Summer is finally here and it’s time to get outdoors. Camping is the perfect trip to get away and social distance. Some of my favorite childhood memories are when our family went camping. Preparing to go camping can be overwhelming but we’re here to make it easy with our ultimate camping gear list.
While this gear list may look intimidating at first, you’ll find that you already have a lot of these items around your house or from your road trip essentials. Start by gathering the important basics like your shelter and bedding first, then expand from there.
Some of these items you might already have, but if you are on a tight budget, consider borrowing big-ticket items from a friend or family. Take what you have and grow your camping supplies.
Road trips and camping are a great way to save money while on vacation. We have some other awesome ways to save money while on vacation here.
Over time you will have everything you need and have your own ultimate camping gear list. But in the meantime, here are some of the essentials you will need when camping that our family loves.
This page does include affiliate links, we will receive a small commission if you make any purchases from these links. This comes at no extra cost for you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Fast Navigation - Table of Contents
Camping sleep equipment
There are so many different options and price ranges for sleeping equipment and arrangements. Don’t necessarily take our advice for all of these and do your own research but here are some great and fun ideas for sleeping equipment while you are camping.
- Hammock – Hammocks are great. They will save you a ton of space in the car and they are lightweight. If you are backpacking this is a great option. Many hammocks like this Newdora come with a mosquito net and hanging straps.
- Camping Cots – A cot can be a very versatile option. It can go in a tent or sleep out under the stars. They fold up small and this version you can collapse completely. Take it with you if you head to the lake or beach.
- Sleeping pad – Sleeping pads have become super compact and lightweight. Making them easy to add to a backpack or save space in the car. This is an awesome and durable sleeping mat. These sleeping mats make even the hardest ground softer.
The best camping tents
Tents depend a lot on how many people you will have staying in a tent and if you will be backpacking. Coleman is a brand that we have used for years and this tent will hold up to 8 people. I recommend this tent if you are traveling with a large group. Or if you will be camping in one spot for a long time. I always love Coleman because they are durable and easy to set up.
Camping in a smaller group, I love this tent that sets up in less than a minute! It is also a Coleman tent so you know you will be getting a great tent. This tent sleeps up to 4 people.
A tent for the backpacker or smaller option tent for one to two people, you could consider the KAZOO lightweight tent. This lightweight (it only weighs 5lbs) tent is easy to throw in a backpack so you can hike to the best camping spot possible.
Don’t forget the sleeping bags
For summer camping or any camping above 50 degrees, this awesome and lightweight sleeping bag is perfect. The material is soft and you will sleep great. It is perfectly easy to pack and comes with a compression pack that makes it easy to pack and carry.
If you are going to do cold weather camping, you will love this mummy-style sleeping bag. This sleeping bag will keep you warm even in the coldest temperatures. The mummy-style wraps around your head which will keep your whole body warm.
For your kids, Amazon has fun sleeping bags with all their favorite things on it. My kids love the dinosaurs and the princess castle. These sleeping bags are not super warm so I would only recommend these if you will be camping during the summer.
Camping Furniture and Essential Gear
Cooking gear you need while camping
Camp Chairs – Besides your shelter this might be one of the most important camping accessories to pack. One of the best ways to enjoy camping is just to sit back and relax. We like this compact camping chair with a side table and a cup holder. It gives an extra table space while camping.
Look at this camping chair! It has a cooler built right on the side of the chair, it will keep up to 4 cans of my Diet Coke cold for me at one time. It’s amazing.Coleman Cooler Quad Portable Camping Chair, Blue
Once again Coleman makes a compact and easy to pack camp stove. This is also great for tailgating or even picnics close to home.
To add to your ultimate camping gear checklist, don’t forget you will need to wash dishes after you eat. We always pack these collapsible sinks with us to easily wash and rinse dishes. You can also put ice in them to keep your drinks cold.
Other ultimate camping gear
It’s always great to have flashlights but when you are camping, you need a later too. We like this LED High Efficiency and Water Proof Camping Lantern.
Camp Umbrella or Canopy – If you are not in the woods you will need something to give you shade. But even worse than being hot is being attacked by mosquitos all day. I love this canopy by MASTERCANOPY as it provides shade and has a bug screen to keep mosquitos and bugs out. It also gives you added protection for when it rains.
- Bug replant – We like these Mosquito Stickers. You stick them to your clothes and it helps to repel mosquitos. Plus they are nontoxic and you don’t put it on your skin. I like to put them on my kids’ backs and they don’t even though know they’re there.
- First Aid Kit- Here is one in a waterproof pack. Our kids are always getting cuts when we’re playing outside.
- Hats for tick and sun protection
- If you are planning on having a campfire, don’t forget this mini fire extinguisher. It’s easy to pack and a lifesaver if your fire gets out of control.
- Bears love camping food as much as we do and they are going to smell it! If you are going camping where bears are known, don’t forget your bear spray. It’s also a good idea to have bear spray if you are going hiking at high altitudes.
This is where camping and getting away from reality really take helps us recharge our batteries. This is where we also reconnect with each other. This where memories and bonds are created. Some of my best memories have been on USA road trips or camping with my family.
Fun on the water
If you are lucky enough to camp by a body of water or a river, don’t forget to take some toys along. Here are a few of our favorites for kids and adults.
- Paddle Boards – Paddle Boards have quickly become one of our family’s favorites when camping or just to get away to a nearby lake. The one we use is the Zray Inflatable Paddle Board. It comes with its own pump, backpack, and paddle.
- Another family favorite is our inflatable kayak. I love our Intex kayak with my little kids because I can take them out on the lake and I don’t have to worry about them tipping over into the water.
- Beach/Lake Toys Inflatable water tube to float on the lake or down the river.
- Don’t forget an electric pump to help you blow up all these inflatables, it will save you a ton of time! I love this one because it has a rechargeable battery that plugs into a USB to charge.
- Mesh Beach Bag with toys
- Small Raft for kids to play on a lake.
- Life Jacket Kids – Life Jacket Adult: You will need these if you are going out on the paddleboards or a boat.
Ideas for Camping Fun on Land
- Horse Shoes
- Roasting Forks for S’mores or Hot Dogs – No camping trip is complete without a campfire and S’mores. Here is a set of Extendable roasting sticks to make the trip memorable.
- Corn Hole – This a great portable set to pack in a car for camping, tailgating, or a family reunion.
- Card Games
If you are going on a road trip while you are camping, don’t forget anything on this road trip essentials list so that your road trip is fun and easy. This list includes on-screen and off-screen entertainment for kids in the car. You’ll never have to hear “are we there yet” again.
Wrap up on the ultimate camping gear list
This summer will be unique all over the world, everyone will be looking for ways to social distance while still vacationing. I think road trips and camping are the perfect way to enjoy a vacation together and social distance.
Road trips and camping can still be one of the best ways to create memories as a family. Here is a great road trip through the Southwest USA to Yellowstone National Park. When you go in prepared it helps to reduce the stress of traveling with kids. Don’t forget to pack the things on this ultimate camping gear list and you will have a great trip!