Top 20 Camping Must Haves for Family Camping

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The snow is melting and you’re ready to start preparing for your first family camping trip of the year.   It’s time to seek out the best camping gear for families in order to set the stage right this summer.  

In this article, we’ve put together the essential camping must haves for family trips.  We hope something on this list will spark your excitement to spend more time in the great outdoors with the people you care most about.  

family camping gear

family camping gear Photo by Jimmy Conover

The Coleman 8 Person Montana Tent

Camping can sometimes be intense, but it is almost always “in tents.”  Pardon the pun, but the first item on every family camping gear checklist should be a high quality tent.  Coleman is one of the most trusted names in outdoor gear and also happens to make some of the best camping gear for families.  

This Coleman 8 person camping tent has enough room for even the largest of groups.  What makes this item unique among similar products is the durability of the unit. When considering the camping must haves for family outings, safety should be a number one priority.  This tent is built to withstand heavy winds and weather thanks to its welded corners and inverter seams.  

This roomy shelter can be set up in minutes and its roomy interior has enough space and pockets for everyone and their belongings.  You and your family will sleep easy knowing that this tent also comes with a one year warranty.

The Platypus GravityWorks 4.0

If you are planning to spend a night or more in the great outdoors, one of the absolute camping must haves for family gatherings is access to clean drinking water.  

Platypus GravityWorks 4.0 Liter High-Capacity Water Filter System for Group Camping and Emergency Preparedness
The Platypus GravityWorks comes with an easy access hanging water storage bag, which works great as a highly visible source for water to drink or cook with.

If you are camping in a commercial campground, then you will probably have access to a spigot in order to refill your water supply.  The Platypus GravityWorks comes with an easy access hanging water storage bag, which works great as a highly visible source for water to drink or cook with.  

The real reason that the Platypus GravityWorks can be considered one of the best pieces of camping gear for families is because of the easy to use water filtration system.  If you want to explore further and camp in wilderness areas that require you to filter your own water, then this piece of equipment is going to be essential. It’s easy to use system allows you to simply fill a bag with water from a stream, lake, or other body, then hang the bag from a tree.  All you and your family then have to do is wait. No more pumping water filters, ever again!

A Stanley Adventure Base Camp Cook Set

Let’s prepare some dinner, shall we?  A good evening meal can make or break a trip to the wilderness, so a good cooking set is certainly one of the top camping must haves for family vacations.  This adventure base camp cooking set from Stanley has everything you need to prepare and serve a great outdoor meal.  

This 19 item camp cooking set is honestly so good that you may as well use it indoors as well.  It is made of stainless steel which makes it incredibly durable and long lasting, but is lightweight enough to be extremely portable.  This set is perfect for camping because the cookware and utensils are shaped and sized to fit together inside the included 3.7 Qt pot.

All in all the equipment in this set weighs about six pounds and includes four plates, four bowls, four sporks, a few cooking pots and utensils, and a dish drying rack.  When it comes time to do the dishes and you realize that you are a far distance from most of the conveniences of home, you will be very thankful for the dish drying rack.  

A Coleman Gas Camping Stove

Of course, a camping cooking set is not quite enough to make the perfect outdoor meal, you also need some food and a source of heat.  Although it is tempting to cook exclusively by bonfire, both your meal options and lifespan of your cookware will increase with the purchase of a reliable gas stove.  If you are trying to acquire the best camping gear for families, then this simple but effective Coleman gas camping stove is perfect for what you are looking for.   

There are not too many bells and whistles included with this product, but that is because its simple design has been used for decades.  Connecting with the different generations of your family will be easy when this simple and effective camping stove is up and running. Plus, this machine is sure to last.  Coleman is a great manufacturer, and the purchase of this item includes a 3 year limited warranty.  

Coleman Gas Camping Stove | Classic Propane Stove, 2 Burner
The two adjustable burners on this unit allow for plenty of space to boil water or cook different food items at variable temperatures.

The two adjustable burners on this unit allow for plenty of space to boil water or cook different food items at variable temperatures.  The durable lid cover and adjustable winged wind blockers keep the stove’s flame from blowing out while in use. The system also comes with built in pressure control technology, to keep your cooking temperature consistent in extreme weather conditions.  Don’t forget to pack the extra propane!

