Camping with Kids…Made Easy! (Part 1)

  • Updated

Camping With Kids...Made Easy

We love to camp. A few years ago, we decided to streamline our camping experience with camping totes. It was simple: We made a big list of all the stuff we’d need for any camping trip, bought totes to store it in, and placed it all in our storage area in the garage. Now, when it’s time to go camping, loading the van takes about 15 minutes– plus gathering food, packing clothes, and children.


Our camping boxes are divided into the following:

Part 2: Tent Bin

Part 3: Cooking Bin,

Part 4: The Essentials.

In this series of posts, I’ll go over what is in each box and make some recommendations for what kind or where to get it. Click the links above to go to the post about each bin. Click the pictures below to view the item on Amazon. You can even purchase them.

Camping with Kids
This is definitely not all of our big stuff since there is only one sleeping bag, but you can get a small idea of what we pack into the back of our van.

This first post has a short list of things that are packed with the totes, but don’t really fit inside because they are TOO big to fit inside a bin:

With the Totes–The Big Stuff:

Camping with kids
This is our new tent. It fits 5 cots now that our youngest is four and would not be happy about sleeping in the pack ‘n’ play anymore.

A Huge Tent: As you’ll see below, we like to camp in style. Though there are only 5 of us, we have a 10 man tent. It makes it a little hard to find a place to set up sometimes, but it’s the only way to fit all of us in. We like tents with vertical walls to maximize our space. The one below accommodates us nicely.

This tent that sleeps 10 holds four cots and a pack ‘n’ play for our family.

Cots for each person: We have 2 full-sized cots that make our camping experience worth it. Since we’ve moved to these, I can’t imagine sleeping on the ground. We also have 2 kid-sized for our boys age 5 and 8. Cots are easy to store, set up in seconds, and make you forget you’re camping. We’ve found the cots listed below tend to keep there tautness longest.

We are spoiled–I don’t think we could sleep on the ground anymore.

Pads for the Cots: These take up a ton of room in the car, so sometimes they get left home. They make the cot into a bed, essentially. The trick is getting the right pad. Ours our 4 inch foam pads with no outside covering. One of those ground pads that’s an inch (or less) thick won’t make any difference. These tend to be a bit expensive, but they last forever. Ours aren’t egg crate pads like the one below, but they give you an idea of what you’re looking for.

Our boys don’t have pads, but with the pad you feel like you are sleeping on a bed!

Sleeping Bags: The biggest mistake people make with sleeping bags is that they buy some crazy thermal -20F rated mummy bag. For us, casual summer campers, we go cheap and simple. We also prefer flannel sleeping bags. Our kids sometimes slide right out of the fancy, slick, tricot bags. The flannel bags are a bit more comfy for the casual camper, too.

We like simple cotton sleeping bags. They are plenty warm for tent camping and the they wash easily.

Pillows: A lot of people will buy special camping pillows. We use the plastic bag that the sleeping bag came in. (Not the stuff-sack, but most sleeping bags are shipped in a plastic zipper bag.) We stuff a few modest pillows inside and store them with the sleeping bags. Pillows are an easy to forget item.


We also take the Pack and Play for the baby. You’ll need some bedding– a few blankets under and a few to lay over the baby. See why we need that big tent? Four cots and a pack and play is a lot of stuff! Luckily, clothes and other stuff can be tucked under the cots, so there is plenty of room for your stuff right in the tent. Amazon has this nice, cheap Pack and Play.

Our Pack ‘n’ Play has been on many camping trips.

Camp Stove: We use the simple Coleman pictured below. It doesn’t take up much room, and it cooks pretty evenly. Don’t forget the propane tank.

We love this classic stove! It is easy to use and is one of the smaller items that we pack.

Water Cooler: We use the big 5 gallon type. We dump a 20 pound bag of ice in and cover it with water. This will last our family up to 4 days.

Taking this water cooler for our camping water was the best idea we ever came up with…we don’t take the cup attachment shown here.

Food Cooler: Our family has graduated into a big cooler like the one below. We use the wheels as little as possible when camping because rolling it in the dirt isn’t ideal, but it holds a lot of food. Lay a large ice bag in the bottom and stack food on top (with bacon and other super-perishables right on the ice.)

We use the big cooler for two nights or longer.

Camping Chairs: This is a must if you are going camping. Kids LOVE sitting in their own camp chair while you spend time around the campfire. We have been through a lot of camping chairs through the years and our Cabela’s chairs are the only ones still holding up. We have one adult and one child chair from Cabela’s, but they are a little pricey for us to splurge on more right now, so we are looking into these Coleman chairs that our neighbors have and we love to borrow. We will watch for the Cabela’s chairs to go on sale.

Camping with Kids
Don’t fall asleep in these comfy Cabela’s chairs–there are serious consequences!

You can read Part 2 (Tent Bin)Part 3 (Cooking Bin), and Part 4 (The Essentials). by clicking on the link.

Camping with Kids...Made Easy

Leave a Reply