Camping Gear Essentials For A Family Vacation

In this article, I will provide an overview of some items that I would consider essential to bring on a family camping trip. I think the camping gear items I will discuss are essential if you want to have an awesome camping vacation.

I’m guessing that you already have a tent so firstly we’ll take a look at some of the things that you will need for your tent.

Make Your Tent More Comfortable

One essential item is a sleeping pad or ground mat.

Camping Gear Essentials

These protect you from dampness and keep your sleeping bag dry and clean.

Most sleeping pads are, non-absorbent, lightweight, and have integrated elastics to keep them compact when rolled up.

Everyone on your camping trip needs one of these.

If using foam sleeping pads, then I particularly like sleeping pads that have a foil back, this helps to reflect back your body heat in cold conditions and provides an additional barrier between you and mother earth.

Modern Sleeping pads are self-inflating, these are generally lightweight and abrasion-resistant. If you want to get totally away from sleeping on a hard camping surface, then you need your air mattress. In my view, they are too bulky, easily damaged, and need to be inflated and deflated.

Once you have your camping pads or possibly your air mattress in place, you must then decide on what sleeping bags you need.

Sleeping bags for family camping should be age-appropriate as you don’t want younger children semi smothering themselves in oversize sleeping bags.

Sleeping bags are a bit like tents in that they are generally rated for two seasons or all-year-round use.

The mummy type sleeping bag is usually the 4 season type of bag.

sleeping bag

If you are summer camping, then in my view this type of bag is unnecessary as they are more expensive, bulky and in warm weather, tend to be too warm to sleep properly.

A two-season bag is fine for most spring/summer camping trips, they are compact, lightweight, and generally cheaper than the 4 season equivalent.

When buying a sleeping bag, ensure the zips are of reasonable quality, that the bag is easy to clean, machine washable and can be dried in clothes drier.

If you are on a serviced site for a couple of weeks, it is a good idea to freshen up the bags, or if they get wet it is great to be able to pop them in a drier.

In my view avoid double sleeping bags or excessively bulky sleeping bags. You can have good fun in your double sleeping bag, but it is hard to sleep in them, especially if the other partner does a bit of turning or twisting.

If you need a pillow, then I think the self-inflating camping pillows are quite good and deflate into a reasonably small size for transport.

Essential Camping Gear Dining Equipment

The next thing to look at is eating arrangement, eating equipment, and cooking equipment.

dining equipment

The equipment that is deemed essential will depend on your food arrangement, whether you intend to utilize camp facilities or utilize a lot of pre-prepared food.

Regardless of what arrangements you decide about cooking during your family camping vacation, in my view, the following are the basics necessary.

A picnic mat with waterproof backing

This will enable the family to eat the food wherever you choose, be it inside the camp, outside, or away from the camp if you are partaking in some activities.

A rucksack picnic set

This will have all the basic eating utensils and because it is in a rucksack, can be transported easily.

Ensure the picnic set has an adequate place setting for the size of your family.

If buying a new picnic set, make sure that the set is machine washable.

Possibly add a small bottle of washing up liquid if you have space, personally, I also add salt, pepper, and a can/bottle opener.

Ensure the actual rucksack itself is of reasonable quality and has zippers that close the compartments completely.

This will ensure that your picnic set is kept safe and once the equipment is washed, dried, and stowed in the rucksack, that it cannot be contaminated by dust, etc.

You definitely need some sort of water container, or perhaps you intend to buy all bottled water.

Essential Camping Gear Safety Items

Led lights have made camping so much easier as their batteries last longer and they are so much more compact.

safety gear

A small headband type led lamp for everyone enables everyone to move around if necessary and are ideal for reading once tucked up in your sleeping bag.

A decent first aid kit has to be part of any essential camping gear list.

Ensure it is suited to your family’s needs and include specialist medical items your family may need whilst camping.

So above is my view are the basic camping gear essentials, ok I hear you saying, no cooking equipment, no camping table, no camping chairs, no cooler box.

Well if you are traveling lite, they are not necessarily essentials but I will discuss them in my camping checklist post.


Ben Ross