Best Camping Gear for Families

Camping as a family can bring about some great family memories. If you're wanting to camp for the first time as a family, this is the best camping gear for families that gets you out the door and into the wilderness.

We went camping over the weekend and had so much fun. It was so great to get out of the house and have a change of scenery and fresh air, even if it was only for 24 hours. A couple years ago I got Derek a bunch of camping gear so that we could be prepared and do spontaneous trips like this. If you are in the market to invest in some inexpensive and minimal camping gear, here are the things we use and love that have stood the test of time, and won't break the bank!

Best Camping Gear for Families:

Ikea Dishes and Cutlery for Kids: We bought a set of Ikea kids cups, plates, bowls, and cutlery, and keep this set exclusively in the kitchen bin with all our other food prep tools. That way we don't have to buy disposable every time we go camping, and they're always there when we need them!

Cast Iron Cooking Set: I wanted a good set of dishes that I knew would last a long time and wouldn't need replacing, so we went with cast iron. This was a great inexpensive set and it's worked really well for us! I love that it came with a skillet, pot, and a dutch oven. It also comes with a mini pot holder so you don't have to worry about burning your hands, and a lifting tool to get the dutch oven out of the fire if you're cooking directly on a flame.

Coleman Butane Cooking Stove: This mini butane stove has been the best thing ever. I love that I can adjust the temperature to exactly what we need, and that I don't have to cook things directly on a fire if I don't want to. The butane canisters that you use as fuel last a long time too (we can get 4-5 meals from one canister), so it's a small upfront investment that will get you through many camping trips before you need to buy more fuel.

Camping Cook Wear Set: The one I have shown above is the one we have, and it's unfortunately out of stock. I've linked you to a similar one. I love it because it has a ladle, spatula, knife, scissors, cutting board... literally everything you need to prep a meal in one small space.

Igloo Cooler: There really is nothing special about the cooler. We pour ice in it, and it keeps our food cold when we need it to. This was a $20 investment from Walmart, and isn't as fancy as a Yeti or anything like that, but it gets the job done and is great for what we need.

Ozark Trail Sleeping Pads: Unpopular opinion but I don't love using air mattresses for camping. They take up so much room in the car, and then you need a pump, and they inevitably get a hole in them and need to be replaced. We bought these $10 sleeping pads from Walmart and they've honestly been fine. Are they as comfortable as an air mattress? Obviously not. But you can layer an extra blanket for cushion if needed, and they get the job done, without constantly needing to spend money replacing them.

Ozark Trail 50ยบ Sleeping Bags: There are a lot of people out there that will tell you to get zero degree, fancy and expensive sleeping bags. Here's my take: I'm never going to go camping when it's zero degrees. These $10 sleeping bags from Walmart have gotten us through two family camping trips, a week at girl's camp, and Derek and I through a Pioneer Trek and they're still holding up great.

Ozark Trail Six Man Tent: Tents are another thing that can cost you a little money, or an insane amount of money. We bought a crazy cheap one once and that thing was literally awful, but this Ozark Trail six man tent from Walmart is under $65, and it's gotten us through five different camping setups without any issues.

Ozark Trail Camping Chairs: We have two adult size Ozark Trail camping chairs, and two kid size Ozark Trail camping chairs and they have held up so well! I think we've had these for over six years now and are just barely getting to the point where we need to replace one of the kid's chairs. They're super affordable and hold up well! We use these several times a week during soccer and baseball season, along with all our camping trips, and have never had an issue!

How We Store Our Basic Camping Gear:

We keep all of our cooking things (pots, pans, cooking stove, dishes, utensils, fuel, etc...) in a see through 18 gallon bin, and keep it in our garage. Next to that we have our tent, sleeping bags, pads, and chairs all stacked together, along with our cooler.

With everything stored together in a compact spot, it makes it really easy to pull out and throw in the car so that we can get on the road quickly and easily!

**All of the Ozark Trail items are sold online and are currently in stock at the time of writing this. However, if you're reading this and they're out of stock, I've seen them every single summer in my local Walmart store, so they should be easily accessible.**

This is all the gear that we use camping. There are other things we bring like food, toys for the kids, blanket, clothes, first aid kit, etc... I'll do a follow up post in a few days where I talk about the minimal checklist of items that we bring with us when we go!

My Philosophy on Camping as a Family:

I go into camping knowing that there are going to be times when my kids are bored, or we might not know exactly what to do, or that there is going to be a lot of chill downtime. These are all things I anticipate and are part of the process of camping. I think that going in with low exceptions and being able to be flexible is key. If the kids want to sleep in the car instead of the tent, fine. If they want to play in the dirt all day, great. I think as parents we get in our heads that things have to look a certain way, and this is me giving you permission to release any and all of those expectations for yourself.

If you liked this post, Best Camping Gear for Families, you might also like:


  1. We love camping. And the only thing we have that is a little different is using a propane stove. But if you are using a car to travel...propane probably won't be the best solution. :) Camp Chef does some great cooking utensils that are pretty sturdy. We have loved ours. But I will say, there is just something about being outside that makes everything better.

    1. I honestly don't even know how we landed with Butane over propane... maybe it's what our neighbor had at the time? I love the camp chef stoves and didn't realize they did utensils too! I'll totally have to check those out!

  2. I cant find the post you said you were going to follow up this with. Love your post by the way.

  3. I cant find the post you said you were going to follow up this with. Love your post by the way.