Camping is regaining its foothold as America’s vacation of choice, with 13 million more people expected to go camping this year compared to last.
And why not? It’s cheaper than a hotel, many of the activities are free, and it’s fun for the whole family.
But before you throw the kids in the back and hitch up, make sure you’ve packed this essential camping equipment.
Follow the Scout’s Motto — Be Prepared
The key to successful family camping is all in the preparation. That means the most vital camping equipment is the stuff you use to get organized and orderly.
Meals, water, laundry, games — camping involves taking a miniature version of your life on the road, so organization tools are key. Here are a few we find absolutely indispensable:
Mason Jars and Tupperware
Start saving your mason jars, tupperware, and tomato sauce jars now. These are terrific for everything from keeping matches and lighters to convenient storage for your pasta and rice. They keep the critters out and are easy to pack and go.
Large plastic bins are basic camping equipment. It might sound a bit silly, but they’re watertight and keep dirt, grime, and the elements away from your food and equipment. These might be the single best investment you can make for your car camping setup.
Similar to plastic bins, old milk crates are great for hauling around stuff. But these are good for supplies you don’t mind getting a little bit of exposure. Pots, pans, your coffee maker, games, a grill lighter, etc. They’re stackable and you can often acquire them for free, making them a key camping accoutrement.
New Books, New Games, and No Devices
Your kids are going to hate a “no devices” rule, but it’s worth the hassle.
Camping, after all, is about enjoying the great outdoors and disconnecting from the noise of the outside world. So at the minimum, at least cancel out internet time and try to limit phone and tablet usage.
Lessen the disappointment of taking away the iPads by bringing books and games your kids have never played before.
Headlamps for Everyone
Car camping usually means a minimal lighting setup. So headlamps are an essential piece of camping equipment.
Aside from the hands-free functionality, headlamps are a lot of fun for young kids especially. They can pretend they’re spelunking or hunting.
The most difficult part might be getting them to turn them off to go to bed. It’s a cheap investment, but worth it.
Camping Equipment for ‘Roughing It’ in Style
Whether you like backpacking, car-camping, or RV-ing, it’s important to find the camping style that works for you, your family, and your budget.
If you are ready to upgrade from a basic pop-tent, however, teardrop trailers are an excellent next step. They offer many of the benefits of an RV camper at a fraction of the price and maintenance. And they’re environmentally friendly to boot.