Steve Kaeser Fatwood 100% Natural Firestarter Sticks Hand Cut

When the air begins to cool as the sun sets for the evening, there is nothing like the smell and warmth of a campfire to bring a family closer together.  Among the camping must haves for family trips, bringing along a firestarter kit is a sure fire way to ensure a great experience for everyone.

No matter how experienced of an outdoorsman or woman you are, sometimes a fire can be a bit laborious.  The easiest way to get the fire, and the party, started is some newspaper or a brown bag, a little bit of fuel, and one of these natural wooden firestarters.  These firestarters are handcrafted in the USA and are selected and designed to allow for a quick, sustained flame.

natural wooden firestarters

natural wooden firestarters

The main reason that this kit can be included in a list of the best camping gear for families is the fact that it comes with tons of cool bonus items.  For a very reasonable price, this kit includes a tin can, a ferro rod, a three inch striker, a bag of flatwood chips and dust, and a 45 inch soy soaked piece of jute.  With so many options available, starting the fire can become a fun, safe, and supervised way to teach children an essential survival skill.

Marshmallow Roasting Camping Skewers

Perhaps one of the most iconic scenes on any great outdoor adventure is the ceremonial roasting of marshmallows over an open fire.  Although they are not essential for survival, one of the ultimate camping must haves for family trips is a nice set of skewers.  

Of course, marshmallows are not the only thing that you can cook over an open fire.  This sturdy set of skewers is perfect for holding marshmallows, hotdogs, bratwurst, and more.  The devices are also made to be expandable. Therefore you and your family can hold the skewers over the fire from a safe distance, and also pack and store them away easily while saving space in the car.  In order to avoid the heated metal rod, the wooden handles are perfect to prevent your hands from overheating or becoming burned.

If you asked your children, they would tell you that marshmallows are easily the best camping gear for families.  On your way to the campground, make sure to stop and get marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers in order to enjoy a fresh round of smores with the entire family.  

Magical Flames

Our next item on this list of camping must haves for family outings may be new to some of our readers.  After the logs are lit and the long evening of telling stories and huddling around the campfire begins, you can become the life of the party with Magical Flames.  

Magical Flames are a fun product that can turn any ordinary campfire into a colorful light show.  To use, campers simply just toss one of the packets into the fire, and poof! The campfire will turn blue, green, pink, and more.

It is truly up to you on how you want to present Magical Flames.  Some people will elect to sneak the packet into the fire and gawk at the unimaginable phenomenon.  Others can suggest that they themselves have magical powers to change the color of the flame. The packets are known to last for over ten minutes of colorful fun.

Anyway you use them, adults and children alike are sure to enjoy a unique campfire experience with Magical Flames.  It is worth mentioning that you should not cook on or inhale the fumes of a fire when you are using the Magical Flames, because the chemicals may be harmful.  

A Willpo Memory Foam Camping Mattress

Many people who do not like or are resistant to camping have one or two main complaints.  They are either afraid of insects or do not find it comfortable to sleep on the ground. Whereas some bug spray or insect repellent is sure to take care of the first excuse, this Willpo memory foam camping mattress will silence anyone who didn’t think it was possible to stay comfortable while camping. 

Willpo Certipur-US Memory Foam Car Camping Mattress - (75" x 30"x 2.75") Portable Sleep Pad Roll Out Mat Floor Guest Bed Mattress Waterproof Cover Travel Bag Better Stability Support

When camping with the whole family, there are a large number of possible sleeping arrangements.  Popular options include mats, cots, and inflatable mattresses all of which have their own setbacks.  Mats are rarely comfortable, cots take up a lot of space, and inflatable mattresses take time and energy to set up as well as run the risk of springing a leak.  For these reasons, bringing along a few of these memory foam camping mattresses will be the easiest and most comfortable way to spend a night closer to nature.

These portable mattresses are super light and easy to carry at the same time that they are plenty soft and thick.  Even the most particular members of the family will have a tough time picking a flaw in one of these ultra comfortable sleeping pads.  As a huge bonus, the material is designed to be waterproof and is rated for outdoor use.  

A Coleman Steel Belted Cooler

If you’re headed out to the wilderness with your family this summer, you’ll want to make sure to bring along plenty of food and beverages for everyone to enjoy.  In order to prevent your groceries from spoiling, you’ll need a great cooler that can keep your drinks cold and your food fresh for the entire weekend.

