Camping with young kids always takes a bit more thought and planning. We’ve accepted the fact that the sleepless nights, dirty kids, bringing along a little potty and working hard to keep the mosquitoes at bay for our (apparently sweet) 3-year-old are just part of the game (which will change with time.)
To be perfectly honest, I dread the sleeping part of camping right now.
Laying awake I certainly spend some time daydreaming about years down the road where sleeping through the night is a possibility, even in a tent. While it won’t keep us from camping and getting out whenever we can, it certainly means built-in naps for Mama (because everyone else manages to sleep through the “struggles”) in the hammock are a must if we want to do anything productive the following day(s). I certainly won’t claim to be an expert in everything, so this is my plea for anyone with tips to get a 1-year-old to be ok in a sleeping bag to send them on our way!
But, like I say often on here, the experiences are absolutely worth it and practice makes perfect. While our summer adventures mean being open to the fact that they could be cancelled (very) last minute due to a wildfire (thanks to Mtn Papa’s job) we are working hard to cram everything in we can (while still remaining sane!) It’s part of the “no excuses” motto we try to live by.
Yes, it takes more work.
Yes, it can be draining.
Yes, mistakes are made and lessons learned.
Yes, sometimes I want to bag it and head on home.
Yes, it brings us closer as a family.
Yes, it is getting easier as our kids get older.
Yes, every kid is different (which means different perks AND struggles).
Yes, we will continue doing it (the big AND the little adventures.)
This past weekend we spent some time talking about our current favorite bring-alongs for camping. The things we miss when we don’t have them and may not have thought about previously. This list is not comprehensive and is a bit random, but worth sharing. It’s the little extras (so does not cover the basics like tent and sleeping bags!) Plus, read to the end for your chance to win some of them!
Lightload Towels (24×12 inch): Two-pack $2.00
Sturdy towels that pack up to the size of a half dollar and can be used over and over? Yes, please! We use these all the time for cleaning up kids (they certainly can get messy), camp dishes, cleaning up spills and all-around general use. Lightload also makes a beach towel-sized model that would be great for lake/ocean-side backpacking trips. While they are thin (hence the reason they fold up as small as they do) they are sturdy, wash well (though I would recommend hand washing) and dry quickly.
So far (fingers crossed) mosquitos/bugs have only been a problem for us while out camping and in the woods. I am sure they are bound to be showing up soon, but for now, I’ll take it! We’ve been working to test out a few different safe (for kids AND adults) repellents. That testing is still in the works for some products, but I wanted to recommend Avon’s Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard line. My Alaskan family (where mosquitos are aplenty, I assure you) has been using Skin-So-Soft to repel bugs for years now. It’s good stuff.
When recently camping, we quickly grabbed for the Picaridin (strong repellency against mosquitos and deer ticks) for poor J after we realized the repellent we were testing for him was NOT working and he was getting eaten alive. It seemed to solve the problem.
We also have been using the products that have SPF 30 in them (along with Bug Guard) playing down in the Yellowstone River. I love that they are not greasy, safe for all of us (no DEET) and effective for guarding against the sun and bugs. For the kids, especially, I prefer the spray sunscreen most of the time – it’s just easier to get on them quickly.
The Kicker: Avon products are sold online and only through an Avon representative (find a rep near you through their site.)
Action Wipes (Full Body Wet Wipes): $1.25 single; $24 Travel Pack
We are not campers who bring along solar showers when we are out. While the idea is tempting, I have done my share of bathing in cold lakes (it just adds to the experience, right?!?!) While washing hair will not fall under this category, these wipes are an excellent alternative to lake-shore bathing. All natural, plant-derived ingredients help avoid damaging chemicals and leave skin feeling soft (and not sticky). They are large, strong, smell good and we use them all the time. Stashes remain in our car, our camping tub and the “beach” bag (which goes many more places than just the “beach”.) They also come with a spray bottle to refresh when they dry out. Additionally, like the Lightload Towels, they can be reused numerous times and repurposed after that.
Better yet, the wipes are made with essential natural oils that are also antiseptic and antibacterial so they can be used to clean wounds and help remove poison oak and ivy oils (not an issue for us, but certainly others!)
And because I am sure someone will ask, yes, I use BOTH the Lightload Towels and the Action Wipes – they both serve their own purposes for our family and we use them equally and separately.
Find them: Online through their site, on Amazon.com and at boutique bike and outdoor shops.
This handy chair is perfect for camping with kids that are either not quite walking, or walking but could use a little containment around the campfire. While it is advertised to work from around 4 months, we found that even the shortest setting didn’t work for P until about 8 months. The chair is height-adjustable, cleans up easily (we hose it off), packs up like a camp chair, and has hooks for toys and holes for food/drinks. P actually will stay in it quite content for a while because he can stand up. While they do make high chairs that are a similar style for camping/traveling, this kid does not sit long enough to be happy in something like that. Highly recommended by us!
JetBoil Flash: $99.95
The perfect solution for quick hot drinks for our entire family (camping or just out playing.) We bring this with us everywhere (because living in the mountains, things tend to cool off quickly in the evening or with storms!) When using a smaller fuel canister, everything fits nicely inside the mug for simplicity on the road. Even better, water heats up quickly and efficiently so fuel lasts a long time! While we aren’t coffee drinkers, you can purchase the Java version of the Flash too (for the same price). We’ve used plenty of camp stoves and love how the entire system is contained and water heats up SUPER fast.
ENO Tent (go for the DoubleNest!): $64.95
I am a super big fan of hammocks, especially for camping. They often serve the purpose of providing me a little place to relax away from everything else and take a few moments (when I wouldn’t otherwise.) Because of that, I have tested quite a few. This one takes the cake. It is durable, folds up very small and holds our entire (small) family. I would also highly recommend getting the Slap Straps to go along with it (straps that easily attach your hammock to trees, etc.)
A little something for you:
I contacted a few of the above-listed companies asking if they were willing to do a giveaway of their product so we could share the love a little. Excited to announce that there will be a bunch of winners! Because there is more than one giveaway today, we’re using Rafflecopter again. Please make sure to do the task listed and then click “done” in the widget so I know you did! If you are commenting on more than one topic (see Rafflecopter widgets for the questions) feel free to comment once and do the whole shabang. However, extra discussion is always welcome and encouraged! Winners will be chosen randomly and contacted to claim their prizes after July 12th. Good luck!
Giveaway Winners! Please contact me at mountainmamatales(at)gmail(dot)com to claim your prizes!
Kid-Co Go-Pod: Sarah Knechtel
Avon’s Bug Guard Collection: Rebecca Roland, Sarah Austin, Kathie Mayer
ENO DoubleNest Hammock: Jennifer Logan
Action Wipes: Lala Ramos, Jessica Cardwell
Lightload Towels: Tabea Bruce, Kristin Hutchinson, Hilary and Maggie Canady
These products (minus the Go-Pod) were generously given to us by the company for the purpose of this review (most per our request.) However, as always, the opinions expressed here are completely and honestly our own. Additionally, some of these links are affiliates which means that a (very) small percentage of the profit comes back to us to help us offset the cost of this blog and the information we help provide. See our full disclosure here.
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