Best toys for camping
You figured out your camping gear, used our camping meal plan to plan your food and feel generally really ready to tackle your camping trip. Except you just realized you have no idea what the kids are going to DO the whole time.
Rest assured that many a camping kid has been fully entertained by rocks and sticks, but I understand the need to have some tricks up your sleeve. This post is full of our favorite toys for camping. Don’t feel like you need them all at once – they also make great gifts!
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Camping with Toddlers…and how to keep them busy with toys
While I personally think some choice toys for kids of all ages are great, toddlers can be a particularly challenging bunch. Often in an effort to keep them safe (i.e. not falling into a campfire), camping toys for toddlers can be particularly helpful.
As I mentioned above, I do NOT believe in hauling a ton of extra items to the campsite, so know this list is only our very favorites. And you don’t need all of it!
Shovels and buckets pair perfectly with sand, dirt and rocks making them the perfect must-have camping toy for truly all ages. In an effort to have my kids aged 3-12 fighting over them, I make sure there’s enough for each kid.
If you’re camping in a paved campground, sidewalk chalk is a great way to keep kids busy making pictures or building their own sidewalk chalk obstacle courses.
If you’re camping near water, using fish nets or just strainers attached to sticks is a fun way to let kids explore shallow water. As always, we recommend having kids wear life vests anytime they are near water.
Really bubbles are for ALL ages and they are so fun for camping. I stock up on Bubble wand sticks and refill them as needed.
There’s no better way to encourage a love of camping than provide opportunities to play pretend camping. The camping figures below are perfect for toddler ages.
Camping toys to keep kids active
Want your kids to sleep well camping? The best tip is to do everything in your power to wear them out. These camping toys in particular are great for doing just that, and they’re fun too!
If you will be camping in a place with trees, a slackline is a super fun toy to set up and challenge kids and adults alike. Use a training line for the youngest kids if needed.
A ninjaline is so fun…and so hard. If you have really active and persistent older kids, this is a huge hit.
Let’s be real honest – there are not a TON of kids out there that can successfully do a ninjaline, cool as they are. We have one hanging in our yard and have had dozens of active and fit kids try and not get very far. It’s a fantastic goal….but definitely one for older kids. As an alternative, a swingline is just as portable and works for all ages. We don’t own a swingset, but the Swingline is a huge hit. Use code “mtnmama” for 10% off.
I personally love soft frisbees for the sake of saving a head or two from being banged up with a crazy throw. Pocket Discs are our all-time bring-them-anywhere frisbees.
We almost always bring at least the kid bikes camping. Not only do they make a great transportation option to getting to fun places around the campground, they keep kids busy too. Our kids are known to set up ramps and jumps, making biking obstacle courses or just race.
Check out our sister-site, Kids Ride Bikes, for bike reviews and tips and tricks to get your family started biking.
Jump ropes help get some great energy out quick and are easy to pack, so perfect for camping. My kids inevitably also use them for activities other than jumping, so we like one like this.
Camping toys to encourage exploration
Let me just say that these walkie talkies are just for kids and are super fun to play with. That said, if I actually want functional walkie talkies that we can use as a safety device for around the campsite, we go with Rocky Talkies, hands-down. You’re paying for a long range, ease of use, super long battery life and private channels. Use code “mtnmama” for 10% off Rocky Talkies.
Giving kids binoculars is a fantastic way to just get them to open their eyes to the world around them a bit more. These ones are durable, really work and are affordable.
My kids catch far more than just bugs in these nets, but they have a great time doing it. These ones are cheap but hold up well for the price.
After you catch the bugs, it’s so fun to actually check them out too. This kit is perfect for camping.
Quiet camping toys to help kids relax
After full days playing hard and maybe not sleeping the best (but we can help with that part!), taking some quiet time is a good idea too. While sometimes we cave if we have our RV (do you know how hard it is to find a camper withOUT a TV in it?!?), usually camping is definitely for screen-free time.
We seldom camp without hanging up a hammock or two. They are super easy to pack, provide hours of entertainment or a place to nap, and the good ones last a really long time.
If you have small kids, a kid-specific hammock is fun because they are smaller and kids don’t get swallowed up in it quite so easily. We recommend this portable hammock for kids.
Otherwise, the ENO Doublenest is a great hammock that comes in a variety of fun colors too. Tip – you’ll want more than one hammock.
If you’re car camping and have the room, but know there will be no trees where you’re camping, this 3-hammock stand is fabulous.
Quite honestly I really am not a fan of play dough in general, and always prefer to make our own sensory dough. However, if you’re looking for something a little different than won’t dry out or expire, Mad Matter is a great alternative. We love the way it feels, how to forms, and how it doesn’t dry out (so you can just keep it in your camping gear!)
This is totally a plug for my own book, but it’s a great way to get kids learning at the campsite too. Best for kids aged 5-9. Learn more about it here.
Paint by sticker books
I love these for no-mess fun that helps with fine motor skills. There’s a great bug if you want to keep with a nature theme, but tons of other themes also available.
- Paint by Sticker Bugs
- Paint by Sticker Birds
- Nature Sticker Book (not paint by sticker, but still cool!)
Fun camping lights for kids
I’m pretty sure one of the reasons my kids love camping so much is that we will let them stay up late enough for it to get dark (at least sometimes!) Having great lights while camping is not only fun, but a good safety measure too to keep track of kids after dark.
We suggest picking up a few of these and keeping them with your camping gear for camping-trips only. Just be sure to pack extra batteries!
Headlamps for kids
I am a total headlamp nerd and think it’s crucial for each family member to have at least one (but usually more like 2-3) stashed in camping gear and around the house. The following list are our favorites. I also suggest paying a few more dollars for a name-brand light that will actually work long-term and provide the light kids need.
Lanterns for kids
- MPowerd Luci Lights – not just for kids, these are our favorite solar-powered and affordable lanterns
- Coleman Kids Adventure Lanterns
We like to buy Glo sticks in bulk and keep them with our camping gear. They’re cheap, simple to use and can attach to your body, bikes, tents, etc.
- Glo Sticks
Kids Camping Toys
To be honest I have a huge weakness for finding toys for my kids that encourage an outdoor life and, in this case, camping. I’m also a purger (just ask my kids and husband), so these are the toys that have actually managed to stick around since I think they’re great!
I love that this simple, but is Haba quality!
PlayMobil Camping Sets
PlayMobil does such a great job with outdoor-themed play sets. They have quite a few camping sets (and um, we may have most of them….)
Calico Critters Camping Sets
American Girl Doll camping
These doll sets fit any 18″ dolls and are perfect for young girls and boys playing pretend.
- American Girl S’More Camping Set
- Kira Doll Full Camping Set
- Sophia’s Camping Products (fits American Girl Dolls and Maplelea Dolls)
Pretend campfire toys
There are a ton of different pretend campfire toys out there, but these are a few we really like. They vary widely in price and quality so a little something for everyone!
More pretend camping sets
Melissa and Doug have a fabulous line of outdoor-themed sets for kids. The “Let’s Explore” products are currently only available at Target.
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