17 Must-Have Items For Camping With Kids In The USA

Camping with kids is not the same as camping alone, or even with one other adult. In fact, it requires a whole new set of items to be prepared for anything from unexpected weather changes to a midnight bathroom run. 

You need all the items you’d take on any other trip, but you’ll also need to pack carefully for children who don’t have much space in their own packs and may not be able to carry anything heavy. 

Here’s a list of must-haves for camping with kids:

Family Camping Essentials: The Ultimate List
Camping with kids is an exciting and rewarding experience that requires careful planning and preparation.
Before embarking on a camping trip with kids, it’s important to create a checklist of essential items to pack and activities to plan.
There are many family-friendly campgrounds across the USA with various amenities and activities to keep kids entertained.
To ensure a successful and stress-free camping trip with kids, it’s important to involve them in the planning process and establish clear guidelines and expectations.
With the right mindset and resources, camping with kids can be an unforgettable adventure that creates cherished memories for the whole family.

Camping Tent

The tent you choose should be large enough to comfortably fit your family and all their belongings. You will also need to consider whether or not you want a tent with mesh walls or windows, which will give you better visibility, but also allow some bugs in.

The type of material should be based on the climate you’ll be camping in, as well as what kind of experience you want. If it’s hot and sunny, then a lightweight nylon may be ideal; if it’s cold and rainy, then a heavier canvas might work better.

Finally, the poles are essential for holding up the structure of your tent! There are many options available here: aluminum poles are light but can bend easily under pressure; fiberglass is more durable than aluminum but weighs more; steel is very strong but heavy.

Planning a camping trip with kids can be overwhelming, but with the right resources, you can make it a stress-free and enjoyable experience. Check out our guide on how to plan the perfect camping trip with your kids to get expert tips and advice for a successful family adventure.

Sleeping Bags

The right sleeping bag can mean the difference between a night of restful sleep and one filled with shivering and tossing. 

If you’re camping in the summer, you’ll want to get a sleeping bag that’s rated for warmer temperatures. On the other hand, if you’re camping in colder weather, choose a sleeping bag that will keep you warm at night but won’t be too hot during the day when it’s time to explore.

When choosing your sleeping bag, make sure it’s made from good quality material like down or synthetic fibers—not polyester! 

A high-quality material will keep away moisture better than polyester does so it won’t feel damp on your skin when you slip into bed at night. Once you’ve got your perfect sleeping bag sorted out (we recommend checking out REI), try these tips:

Make sure there are no loose strings hanging from anywhere on the outside of your new purchase before taking it home.

Snag-free zippers are essential!* Put some kind of waterproof cover over top of any air mattress so as not to get wet during rainfall.

Don’t forget about pillows! They’re also very important when getting ready for bedtime under canvas (or other materials) without drywall walls or ceilings separating neighbors’ heads from pillow talk.”

Sleeping Bags Comparison Table

BrandModelTemperature RatingSynthetic or DownPrice
The North FaceCat’s Meow20°F/-7°CSynthetic$199
KeltyCosmic Down 20 Women’s20°F/-7°CDown$179
Nemo EquipmentDisco 1515°F/-9°CDown$299
REI Co-opTrail Pod 3030°F/-1°CSynthetic$109
ColemanNorth Rim Extreme Weather0°F/-18°CSynthetic$69

This table compares five different sleeping bags from popular brands such as The North Face, Kelty, Nemo Equipment, REI Co-op, and Coleman. The table includes important features such as temperature rating, synthetic or down material, and price. It can help readers compare and contrast different sleeping bags to make an informed decision and select the best option that fits their needs and budget.

Camping Chairs

Camping chairs are essential to your camping experience. You can use them to sit in, but they’re also great for propping up a tent or even as an extra seat for the kids and pets. They fold up when not in use so you can easily pack them away too!

Finding the right campgrounds for a family vacation can be a challenge, but there are plenty of options across the USA for all types of families. Check out our list of the best campgrounds for families in the USA to find the perfect spot for your next outdoor adventure.


Flashlight: A flashlight is a hand-held device used to illuminate things in the dark. It can be powered by batteries or a small generator, and there are many different types of flashlights available. 

Flashlights are useful camping tools because they allow you to easily see your surroundings at night without having to carry extra lanterns or other bulky items.

In order to use a flashlight correctly, first turn on the switch at the end of it so that power flows through its circuits (if your model has no switch then just squeeze it). 

Next aim toward what you want lit up with its beam and push down on it until all light has faded away from your eyesight (it’s okay if some remains). 

Once this process is complete turn off any switches at either end before putting away for storage purposes.

