Favorite gear for camping with toddlers?
March 17, 2010 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Best gear for camping with a toddler?

We're about to take the funkette (14 mos) out for her first camping trip. We're set for adult gear, but looking for recommendation for child/family-oriented camping equipment.

Child carriers, toddler sleeping setup (cot/bag?), family-sized tents, outdoor clothes, night lights...what are we missing?

What's your ideal gear setup?
posted by gottabefunky to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
We've been hauling mini-foodgeek along on camping trips since he turned something like 3 months old. We use a spare adult sleeping bag and a decent sleeping pad and you'll be all set. I've got a rumba backpack but only use it for backpacking, the ergo/mobywrap/bjorn all work well enough to wander around in the woods or on relatively short hikes. We upgraded from a tiny ultralight 2 person tent to a slightly less tiny ultralight 3 person tent when the kid started camping. Otherwise we've just used the gear we already had.
posted by foodgeek at 10:37 AM on March 17, 2010

I'm trying to remember what we did at that age--I'm pretty sure it was something like sleeping family-style sandwiched between multiple unzipped bags, toddler in the middle so if they tried to escape, they could be detected.

We got our kids kid-sized bags of their own when they were 4 and 6, around the time we also upgraded from a smallish three man tent to a super ultra gigantic six man tent (that is actually way too big, but I contend that it is like a fabulous forest mansion. But when they were younger, it was easier to sleep kind of crowded together.

Special clothes? Just expect the kid to get filthy, and employ lots of layers. I felt like the soft leather Robeez-type shoes were ideal for new walkers at all times including camping.

Whatever carrier you prefer is probably fine, be it an Ergo or a hip sling. We did have a Kelty frame backpack carrier that was really useful, but by the time our kids were 14 months it was an awful heavy load to bear.

Have fun! I loved camping with babies. It's glorious mayhem.
posted by padraigin at 10:49 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

We car-camp, not backpack camp.

At that age, the Peapod was a life saver - kept him in, kept bugs out (bug proof is important in New England). We actually used it more as a play house than as a bed. He napped and played in it, but slept with us in a zipped-together sleeping bag.
posted by anastasiav at 11:08 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Our approach to camping with our kids is a lot like padraigin's and foodgeek's: we got a big Coleman family tent from Costco to use instead of our light two-person backpacking tent, and we picked up a pair of twin-sized inflatable mattress beds so each kid would be as comfy as possible. We also got each kid their own kid-sized, fold-up camp chair for sitting around the campfire.

At 14 months, I think the biggest challenge will be the insta-filth your child will be covered in. Other than that, if they have a comfortable place to sleep and a safe, shaded place to play, camping really isn't that different from any other picnic or outing.

Good luck!
posted by mosk at 11:15 AM on March 17, 2010

Heartily recommend a Macpack. I carried an 18 month old up Mt Kinabalu in Borneo in one (wouldn't actually recommend doing this, but it is possible). Also those mini kid tents are very good and a sunsuit if you're going swimming. In a way though, you probably need less than you think.
posted by rhymer at 11:39 AM on March 17, 2010

When we went camping with some friends of mine they had one of those kid leash things so the little tyke could trot around the campsite without wandering off into the woods or the fire pit. It let him wander around and eat dirt. pick up bugs etc. without us having the potential panic of him disappearing chasing a butterfly or something like that. I thought it was a great idea but I'm not a parent, so yeah.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 11:44 AM on March 17, 2010

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