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The upcoming fall season is a fantastic time to camp thanks to the changing temps and gorgeous foliage. Take advantage by going camping with the family — you’ll create memories together and maybe even make it a yearly tradition. To ensure you’re prepared before you leave, we’ve put together a gear list that’ll make for a trip the kids (and you) will remember for a long time.
- Tent. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it should be sturdy and large enough to fit the number of people in your family. Other factors to consider are peak height, tent floor length and tent doors. If you want the option of standing up to change clothes, look for a tent with tall peak height, and if you’re over six feet tall, you’ll probably want a tent with a 90-inch floor length (rather than the standard 84-88 inches). Having more than one tent door can also be helpful for easier in and out.
- Sleeping bags. It’s important to choose a sleeping bag based on the expected overnight temperature. A bag’s temperature rating tells you the lowest temperature at which the bag is able to keep the average person warm, so to be safe, bring sleeping bags with a temperature rating that’s lower than the lowest temp you expect. For example, if it’s going to be around 32 degrees overnight, choose a 20-degree bag over a 35-degree bag. You’ll be glad for it.
- Stove and utensils. For food you’re not planning to cook over an open fire, bring a camp stove and tableware appropriate for the food you’ll be making. A propane stove with a couple burners can hold pots and pans, and some models feature a matchless ignition. Find what works for you and then have fun with it, keeping safety at the forefront.
- Cooler. For perishable items like fish, meat, cheese and cold drinks, invest in a good cooler to store your items. You can choose a basic cooler with a hard exterior, as it will provide good insulation. A soft-side cooler has slightly less insulation but can also work well.
- Waterproof matches. To waterproof your matches, dip each head in melted paraffin wax and store them in a dry container. These will be valuable when you want to get warm or cook food over firewood.
- Bug spray. Parents never want their kids to get bit up by insects, so take plenty of bug spray so they’re protected — and don’t forget to put some on yourself, too. Apply it several times to avoid all the itching, redness and swelling that comes with bites.
- First aid kit. Something basic will do, and some helpful items for it to include are bandages, sterile gauze, medical tape, antiseptic cream, sunburn cream, ibuprofen, tweezers and hydrogen peroxide.
- Map. If you’re planning to hike, fish or travel elsewhere around the area, make sure you have a reference guide so you’re able to navigate and find your camping spot again. A GPS device is also a good idea.
- Whistle. Keep a whistle within easy reach in case you get hurt or lost, giving one to each family member so everyone has their own. Kids will be excited about having it, and it will give you some peace of mind.
- Knife. A pocket knife doesn’t take up much space, folds easily and works for several purposes, but it can lack stability and possibly fold down on your fingers in use. A locking blade knife is more stable because it locks in place during use while still having the convenience of folding down for carrying. A fixed-blade knife offers more strength, weight and comfort, but it does require a sheath to carry safely. With kids, a pocket knife or locking blade knife are the safest choices.
- Flashlight and hanging lantern. After the sun sets, you’ll want some light apart from a campfire. Small flashlights are ideal if you’re going to be moving around, and a hanging lantern is a great addition to your campsite. Nearly all electric lanterns now use LED lamps, which offer long battery life, are safe around kids and are quiet. Fuel-burning lanterns can run on liquid fuel, propane or butane but are generally noisy and bulky, and they also generate heat. Candle lanterns provide soft light but can be dangerous near flammable materials. An electric lantern is your best bet around kids, and if you want to extend the life of alkaline batteries in the cold, keep them in your clothing or inside a sleeping bag.
- Toiletries and extra clothing. You can still practice good hygiene in the outdoors, and in the case of rain or unexpected weather conditions, it’s always good to pack extra clothes like hats, socks, long-sleeved shirts and jackets. Dressing in layers is a smart way to handle any changes in temperature.
- Cards and board games. Games will help pass the time while also providing quality time as a family. Bring your favorites!
- Camera. With all the fun you’ll have on your family adventure, you’ll surely want to capture it. Scenic views, food over the fire, hiking trails and more — photographing the memories will help you remember the trip in years to come.
Where will you take your family camping this fall?