If you want to try camping with kids, you’ll need some decent gear to get started. There’s a lot out there to choose from, so here’s a roundup of our best family camping kit from 2021.
We’ve tested a lot of great camping gear over the past few summers and below is a roundup of our favourite. We have two young boys so everything gets a proper thrashing, and we never review anything we haven’t thoroughly used.
If you have any questions about any of the camping kit featured below then please get in touch!
Best family tents
Made for five people (although realistically 2 adults and 2 kids), this is a nice sized family tent. It’s relatively simple to pitch with three big poles running horizontally across it, has a fairly spacious porch, plus the big bonus of blackout walls to block out the morning sun.
Probably our favourite family tent, although realistically best for one adult and a couple of kids rather than a family of four. One person can pitch it in about 5 minutes by pegging out the base, raising the single pole in the centre, then tensioning the guy ropes to form the shape. It’s brilliantly made with a very robust and premium feel, and incredibly cool looking. We’ll hopefully be using it for years to come.
This fun family tent is great for summer campsite trips or camping in your garden. It’s really simple to pitch with an old-school skeleton frame that clips together around the inner bedroom. You can then either clip the flysheet over the top, or leave it off and sleep under the stars with just mesh above you on warm nights.
Are air tents good for family camping trips? 100% yes. The Easy Camp Base Air 500 is a fairly big tent (great for a family of 3, maybe 4 at a push) and pitching it is as simple as pumping up the three air chambers and pegging it out. You also get a big porch and plenty of admiring/jealous looks from fellow campers. It’s fairly pricey, but that’s what you pay for the convenience.
Best family camping air beds
We’ve destroyed a few inflatable camping mattresses in our time, but even our boys seem to have met their match with the Coleman Extra Durable Airbed. We have the double and single versions, which if you pack together into a 4-man tent make one big blow-up bed for everyone to pile into. They have a brushed surface so don’t have that horrible plastic feel against your skin, are easy to inflate with double lock valves, and roll up inside their own attached roll-bag so are easy to store once deflated.
Best family sleeping bags
Our 5-year-old graduated to his first ‘proper’ sleeping bag this summer and the Snugpak Explorer has been a great choice. At 170cm long (he’s about 120cm tall) it’s nice and roomy with plenty of space to grow into, and the thing we really like is it’s manufactured to the same standards as Snugpak’s adult sleeping bags. It has the same technical insulation and fabrics, including a Supersoft lining and technical Isofibre insulation. Like most sleeping bags you can fully unzip it to use as a duvet, plus you can unzip just the area around your feet to make it into one big airy tunnel. Available in a range of colours – we love the camo one!
Loads of brands do good family sleeping bags and the first ones we got were the Celebration Lux Double (for parents) and the Champ Kids from Outwell (for our 2-year-old). Both are very affordable and excellent for summer camping with young kids. Cosy, warm, easy to wash – top marks for both.
Best camping chairs
The ENO Lounger is an awesome piece of family camping kit. It’s lightweight, compact, sits with a low profile that has a nice swing to it, and feels almost as though you’re sitting in a hammock. The aluminium frame also assembles really easily, making it a very easy camping chair to put up and take down.
Similar to the ENO chair above except even lighter, these ultra-lightweight Helinox camping chairs pack down so small you can squeeze them easily into your car boot (or backpack, if you’re into wild camping). Despite the minimalist design they’re very comfortable and easy to assemble. A really cool, impressive piece of kit.
Best camping tables
One of the best bits of family camping kit we’ve ever owned. This is a 4-seater table that folds inside itself like a briefcase so it’s easy to store either at home or in the boot of your car. It then only takes a matter seconds to fold out and construct when you get to your campsite – perfect for cooking, eating meals and playing games.
This hard-wearing, foldable camping table is made from a bamboo top and feels very durable. It’s a great option for eating big family meals and folds down to a small, almost flat packed size when you don’t need it, with its own carry case. The only catch is that it folds down the middle lengthways, so you need to get the full 1-metre length of the table into your car. Not one for hatchback owners!
Best camping food coolers
This coolbox has been built for outdoor adventures and put through durability tests in harsh wilderness environments, so you can be sure it’ll last you a while! Dometic claims it will keep ice frozen for days thanks to its thick PU insulated walls, and on a recent camping trip to the Lake District our ice blocks still had a faint crust of frost on the outside after two nights. We have the 20-litre version, which is big enough to keep a small supply of fresh food cold for a weekend. It’s a chunky thing to fit in your car, but without hooking up to a power supply it’s the closest thing we’ve found to a fridge.
Available in 14L, 24L and 34L sizes, the Cormorant Cool Bag has so many features that it’s like a personal organiser for your food as well as a cool bag. We have the largest version, made from 8mm foam walls with a large U-shape opening that gives easy access to the main compartment. There are also mesh compartments lining the walls on the inside where you can stash ice blocks to keep the temperature low. It has a large front pocket designed to store plates and cutlery, plus smaller pockets for things like napkins and snacks. It even has padded shoulder straps to make carrying easy!
Best camping hammocks
We’ve had both of these hammocks for a few years and they’re so similar it’s impossible to pick a favourite. They’re built for one adult to sleep in or two adults to use as a swing, and our record so far is seven kids packed inside it. They’re both lightweight, pack down into their own integrated stuffsack pockets, and you can hang them virtually anywhere if you get a pair of hammock straps with it. Great fun, easy to set up and pack down really small when not in use.
Best camping lights
We’ve lost loads of torches and headtorches on camping trips, but one thing that always makes it home is our rechargeable lantern. It’s big enough that you won’t easily misplace it, with a 350-lumen beam you can dim inside your tent if you want to use it as a night light. It’s affordable at under £40, USB rechargeable so you don’t need to worry about buying batteries, and you can easily hang it up inside your tent or carry it around the campsite.
More of a lighting organiser than an actual light, the Nightize Gearline is perfect for arranging your various torches and gadgets. If your tent doesn’t have specific torch or lantern loops on the ceiling, stringing this line up allows you to dangle lights using the S-biners. It attaches using a couple of simple and adjustable rubber gear ties on each end, and if you keep your torches lashed to it when you get home you’ll never lose them in the house either!
Best camping grills
Whether you go with a charcoal BBQ or a gas grill, it isn’t a proper camping trip without a BBQ meal. We love our Primus Kuchoma gas grill. It’s compact, easy to transport, easy to use, easy to clean, and does the all-important job of cooking things well. It’s not the cheapest option though!
Best camping loungers
How much luxury you want on your family camping trip may depend on how much space you have in your car. But if you think the kids will give you enough downtime to kick back and relax properly, then a camping lounger could be a great choice. We’ve been using two great options for the past couple of summers. Firstly the Outwell Fontana Lake, which is so comfortable you may as well be lying in your bed thanks to the comfortable, thick, full-length padding and headrest that doubles up as a pillow. And secondly, the Easy Camp Hydra, which is a much more basic folding lounger made from a thin mesh-like material. Due to the size difference between the two, we tend to use the Fontana Lake when garden camping, then take the Hydra away with us to campsites.