Fresh morning air. Hearing the birds call as you wake up. A cup of steaming hot coffee enjoyed next to a campfire. The scent of pine needles wafting through the air. Enjoying time as a family without the distractions of technology.
This is the camping life we all dream of, right?
I know that camping is never quite as idyllic as I imagine. However, spending nights in the outdoors is always time well spent. Something about the immediacy of nature, and the simplicity of tent life makes camping one of our favorite vacations, year after year.Take 20% Off Your Order at L.L.Bean. Offer ends Tuesday, 12/10
Have you tried camping, but didn’t feel prepared enough? Or maybe you dream of camping, but are still looking for the right gear and knowledge to get started. Perhaps you know someone who already camps, and you are looking for the right gift for them. This camping gift guide will help you select some of the best gear for your situation. All of this gear is something we have used and loved.
So, grab your favorite flannel shirt and a cozy beverage, and let us help you find the perfect camp gifts this year!
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The Best Part of Camping!
For most of us, camping is all about relaxation, quality time with family and friends, and fun. Often, kids are content with exploring nature’s toys…stacking rocks, drawing in the dirt with sticks, tossing twigs into the river, and scooping sand.
Sometimes though, it’s nice to have a backup plan in case the sticks are too sharp or the dirt is frozen solid. Here are some of our favorites! If you need more inspiration, here is a post on 5 Ways to Add Fun at the Campsite!
Toys & Tools for Relaxation!
LL Bean Bocce Ball
Bocce Ball, aka Italian Lawn Bowling, is such a great game to give to your favorite campers. Sure, traditionally it’s supposed to be played on a flat manicured surface, but let me assure you, it’s twice as fun in the wild.
My kids LOVE Playmobil, and sets like these really save the day when the weather outside the tent is frightful, or the sun sets hours before the kids are ready for bed. The Playmobil Camping Adventure Building Set is the perfect gift for imaginative play.
National Parks Annual Pass
An experiential gift! Okay, this one isn’t exactly a toy, per-se, but you might find the National Parks Pass gets the most use out of any gift you give this year! It will inspire exploration, adventure, and quality family time.
Big and small, almost all love a good slackline session. This Slackers Slackline from Amazon is a great affordable addition to your campsite experience! A great gift for hard to please Teens, or kids of all ages. Also great for days in the park closer to home.
If your little helpers love to play house, give them the gift of the Grill-and-Go Camp Stove so they can play camp chef too! Bring it along on your next camping adventure…it comes with it’s own carrying case. It will keep little hands busy while you need your eyes on the real meal!
You make the rules, you pick the tools. Generic rackets, coupled with an assortment of balls and birdies, make this toy open-ended and great fun! This easy to pack Outside Inside Racket set will keep those kiddies entertained for hours. A great gift for the sporty kid on your list.
The best place to take a midday nap, or read that novel you’ve been saving for summer vacation, the ENO Doublenest Hammock is a sure bet for almost anyone on your gift list! Teammember Jessica says “The ENO Double Nest hammock is a staple of our camping setup”.
Stuck inside the tent on a rainy evening? Hopefully you gave the gift of a travel game! Roll-Up Backgammon will keep you entertained for hours.
Light up the Night
Little kids are notorious for less than stellar headlamp ettiequte. They are constantly shining those things straight into the eyes of their playmates & their parents, blinding everyone for precious moments. The best thing about LL Bean’s Trailblazer Junior Headlamp is the full spectrum, adjustable lumen light! This is a great gift to give any little camper on your list!
A tech-loving camper’s dream gift! Rig up this amazing solar lighting system to illuminate your post sunset dining experience. BioLite SolarHome 620 is a self-contained solar lighting system and comes complete with a solar panel, battery pack, two dimmable 100 lumen string lights, FM Radio, MP3 Player and two USB ports to charge your phone. One day of full sun provides 14 hours of run time with the lights on low, 4.5 hours on high!
