8 Family Camping Essentials | Rocky Mountain Health Plans Blog



What to Bring on a Family Camping Trip

Whether you’re car camping, tent camping, or backpacking deep in the wilderness, there are a few family camping essentials that will make your home away from home comfier (and safer) for the whole family.

Depending on the type of camping you’re doing, you may not need all of these items, so don’t be afraid to customize this list until you’ve created your own perfect family camping must pack list.


1. Sleeping Gear

You'll need somewhere to sleep, and these are the basics

  • Tent and accessories
  • Sleeping bags and pads
  • Pillows (if you have enough room, a comfy pillow can be a camping game-changer)
  • Extra blankets for getting cozy in the tent and staying warm around your campsite
  • Compactible and portable chairs (no one wants to site on the ground with the ants)
If you're car camping you could even bring an air mattress.  Some families might find it unnecessary, but others appreciate extra comfort for sleepy kids and adults. 

2. Headlamps

Give everyone their own personal lantern by bringing headlamps along. Having their own light at night also gives young campers some independence, and you can teach them all about not blinding their fellow campers (a very important lesson we all have to learn). 

3. Food and snacks

The fastest way to ruin a family camping trip is for the hungry anger grumpiness, also known as hanger, to set in. Come prepared with easy-to-prepare meals and lots of healthy snacks. Include items like pre-made popcorn as well as fruits and vegetables including apple slices with cheese. Just be sure to also bring a trash bag so that you pack out what you’ve packed in and keep the camping spot clean for visitors to follow you.

It’s important to note that the key to a happy camping trip is keeping things simple, so try one of these easy meal ideas for your next car camping trip

4. Refreshing drinks

When it gets hot out, nothing hits the spot quite like a cold drink. You can bring juices, flavored waters, and any other beverages that the family loves. If you’re backpacking, consider tossing a few packets of water flavoring into your pack to make sure everyone stays hydrated.

Do be careful to load up on sugary-filled juices and sodas that can actually increase the risks of dehydration. Always be sure that everyone has plenty of water to stay fully hydrated and happy. 

5. Camp stove

Unless there’s a grill at your campsite, you’ll need a way to cook. Cooking over the fire is one option, but a full camp stove or single propane-fueled burner will make things much easier. In addition, you want to always check to ensure the area you’re camping is not on a fire ban prior to starting a campfire. While it can be a drag to not have a campfire, you’re helping protect our precious outdoor resources and there’s plenty to do including exploring the wilderness around you.

6. Stackable Tupperware

While it may be convenient to bring paper plates and plastic utensils, it’s actually far better for the environment and more convenient for you if you pack your food in reusable plastic or glass containers. Not only is this the safest way to keep your food fresh, but when it comes to critters trying to raid your campsite for food (think bears), having Tupperware or reusable containers that are sealed tightly will keep everyone safe.

7. Camera and Nature Books

Camping outside is an amazing experience and one that you and your kids should not take for granted. While it is easy to bring an iPad or a cell phone full of games to rely on when your kids get bored, the whole point of camping is to be in nature. 

Try bringing a disposable camera for your kids to take pictures or bring your camera and teach them how to take photos without a cell phone. Pick up some books at the store or the library that can teach your kids how to identify the local plants and animal tracks. Try telling stories and remind your kids how to use their imagination in nature without technology.

8. Patience

When camping with kids, especially young children, remembering to pack your patience is key. There could be meltdowns, tears, and general unhappiness, but that’s okay.