Family camping gear for all ages

Gear that will help elevate your family-friendly campsite. Sample packing lists provided by Helen Olsson, author of The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping With Kids. Find a complete family-camping packing list on Olsson’s blog,


Tent (with poles, stakes, and rainfly) / Scouting magazine pick: the Big House 4 ($400) by Big Agnes
Tarp (ground cloth)
Extra plastic tarp
Vestibule mat
Sleeping bags / Scouting magazine pick: the Woobie 30 ($65) by Kelty for kids up to 4 feet tall and the Illumi-Bug ($35) by Coleman for kids up to 5 feet, 5 inches tall
Sleeping pads / Scouting magazine pick: Megamat Duo 10 ($370) by Exped fits two adults
Screen house

Camp Kitchen

Camp stove / Scouting magazine pick: Triton Propane Stove ($70) by Coleman
Pots / Scouting magazine pick: Bugaboo Base Camper Cookset ($95) by GSI Outdoors
Grill rack
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Big spoon
Long-handled tongs
Insulated coffee cups
Coffee making device / Scouting magazine pick: Adventure Percolator Coffee Pot ($40) by Stanley
Water bottles / Scouting magazine pick: Thermalock Maddie Stainless Steel Water Bottle ($13) by Contigo
Marshmallow sticks
Bottle opener
Pot lifter
Aluminum foil
Small plastic bags
Large plastic bags
Plastic tablecloth
Extra-large tablecloth clips or tablecloth weights
Tupperware containers
Matches, lighter, or fire stick
Collapsible water container
Water purifier (optional)
Drink coozies

Camp Kitchen Cleanup

Plastic washbasins
Sponge with scouring pad
Small scrubber brush
Old washcloths or tea towels
Biodegradable camp soap
Grocery-store plastic bags (for small amounts of garbage)
Tall kitchen garbage bags
Paper towels
Baby wipes
Clothesline and clothespins

Find the full family-camping packing list on Olsson’s blog,


  1. Holy Cow that’s a lot of gear. If you are camping for a night or two you can go so much simpler than this.

    It’s awesome to be comfortable and have all the comforts of home. But a little planning an know how go a long way. Plan your meals ahead of time. Pre-cut, and cook ingredients to make meal prep simple. Limit your kitchen to what you need on that trip. It’s entirely possible to cook every meal with a dutch oven and a spoon or spatula to stir or serve.

    A personal mess kit per person is a great way to go. Plan on doing dishes and bring a trashbag for waste.

    With tent camping sleeping pads and air mattresses are great. IF you don’t have sleeping bags, no worries. The sheets and comforters off your beds work well on air mattresses.

    On bit of advice. Buy a tents a little larger than what you think you need. a 2 man tent is a 1-man tent. A 4 man tent is a 2-3 man tent.

    The trick. Keep it simple. Buy what you’ll use, borrow what you can, and go camping with friends to share gear and the experience.

    That being said, whatever works best for you and your family is all that matters. The point is to get outdoors. And, leave the electronics at home. They’ll be fine without you. And you’ll be better for it.

  2. The recommended name brand gear seems awfully expensive for family camping. I agree that you can take a lot less gear. As for clean up, where is the bleach ?

  3. YOU. CANNOT. BE. SERIOUS!!!!!!!!

    I’ve done family camping both with Cubs and on our own. I didn’t take 1/2 of the stuff recommended. I’ve seen first time families get scared about expenses when I showed them the cheap stuff I use. Thankfully a lot of items already around the house can be used.

    • Nahila, the list they posted the other day (for car camping) had high dollar equipment that I would never pay for. I think it is absurd to think that a new Cub Family would rush out and pay for all this equipment for an overnighter. As for me, I would never pay $400 for a tent. So far, the best 2 person tent I’ve owned cost $39.

  4. A Scout is thrifty. I started with a $10 tent that I still use. Are you trying to help people or sell books and equipment.

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