Long lasting lithium ion rechargeable battery coupled with a hand crank in case you lose power, this Goal Zero Lighthouse Lantern is the only light you’ll need if you like to camp minimalist style. The USB port will even charge your phone! 24 hr run time when using brightest setting, 48hrs with the dimmest light setting. Teammember Valerie loves her Goal Zero Lantern. “I’ve brought this lantern on camping trips that last a month and haven’t needed to recharge it!”
Softly illuminate the interior of your tent without the glare and shadows of traditional tent lighting solutions. Power your Big Agnes mtnGLO lights with a USB source, or three AAA batteries. Perfect for playing cards, reading bedtime stories, and looking for pajamas.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
It IS possible to get a good night’s sleep while camping. In fact, some say that they sleep better in their tent than they do in their own bed at home! The musical backdrop of the leaves rustling in the trees, the nearby brook babbling and giggling. Wait. Giggling? Brooks don’t giggle – that must be the kids trying their best to stay up all night.
Well, hopefully they won’t be awake for long if their beds are comfy and they’ve played hard all day. Check out our blog post on 10 Ways to Help Kids Sleep While Camping!
The quickest way to a comfy bed is a high quality camping pad. Big Agnes Hinman is an amazingly comfortable self-inflating, cold weather foam core pad with a delightful 2.5″ of cush. Tales of a Mountain Mama teammember Valerie highly recommends this pad for family camping…”My kids and I have been using (and abusing) the doublewide Hinman for over 3 years now. I can vouch for it’s durability and comfort!“
Klymit offers a wide range of incredibly lightweight air-chamber sleeping pads. They have a 3/4 length Static “junior” sleeping pad that is a great size for kids! Klymit Static Pads are a great choice if you are doing the majority of your tent camping in warm weather, as this line of air pads offers very little insulation against the cold.
Lightweight and insulated, this award winning pad is super comfortable. Unlike other inflatable pads, the Air Core Ultra is insulated and rated to 32 degrees. Easy to inflate, and has the Big Agnes 100% guarantee!
Kid specific mummy bag that is rated to 15 degrees! The Little Red is toasty warm & has an integrated pad sleeve to prevent sliding off the sleeping pad at night! Trail ready if you want a bag that will be just as good in the front country as it is in the backcountry. Having a hard time choosing a bag for your little one? Check out our Sleeping Bag Round-Up!
If you need a roomy sleeping bag that doesn’t taper at the bottom, check out this super fluffy, warm dri-down option. The Kelty Galactic stays lofty and has an anti snag zipper for easy exits. Bonus – buy two and zip them together for a cozy double bag! If you’re considering a double bag, check out our review of the Kelty Doublewide for an extra warm way to spend the night.
Side Sleepers – this is the bag you’ve been waiting for. The NEMO Disco features a generous cut at the knees and elbows, so you can bend and twist all you’d like. Great bag for backpacking, or chilly nights in the campground. Bonus – has a pillow pocket that can be stuffed with a jacket, extra clothes, or a travel pillow!
Shelter for the Night
Your choice of tent can really make or break your camping experience. A leaky roof, or a tent that doesn’t hold up well to springtime wind gusts, can put a damper on your vacation. We’ve done research for you. These tents are tried and true.
In a post on Family Camping Made Easy, Tales of a Mountain Mama team member Stephanie says this is her families’ favorite tent. “This (REI Kingdom 6 Tent) has all the essential pockets, an option to have one large open space or two separate spaces, and a full rain cover. An added bonus is that it is simple to set up.”
3-Season tent with steep walls and a 68″ peak height, this is a great choice for a basecamp for your family. Add on the optional supersized vestibule for ample space to keep all your gear out of the elements. Check out the Big Agnes Tent Review from Tales of a Mountain Mama Amelia! And the Big Agnes Cooper Spur HV tent review from Tales of a Mountain Mama, Ginny!
A roomy, lightweight freestanding tent suitable for car camping or backpacking! Two vestibules and plenty of gear pockets and clips to keep things tidy in your tent. Packs down small, and sets up fast! Tales of a Mountain Mama team member Valerie says “my kids (7 & 9) love setting up our 3P Marmot tent. From start to finish, it’s under 10 minutes for them to set up alone, including the rain fly.”
