There is nothing quite like sleeping under the stars, waking up smelling the fresh morning air and listening to the sound of nature coming to life as the sun rises to greet another day. We love connecting with nature and can’t get enough of camping as a family. We are often asked about our camping set-up and what we use for our outdoor adventures so we have created this go-to guide to help inspire and prepare you for your family camping adventures.
Table of contents
- The Essentials – tents, bedding…
- Power and Appliances – car fridge, battery box, solar..
- Packing – storage tubs, table, chairs, camp mat…
- Cooking – stove, hotplate, kettle…
- Extras – solar shower, first aid, shovel…
- Fishing – rods, tackle box…
Tent: We love the Oztent. It’s a quality item that will stay with you and your family for years to come. This award winning tent can sleep up to 5 people, is 100% waterproof and most famously sets up within 30 seconds. Yes, thats right 30 seconds!!! See it in action on the video here.
We also use the side panels, front panel and mesh floor saver which makes a whole extra room! If this set-up is a bit out of your budget, you could go for something like this Kathmandu Dome Tent which we think is an amazing tent and perfect for families just starting out. We especially love the 2 rooms as you can keep all your bedding and clothes zipped up together in one area clean and bug free and keep everything else in the other ‘living room’.
Camp Beds: Even though you are camping you still want a bit of luxury right? We use these amazing blow up camp beds that are about knee high off the ground and are really comfortable. They also plug into power to self inflate and deflate, so gone are the days where you had to use one of those slow and tedious foot air pumps. If you are not near power and need something a little less bulky we recommend a thermorest/sleeping pad. These are simple, lightweight and roll up small and are great for car camping and hiking, the thicker models are pretty comfy.
When our little ones are older we love the look of these boy and girl stretcher beds too! At the moment we just use one of these fold up foam lounges that doubles as a chair for our 4 year old Marli and a porta-cot for Ziggy our 1.5 year old.
Sleeping Bags: Half the fun of camping is snuggling up into your sleeping bag at night right? We love these double sleeping bags that can sleep 2 adults (as well as unzip into single bags), for the kids you can get singles in different colours like Blue, Purple, Orange and Pink so you know whose is whose. We think it’s better to invest in a good quality sleeping bag that will last over the years, as opposed to a novelty themed/character sleeping bag. Please note the colour links above show different sleeping bags that have different comfort ratings* (ranging from +10°c to 0°c).
*What is a comfort rating? When purchasing a sleeping bag note the temperature comfort rating on the bag which is the lowest temperature the bag should keep you warm. For example, a sleeping bag with a 0°c rating should keep you warm as long as the temperature is above 0°.
For a bit of fun, you could take camping one step further and impress your fellow campers with your very own Sleeping Bag Suit!!!
Power & Appliances
Portable power – We have a serious set up in our 4wd adventure truck to provide 12V power for all our needs, this includes a Redarc BCDC-1225 dual battery charger hooked up to an Ultimate AGM deep cycle battery 110AH. We also have a 120KW portable solar panel kit for keeping the battery topped up when stationary for 2 or more days. If you’re after something more cost effective and easily removed when not needed we would recommend a battery box with an AGM deep cycle battery. The beauty of this is you can place it in your vehicle and plug it into the 12V socket whenever you need to. It has 12V cigarette lighter outlets for your fridge, lights etc and also USB outlets for charging phones, cameras, iPads etc, it also charges the 2nd battery as you drive. AGM batteries are recommended for use inside vehicles as they are totally sealed units meaning no chance of spilled battery acid in your car!
Portable Fridge – We do a lot of road tripping and couldn’t imagine life without our 12V portable Car Fridge (a 40L Engel MT45F-S Fridge/Freezer). When needed, we simply pull over on the beach or at a road stop, set up some shade and enjoy something fresh to eat along with a cool drink. There’s nothing worse than having soggy food from an esky full of melting ice!! Having the freedom to stop when needed is something that works well for us, it also means we don’t rely on petrol stations or takeaway food outlets which are often crowded, not as picturesque as places we can find along the way and not to mention the unhealthy food options.
Lighting – Good camp lighting makes life so much easier after the sun goes down, along with some handy torches we like to use LED strip lighting because they are super bright but also dimmable and they use very little power. If you want to impress the kids there are even a few styles on the market that can change colours and have a remote control!!
Head Torch – Whenever we are out and about on an adventure and the sun goes down you will ALWAYS find Rob with his head torch on! He loves it and won’t travel without it!! We find having one each is very handy and the kids love having their own child size one too!
Solar Panels – If you are planning to stay in one spot for a few days, or doing very little driving you can also hook up some portable solar panels to keep your battery topped up and your fridge cold, a 120KW panel system as a minimum is suggested.
Portable Kitchen – Having a good cooking and washing up station at waist height is a little bit of camping luxury if you ask us and it makes life so much easier! This Portable Camp Kitchen is a great addition to add to your camping set-up as it has a removable wind break for when you are cooking as well as a fold out rubbish bin.
Esky/Chest Cooler – If you are not quite ready to invest in a portable fridge you can go with an Esky to store your food in. They come in many sizes and styles but we prefer the ones with wheels as a fully loaded esky can become very heavy!!!
Plastic tubs – We find plastic storage tubs are a great camping must have. On a long trip we dedicate one plastic tub per person for all our clothes etc. They pack together well, keep out the dust and creepy crawlies and double as a bath tub for the kids! They are also handy to have at home once your adventure is finished.
