10 Great Family Car Camping Gear Products

Summer camping season isn’t over yet! Sure, you may not want to be up in the high country, but there will be plenty of mild temperatures in and around our great state for months to come. We’ve taken all of these products out for a spin on a number of camping trips and were very happy with how they served.

Blue Ridge Folding Camp Table

Family camping means lots of preparing and setting things down—often those things need to be out of the reach of little hands. It sits at 28.5 inches high which is great for prep work but a little high for sitting at to eat (at least for our camp chairs). The ease of setting it up in two simple moves comes at the cost of it not folding down very small, just 34 x 37 x 3 inches. Still, the center bar makes it easy to cary and the wood construction is a handsome addition to any camp. | $298

Ciao Baby Kids High Chair

Little kiddos like to move and squirm and that can make mealtime tricky. Make it easy on yourself and them with this kids camp chair with a tray and cup holder. It folds down just like the rest of your camp chairs and it give you nugget the containment and convenience they’re used to at home. We have used this beyond just camping—it’s great for dinner at a friend’s house, on road trips, or even in a hotel room. | $60

GSI Outdoors Troop Cook Set & Griddle

Get all of the troops fed with this large and practically indestructible cook set. Complete with an 8.5-liter and a 5-liter pot with lids, a 10-inch fry pan, and a cary sack for easy transport. The handles lock in place to minimize accidental tipping of the goods and they include a notch to make it easy to hang the pots for over-the-fire cooking. Our only lament was we wish the lids had drain holes for pasta night. We also loved using the GSI Outdoors Gourmet Griddle ($55) for bacon and pancakes. | $150 

GCI Outdoor Cook Station

Having a dedicated space for a stove and related cooking utensils is key both for the sanity of the cook but also the safety of the crew. It folds down flat for easy packing and travel and provides lots of countertop space for juggling meals for the whole family. The fold out side tables have a few specialized moldings to hold wine glasses, hang cooking utensils or even the all important roll of paper towels. We did however make the mistake of putting something hot on one of the fold out wing trays and it left a permanent reminder not to do that again. Still, no harm to the actual function of the cook station. | $85

Gerber Freescape Knife Kit

We have touted this knife set a number of times and clearly can’t praise it enough. It’s our go-to in all on the road or at camp cutting needs. The two knives are securely stored in the polypropylene case with their molded slots, the top can be used as a cutting board, a slotted knife sharpener is built into the case, and it slides and locks shut so even the most determined child who shouldn’t have access to knives can’t open it. Gerber uses full-tang steel wrapped in a rubberized grip for both the smaller pairing knife and the larger kitchen knife. | $88

Kelty Mesh Low Love Seat

This love seat has proven to be incredibly durable. My kids were quick to decide they wanted to stand with shoes or boots on the mesh fabric and it didn’t even wince (though I did at first). We try to keep their squirming at bay, but most importantly, both my wife and I can be seated and each of us can have one of our young kiddos in our lap. And if they’re relatively still or snuggly, it can be very comfortable. It’s also great if it’s just the two of us and we can sit snuggled up together in front of the fire. The low style is great so the littles can crawl up on their own (otherwise they’ll just beg to be lifted up anyway #parenting). | $99

Strongback Elite Chair

For sitting on your own, especially if it’s for an extended period, drop the extra coin and invest in the only camp chair with lumbar back support. Every time a friend sits in one of these chairs I love watching their unprompted reaction—their eyes widen, they wiggle a little to settle in and to be sure what they’re feeling is really happening and then they look up at me and say, “man, this is a really comfortable chair!” Bullseye. | $100

Nemo Wagontop Tent – 6 Person

Go big or go home… unless this is your home… then, Welcome! But seriously, family camping demands room for all so you’re not literally on top of each other. The team at Nemo have come up with a brilliant tent pole system, but to be fair I was pretty annoyed when first setting the tent up. Now that I know how it works (they could include a little color coding to alleviate the confusion during first few setups) I see how incredibly strong it is. Two sets of poles criss-cross the sides of the tent and hold up the corners. Our travel crib fits great in the front section of the tent while us ground dwellers can sprawl in the large rear section. The 80-inch peak height of the tent runs the full length so it’s not a matter of standing in just a certain spot to avoid rubbing you skull against the top.  | $650

Klymit KSB Double Down Sleeping Bag w/ Double V Pad

Warning—once you go to a double bag it’s tricky to go back. Snuggles and cuddles all night long? Yes please. My wife and I have tried a number of double sleeping bag systems and while there are always trade-offs, the KSB Double Down is one that minimizes the cons for the pro of getting to be together for the night. A key feature is the individual draft covers so each sleeper can decide how snuggled in they want to be—eliminating drafts is one of the major con’s of double bags we’ve tested. Klymit says it will fit in a two person tent, but we’ve haven’t had alone-time luxury of late to test it that way. It fits great in a large 6-person tent that we’re sharing with a pack-and-play and our older kid’s sleeping pad. Listed as a 30-degree Fahrenheit bag, it’s really for mild to warmer nights. The top cover can be unzipped and removed to be used as a standard comforter for warmer climates. Klymit’s Double V Pad is a natural pairing, it fits perfectly into the pad sleeves under the Double Down. | $380 bag; $130 pad

Mountainsmith Shelter House

Kids love bugs when the kid decides on how to interact with the bug. When it’s the other way around, kids can get put out pretty quickly and decide that the great outdoors is not for them. The Shelter House has proven to be a great way to give kids the space they need, both literally and from the bugs so they don’t lament future camping trips. It’s the same effort to set up as a large tent and it will fit over most park service installed picnic tables so camp and picnic meals can be bug free as well. We have also used it as a kitchen tent—the mesh cuts down on annoying breezes trying to blow away paper towels or suck heat from the stove and the three non-entrance sides have zip-up panels to cover the mesh and provide more protection. It will hold off some light precipitation, and a good set of guy-lines can help with some wind, but we never got it into really nasty weather to see how the 68 denier polyurethane fly rated at 2,000mm waterproofness would hold up to a steady downpour. Also, since the walls flare out, they’re going to take on some weather, no matter which way it’s coming from. | $220

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