Pull up a chair, a blanket, or sit on a log. Grab a dish, a mug or a foil packet full of grub and DIG-IN! For some, camping is all about mealtime. Cooking a five star feast over an open flame. Or mastering a berry cobbler in the Dutch Oven.
For others, meals are a means to an end….instant beans & rice and a salad. No right, no wrong. Here’s the gear to gift to the camp chef in your life! If you need a printable checklist to keep track of your camp kitchen supplies, check out this post! And check out this post for Five Easy Campfire Recipes!
The Camp Chef Rainier Stove comes highly recommended from Tales of a Mountain Mama teammember Emily. “We are really happy with Camp Chef’s Rainier stove. It is easy to pack and use and provides all the cooking power and options we need to keep our family fed and happy at camp…The Rainier delivers on that so we can focus less on our to-do list and more on enjoying our time together.”
Lightweight & dependable, the MSR WhisperLite is a great gift for the backpacker on your list. Teammember Valerie says “I’ve been using my WhisperLite for over 15 years. It’s very dependable, durable, and long-lasting!” Although primarily a backcountry stove, the Whisperlite is useful to have as a backup stove while car camping, or an extra stove to crank out hot water for coffee quickly.
Another lightweight, compact & super efficient camping stove. The Jetboil Flash is just 13oz! And, your water boils in under 2 minutes. Makes great trailside (instant) coffee too. Speaking of coffee, if you have a coffee lover on your list, be sure to check out this great post –
The workhorse of the campsite, this Coleman Triton Series Propane stove will effortlessly cook whatever you throw at it. Long lifespan, durable, dependable.
Cooking over an open fire
If you love sitting around the campfire, this is the gift you need on your list! The Pie Iron. Team member Rita says “We love using pie irons for quesadillas when we camp. We bring tortillas, canned Rotel, cream cheese, cubed chicken (could also use canned) and shredded cheese. They are the best, easy to cook food!”
If you’ve always wanted to try Dutch Oven cooking, now is the time. Pick up the Lodge Deep Camp Dutch Oven. Practice your technique all winter long, in your own backyard!
Here are some recipes to get you started. Team member Rita loves cooking in her Dutch Oven….“A dutch oven like this is great for doing all sorts of cooking–from warming up beans to cooking cornbread. It works like a miniature oven, and the great part is that you can use it over any type of fire–even without a grill”
Camp Cooking Recipe Books
With menu planning, full color photographs, step-by-step instruction, and tons of tips and tricks, this Great Outdoors Cookbook covers camp cooking from A-Z! A great gift for the camp chef in your life.
Check out this Cooking With Fire manual. The author is a food historian and an archaeologist! Recipes range from cheese on a stick, to naan bread and roasted rabbit. Beautiful photographs, mouthwatering recipes, and detailed instructions make this a gift that will inspire and bring joy for years!
Here is a book that is perfect for the camp chef that already has everything. Turn meal prep into a treasure hunt! Wild Edibles is written by an expert on foraging and wild foods. It teaches how to recognize wild edibles and how to prepare them! Full of simple – tasty recipes, folklore, and over 100 high quality photographs.
Serve It Up!
Perfect gift for a couple just starting out on their backcountry adventures. This GSI Cookset has everything from an integrated strainer, to fork-spoon hybrids and a stuff sack that doubles as a sink!
Enamel Tableware has been the camping dinnerware go-to for years. This enamel coated steel set is incredibly durable. Includes bowls, plates, and mugs! (tip – for little ones, use a mug as a substitute for a bowl, much easier to hang on to! and check out this great post for more family camping tips like this one.)
This GSI Outdoors stainless steel, insulated, doublewalll magic pot lets you make your coffee, and then keeps it hot! A must for camping. Have a coffee lover on your gift list? Check out this coffee-centric post.
Simple, classic design. Lightweight and portable. This is the espresso maker your coffee lover will love to unwrap this holiday season! Check out the GSI outdoors mini espresso set in this post by Teammember Jackie! Also available on Amazon.
