Outdoor gear that makes camping with children more fun

Camping with kids can be really fun. It can also be a downright disaster. I learned the hard way how to camp with kids. Parents’ mistakes include forgetting sunscreen, not packing enough warm clothes, and not having enough things to keep young minds busy. Everyone involved shed tears, but I also learned a few tricks on how to make such trips more successful for everyone. So when you’re packing in the woods for your next weekend, think about the little things like your favorite stuffed animal that you can’t sleep without or a special cup that you only drink water from – but don’t forget yourself. Here are six items I wrap that will make camping with kids an all-round better time.

Nite Ize BugLit LED Rechargeable Micro Flashlight ($ 20)

(Photo: Steve Redmond)

The BugLit is a micro light that also doubles as a fun insect toy. In addition to illuminating a bedtime story, thanks to a tiny S-Biner and flexible, non-slip legs that can be bent into different positions, it can be turned into a bracelet, backpack charm, zip puller and whatever else my child dreams of. With one button and four settings – high, low, flash, and momentary – it’s easy enough for young kids to find out without frustration. It’s weather-resistant to withstand what I consider normal outdoor play for kids: I don’t expect this to survive a swim in the lake, but a little rain won’t damage it.

I like this article because it engages my son with nature; he finds all possible ways for this little bug to interact with its surroundings. He shapes, turns and hangs his BugLit on branches, small rocks and his own body and distorts it into all sorts of funny shapes.

It’ll last anywhere from four hours to a full day on a single charge, depending on how often the kids switch between settings, and it charges in around an hour and a half using a micro-USB (not included). The rechargeable version doubles the light output of the battery-operated BugLit, with 12 lumens at high level and two lumens at low and flash level, so not as bright as the light of a headlamp, but still bright enough for most children’s tasks around the camp.

Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Print Hammock ($ 80)

children(Photo: Steve Redmond)

The DoubleNest is perfect for an afternoon nap and reading books and a comfortable place for adults, children and even the family dog ​​to enjoy some time out. It is spacious for an adult and two small children; For one person, it’s like having a king-size bed all to yourself. The nylon is soft – really soft – and cool on the skin in warm weather. As soon as you have found the ideal location, for example above water or embedded in the sounds of the forest, you will no longer want to get out.

Since it is compressed to about the size of a cantaloupe in its pack sack, this is child’s play for car camping. In fact, I think it’s worth taking short backpacking trips considering how luxurious it feels. The DoubleNest comes with a set of carabiners, but the straps are sold separately. I set mine up with the Helios XL Ultralight Suspension System ($ 45) and, given the right conditions, it takes less than a minute; This system is safe, doesn’t require knotting, and allows you to fine-tune adjustments that result in a perfect slope. It’s so simple, it almost feels like you’re doing something wrong.

I haven’t stayed in this hammock yet, but I’m looking forward to it; But I’ll probably get the Bug-Net add-on. Finally, I also like the variety of brightly colored patterns which I think are a lovely element for family camping photos, as silly as that may be.

‘Camping! The Ultimate Guide for Kids ($ 14)

children(Photo: Ebony Roberts)

Camp Out! Part Field Guide, Part Activity Book, Part Picture Book, by Lynn Brunelle is a great resource for kids to take camping with as it offers many ways to keep them interested and occupied. From tying knots to S’mores recipes and from camping to finding constellations in the night sky, this book brings the fun factor and is packed with instructions, outdoor handicrafts, games, projects, experiments, stories and more. It also touches on the principles of Leave No Trace, trail markings, bear safety, and other useful information children need to know in order to become responsible adventurers.

While this is recommended for ages seven and up, my toddler has already gotten a lot of value out of it, and I think there’s enough variety on the pages to keep kids of all ages entertaining.

Black Diamond Wiz head torch ($ 25)

children(Photo: Steve Redmond)

Black Diamond’s full spectrum LED Wiz headlamp is bright enough to serve its purpose for my child who usually plays around the camp after dark or reading before bed, but it’s not bright enough to make me feel in the eye aperture (it has an output of 4 to 30 lumens). Not only is it great for making shadow puppets in tents, but it has also proven invaluable during the inevitable toilet visits in the middle of the night.

Adults will appreciate how kid-friendly and easy to use it is, with four different modes – white, color, dimming, and strobe – all of which my nearly four-year-old can work without my help (a big plus in my book). The lamp tilts up and down so it works even if it’s accidentally turned upside down – a real benefit that will please my toddler who is interested in independence. The lamp comes off the tape completely so be careful if this is a deal breaker.

Going to bed is also more fun with the Wiz. When camping with kids, sticking to every type of bedtime can be a challenge, but use the color change feature to lure your kids into the tent with the promise of a cool light show, set it to change through colors and watch the walls glow like a rainbow. Now they’re in and you’ve won half the battle.

GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless 12 Ounce Mug ($ 20)

children(Photo: Steve Redmond)

This is for the adults. When you’ve finally got your kids tucked into their sleeping bags (damn it before bed), it’s time to relax with your favorite drink. The Glacier mug is vacuum-insulated and versatile: I’ve used mine for hot cups of coffee and ice-cold cocktails (I like to fill it with a dash of bourbon and a couple of ice cubes floating around the cooler). The Glacier comes with a reusable BPA-free straw, but my favorite thing about this mug is a clear sliding lid that prevents spills and seals my drink. So if I have to go back to the tent to calm my child down, I know that my next sip won’t be a mistake.

Bens 30 Deet Wilderness Formula Insect Repellent ($ 8)

children(Photo: Steve Redmond)

Nothing spoils camping fun faster than a swarm of hungry mosquitoes or a tick bite, which is why I always throw a bottle of insect repellent in my pocket. It’s one of those things that you don’t really need until you really need it. I completely ruined camping trips because I forgot to pack insect repellent during peak insect season. It’s one thing to go to bed with itchy bug bites, but if it’s your child who is covered in them, the parents’ guilt is real.

Deet is safe and the most widely used insect repellent when used correctly, and I’ve found Ben’s 30 Deet Wilderness Formula to be extremely effective at keeping the bugs away. I also like the fact that I can get it in a spray bottle. (Note: According to the label, this product should not be used on children under 12 years of age.)

Main photo: Steve Redmond

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