I love me some fall camping with the family! It’s cool and crisp and uncrowded, making it the perfect time to pack up your family for a weekend camp trip. Did you know that all 4th graders in the U.S. get FREE entrance into National Parks this school year? Plus their families? Such a cool program and completely free. Just visit here to get your pass.
While getting out into the great outdoors is all about kissing some gear goodbye (we’re looking at you, iPhones and computers…), there definitely is some other gear that can make camping with your kids a whole lot easier. After spending a month on the road this summer with my family of five, I’ve rounded up a few of my recent fall camping gear favorites for families.
1. A family-sized stove
Camping often seems to center around when the next meal is. Without the distractions of the modern world, it’s amazing how much you can think about food! Plus, if your family is like mine, they like to eat. A traditional two-burner, only-fit-one-big-pan-at-a-time stove just wasn’t cutting it for us anymore, so we upgraded to a supped-up, four-burner stove from Partner Steel. And, I’m in love.
We opted for the 18-inch four-burner stove with breakaway hinges, which means we can fit four big pans or pots on the stove at the same time. The breakaway hinges allow us to only use one set of burners if I’m just camping with my husband or separate the four burners if we have exceptionally large pots or pans. I also love that the burners have precision heating control (unlike our last camp stove that had two settings: off and full scorch), so I can adjust each burner to just the right temperature I need.
When we’re done, the stainless steel stove is quick to wipe clean, folds in half, locks shut, and stores easily until our next stop. If you don’t need something quite this big, Partner Steel also has lots of other stove sizes and layouts.
Packing for camping can quickly get out of hand, so we do our best to travel light and pack multitasking gear. This year, we added a few multi-function pieces from Stanley that helped us save space without sacrificing feature, function or style.
The first change we made was swapping out our coffee mugs, juice cups and wine glasses (though I do love these camp-friendly ones from Lifefactory) for the do-all Stanley Classic Vacuum Pint. This single cup kept our coffee hot, our beer cold and worked just fine for water and wine. My husband and I got different colors to tell our cups apart and loved how easy they were to clean and how well they worked for whatever we were drinking. We have this four-pack of Adventure Stacking Steel Tumblers for our to-buy list for our kids, which includes four different colored cups to cut down on the “that’s my cup!” fights.
Another space-saving family favorite from Stanley was the Adventure eCycle Infinite Mug/Bowl. From oatmeal, soup and coffee to a salsa bowl and a pancake pourer, we used these mug/bowl/cups for just about everything on our trip.
3. Fast food avoider
We don’t often eat fast food, but when we do, it’s often when we are traveling since the combination of quick and convenient often makes it an easy choice. But this summer, before our month-long road trip, my kids made a goal to completely avoid fast food (especially after we watched this as a family). I’m happy to say we manage to do it thanks to these two huge helps: Yelp and Planetbox.
We are huge fans of Planetbox’s lunchboxes for school (seriously, best ever), but they are also great to take on the road. The stainless steel design makes them easy to clean and let’s them chill if I stick the whole thing in the cooler. As we were packing up from one campground, I’d fill the Planetboxes with crackers and hummus, cut up fruit and veggies and leftovers we had from camping so the kids could snack while we drove without needing to succumb to fast food. We have both the Rover and Launch, but the Shuttle would be great for easy snacks-on-the go too.
When our food supplies were running low, we’d roll into the nearest town and rely on the Yelp app to help us find tasty, affordable, family-friendly cafes and diners to eat at, often just one or two streets off the main road where the fast food chains like to lay claim. You can see a few of the favorite eats we found on my Yelp profile!
4. Kid-friendly supply packs
When we are camping, my kids are a non-stop blur of movement. From climbing rocks to hiking, wading in the river to riding bikes around the campground, they are always on-the-go. In order to keep them ready for whatever adventures the day offers, I love them having their own gear with them so they can keep their water, snacks, extra layers and walkie talkie close at hand when they are off on their own and equally importantly, out of my bag when we are doing an activity together.
Recently we’ve been trying out some of the new kid packs from Osprey. The Moki Hydration Pack is perfectly kid-sized for biking or hiking and includes a 1.5-liter water reservoir, a zippered pocket for snacks and headlamps, and a quick-stash storage area to hold a long sleeve shirt. It’s so much easier to keep my kids hydrated with a pack like this than bugging them to get drinks of water.
For older kids who are ready for their first overnight backpacking trip, the Jet 18 backpack is lightweight and kid-friendly, but designed with many of the same features as Osprey’s adult backpacks like their AirScape™ back panel for comfortable support, an external water reservoir pocket, and lots of zippered compartments and mesh pockets to keep everything organized.
I’ll be honest — camping and cleanliness don’t often go hand-in-hand. I’ve learned to be okay with this. The kids may be dusty and scrapped from climbing and exploring, my coffee mug may have the markings of yesterday’s joe and my fingernails… don’t get me started (though I’ve recently started traveling with one of these, which matched with some warm water and soap can be heavenly.) When the smiles are big and the adventures are memorable, I can let cleanliness take a backseat.
But, there is one cleaning product I recently started bringing with us every time we camp: Lysol Disinfecting Wipes. It all started the one time I brought them on a whim and one of my boys got the stomach flu. I can’t tell you how glad I was to have those Lysol wipes! We camp in this VW camper van so our sleeping arrangements are, well, cozy, and I disinfected like crazy to keep anyone else from getting sick. Since then, I always pack a bottle when we go camping and use them for disinfecting cutting board when we are away from water, cleaning syrup off our tablecloth, sprucing up the van and keeping sickness at bay.
What are some of your family camping favorites?
SSM was not paid for this post. Some samples were provided.
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