Camping with kids is always an adventure. Their natural curiosity, wonder, and joy bring delight to every activity. To make the experience memorable for all and easy on parents, the right gear can make all the difference. Also, having some fun planned will help little campers from getting “bored.” Here is everything you need to know when taking the kids camping, straight from our RV-dwelling mom and GCI ambassador, Jessica Baker!

Kids Camping Gear

Choosing the right camping gear for your kids can be a challenge--there are so many choices. Starting with the basics eliminates some of that frustration. Three essentials for camping with kids include a backpack, a sleeping bag, and a camping chair.

Sleeping Bag

Sleeping bags range from lightweight, inexpensive, great for a nap or movie-night cuddle, to mummy style, low temperature, serious sleeping bags. If you are in an RV or rent a campervan, chances are a casual style will suffice; however, if you are packing it into a remote campsite or car/tent camping, weight and warmth will need to be considered. It’s important when selecting a sleeping bag for a child that zippers are sturdy and snag free--kids are not usually patient when opening and closing zippers, so one that has an easy to slide zipper is the best choice. A bag that compresses into its own carrying sack will make for quick clean-up in the morning. And one that is machine washable will eliminate worry about sticky s’more residue.

There are hundreds of kids' sleeping bags to choose from, offering a variety of options in fire resistance and waterproofing, square or mummy shape, temperature variations, colors and designs, lengths and weights to fit from the shortest to the tallest, and prices under $50 to as much as you want to spend. My kids have always had Kelty sleeping bags, and they have been great! 


With a good night’s rest assured by your choice of sleeping bag, getting out into nature for hiking, biking, or sightseeing will be easy to accomplish--especially if you have chosen a backpack that is appropriate in size, shape, and style for your child. While a school backpack will suffice, why not give your child a special adventuring backpack that is used for outdoor activities. Whether you are following the paved trail around the local botanical garden or trekking into the wilderness, a pack that fits your child’s shoulders and hips allows easy access for snacks and water and will grow with your child is your best choice. Osprey makes a kids’ daypack that is ideal for little adventurers. 

Padded hip belt, shoulder straps, and back panels will keep a kid comfy on even the longest hike. And mesh fabric in these areas gives ventilation for cooling down and stretchy accessibility for snacks and water. An outside water bottle pocket will eliminate stopping too often, and easy to open pockets for treasures and trinkets, as well as those much needed refueling gummies and goldfish, will keep your youngster focused on the trail. 

If you are planning a backpacking adventure of several days, a more organized pack may be a better choice. A place for trekking poles, a sleeping bag, a raincover, and even a water reservoir are options on many backpacking models. Even packs designed for younger children usually offer an adjustable torso option that means your child won’t grow out of their pack too quickly. Deuter makes several kids’ backpacks ideal for longer treks!

Mom backpacking with kids
Having an organized backpack can make hiking and camping trips go more smoothly for parents and kids.

Camping Chair

At the end of the day, after a rewarding outdoor experience, it’s nice to relax by the fire, eat a good meal, talk about the memories you made, and, of course, make s’mores! A cozy and comfy camping chair is essential for getting the most out of this time. GCI offers the Outdoor Pod Rocker with SunShade that would make an excellent option for kiddos. This chair comes in a variety of colors, in its own wide-mouth bag, with a combo phone/beverage holder, mesh ventilation panel in the sling seat, and is handy at the campsite as well as at the beach or other venue. The Pod Rocker is also ideal for mom or dad to rock little ones to sleep!

Camping Activities for Kids

Now that you have equipment for your children, what are some things to do with kids on a camping trip? Here are some ways to keep little ones entertained and having fun while camping. 


Games, of course, are always fun for the whole family. Depending on the age of your kids, there are many active games that most children enjoy: tag (freeze or not), hide ‘n seek, bean-bag toss (cornhole), bubble blowing/chasing, kick-the-can, red rover, red-light, dancing, monkey-in-the-middle, and of course, the classic, duck, duck, goose. Most of these games are fun for all ages, from the littlest to the oldest, and they require little in the way of equipment.

Other outdoor games might involve going to a playground for sliding, swinging, hoops, volleyball, soccer, baseball, jump-roping, chalk drawing, or playing in the sand/dirt/mud. With the proper equipment, these games can be as complicated and regulated as you want.


Having toys available that can be used (and stored) outside keeps kids on the move, providing entertainment, and depleting their endless energy. Trucks, balls, fishing gear, boots and boats for puddles or other water features (even a kiddie pool or a gentle stream), arts and crafts supplies, bug collectors, binoculars, walkie-talkies--the list is endless. Toys can be made from sticks and stones, or from imaginations and creativity--let your child have free rein in designing and determining what toys give them enjoyment. You will be amazed at what they come up with!

Kids Hiking


Of course, the ultimate outdoor activity for everyone from toddlers to elders is hiking. Whether it is a stroll around your campground or an overnight backpack to a higher elevation, hiking moves the body and refreshes the mind and spirit. Fresh air, sunshine (hopefully), warm breezes, cascading waterfalls, crashing seashore waves, any and all environments offer a tangible way of connecting to nature when we hike. Your path may be a paved walkway along a seashore or through a garden, or it may be a rugged, carved-from-stone set of steps ascending a mountain peak, or it may be a simple dirt trail through the woods or a meadow. No matter what type of trail, hiking rejuvenates us. There are national parks, state parks, local preserves, reserves and conservation areas, backyards, and mountain peaks to explore on foot. So strap on that backpack and head out on a hike. Not sure where to hike? is a great resource!

Camping with Kids Checklist

  • Shelter: tent, pop-up camper, camper van, RV
  • Sleeping Gear: sleeping bag, sleeping pad or air mattress, extra blankets and pillows, headlamp, flashlight, or lantern with extra batteries
  • Food: eggs, bacon, cereal, milk, sandwiches for lunch, hot dogs, buns, fruit, corn, marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers
  • Clothing for each child appropriate for the season and anticipated weather: pajamas, sweatshirts, jackets, sweaters, jeans, t-shirts, shorts, undergarments, hats, rain gear, hiking boots, sandals or sneakers, flip-flops, swimsuits, water shoes
  • Toiletries: prescription medications, first-aid kit with extra band-aids, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb and brush, deodorant, sunscreen, bug repellent, soap, facial tissues, and toilet paper
  • Backpack, water bottles, binoculars, camera, walkie-talkies, easy to pack snacks, towels, toys, books, games
  • Camping chairs, hammock, bicycle, favorite stuffed animal, toy, or blankie
  • Lots of enthusiasm, energy, and excitement

Getting the kids outdoors in nature is a wonderful way to make memories that will last a lifetime. While it can be intimidating to take the family out of your comfort zone, the rewards are definitely worth any challenges you may encounter. But know, with a bit of planning and a sense of adventure, camping with kids is easy and fun!

About the author: Jessica Baker has been full-time RVing since 2018. She has traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada in her fifth-wheel RV turned tiny home on wheels with her husband, two kids, and three cats. You can find out more about her travels at and follow along on her adventures on Instagram.