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11 Camping Essentials Every Family Needs

I first took my son camping a few days after his fourth birthday, and it was a nearly perfect experience. We hiked, we saw wildlife, we climbed “mountains” (small rock piles), we made a campfire and roasted marshmallows and we snuggled up in the tent and fell fast asleep.

What he didn’t know was that I spent as much or more time planning our trip to the woods than the actual single-night outing itself lasted. In the dozen or so times the two of us have camped in the ensuing three years, I’ve gotten things pretty streamlined, so now it only takes me about five or six hours of planning, prepping and packing. Then, this year, my wife and I decided it was time for the whole family to head to the woods together.

With two adults and two kids under seven, this was going to be a whole new ballgame. And as such, we spent the better part of 24 hours planning for our two-night camping odyssey. But when you have a cooling fan handy for when your toddler complains about the heat, a selection of snacks for when your six-year-old gets peckish and a folding couch both kids can flop on when they run out of steam, all that prep time feels more than worth it.

When planning a family camping trip, there are of course the basics to consider, like a good, big tent, sleeping bags and air mats and a sturdy cooler full of food. But there’s also a few less expected items — a fabric lantern, games, a portable cot — that I always bring along when camping with kids, many of which have saved us from the brink of disaster, and all of which have made our adventures that much more enjoyable.

Here are some of my favorite family camping essentials to keep you and your family prepped and ready for your next trip to the great outdoors.

Continue reading the list by Forbes' Steven John here.


May 7, 2022

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Of all the creepy crawlers, ticks keep me on high alert. They can be very tiny in the nymph stage and difficult to see. They love to hang out in tall grasses along the trail and hitch a ride on hikers passing by. I plan on treating most of my clothes and gear with Sawyer Permethrin.

Joanne Gigliotti


Ultra-compact and lightweight

House Grail
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I would often just drink directly from the sawyer squeeze if I was feeling lazy- which by the way works wonderfully.

Rachel McVittie