The Kids Camping Starter Kit

Gear can make or break a camping trip with kiddos. And there’s often a lot of gear—and a fair bit of planning—necessary for everyone to have fun. Lists are key, advises Helen Olsson in The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids: How to Plan Memorable Family Adventures and Connect Kids to Nature. Suggestions for what to wear, pack and eat abound in Olsson’s handy guide, but for now, read on for an Elevation Outdoors-approved collection of 11 kids camping items—some essential, some fun and frivolous—designed to get little ones out and active in Colorado’s big backyard.

Kelty Woobie 30

For many of us, sleeping in a sack on the ground is, rather absurdly, one of the true joys of life. Instill that love at an early age with Kelty’s Woobie 30, rated to, you guessed it, 30 degrees. Designed for kids under 4 feet tall, the Woobie features patented Cloudloft insulation that’s uber soft next to skin while offering high-loft warmth with durable compressibility. The real beauty of this bag is the dual-zipper system, which allows parents to slip a sleeping toddler in without so much as a whimper. $60;

Mountainsmith Conifer 5+

Arguably more outdoor hotel than tent, the 84 square feet of the Conifer 5+ from Mountainsmith comfortably fits mom, dad and three kids with a little room left over for Fido. And there’s no need to hunch or crawl thanks to an interior 6’2” head height. Stay organized with the removable gear loft, ample pockets and a 33-square-foot front vestibule. $400;

Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad

You’ll want to keep weight top of mind if you’re headed into the backcountry with your budding outdoor enthusiast. Light and packable, the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra sleeping pad clocks in at just 14 ounces in its kid-friendly 20” x 48” version. A rip-stop nylon top and bottom boosts durability, but it comes with a repair kit just in case. $85 and up;

Black Diamond Wiz Headlamp

S’mores after sunset are a campfire tradition, but walking around a dark campsite has its dangers. Head off trouble with Black Diamond’s compact and kid-specific Wiz Headlamp. Offering 30 lumens of light (in comparison, 1 lumen is about as bright as a birthday candle) with full-strength, dim and strobe modes, the Wiz is water-resistant and features a breakaway elastic safety strap. Best of all, the lamp powers off automatically after two hours to prevent accidental battery drain. Brilliant! $11;

GCI Outdoor Everywhere Chair

While the Everywhere Chair from GCI Outdoor isn’t necessarily kid-specific, its low profile allows littles to get in and out all by themselves. Proprietary technology makes it easy to adjust the mesh back rest, while an Auto-Fold feature simplifies the open, close, carry process. Use the beverage holder to house a Capri Sun or handful of Goldfish. $40;

Osprey Hydrajet 15

Just big enough to stash an extra layer, its 1.5-liter reservoir and an oh-so-important snack, Osprey’s Hydrajet 15 is perfect for a day hike from base camp. But don’t be fooled by its size. Osprey is legendary for creating great packs, and the brand doesn’t skimp on pint-sized carriers. A mesh back panel offers ventilation, while a webbing hip belt (complete with mesh wings) and sternum strap keep the pack stable. The fleece-lined shoulder harness increases comfort and decreases the number of “Are we there yets?” Plus, Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee promises to repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge. $70;

Patagonia Baby Torrentshell Jacket

Summer showers don’t have to rain on your parade—or your camping adventure. Just be prepared. Patagonia’s Baby Torrentshell Jacket is an excellent way to do that. This fully waterproof, 100-percent seam-sealed shell is designed to ward off the wet with its DWR finish, elasticized internal cuffs and under-the-brim gusset. $59;

CTR Summit Junior Sunshower Bucket Hat

The CTR Summit Junior Sunshower Bucket hat is complete with UPF 50+ sun protection and wicking capabilities. Playful, outdoor graphics show off fun camping accessories, and it’s reversible, making it twice as nice. $20;

Forecast Optics Juggle

There’s no denying it: Kids look cute in sunglasses. And in Colorado, shades are more than a fashion statement; they’re a staple in our outdoor arsenal. Protect little eyes with the simple yet stylish, Juggle from Forecast Optics, which provides 100 percent UV protection and features impact-resistant lenses. $15;

Nite Ize NiteGem LED Luminary

Add some ambiance to your campsite with the NiteGem LED Luminary. Kids will love the Disc-O Select option, which continuously cycles through six different colors (and can be locked on a single color when the strobe effect starts to drive you nuts). Don’t worry if it gets left out in the rain—this little light of mine is waterproof. $11 from REI;,

Outside Inside Freestyle Chicken Disk Battle

In addition to bringing a fleet of trucks (perfect for hauling pine cones) and a favorite stuffed animal (or six), check out the range of campsite games from Outside Inside. The Freestyle Chicken Disk Battle is our favorite. $53;

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