Looking to start semi-regular camping trips with our two little ones (18 months and 4 years old).  What are the essential items to bring?  What gear would you recommend?

Are you car-camping or trying to backpack?

We have a Deuter kid-carrying backpack that I highly recommend. It is comfortable for both my wife and I. It's bombproof, has survived two toddlers, and traveled all over the country surviving the baggage handler abuse with hardly a scratch.


For our 2 year old and 5 year old, it's been all about getting them invested in helping with camp chores and getting them little special camping gear items like their own headlamp and their own sleeping bag to get them excited. 

Aside from having their own gear items, i can't think of much kid-specific camping gear that we have that makes having the kids along easier.  REI has a ton of kids rain jackets, kids sleeping bags, sunhats, tiny kid-sized backpacks, etc to keep them comfortable. 

smores are obviously the kids favorite part of a trip. 

On one kids camping trip, one of the other parents brought these big ballons that had little LED lights inside them, so we had all these glowing orbs floating around the campsite at dusk. Not camping gear, but that made the trip for the kids, they still talk about that trip and how they loved the 'fairy balloons'.



Thanks for the tips! 🙂  We will start with car-camping and then when they get a little older, we will venture into backpacking.  Will definitely have to remember to bring the s'mores!


Hand sanitizer, lots and lots of wipes, a portable potty (if potty training), smores fixings, flashlights (for shadow puppets!) and digging-related  toys (trucks, shovels). We have so much fun camping with our 20 month old (girl) and 3 year old (boy)!


My wife and I use to do a lot of back county camping before we had kids but now with a 1 and 3 year old, we exclusively car camp or as the cool kids call it, "overlandiing". Our "secret" is to keep your camp set up as simple as possible. My wife and I can setup our entire camp in about 5 minutes while the kids are still strapped into their car seats in the truck. Also both our kids love their hammocks which keeps them "contained" while we're cooking or taking care or any tasks around camp. 

We've camped with the kids at Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Salton Sea, and Anza Borrego and they've love it for the most part.

Remember to keep meals simple and dishes to a minimal. 


Which hammock do you use?


While group camping we used my camp shower (one that heats up the water, we were using it for dishes) to give a friends toddler a little shower (no shower enclosure, he loved it and ended up clean in less than 10 minutes. I would recommend looking into a camp shower if the campgrounds you plan to visit don’t have shower facilities, or if you’d rather avoid the shower facilities with the children. I also agree with the “plenty of wipes” comment as well. Another important element is bug spray and sun block, you may want to try the bug spray and sunblock at home to make sure your children do not react negatively to either.


We love our camp shower and a bucket at the end of a long day. We let it warm up all day in the sun and then shower them at night. Same goes for baby wipes. I don't mind if they are dirty all day, but want to at least pretend they are clean at night!


Definetly agree with the headlamp and hammock suggestions. 18 months may be too young for both but the four year old will like them. 

A way to cook hot dogs over a fire even a stove fire was pretty popular with my daughters.