Family Camping Kit List
Family camping holidays are a staple of the Great British summer, and for good reason – they’re a great way to explore the beautiful and varied landscape of the UK, and get the kids enjoying the outdoors, too. A camping trip also makes for a low-cost and (relatively) low-stress summer holiday, once you’ve got all the kit together and are an expert at packing everything you need – and knowing what you don’t. Here’s our list of the basic kit you need for a successful family camping holiday.
Your tent is arguably the most important bit of kit for a family camping trip, so it’s important to choose the right one for your family’s needs. One key thing to remember is that when a tent says it’s for 4 people, that’s what it means – not 4 people plus their kit. Be realistic about how much space you’ll require, and definitely don’t try to cut corners by buying a smaller tent than you need.
Check out our tent buying guide here.
Properly caring for your tent will ensure it has a long life and joins you on many family camping trips. Read our tent care guide to learn how to look after and get the most out of your tent.
You should consider getting a footprint as an additional extra to keep your tent in great condition. This is a layer which sits between your tent and the ground, protecting the floor of the tent from abrasion which could cause holes, and helping to keep the inside of the tent warm and dry while you sleep.
Another camping staple that’s really important to get right is your sleeping bags. Consider the season rating and the comfort limit to choose the right sleeping bag for the conditions you’ll be camping in, and how cold the sleeping bag’s user tends to get. It’s also important to understand the different bag fillings: down tends to be slightly warmer and packs down smaller than synthetic filling, but down cannot get wet or it loses its insulating properties and could even ruin the sleeping bag. So if you think there’s any chance your sleeping bag could get wet, go for synthetic.
Sleeping mats are an often-overlooked part of your camping set-up, but make all the difference when it comes to your comfort. They form a layer of padding between your sleeping bag and the tent floor, and offer the double benefits of flattening the surface you sleep on so you can’t feel any lumps and bumps on the ground, and providing a layer of insulation between you and the cold ground.
Read our sleeping mat buying guide here.
The right furniture can really give your tent that home-from-home feeling. Setting up a comfortable “living” area encourages everyone out of their bedrooms and creates a nice space to have meals, watch the sunset and enjoy the outdoors around you. You can really go as all-out or minimalist as you like here: a full table and chairs setup or just a picnic rug both do the job, so it’s really down to personal preference.
Stove And Fuel
Look for a reliable stove that has a large enough capacity for your needs – you don’t want to be waiting hours just for your pasta water to boil! Different stoves take different fuel types; briefly, these are:
Gas – gas stoves offer a high heat output for little weight and tend to be the most standardised across countries, but gas canisters can be heavy.
Solid – solid fuel stoves are great for weight saving as you find your own fuel (eg. sticks), but tend to give a weaker flame and take longer to cook with.
Gel/Liquid – these stoves offer better stability of heat in colder climates and at extreme altitudes, but require very delicate handling.
Multi-fuel – multi-fuel stoves are the most versatile for when you don’t know what fuel will be available to you. They’re durable and great for extreme conditions, but require the most maintenance.
We usually recommend gas stoves for family camping trips, because they’re easy to use and transport, and usually easy to get fuel for wherever you are. Depending on the type of fuel your stove requires, you may need to bring enough fuel for your whole trip, or your campsite may have supplies of gas available to buy.
Pots, Pans, Crockery And Cutlery
Try to plan your meals as much as you can and only bring the pots and pans that you need – you’ll be surprised how much space and weight they take up once it comes to unpacking them. You should only need one crockery and cutlery set per person, and you can use your water bottles to drink from to save even more space. Don’t forget your tools for the BBQ if you’re bringing one, your coolbox to store food and drink, and your foldable washing up bowl to keep everything cleaned and ready to use at the next mealtime.
The distance from the hustle and bustle, and resulting lack of noise and light pollution, is one of the many beauties of campsites – but it does mean you need to bring sufficient lighting to see what you’re doing when the sun goes down. We recommend a couple of lanterns for inside the tent or around the campfire (just be careful not to disturb others), and a headtorch each for everyone to read with or put on when you need to navigate to the toilet overnight.
Not just for your daytime adventures, your kit will come into its own in the evenings and even overnight if you’re feeling chilly. An insulated jacket and accessories like hats, gloves and lots of pairs of socks will keep everyone warm and cosy in camp and on the trails.
First Aid And Insect Repellent
Two things you can’t pack too much of! Insect repellent and first aid are absolute essentials when you’ve got kids in tow – we recommend having a set to take out with you on your adventures, and a more comprehensive first aid kit and stash of insect repellent back at camp.
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