Camp Table – We love our Aluminium Roll up Camping Table. It has joined us on so many memorable adventures and has held up over the years. This is a collapsable table, super light and rolls up into a carry bag making it easy to pack.
Camp Chairs – There are so many camp chairs on the market. It all comes down to personal preference depending on your budget and comfort requirements as well as travel/space restrictions. We recommend the kids have their own mini camp chairs too! If they are anything like ours they will love them!! We like to have different chairs so there is no fighting over whose is whose – like these cute animal styles that come in a Monkey, Elephant, Tiger and Shark.
Floor Mat – We have had our camping mat for years. It’s a camping ‘must have’ especially if you have kids! It has been designed specifically to keep dirt, mud and sand from being walked into your tent or caravan and the mesh floor matting does not kill grass and is preferred by all Caravan Parks.
Gas Stove – A Gas Stove is a great resource for cooking your camp meals. You can also use a portable BBQ like a Baby Weber Q – both of these run off an LPG gas bottle. We have also traveled with a methylated spirits stove which also worked really well.
Cast Iron Cook Plate – Instead of a BBQ we travel with our Gas Stove and one of these Iron Cook Plates that we place on top of the Gas flames. This set-up allows us to have the best of both words. We simply wrap it up in a old towel and pack it flat with our Gas Stove.
Camp Kettle – There is nothing like a warm cuppa sitting by an open fire! A Camp Kettle is must for our family.
Toaster – A collapsible stainless steel camp Toaster is so handy as it packs down flat.
Water Jerry Can – We always travel with a supply of water. We have a 10 Litre Jerry Can that we make sure is always full but if we are heading out on a big adventure we travel with more. Please Note – when travelling and filling up your Jerry Cans always discard your remaining supply of water before refilling as mixing water from different sources is not reccomended.
Cutlery & Cooking – It is easy to pull together some bits and bobs from your kitchen supplies to take away with you but we like to keep our camping equipment seperate so we have a dedicated box like this with everything we need so we simply pack it into the car and off we go. It saves us having to unpack it all once we arrive home after our adventures too! We also have some plates and cutlery sets that fit into our box.
A few extras…
Solar Shower – Lets face it, camping is all about getting dirty and back to nature but if you do need to freshen up these handy Solar Showers are a great invention. This one even comes with a fancy temperature gauge and pocket for toiletries. We often use our Solar Shower to warm up some water and then bath the kids in a plastic tub.
Quick dry towel – Lightweight and quick to dry these Microfibre Towels are so handy for camping adventures as they take up minimal space. We also buy them in a tea-towel size for drying up our dishes.
Portable Toilet – There are loads of travel toilet options available from simply digging a hole to a full on deluxe porta potty! We have used various set-ups depending on our adventures but as glamorous as it is we always pack a roll of toilet paper and a foldable shovel!
First Aid Kit – We always travel with a First Aid Kit and always take a snake bandage when we go on bush walks! It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially with little ones.
Basic Tool Kit – We recommend a Basic Tool Kit for any unexpected repairs that may come up during your adventures.
Dust Pan and Brush Set – We like to pack a Dust Pan and Brush as these are always handy to clean out your tent.. and even any unwanted sand in your sleeping bag.
Insect Spray – With the great outdoors comes the not so great mozzies and bugs! We like to use natural products on our little ones and love this Herbal Insect Repellent or when things get serious we go to the trusty old Bushmans spray.
Pop Up Bucket – A collapsable bucket is a bit of a must have with so many uses from collecting fire wood, storing items, take it fishing, washing up, keeping rubbish and much more.
Hammock – Nothing beats kicking back in your Hammock enjoying nature with a cool bevy in hand!!
We are both very keen anglers and have grown up fishing with our Dads so it’s only natural that our mini blondies are becoming keen anglers too! Without going into too much detail here is a rundown of what we use.
Fishing Rod – We are big fans of the Shimano T curve fishing rod matched with a Shimano Stradic Ci4 2500 reel for us ‘big kids’ rigged up with 8lb Power pro braided fishing line. Or a rod and reel combo like this for the more budget conscious.
For the little kids we recommend these awesome Ugly Stick rod and reel combos. Marli our 4 year old has caught some good sized fish with this trusty little set up. They come in a range of colours so I think it won’t be long before Ziggy will be wanting his own rod – maybe in blue.
Tackle Box – There are so many fishing Tackle Box options on the market but it all comes down to personal preference, where you are fishing and what you are fishing for. As we usually have our mini blondes with us for our adventures we like to have a few small sorting boxes packed into a back pack tackle bag.
Canoe/Kayak – We always take a canoe or kayak on our adventures, fantastic for just playing around in the shallows, exploring little creeks with the kids or getting to those secluded fishing spots to catch dinner!!
Yabbie Pump – Pumping for Yabbies with our Yabbie Pump and exploring for beach critters is one of our favourite things to do! Yabbies make great bait for fishing, but most of the time we use the pump to find a few, show the kids and then we let them go.
A few other things to remember before you head out into the wilderness is to check the weather forecast, check your equipment especially if it has been in storage and always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Enjoy your camping adventures and remember to embrace the beauty of slow travel – it’s all about the journey as well as the destination.
If you are planning a road trip – read our Travelling With Kids blog post for more travelling hints and tips including some healthy travel food ideas.
What are your camping ‘must haves’? Please share with us in the comments below!