ALso, Read 10 Camping Hacks to Stay Cool During Summer Camping

Although there are a lot of expensive name brand coolers on the market today, you are unlikely to find a better and more affordable option than the Coleman Steel Belted Cooler.  This heavy duty, 54 quart capacity camping cooler can keep ice cold for up to four full days. The comfortable grip handles allow for easy transportation from any member of the family.  It is a bit heavy, weighing 19 pounds when completely empty, but is built to be durable and last a long time.

As we’ve said before, Coleman makes the best camping gear for families, and this cooler is perfect.  It is currently available in green, black, red, silver, steel, and turquoise color schemes. When compared to other heavy duty camping coolers, this Coleman unit comes at a fraction of the cost without sacrificing any of the performance.  

A Coleman Collapsible Cooler

Another cooler?  Yes. If you are planning the perfect family camping trip, you may actually want to bring along an additional cooler.  Whereas you can think of your large camping cooler as the pantry, having a small collapsible cooler, like this one from Coleman, is a very convenient and practical way to access food and drinks.  

Coleman 54-Can Collapsible Cooler with 32-Hour Ice Retention | Soft-Sided Cooler Bag Folds Flat for Compact Storage, Slate
Coleman’s Collapsible Cooler comes in 4 different models to correspond with the size of your family and your appetite.

Like we said before, large coolers can become quite heavy, especially when they are filled with ice, drinks, and food.  This small collapsible cooler is great because it is extremely lightweight and portable. Whether you want to bring some cool refreshments on a long hike or simply want access to your sandwiches while in the car, there are an infinite number of applications for this handy product.

Coleman’s Collapsible Cooler comes in 4 different models to correspond with the size of your family and your appetite.  It is rated to retain ice for up to 16 hours and is accessed by a zippered main compartment. It also comes with a convenient strap for easy carrying.  

The Carson AdventurePak

Overly preparing for the perfect vacation may have you forgetting about the simple wonder of adventure some members of your family may experience on an ordinary camping trip.  For kids, and the child inside of all us adults, the outdoors are an infinite playground filled with possibility. For this reason, it is always a fun idea to bring along some tools to help fully experience the joys of nature.

This “AdventurePak” from Carson is filled with fun gadgets designed for kids to be introduced to some complicated outdoor skills.  The company has bundled together a set of binoculars, a compass, a flashlight, and a combination thermometer and whistle into one convenient adventure ready purchase.  Although they are designed for kids, the instruments are all fully functional, and backed by one year warranty.

The activities that come along with this package are priceless.  Looking for bids, gazing upon expansive vistas, and learning how to use a map and compass are the sorts of outdoor activities that can help children and adults alike connect more closely with nature and enjoy the great outdoors.  

The OmniCore MoonPhase Loveseat

When evaluating camping must haves for family trips, some people overlook what should be an extremely obvious essential:  good seating. One too many times have some campers arrived at their site only to realize that they have nothing to sit on besides the ground or perhaps a nice stump.  These loveseats from OmniCore are designed to bring the family closer together while enjoying a comfortable seat in the open air.  

OmniCore Designs MoonPhase Home-Away LoveSeat Heavy Duty Oversized Folding Double Camp Chair Collection (Single, Double, Triple) (Double Loveseat)

The MoonPhase loveseats, as they are called, come in sizes to accommodate 2 or 3 people.  Even though sitting in one of these is practically like being on a couch in your home, these loveseats actually collapse and can be rolled up and easily carried like a backpack.  Plus, these seats are made with damage resistant PVC polyester.  

There are also a lot of bonuses that come with an OmniCore MoonPhase Loveseat.  Each model comes with cupholders, armrests, and a built in bottle opener! The padded seats are both comfortable and rated to hold up to 300 lbs of weight per seat.  

Champion Sports Rubber Horseshoe Set

Before you cozy up to the fire for the evening, there will be plenty of daylight hours to enjoy spending time with your family on your next trip together.  We highly recommend bringing along some games that can be enjoyed by campers of any age. In terms of the best camping gear for families, this rubber horseshoe set from Champion Sports may be the most fun.

Champion Sports IHS1 Rubber Horseshoe Set
The Champion Sports set comes with everything you need to set up and play a quick game with the entire family.

