Be Prepared with 12 Tent Camping Essentials for Amazing Adventures

Preparing tent camping essentials for your adventure with nature will ensure a successful family camping trip. A two-night tent camping trip brings families together as you select the campsite, pitch the tent and build a campfire. The fun you will experience and the memories you will make in a short tent camping trip are countless. Just imagine the crazy, fun adventures you will enjoy once you are experienced tent campers and take weeklong camping trips. The trick to a successful camping trip is making sure you have the right tent camping essentials.

Be Prepared With 12 Tent Camping Essentials For Amazing Adventures

For those who want to rough it, you can be quite minimalistic when tent camping. Toss a tent, a couple of blankets, and a change of clothes in the car and hit the road. However, remember just because you can do something does not mean you should do something. When tent camping with children, it’s all about fun and adventure. You need a few comforts of home so that when a Daddy Longlegs spider is in the bathroom you can focus on teaching your little one about loving and respecting nature, as well as being brave, rather than feeling stressed or tired because you did not have your tent camping essentials. 

Just the Basics: Tent Camping Essentials

Be Prepared With 12 Tent Camping Essentials For Amazing Adventures

The Tent

Clearly, the No. 1 item on the tent camping essentials list is the tent. The tent is the most basic requirement needed for a fun family adventure of this nature. You can get giant tents with two or three rooms or you can get small dome tents. Most tents today are pretty easy to set up. Many tents have the poles attached so you do not have to fumble for the right poles, you just bend a pole joint here or there and the tent pops up quite easily.

A Few Tent Tips

Our family prefers a tent that allows you to stand all the way up inside, so we make sure the tent stands at least 6 feet tall. It’s so much easier to get comfortable, spread sleeping bags and get dressed if you can stand up in the tent, rather than only be able to crawl or crouch. In addition, we like a bit of extra room in the tent so the kids can play a bit. When you have a tent that sleeps more people than you bring, you will not have to cuddle with your backpack filled with clothing. So, as a family of four, we prefer a tent made for six or eight.

Always practice setting up your tent (new, old, or borrowed) during the daylight at home before going to camp. It’s easier to work out the kinks and take the time to read the directions when family members are not tired and hungry after traveling to camp. If it is a tent that has been sitting in storage or a borrowed tent, this is a great refresher and a way to make sure the tent is still viable.  

Read More: Do’s and Don’ts When Camping with a Toddler

Sleeping Bag / Bedroll

It’s about preference. You can grab a twin size sheet and a twin size blanket, and fold/roll it together for a bedroll. It can be tied together with a paracord or cinched with a small belt. But, if camping frequently, it’s fun to have separate gear. Everyone can get a sleeping bag in their favorite colors that are rated for the weather in the area where they like to camp.

The perfect tent camping essentials are those that let you sleep the best. If you sleep hot, bring a light blanket or light sleeping bag, if you sleep cold bring a heavy blanket or extra warm sleeping bag. For added comfort, you can even get an inflatable cushion or air mattress so you are not sleeping directly on the ground. It’s a matter of how much you want to haul and set up to camp, and what you consider to be tent camping essentials.


Everyone should have their own individual flashlight or individual small lanterns. Even your preschoolers should have their own small flashlight. Individual flashlights provide a sense of security at nighttime. A large battery-powered lantern is great to bring so you can light up the picnic area at camp or inside the tent when preparing to sleep. Quality flashlights are important tent camping essentials when making the nighttime walk to the bathroom, too.


Depending on your need for coffee. This may be the absolute most important tent camping essential. You can bring instant coffee or you can bring your favorite coffee of choice. You can bring a pour-over coffee maker or an old-fashioned percolator. Water can be heated on a camp stove or over the campfire. You can even bring a Keurig coffee maker if your campsite or vehicle has an electrical outlet (Yes, we may have brought ours before we got the BruTek Base Camp French Press.) Plan ahead. Sipping hot coffee on a quiet cool morning as the sun begins to rise can be ethereal.

Bug Spray / Sunscreen

A camper’s perfume is the sweet and spicy scent of bug spray and sunscreen mixed together. As much as you want to enjoy nature, be sure to add your bug spray and sunscreen of choice to protect yourself from the biting insects and the UV rays of the sun.


