Adventure Mom: How To Plan A Family Camping Trip-Shopping 101

Adventure Mom: How To Plan A Family Camping Trip-Shopping 101

Camping for a Mom equals stress. Lets face it, even when we have the help of our husbands, partners and other family members, us moms are the ones holding down the fort. We plan, organize, and pack, then once we make it to our destination, we unpack, organize, cook meals, clean up messes, kiss booboos, diffuse fights between siblings and wipe snotty noses. Phew! Like I said, STRESS-FUL!

There are ways to minimize this stress, so you actually want to take your family camping. I don't have all the answers, but I do have some helpful tips that will make camping fun for you too, mama! In this post, we are going shopping for gear that you need to make your family camping trip one to remember (in the best way possible)! Do you have everything you need to take your family camping? Think about your daily life, what do you use? What can't you live without? Let's start there!

Shelter & Sleeping

  • Tent-Purchase a quality tent that is made for the conditions you will be camping in. For example, if you are traveling to a rainy, wet place, make sure your tent is made for such conditions. Shopping at an outdoor sports store (instead of Walmart) has its perks. The sales associates can answer any (and I mean ANY) questions you have before you purchase your items.
    • Something important to note: If you are a family of 4, you may think a 4-man tent should do the job. But what about your bags? Unless you are comfortable keeping your clothes outside the tent, you need extra room to store your bags so your clothes stay warm, dry and within reach.
  • Sleeping Bags-There are thousands of sleeping bags out there. Only you can make the right choice depending on what you prefer and the conditions you will most frequently be camping in. Temperature ratings determine how insulated the bag is and how well it will keep you warm in different temperatures. Here are the bag types to consider:
    • Summer Bag: temperature rating of +35 degrees and higher
    • Winter Bag: +10 degrees and lower
    • All Season Bag: +10 to +35 degrees

Air Mattress, Sleeping Pads & Cots

  • Air Mattress: Air mattresses are a great way to up your camping game, and bring the luxury of home with you, if you are camping in the front country (meaning you can drive right up to your camp spot). When you purchase an air mattress, here are some things to consider:
    • Do you have a portable pump to blow it up? There are no outlets in nature! Make sure you purchase an air pump that has a DC car adapter OR is battery operated.
    • Air Mattresses are filled with air. When air gets cold, it causes the air to condense and, in turn, deflate the air mattress. They also aren't airtight! It is important to purchase a mattress made from high-quality material so this doesn't happen.
    • Downside to an air mattress: They take up more room in the tent. Be aware of this while you are shopping.
  • Sleeping Pads: This is a great, lightweight, comfortable option! Everyone can have their own sleeping pad, which saves a lot of room.
    • If you are looking for comfort over weight, an inflatable sleeping pad is an excellent option. The pad fills with air without the use of a pump and gives you a few inches of plushy comfort. Simply roll it up when you are done sleeping to make more room in the tent.
    • Downside to a sleeping pad: Sleeping on the ground can be cold. Especially when temps drop low at night.
  • Cots: If you are worried about being cold, a cot is a great option. It will prevent you from being on the ground and can also be quite comfy! Cots allow you to store your bags underneath them, which can be a real space saver! Cots come in all different sizes and comfort levels. Head over to an outdoors store and have an associate walk you through all their options.
    • Downside to using a cot: They are heavier than other options and can take up more room in your trunk.


  • Gas Stove-My husband and I invested in a small, portable gas stove right away after we got married. We not only use it on camping trips, but even BBQ's in the park! We can grill up hot dogs or even make eggs for breakfast! Camp stoves vary in styles, prices and durability. Choose one that's best for you!
  • Jetboil-If you're looking into more extreme camping and backpacking trips, a jetboil may be your best option. This small, lightweight stove is perfect for boiling water to add to dehydrated foods.

Waste Management

  • Remember, whatever you bring into your campsite, you are also responsible for properly disposing of or packing out. This means you need to bring the following to clean up after yourself:
    • Garbage bags
    • Biodegradable dish soap
    • Paper Towels/Dish Towels
    • Plastic Reusable Plates or Paper Plates
    • Utensils
    • A bin for soapy water to wash dishes and hands

Ten Essentials

  • As always, never go out on an adventure without your ten essentials! To read more about the importance of the 10 essentials, check out my recent blog post!
    • Navigation (Map and Compass)
    • Sun Protection
    • Extra Clothing
    • Flashlight (and batteries)
    • First Aid Supplies
    • Fire
    • Repair Kit
    • Shelter
    • Knife
    • Extra Food & Water

Always remember that when you choose to venture out into nature, to be prepared for the unexpected! Use your head, and be safe and respectful to all persons and wildlife. Remember to only take pictures and only leave footprints. Take care of the environment so it will remain a place of beauty that all families can enjoy!

Written by Lindsay Helm
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