There is no better way to get in some great summer fun than a family camping trip! How about a trip to Jackson Lake? Or an adventure in Granite Hot Springs? We have two small boys who are three and five years old, so we really enjoy the simplicity of car camping. Our gear list helps us keep things efficient and fun for one-nighters or longer multi-day adventures.
First, and maybe most important, is our storage of everyone’s clothing. We always bring lots of layers and changes of clothes: you never know what could happen with two kids and two dogs!. We pack everyone’s stuff in a couple of Patagonia Black Hole Duffel 90L bags (one for the adults and one for the kids) and go! These bags fit in the car well and their tough, waterproof exteriors can handle anything the kids or dogs dish out. I know that I don’t have to worry about rogue apple juice soaking into my brand new sleeping bag. The Black Hole Duffel has my gear covered and protected.
I just recently purchased the Big Agnes Sleeping System, which has totally changed my perceptions of camping comfortably. I got myself the Ethel 0 degree with the Q-Core insulated pad. The sleeping pad slides right in to the bottom of my sleeping bag, creating a no-slip system. I was comfortable and warm: a very happy camper! I do still have to fight our 12 year old lab, Tess, for my spot, but I don’t mind sharing with her. The other thing I love with my sleep system is the Big Agnes Pumphouse Ultra. It inflates your pad while also posing as a large stuffsac; it’s efficient and effective, and lets us bring less gear. Also, when you have to inflate four sleeping pads you can do so safely without getting light headed. Quick and easy!
We like to make a day of it when we go camping, which means we need to have some where to sit and relax in between setting up camp and going for short hikes. Enter the Helinox Chairs. These chairs pack well and are easy to assemble. I love mine for relaxing by the fire or (if I have some time to myself) I can easily take it down by the lake to read a book. We even use them when we are not camping. They’re the perfect chair for the porch or a BBQ at the neighbors house.
One other important “must have” for our family camping is lighting. We have a few Luci Lights that we bring for the table and the tent. These lights are an amazing tool to add to any gear list. They’re inflatable, and when deflated they don’t take up much space. These lights are solar powered and hold around 12 hours of lighting power. The Luci Outdoor works best at the table because it features several brightness levels of white light. We keep the Luci Aura in the tent; it can either be set as one of a variety of color options or it can cycle through all the colors in a soft fade. My oldest likes to use the Aura as his nightlight at home too because we pick a different color every night.
Our other go-to lighting are our headlamps. We have headlamps for us as well as the kids. The Black Diamond Spot is my favorite for the adults. It throws a bright beam or a softer proximity lighting setting depending on the activity. With 300 lumens, it’s also a wonderful technical tool for more involved nighttime endeavors.The kids use the Black Diamond Wiz which is more proximity lighting. It’s good to know that the boys won’t be blinding each other around the campground.
Our family camping trips are generally successful and fun for the whole family. Whether it comes down to our family dynamic, or our carefully selected gear list who’s to say, but it’s probably a combination of the two!
Written by Jenn Staph