36 Family Camping Essentials for Summer Adventures

36 Family Camping Essentials for Summer Adventures
Image: Amazon

A family sits inside a large multi-person tent with a see-through roof and walls.

Warm, sunny days have finally arrived! And (best of all) summer is almost upon us. For parents, this means a lot of things. For one, the kids will be off from school 24/7 (and whining "I'm boreddddd!" for most of the hours they spend inside). But it also means treks to the beach, road trips to new locales, and other fun family getaways are about to get started. Thinking of brushing up on those wilderness skills and taking the fam on a camping trip? It'll definitely be an adventure. (After all, sharing a tent -- or better yet, one tiny RV bathroom -- with a bunch of tiny humans always is.) But unlike most family vacations, this one's requires a little extra planning for newbie campers.

Before taking to the open road, consider stocking up on some camping essentials that will save everyone (and by everyone, I mostly mean Mom and Dad) any last-minute stress. I'm talking about inflatable sleeping bag mattresses that'll ensure everyone gets a full night's rest without any backaches come morning. And a portable grill to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner on that'll be just as tasty as if it were cooked at home. There are also tons of new safety gadgets avid campers love, like a survival whistle that is also a compass, thermometer, and an LED flashlight for after dark. Oh, and how about a portable rocking chair to make roasting marshmallows and telling scary stories around the fire even better? Or a solar shower to make sure everyone stays clean (well, as clean as possible, anyway) while roaming the great outdoors.

Psst: If purchasing an item on this list, CafeMom may receive a small cut. Each item and price is up to date at the time of publication; however, an item may be sold out or the price may be different at a later date.

  • Inflatable Airbed Mattress


    Sleeping in a tent under the stars has its perks, but let's be honest -- nothing beats sleeping at home on a comfy mattress. This inflatable airbed will be the next best thing, providing ample sleep space on a comfortable, wipe-clean surface.

    Classic Downy Inflatable Airbed Mattress (from $8, Walmart)

  • Interlocking Foam Mat Floor Tiles


    Make the ground safer for curious toddlers and active kids with these interlocking foam floor mats. They come apart and fasten together easily, and can be stacked and stowed away when not in use.

    Interlocking Foam Mat Floor Tiles (from $20, Walmart)

  • Folding Wagon


    Circle the wagons! This trusty one is durable and lightweight, making it way easier to haul anything to and from your campsite (even kids!). Plus, it comes in handy at the beach and on other family getaways. 

    Ozark Trail Quad Folding Wagon ($45, Walmart)

  • Outdoor Dinnerware Set


    There's just something about campfire cooking that always tastes extra-delicious. But it can often be a pain when it comes time to serving the meal. This convenient set of plates, bowls, and utensils will make dinnertime a breeze.

    Ozark Trail 4 Person Table Set  ($11, Walmart)

  • Survival Paracord Bracelet


    Heading out in a large group? These survival bracelets will give everyone some extra peace of mind as they explore the wilderness. Aside from basic safety features like a compass and emergency whistle, these handy bracelets also double as fire starters and more!

    Frog Sac Survival Paracord Bracelet (from $8, Walmart)

  • Portable LED Tent Light


    Campers can never have too many light sources on hand once the sun goes down and lighting inside the tent gets scarce. This portable light has several settings, so it can be dimmed to avoid bothering sleeping kids or adults.

    Ozark Trail LED Tent Light ($11, Walmart)

  • Cast Iron Skillet Set


    A good cast iron skillet is a must-have for any foodie's kitchen (IMO), but it's especially handy for camping trips. It'll take outdoor parties and gatherings to the next level, whether dinner's getting baked, boiled, fried, or stewed over the campfire or grill. Best of all, each piece is pre-seasoned with natural plant oil to make meals even yummier.

    Ozark Trail 3-Piece Cast Iron Skillet Set ($26, Walmart) 

  • Instant Multi-Person Cabin Tent


    A camping trip isn't really a camping trip without a quality tent that can sleep everyone comfortably inside. And this one definitely checks all the boxes. It can sleep up to nine people and fit two queen air mattresses inside. Plus, it has a rainfly top that can be removed to expose a panoramic mesh ceiling and windows that let campers gaze at the stars before they fall asleep.

    The best part? It promises a stress-free, 60-second set-up. (Yes, really.)

    9-Person CORE Cabin Tent ($250, Amazon)

  • 7-in-1 Survival Whistle


    This handy little travel companion has just about everything a camper could need for outdoor adventures. And that's no exaggeration. Believe it or not, it has a whistle, magnifier, flashlight, storage container, compass, thermometer, and signaling mirror -- all in one!

    7-in-1 Survival Whistle in High-Visibility Orange ($10, Amazon)

  • Summer Solar Shower


    This clever contraption solves one of camping's biggest problems: Showering outside (and actually feeling clean afterwards). It's powered by solar energy, has an easy-to-use on/off switch and shower head, and can heat up water so campers never get stuck in cold showers.

    Advanced Elements 5-Gallon Summer Shower ($35, Amazon)

  • Pop-Up Privacy Tent & Shower


    Of course, let's not forget the other problem with taking an outdoor shower: Having zero privacy! This pop-up tent will create a safe haven for those of us who'd rather not put on a show for the entire campground. Simply hang a portable shower inside, and voila -- it's almost like showering at home. (Almost.)

