. This is the most expensive item we recommend, but it’s so worth it because you can take it with you on your day excursions to have a respite from the hot sun – especially valuable for small children. Instead of having an hour of fishing by the river, you can spend the whole day there by taking little breaks to sit in the shade. You could also consider investing in hydration packs if you like to do day activities with the kids while camping. Keeping your kids hydrated and cool is the key to them enjoying themselves in the outdoors.
A 2012 report on camping has shown that only 13 percent of campers took up camping after the age of 16. This means you need to take your kids camping early on in their childhood if you want to ensure harmonious family camping trips that extend well into your kids’ young adult years. Following these camping tips and hacks will help make the trip fun for them, and less work for you!
Do you love to camp? Share your best camping hacks and tips below.