This rubber horseshoe set takes the weight and danger away from a traditional game of metal horseshoes.  For kids below the age of 13, this colorful game set can be thoroughly enjoyed before graduating to a “real” set of horseshoes.

The Champion Sports set comes with everything you need to set up and play a quick game with the entire family.  Your purchase includes 4 horseshoes, 2 rubber mats with pegs, and 2 dowels. The set is great for camping, but you can also use it indoors or at the next tailgate!

A 2 Pack of Vont LED Camping Lanterns

Speaking of daylight, what do you do when it runs out?  Having a well lit campground will prevent injury and maximize the safety and enjoyment for everyone around.  A pack of high powered lanterns is one of the absolute camping must haves for family trips. 

Before you by two camping lanterns, you may be wondering why only one isn’t enough.  For a family camping trip, you will want to have as much light as possible. Not only will you be able to see each other better when close together, but having an extra lantern makes it possible for people to occupy two separate spaces.  If the kids are in the tent playing cards, you will still want a lantern out by the cooler!

Also read,Best Portable LED Camping Lanterns – Powerful Camping Lanterns For Your Camping Needs

This particular set of LED camping lanterns from VONT are some of the highest rated portable lighting systems online.  These lightweight lanterns are waterproof, durable, bright, and super long lasting. Campers will be able to enjoy up to 90 hours of bright LED light with merely 3 AA batteries.  Most importantly, VONT includes a lifetime warranty on these camping lanterns. This is perfect, because the best camping gear for families is always going to be the gear you only have to buy once.  

EverBrite Headlamps

In case we didn’t just make it clear, it is very important to bring enough lighting devices if you are going to spend a night camping.  Whereas having a few lanterns is a good starting point, one of the most crucial camping essentials for family trips is a reliable set of headlamps.  This six pack of EverBrite Headlamps is great for all large group events.

EverBrite 6-pack Headlamp LED 150 Lumens Battery Operated Super Bright with 2 Red Lights AAA Batteries Included
EverBrite delivers a 6 pack of headlamps that have adjustable strap settings and sizes to fit the smallest and largest heads in the bunch. Plus, they are made with an extremely durable material.

Perhaps you may think headlamps are a bit silly when compared to traditional flashlights.  The truth is, however, that when you are spending time at night outdoors, you will want to have both of your hands free.  With a best headlamp illuminating the path in front of them, every member of the family can move about the night as safely as possible.  

EverBrite delivers a 6 pack of headlamps that have adjustable strap settings and sizes to fit the smallest and largest heads in the bunch.  Plus, they are made with an extremely durable material. The headlamps each shine at a very bright 150 lumens with four adjustable light settings, including a blinking red light.  The lamp itself is adjustable, so users can better see the ground or space in front of themselves. Plus, as a huge bonus, this six pack of headlamps comes with 18 AAA batteries included in the purchase!

A GINMIC Family Pack of Rain Ponchos

Nothing ruins a picnic like ants, and nothing ruins a family camping trip like rain.  Although you are most likely camping in order to enjoy Mother Nature, you cannot also let her ruin your fun.  For this reason, rain ponchos are actually some of the best camping gear for families. This 12 pack from GINMIC has all of the ponchos you will need for the entire season.

Rain ponchos generally come in a one size fits all offering, which can pose a problem for families with children.  GINMIC has bundled together 6 adult ponchos and 6 child size ponchos into one convenient package. Each pack comes with 12 bright colored rain ponchos to keep every member of the family visible when the weather turns sour. 

Functionality is by far the most important aspect of any rain poncho.  GINMIC’s line of ponchos are made with eco-friendly, non toxic material that guarantees users stay dry.  These ponchos are generally a bit more heavy duty then most disposable ponchos, and even come with a drawstring hood to adjust the tightness.  

The Outsunny Portable Folding Camping Picnic Table

Depending on your destination, there may be a picnic table waiting for you at a developed campsite.  However, if you are an off-road adventurer or simply like the idea of a spontaneous family meal, then bringing along a portable table can be one of the most functional pieces of camping equipment.  Although some may not quite consider it a camping “must have” for family trips, this portable folding picnic table is a really cool piece of luggage.  