    WolfWise Privacy Tent & Shower ($88, Amazon)

  • Portable Camping Tree Hammock


    The campsite is never complete without a trusty hammock! Campers love this one for its durability and lightweight, easy-to-pack design.

    MalloMe Portable Camping Tree Hammock (from $19, Amazon)

  • Portable Solar Cell Phone Charger


    The cellphone's always gotta be charged -- even in the middle of the wilderness. This one's solar-powered and even doubles as an LED light to provide light inside or outside the tent.

    LED Light & Solar Battery Charger ($25, Amazon)

  • First Aid Kit


    Accidents happen -- and when they do, this 100-piece kit will have just about anything needed to treat minor scrapes, burns, and other mishaps that happen out on the trail. 

    Be Smart Get Prepared 100-Piece First Aid Kit ($9, Amazon)

  • Camp Kitchen Utensils Organizer


    With all the gear that's required for camping, it's easy for things to get disorganized fast. Keep those cooking utensils all in one place with this clever all-in-one organizer, that comes with kitchen scissors, knives, a cutting board, and more.

    Wealers Camp Kitchen Organizer ($25, Amazon)

  • Mystical Fire Flame Colorants


    Take campfire stories to the next level with these "mystical fire" pods, which can be dropped into open fire to create multicolored flames. (How cool is that?)

    Mystical Fire Flame Pulsating Colorants ($8, Amazon)

  • Campfire Roasting Sticks


    ... and no great campfire is complete without some marshmallow roasting! This set of roasting sticks will make it even easier to build those yummy s'mores.

    Extendable Rotating Marshmallow Roasting Sticks ($22, Amazon)

  • LED Camping Lantern


    Light the way, either on walking trails or outside the tent or camper, with this portable lantern. It's waterproof and highly durable, while being lightweight enough to carry so it's not a hindrance. Plus, it comes in  handy at home during storms, electrical outages, and other emergencies.

    Vont LED Portable Camping Lantern, Set of 2 ($20, Amazon)

  • Pop-Up Trash Can


    Just like at home, vacationing with kids in tow means not only toting along a lot of extra stuff, but also creating a lot of extra garbage. Keep the campsite tidy with this soft, lightweight, and foldable trash can. It'll come in handy in more ways than one.

    Coghlan's Deluxe Pop-Up Trash Can ($20, Amazon)

  • UNO Wilderness Game


    For all those times the kids start whining that they're bored, try breaking out a fun game that'll hold their attention, like this wilderness-themed deck of UNO cards. It'll keep them entertained for hours -- and best of all, it's screen-free.

    UNO Wilderness Card Game ($12, Amazon)

  • Waterproof Outdoor Speaker With Bluetooth


    While Mom and Dad are firing up the grill and the kids are kicking around a ball, why not put on some tunes? This outdoor speaker is Bluetooth-enabled, wireless, and waterproof in case it starts to rain. But it's also compact, and comes with a keychain so it can be toted along on hikes.

    Freegoing Waterproof Outdoor Speaker With Bluetooth ($27, Amazon)

  • Collapsible Water Bottle


    Staying hydrated is must outdoors, and this travel-friendly water bottle makes it easy. It's BPA-free and holds up to 22 ounces of water. And when the water's all gone, just roll the empty bottle up into itself, fasten it with a handy strap, and toss it into a backpack.

    Nomader Collapsible Sports Water Bottle ($25, Amazon)

  • Collapsible Wash Basin


    Campfire meals are yummy, but just like at home, they can create a lot of mess. Use this convenient and foldable wash basin to scrub dishes and also soak any camping gear that may need a wash.

    SAMMART Collapsible Wash Basin ($15, Amazon)

  • Mosquito Repellent Lantern


    One downside to living in the great outdoors? BUGS. Tons of 'em. But this repellent lantern will help keep them far away from the tent so the whole trip isn't taken up by scratching annoying mosquito bites.

    Thermacell Mosquito Repellent Lantern ($19, Amazon)

  • Outdoor Inflatable Backpacking Pillow


    Sure, sleeping in a tent won't exactly feel like home (but hey, that's part of the whole adventure, isn't it?). This inflatable pillow will make sure campers have a comfy place to lay their heads at night. But it will also come in pretty clutch when it comes to packing and storing away all that camping gear, since it deflates and folds up into a pocket-sized pouch.

    Ratigan Outdoor Inflatable Backpacking Pillow ($17, Amazon)

  • Hiking Backpack


    There's a reason this durable hiking backpack has nearly 1,000 positive reviews on Amazon. With six adjustable straps, tons of roomy compartments, and a comfortable design, it makes long walks, hikes, and more a breeze.

    Mountaintop Hiking Backpack ($40, Amazon)

  • Portable Coffee Maker & Mug


    Moms, don't settle for lukewarm cups of coffee forever. This portable JavaPress is an easy-to-use coffee maker and tumbler all in one, so a warm cup of Joe is always possible (especially on vacation!).

    GSI Outdoor JavaPress ($23, Amazon)

  • Foldable Outdoor Chair


    This simple camping chair may not look like much, but it has over 5,000 positive Amazon reviews praising just how darn convenient it is. Lightweight and portable, it can go pretty much anywhere, and has a built-in four-can cooler that'll make sure an ice cold bevvy is never out of reach. (Plus, it works great at sports games, the beach, and more.)

    Coleman Cooler Portable Camping Chair ($55, Amazon)