Flashlight Comparison Table

BrandModelLumensBattery TypePrice
OlightM2R Warrior Pro1800Rechargeable$109.95
SureFireG2X Tactical6002x CR123A Lithium$69.99
StreamlightProTac HL5-X3500CR123A Lithium or Rechargeable Battery$85.99

This table compares five different flashlights from popular brands such as Fenix, Olight, ThruNite, SureFire, and Streamlight. The table includes important features such as lumens, battery type, and price. It can help readers compare and contrast different flashlights to make an informed decision and select the best option that fits their needs and budget.

Portable Charger

Portable chargers are great because they charge your devices while you’re on the go—they’re also a good backup if you don’t have access to a power outlet. 

If you have a portable charger, it’s important to know how to use it properly and what type of portable charger (or solar panel) is best for your needs.

  • How do I know when my device is fully charged?
  • How long do I need to charge my phone or tablet?
  • Is it okay if the battery isn’t completely depleted before charging?

Camping with kids can be an unforgettable experience, but it’s important to plan ahead and be prepared for any situation. Check out our guide on 10 essential tips for camping with kids in the USA to ensure your family camping trip goes smoothly from start to finish.

Baby Wipes

Baby wipes are a must-have item for camping with kids. They can be used to clean dirty hands and faces, clean up spills, and even clean dirty feet after a long day of hiking. 

I recommend bringing at least two packs of baby wipes per child. By doing this you will always have enough wipes on hand when your children need them most!

Plastic Bags

Plastic bags are a camping necessity. They’re useful for keeping trash, dirty clothes and shoes, and even wet gear separate from the rest of your things. 

You’ll need at least one bag for each member of your family—you won’t want to wake up and find that someone has peed all over their sleeping bag!

When packing these tools into a car or hiking in with them on foot, make sure you have plenty of space in which to store them. Don’t put them directly next to food items; this could attract rodents looking for an easy meal.

The best time to go camping with kids in the USA depends on various factors such as weather, school schedules, and personal preferences. Check out our guide on when is the best time to go camping with kids in the USA to get insights and tips on planning the perfect camping trip for your family.

First Aid Kit

First aid kits are an essential part of outdoor activities, whether you’re camping with kids or not. It can be difficult to know exactly what to put in your first aid kit, so we’ve compiled a list of must-have items that you should always keep on hand when spending time outdoors.

  • Bandages (for cuts and scrapes)
  • Gauze pads (for bleeding wounds)
  • Antiseptic wipes or ointment (to clean wounds)
  • Moleskin (for blisters)
  • Sunscreen and bug spray for sensitive skin types (even if you don’t think the sun will burn their skin!)

First Aid Kit Essentials

BandagesBand-AidVarious sizes for cuts and scrapes
Antiseptic wipesNeosporinTo clean and prevent infection
TweezersRevlonFor removing splinters and ticks
ScissorsFiskarsFor cutting tape, gauze, and clothing
ThermometerBraunTo monitor fever and illness
Pain relieverAdvilFor headaches, pain, and fever
AntihistamineBenadrylFor allergies and insect bites
Disposable glovesMedPrideTo protect against cross-contamination
Adhesive tapeNexcareTo secure bandages and dressings
Gauze padsCuradTo dress wounds and stop bleeding
Instant cold packMedi-FirstTo reduce swelling and inflammation
First aid guideAmerican Red CrossInstructions for treating common injuries and illnesses

This table provides a list of essential items to include in a first aid kit, along with recommended brands and descriptions of each item. Having a well-stocked first aid kit is crucial for any camping or outdoor trip to prepare for any unforeseen accidents or injuries.

Sunscreen and Lip Balm

Sunscreen and lip balm are important for kids because they can’t protect themselves from the sun in the same way adults can. You’ll probably have to apply these items several times per day, depending on how long you’re outside.

Sunscreen is an essential for campers, especially if you’re going to be out in the sun all day. Sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 should be used on exposed skin every couple of hours or more frequently if swimming or sweating heavily. 

Lip balm with SPF is also recommended, especially given how often it needs to be applied while playing outdoors during summer months.

It’s best to apply sunscreen before leaving home so there’s no chance of forgetting it at home or having issues applying it when it’s hot out (you don’t want your kids getting burned). 

When applying sunscreen, make sure not only that you get all their exposed areas but also any clothing they might be wearing that could block access: necklines, collars and sleeves are common culprits here!

Keeping your kids entertained while camping is crucial to ensure a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone. Check out our article on 15 fun activities to keep your kids entertained while camping to get inspiration and ideas on how to create unforgettable memories during your family camping trip.

Bug Spray

If you’re planning on camping in the USA, then you absolutely need bug spray.

You should apply it before going into the outdoors, as well as after spending time in the sun and sweating. 