A quality cooler will keep your ice frozen and your food cold for your tent camping adventure. You can keep your menu simple with cold cuts, hotdogs, and fresh fruit. And, once you are more experienced, you can cook full gourmet meals when tent camping so starting with a cooler that keeps ice frozen for at least three days will be a good investment.

Be Prepared With 12 Tent Camping Essentials For Amazing Adventures


Family tent camping is a great time to put the electronics away and focus on each other. Of course, you will enjoy a variety of outdoor activities when tent camping like hiking and fishing, but often there is downtime. Tent camping essentials should include toys and games like Uno, playing cards, and maybe even a board game or two. Be sure to bring active outdoor games like Frisbee, a football, a soccer ball, and maybe even bikes if you have a bike rack. Tent camping is a great way to get back to the basics and focus on simple fun while enjoying time together.

Read More: Camping Games for Kids to Enjoy on Your Next Campout

A handful of art supplies like colored pencils and crayons, along with journals and sketchpads are also great tent camping essentials. You and your family can journal and draw together. It’s a great way to start a memory book or a travel log.

Stuffed Animal 

Don’t laugh. Stuffed animals are tent camping essentials when camping with children. Let each child who wants to bring one of their favorite stuffed animals from home on the tent camping adventure. It is important children have the comforts of home while sleeping in a tent listening to the crickets, birds, and the wind at night. Make sure the stuffed friend who comes along is machine washable because it just might end up playing in the dirt with your little one on the tent camping trip.

Tent Camping Essentials Provide Comfort

Be Prepared With 12 Tent Camping Essentials For Amazing Adventures

Once you decide that tent camping is for you, that’s when you start adding more specialized gear that adds comfort for your family. Camp chairs or foldable chairs let you enjoy the nightly campfire in comfort. Most campsites have a picnic table but sitting in comfy chairs a bit closer to the fire is way more enjoyable than sitting at the picnic table campfire adjacent.

Marshmallow roasting sticks are needed to enjoy everyone’s favorite camping dessert. Be sure to get the ones that are extra long so your little ones do not get too close to the fire. Don’t forget the graham crackers and chocolate so you can toast your marshmallows perfectly for your s’mores.

Read More: 9 Family Camping Tips You Should Always Follow

A camp stove lets you easily cook with propane at camp. You can heat canned soup, make bacon and eggs or whip up a homemade recipe. Be sure to bring pots, pans, utensils, and a bin for washing dishes, too. See, now we are in the more advanced level of tent camping, but for many experienced campers, a camp stove and all the accessories are part of the nonnegotiable tent camping essentials needed for a good time. There’s just something about cooking bacon and flipping pancakes in the great outdoors as the birds sing good morning.

And, a can opener. A can opener is one of the simplest tent camping essentials, but it is often forgotten if you do not have separate camping gear packed and ready for adventures.

Be Prepared With 12 Tent Camping Essentials For Amazing Adventures

To enjoy family tent camping it is important to be prepared with tent camping essentials. But remember, the beauty of tent camping is getting back to simple fun, the basics, and enjoying nature. It is, perhaps, even more, important to go with the flow if you forget something. Be an example to your children. Show them how to “rough it.” Laugh. Smile and enjoy the journey.

And, if you did not already know it, campers are some of the nicest people around. We’ve borrowed can openers, matches, a pan, and a spatula throughout the years. It’s so easy to make fast friends with your campsite neighbors. Be sure to bring extra s’mores fixings, because it’s a great way to invite neighboring campers over to hang out and enjoy the evening together.

Photo Credits: Unsplash, Pixabay and Pexels.

Check out Daily Mom’s article, “Embrace the 7 Simple Principles of Leave No Trace” to learn ways to respect and enjoy nature while tent camping.

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Be Prepared With 12 Tent Camping Essentials For Amazing Adventures



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Carla J. Eskew
Carla J. Eskew
Carla J. Eskew is a freelance writer, wife, and mom of two children who are nine years apart. She is a Scout leader with 17 years of experience in Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. She serves as a volunteer at school, church, and with the homeless population. She loves road trips, sightseeing, camping, Pilates, and her black standard poodle, Midnight Shadow.

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