Stainless steel camping mugs from REI. Gift packed, vacuum insulated mugs with BPA-free sipping lid!
The Ultimate Technologies Biner Mugs are the perfect size for hot cocoa or a ladle full of steaming apple cider on a fall hike. Set of 4 ultralight stainless steel mugs.
Essential Clothing for Camping
One of the beautiful things about camping is how few items of clothing you need! You get to bring a minimal wardrobe, and enjoy nature and the outdoors without thinking about laundry. However, there are a few items that really make the whole experience easier, and maybe even more fun.
We love these Sahara Convertible Pants from REI. All of my children have at least one pair. They are comfortable for biking, hiking, exploring, and doing all the adventures. They have pockets for stashing treasures, and an adjustable elastic waistband, which makes them easy to fit for a variety of sizes. My kids have even gone swimming in them–they drain well and dry quickly.
Clothing for When the Nights are Chilly
Flannel shirts are my favorite for cozy evenings around the campfire. Flannel is great because the plaids hide dirt (always a plus!) and cotton won’t melt like synthetics if sparks land on it. For adults, my husband loves his Woolrich flannel shirt. It is soft, sturdy, and nicely sewn. Sierra Trading Post sells several versions.
Good socks are super important for for those cooler evenings. We love the ones from Darn Tough, Smartwool, and REI Co-op. Socks make great stocking (haha!) stuffers for all ages!
Darn Tough is a Vermont based company, making beautiful wool socks with with a lifetime guarantee.
We own these kids socks from REI and have found them to wear exceptionally well.
Smartwool makes a huge variety of socks in a plethora of colors and sizes. I find they fit my slightly narrow foot really well.
Pajamas and Base Layers and Casual Tees
Long underwear for sleeping is great. Unless it is a humid summer night, my kids always sleep better if they don’t wake up cold in the middle of the night. Here are some comfy options.
My son loves this long underwear line from REI Co-op. It is soft, and he would wear it every day if I let him!
I have also heard great things about the Capilene long underwear from Patagonia.
Named after the adventurer Tom Sawyer, Sawyer brand kids clothing is made for inspiring adventure & exploration. They believe in offering great products, at a fair price. They have adorable designs for kids up to age 12. Check out their great line of products!
When the Days are Hot and the Sun is Strong
Bandanas are also a great thing to have when it’s hot, or really, any time when camping. They can be used, well, as a bandana, but they can also be a hairband, hat, towel, bandage….the list goes on.
They make a great stocking stuffer, and there are tons of fun options available. Here are just a few ideas.
I particularly love the color and design of this bandana from United by Blue.
There is, of course, the Classic bandana style.
Want something a little more unique? This is the prettiest bandana I have ever seen!
Sunday Afternoons Hats
Sunday Afternoons Hats are well made, UV protective, adjustable for best fit, and well liked by almost everyone that tries one on! They make hats in many different styles from ball caps to the shade goddess hat!
And many sizes so you can find the best match for everyone on your list from newborn babes all the way up to Grandmas! Check out some more for our favorite sun hats here.
The Impulse Cap is just one of the 20+ hats that Sunday Afternoons makes.
Footwear that helps the Tent stay cleaner
Having shoes that are easy to get on and off really helps the tent stay cleaner. We have always loved the sandals from Keen for the kids–and all the kids can take them on and off themselves.
We particularly recommend the Keen CNX line–the soles are a bit more flexible than their regular sandals. They’re great for playing in the water, biking, hiking, and just hanging out in the campsite.
Crocs for Camp
For adults, my husband has decided that he probably just needs a pair of Crocs or slip on sandals for campsite use. We all know they are not the most stylish footwear, but they are great for having next to the tent for puttering around the site and midnight bathroom trips!
And Crocs are great for the kids too (these are even easier to put on than the Keens!)
Want even more gift-giving inspiration? We have book recommendations for all ages, a gift-guide for your four-legged friends, a post full of great biking gifts, and an inspiring outdoor play gift guide!
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