This includes cottages and cabins where bugs can still get inside. It’s also important to apply it when you’re wearing long sleeves because they will give them access to your skin by way of the fabric.

If at all possible, avoid using products that contain DEET — like OFF or Deep Woods Off — since they may be harmful if applied frequently over a period of years (see below). 

Instead opt for natural brands like Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus IR3535 Insect Repellent Spray Sunscreen Lotion instead; this one contains only 20% DEET and is made with essential oils that kill bugs quickly without leaving behind toxic residues like other sprays do!

Insulated Water Bottles

An insulated water bottle is a must-have item for camping with kids in the USA. These bottles keep drinks cold for much longer than regular bottles, and they can also be used to keep hot drinks warm.

You can use this for sports and hiking, as well as camping with kids or school lunches. It’s even great for work lunches!

Outdoor Blanket/Picnic Blanket

Outdoor blanket: This is the item that will bring you and your family together. It’s a big, soft surface that can be used for sitting or lying on. You’ll use it to relax, eat meals and spend time together under the stars.

Picnic blanket: This is much like an outdoor blanket, but made of waterproof material so you don’t have to worry about getting wet when nature calls (or when those pesky afternoon showers roll in). 

A picnic blanket will keep all of your picnicking supplies dry too—from food and drinks to games and toys and can also be used as extra protection against bugs while they’re still inside their container if they’re not sealed properly.

Waterproof ground cover/tarp: If there are no trees nearby where you want to camp then make sure you pack some type of waterproof ground cover to protect yourself from dampness on the grass or dirt below (or even sand). 

Pack a few extra tarps just in case one gets punctured by rocks or branches; if this happens at night then any moisture could turn into mud very quickly!

Waterproof Matches

Waterproof matches are a great addition to any camping kit. These can be used to start fires in wet conditions and are also useful for lighting barbeques and candles during inclement weather.

Tree Stakes and Rope For Tents

In addition to tent and sleeping bag, rope and stakes are another must-have item for setting up your campsite. Tree stakes are typically made of aluminum or steel, but you may find some made from wood as well. 

They come in different shapes and sizes the most common being a “Y” or “X”—but they all have one thing in common: they need to be pounded into the ground with your mallet (which should also be part of your camping kit).

Rope comes in many different lengths, colors, and thicknesses depending on what kind of use you’re planning for it and if you’re going tent camping with kids in America then chances are good that rope will go through quite a lot of wear during its lifetime so choose wisely! 

For example, if you’re going on short hikes then ultra-lightweight paracord might suffice; but if hiking isn’t something you plan on doing then heavier grade ropes would be easier for transporting between campsites without taking up much space in an already full trunk!

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is a must-have item for camping with kids in the USA. It’s a great way to keep your child safe from germs and can help keep them healthy during camping.

Hand sanitizer comes in many flavors, including strawberry, grape and even bubble gum! You can also find it that smells like banana or vanilla as well as scented ones that smell like lavender or cherry. Some hand sanitizers even have colorful designs on them which makes it more fun for kids to use.

The best type of hand sanitizer is one that kills bacteria on contact so you don’t have to scrub your hands multiple times before they are clean enough for you not to get sick after touching something dirty such as someone else’s food utensil at school lunchtime table


We hope that these items will make your next camping trip a little more comfortable, and hopefully you can use this list to get ready for your next adventure with the kids.

Further Reading

If you’re looking for more information and resources on camping with kids, be sure to check out these helpful articles:

Camping With Kids Checklist by The Passport Kids: This comprehensive checklist covers all the essential items you need to pack for a successful family camping trip.

Family Camping Checklist by Childhood 101: This article provides a thorough checklist of everything you need for a family camping trip, including gear, clothing, food, and more.

Camping Gear for Families by Run Wild My Child: This article features a list of recommended camping gear for families, including tents, sleeping bags, and cooking equipment.


What are some essential items to bring when camping with kids?

Some essential items to bring when camping with kids include a tent, sleeping bags, flashlights, first aid kit, extra clothing, and plenty of food and water.

How do you keep kids entertained while camping?

Some fun activities to keep kids entertained while camping include hiking, swimming, fishing, campfire storytelling, and various outdoor games.

What are some tips for camping with young kids?

Some tips for camping with young kids include choosing a family-friendly campground, packing plenty of snacks and entertainment, and involving kids in camping tasks such as setting up the tent and starting the campfire.

When is the best time to go camping with kids?

The best time to go camping with kids depends on various factors such as weather, school schedules, and personal preferences.

What are some family-friendly campgrounds in the USA?

There are plenty of family-friendly campgrounds in the USA, including KOA campgrounds, state parks, and private campgrounds with amenities such as swimming pools and playgrounds.