Outsunny Portable Foldable Camping Picnic Table with Seats Chairs and Umbrella Hole, 4-Person Fold Up Travel Picnic Table, Blue

The Outsunny portable folding picnic table sets up in minutes and can also be disassembled quite easily.  The unit itself only weighs 14 pounds, but is strong enough to support 4 people, each who weigh up to 176 lbs.  The frame is made with durable aluminum parts, while the seats and table are made of a comfortable, durable plastic.  Plus, there is a handle, which makes it very easy to transport when folded up like a suitcase.

This folding camping picnic table can be a bit delicate, but if used properly, will be able to support many meals or card games with the entire family.  As a bonus, there is an umbrella hole in the middle of the main surface. With the right amount of shade, this camping table may end up becoming a permanent installation back at home.  

A Few Winner Outfitters Double Camping Hammocks

So you’ve decided to head out to the wilderness to enjoy some fresh air with the family.  After camp is set up, it’s time to relax. Whereas your mattress is in your tent and the ground can be quite dirty, the best place for an afternoon nap is going to be your hammock.  If you’re looking for the best camping gear for families, you may want to consider purchasing a few of these great Winner Outfitters camping Hammocks.  

Winner Outfitters name says it all.  These hammocks are super lightweight, but can hold up to 500 pounds!  This makes one of these hammocks perfect for mom and dad, and another one perfect for a handful of kids.  Each hammock is made of nylon and comes with an unbeatable 100% money back guarantee. Now that’s relaxing!

Unlike other hammocks on the market, this product from Winner Outfitters comes with everything you need to set up and enjoy your purchase.  Every hammock comes with hanging straps, ropes, and heavy duty carabiners. Although setting up each hammock is quick and easy, it is likely that more people are going to volunteer to test the hammock, rather than help setting it up.   

A Brawntide Outdoor Waterproof Blanket

Dramatic changes in evening weather is what most people don’t expect on their first time camping.  Although it is always going to be tempting to get into your sleeping bag, going back to the tent will have you missing fun times around the fire.  Plus, sleeping bags should avoid getting dirty or wet. This multipurpose blanket from Brawntide is a great piece of camping equipment that is perfect for your next family camping trip.

Brawntide Large Outdoor Waterproof Blanket - Quilted, Extra Thick Fleece, Warm, Windproof, with Shoulder Strap, Ideal Stadium Blanket, Great for Camping, Festivals, Picnics, Beaches, Dogs (Navy Blue)
Brawntide outdoor blanket is waterproof. It is made of a strong polyester fabric with a polyurethane coating which keeps water out of the warm polar fleece.

First of all, the Brawntide outdoor blanket is waterproof. It is made of a strong polyester fabric with a polyurethane coating which keeps water out of the warm polar fleece.  This blanket is essentially weather proof, because it is built to withstand rain and wind. The blanket is enormous at 82 x 55 inches, but is also lightweight enough to carry with the attached carrying strap.  It can be used as a picnic blanket, or to wrap around a person or two for warmth.

Overall, this blanket can be ranked as one of the best pieces of camping gear for families.  It comes with a money back guarantee, and isn’t even that expensive to begin with. This item is easy to clean and makes a great addition to camping trips in both warm and cold weather.  

A Pack of 4Monster MicroFiber Towels

Last but not least on this list is a friendly reminder to not forget to bring your towel!  There is perhaps nothing more versatile and useful on any journey than a simple towel. This 4 pack of monster MicroFiber towels is perfect for large groups in the outdoors.  This makes this purchase one of the top camping must haves for family trips.

4Monster 4 Pack Microfiber Bath Towel Camping Towel Swimming Towel Sports Towel with Accessory Bag, Quick Dry & Super Absorbent for Travel Gym, Suitable for Adults Kids Family, 24 X 48 Inch
These MicroFiber towels are super absorbent and also quick drying. This means that you’ll be able to dry yourself or your children off after a dip in the lake and not worry about having a wet towel around all night.

When you’re camping, you may be taking a shower or simply jumping in a lake in order to stay clean.  Either way, you’ll need something to dry yourself off. These MicroFiber towels are super absorbent and also quick drying.  This means that you’ll be able to dry yourself or your children off after a dip in the lake and not worry about having a wet towel around all night.  Quick drying towels are perfect for camping and road trips where you do not have the luxury of hanging a towel out to dry. 

This pack from 4monster is ideal, because it includes a lightweight, water resistant carrying case.  The towels pack easily and can be transported wherever they are needed. Although it may be overlooked, bringing along a nice set of towels will enhance any family camping trip!