Tips & Tricks

Family Camping Gear Essentials | Christmas Gift Guide


Camping outdoors can make for so many wonderful family memories, but it definitely takes a bit more preparation and planning to make the trip a success (and keep your sanity mostly intact). All the items below will help you round out your camping gear, ranging from the roof over your head to quirky items that you may never have considered.

These also make excellent gift ideas! With travel (and life in general) looking different with Covid, your plans may involve more camping. Putting together a basket would make a fun family gift to get everyone excited!

To go straight to the item, click on the item in the numbered list below (all go directly to the product on Amazon). For a short description and image, scroll further down the post.

Best Family Camping Gear

  1. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
  2. 14 in 1 Multitool
  3. Coleman Sundome 4
  4. Paracord/Emergency Bracelet
  5. Pop-Up Trash Can
  6. Power bank (keep your phone charged for emergencies)
  7. Dish and Hands Camping Soap
  8. Coleman Sunridge 40-60 Degree Sleeping Bag (great for warmer climates)
  9. Coleman 0°F Mummy Sleeping Bag (for colder climates)
  10. Camping lanterns
  11. Portable hanging lantern + ceiling fan
  12. LED torch flashlight
  13. Multi-Purpose Lighter
  14. Waterproof matches
  15. Small first aid kit
  16. Waterproof Blue Poly Tarp
  17. Reflective Nylon Cord, Tent Guyline Rope for Camping
  18. Marshmallow Roasting Sticks
  19. Classic Foam Camping Sleeping Pad
  20. Inflatable Sleeping Mat

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

Clean drinking water where ever you go! Removes almost 100% of all bacteria and parasites and is a great addition to any camping kit (also perfect for an emergency preparedness kit or to keep in the car). If your family likes to hike during camping trips, this would be an awesome addition to your pack.

13 in 1 Multitool

Awesome little multi-functional tool! Includes a hammer, small axe, pliers, screwdriver and SO MUCH MORE. Perfect for camping as it is super compact and will take up very little room. Comes with a safety lock and carrying pouch.

Coleman Sundome 4

Available for 2-6 people and comes extremely highly-rated. Easy to set up, comes with a rainfly and reviewers say the material is super durable. One reviewer recommended the inexpensive Coleman Seam Sealer to help waterproof the seams.

Paracord/Emergency Bracelet

Comes with firestarter, compass, emergency whistle, small knife and 12-feet of military grade paracord. Perfect for wearing while hiking during a camping trip, just in case of an emergency. Note that reviewers mention you must remove the bracelet from your wrist for the compass to work.

Pop-Up Trash Can (pack out what you bring in)

These are GENIUS. So much easier than trying to throw trash into a large garbage sack on its own. This pops up creating a sturdy base and wide opening to throw trash in, but folds up super small for easy storage.

Power bank (keep your phone charged for emergencies)

This gets fantastic reviews and says it is waterproof, drop-proof, dirt and snow-proof. Perfect if you are tent camping and don’t have a great way to keep your phone charged.

Dish and Hands Camping Soap

This are super handy little sheets that take up little space and are so much easier than packing dish soap in a plastic bottle and dry towels. Use 1-2 of these sheets, add a little water and you’re all set. Great for hand washing or small utensils or dishes. Reviewers say the soap rinses off with minimal water.

Coleman Sunridge 40-60 Degree Sleeping Bag (great for warmer climates)

Great reviews and really inexpensive! Perfect for temps between 40 and 60 degrees. Make sure to note the height restriction, not a great option for anyone over 6 feet tall.

Coleman 0°F Mummy Sleeping Bag (for colder climates)

Another highly-rated Coleman product! This bag is rated for zero-degree temps and has a mummy-like hood to keep you extra warm. Works for those 6’2″ or shorter.

Camping lanterns

Portable LED lanterns are so useful! Long lasting bulbs, military-grade construction and collapsible for easy storage. These would also be great to have on hand if the power goes out at home.

Portable hanging lantern + ceiling fan

This is different from the lantern above, in that you can hang it in the tent as an overhead light. Great for getting changed or ready for bed. The best part is that it’s also a mini ceiling fan! It can be so hard to sleep if your tent has had some solid sun exposure during the day and this fan gets great reviews for helping move the air around and cool the tent down.

LED torch flashlight

This LED Torch Flashlight comes with a rechargeable battery and can last up to 13 hours after full charge. Super bright, long distance beam, making it perfect for trekking around at night or trying to find the bathroom at your campsite.

Multi-Purpose Lighter

These can also be found at any drug, grocery or camping store. So, so useful, child-resistant and keeps hands farther away from the fire.

Waterproof matches

These are great to have on hand in particularly rainy or windy weather or to keep in a small emergency preparedness pack. This Zippo brand gets fantastic reviews over some of the other, more traditional matchboxes.

Small first aid kit

This kit comes with 100 life-saving items and weighs just one pound! Perfect to keep in your car or truck for emergencies, or to add to your camping stash. Comes with bandages, emergency blanket, sting relief wipes, gauze and much more.

Waterproof Blue Poly Tarp

Also can be found at your local camping or home improvement store, but this one gets good reviews and is relatively inexpensive. Can be used as shelter from the elements, to hang over a seating area or picnic table as protection from falling debris, to cover items at night, under your tent for additional protection and so much more.

Reflective Nylon Cord, Tent Guyline Rope for Camping

This reflective nylon cord is something you never knew you needed! When exposed to any kind of light, it’s reflective so you can avoid that late-night tripping over tent tie-downs when you have to use the bathroom. Also works well as a clothesline, to hang a hammock and much more.

Marshmallow Roasting Sticks

These are SO much better than trying to track down dirty old sticks for roasting marshmallows. Extendable, so little hands can stay farther away from the fire and they retract back to fit into a carrying case. Reviewers say the two prongs are the perfect distance apart so you can roast two mallows at a time without them sticking together.

Classic Foam Camping Sleeping Pad

This sleeping pad is super lightweight and compact, but gets AMAZING reviews. Comfortable, virtually indestructible and several reviewers say it reflects your body heat back to you, keeping you warmer throughout the night. Great option if you are camping in an area that you have to hike in to or just don’t have room for larger sleeping pads.

Inflatable Sleeping Mat

Another great option for sleeping that gets great reviews! Folds up super compact and is very easy to inflate by mouth. One reviewer mentioned this fits great in a hammock, as it’s a little more flexible.

Related: Tips for an EPIC family camping trip

We’d love to hear from you! What are some must-have items on your camping gear list?

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