The 10 Backpacking Essentials for Outdoor Family Excursions

When was the last time you took the family camping? Camping is increasingly growing in popularity and is an affordable and fun way to disconnect and experience the best of nature.

Exploring the outdoors, either through a short hike or a weekend camping trip, can be equally fun for both kids and parents.

Before heading outside, make sure you have all the necessary backpacking essentials. As long as you’re prepared, you and your loved ones can go hiking, camping, swimming, and having fun without any mishaps.

Read on to learn 10 things you need to make the most of family trips into nature.

1. Water Filtration System

If you’re camping or walking outdoors, having access to clean water is vital, especially on hot days. However, single-use water bottles are no good for the environment and often end up in landfills.

A great solution to this problem is to travel with your own water purifier, such as the LifeStraw. With a purifying system, you can safely drink from rivers or streams, even if you’re unsure of the quality. This is because the filters remove impurities and additives from the water, making it safe to drink.

The LifeStraw is good for up to five years of use, so be sure to bring it along on all family excursions and ditch the plastic water bottles for good.

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2. Waterproof Food Storage Containers

If there’s one thing parents know, it’s that kids work up an appetite quickly, no matter what they’re doing. Even on short walks or hikes, you’ll want to have some healthy and tasty snacks ready to keep energy levels up.

Look for waterproof food cases so you’re not left with soggy sandwiches or fruit if you get caught out in the rain. If you’ll be camping, also look for containers with tight seals so that the smell of food does not attract wildlife or insects.

For a fun way to enjoy the outdoors with kids, why not finish off your hike with an outdoor picnic? Pack some sandwiches, chips, veggie snacks, and cheese, and enjoy the fun of dining outside as a family.

If you’re planning a picnic, be sure to bring along a blanket and some reusable plates and cutlery that you can take home and wash afterward, or look for paper products that can be easily recycled.

outdoor camping essentials

3. Outdoor Clothing

One of the main gear essentials for spending time outside is the right clothing. You and the kids will need clothes that allow for easy movement, are comfortable, and will keep you warm or cool, depending on the climate.

Denim and cotton are best avoided because if they get wet, they are going to take a long time to dry, and you’ll be left wearing waterlogged, uncomfortable clothing.

Instead, look for breathable, soft fabrics that won’t hold onto sweat or moisture. Nylon, polyester, microfibers, and even wool are good options.

If you’re spending time in a rainy climate, a comfortable rain jacket is essential. Material such as GoreTex will wick away water or snow and keep you warm.

You’ll also need thick, soft socks to avoid blisters and comfortable shoes with a tread, to prevent slips.

outdoor camping essentials

4. Sturdy Backpack

For day hikes or overnight camping trips, you’ll need a backpack that can handle all of your gear. The look and feel of your backpack comes down to personal preference, but there are a few features you should look for if you’re purchasing for outdoor use.

Ideally, a good hiking backpack should be waterproof, with both shoulder straps and a hip belt to balance the weight. Also, look for one that is padded for comfort, has multiple zippers and compartments for storage, and is lightweight.

A quality backpack will last for years and you’re likely to use it frequently, so buy the best your budget will allow.

Let the kids each have a small backpack as well, so they can carry their own snacks or gear, as this is a fun way for them to learn responsibility and feel like they’re part of the team.

Must have camping essentials

5. Sleeping Bags

If you’re spending the night under the stars, you’ll want a warm and cozy sleeping bag, along with a padded mat for extra comfort.

Look for sleeping bags that are rated to provide warmth down to a certain temperature if you’re camping in winter or a cold climate, as there’s nothing worse than shivering through the night on your camping trip. Sleeping bag sheets are also available to fit neatly in your sleeping bag and provide extra warmth and comfort.

A good sleeping bag should also be waterproof, lightweight and easy to roll and pack, and well-insulated. Kids can get in on the fun by selecting a sleeping bag in their favorite color or with their top cartoon characters.

sleeping bag camping essentials

6. Easy Setup Tent

If you’re not experienced in putting a tent together, it can quickly become one of the most frustrating things about camping. Look for a tent that is easy to assemble and large enough for the whole family.

The tent should keep you dry and should also have enough room for all of your supplies. It should be easy to enter and exit and should also come with pegs for securely attaching the tent to the ground.

If you’re able, assemble your tent as soon as you arrive at your campsite— it is much easier to do in the daylight than at night! Before heading out, try setting up your tent at home as a practice run. It’s a good way to make sure you have all the pieces you need.

A top tip— are your kids new to camping? You might want to introduce them to the idea with a night of camping in the backyard. That way, should anything not work out, you’re only steps away from home.

7. Solar Charger

Whether you’re outside for a few hours or a few days, you’ll need to keep some essential electronics charged, like your smartphone or radio. When you’re out in nature, you’re far from any power outlets, so try a fun solar charger to keep connected.

A portable solar charger harnesses the power of the sun, via small solar panels, to provide enough energy to charge one or more devices. It’s an effective way to power up remotely, but it’s also a great learning opportunity for teaching young ones about solar power.

They charge devices quickly and can also make for a good back-up if your portable chargers run low.

8. First-Aid Kit

A first-aid kit is essential for anyone spending time outside. You’ll want to protect against and treat any minor injuries that arise while enjoying the outdoors.

Although most of us know to always travel with bandages, a well-stocked first-aid kit should have a few additional ingredients. Make sure to include antiseptic creams, aloe for burns, antihistamines for allergies, tweezers for stings or splinters, and gauze pads and tape for larger cuts.

If you’re hiking or camping in remote areas, always let someone else know where you’re going and when you’ll return, and take note of where the nearest medical centers can be found.

first aid kit camping essentials

9. Kitchen Kit

If you’re camping and plan to cook over the fire, you’ll definitely need marshmallows and chocolates for smores! But you’ll also probably want a campfire cooking kit, such as a small camp oven, BBQ grill, and cooking utensils and cutlery.

Dinner when camping can be a family affair, so encourage the kids to help out by cutting veggies, laying the table, or serving the food.

Plan out your meals in advance for each day of the trip so that you’re sure you have the necessary ingredients and cookware.

If you’re staying at a large campsite, they may have BBQs and kitchen facilities available for guest use.

10. Kid-Friendly Entertainment

The best part of hiking and camping is enjoying the outdoors, but you can still bring along a few games or accessories to help add to the fun.

Why not pack a deck of playing cards for games around the campfire, binoculars, travel games for the car trip, or toy shovels and sandcastle makers for playing in the dirt or sand? Or, bring along their scooters or bikes for a fun day of trail riding.

The right toys can spark your child’s creativity and inspire their love for the outdoors and are a great alternative to the dreaded screen time.

Take the Family Outdoors With These Backpacking Essentials

Camping and hiking are some of the best ways to get exercise, experience nature, and spend quality time together as a family.

Contact us for assistance with any questions on camping and outdoor gear, and our friendly team is happy to assist. With the right backpacking essentials, you and your family can get out under the stars and enjoy the best of Mother Nature, with the confidence of knowing you’re prepared with all the gear you need.

Get started today enjoying the beautiful outdoors and creating a lifetime of family memories.

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