A short weekend or a long week still involves a lot of gear. Ken and I have three kids who are 5, 3, and 2 years old. For the most part, they are entertained by sticks, rocks, dirt, and bugs. We wish it were that simple! Our kids tend to need a few spare changes of clothes and a few toys to be content.
Our tailer has a queen bed, full size bed, and a twin. We like to put egg crate foam pads on top for a little extra warmth and padding. We put sleeping bags on the bottom and love to use our NEMO Puffin blanket. We use regular pillows and sheets for easy laundering.
Our 2 year old does not sleep well next to us. He prefers his own space so we are able to put a pack and play in the middle of the trailer and he does just fine.
The tipping point to get a trailer for me was to have easy access to a bathroom while in the backcountry. We also have a standing shower but since it can use all of our water and fill our gray water tank, we like using NEMO's Helio Shower. It's the perfect size to rinse off little hands and feet after a full day of play.
The trailer also has tons of storage letting us easily pack and store towels, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, chapstick, etc.
We always set up nylon rope to hang up wet towels and clothing
We always have tons of bug spray and sun screen
I find camping to be a bit chilly once the sun goes down. The trailer usually stores a few spare sweatshirts, flannels, and sweat pants. I like to keep these in the trailer all season for quick access and fast packing.
My typical packing MO is to bring one outfit per person for each day camping. For PJs, we usually wear the same pair for most of the time we are camping.
The trailer holds a few spare clothing items for all of us for just in case situations.
Diapers, swim diapers, and wipes, grocery bags or ziplock. Self explanatory.
Shoes and boots. I've learned to pack spare shoes for all and leave some kid's rainboots in the trailer. Our kids would live in rainboots 24/7 so they usually do. I like that they can be rinsed off quickly after a fun weekend. For Ken and I, packing spare shoes lets our feet be comfortable when one pair gets wet and doesn't dry out in time.
I like to use 2 coolers when camping - one for drinks and the other for main meals.
I try to make meals SIMPLE and quick. With 3 kids, we don't have a ton of time to dedicate to prep and cooking. I try to do fun things for them like hot dogs on a stick or fish/burgers in a grill basket. I'll pre-make a pasta salad or par-boil some potatoes for a faster dinner.
The trailer stores a cast iron skillet, spaghetti pot, and dutch oven. I also have cooking oil, oven mitts, and a few spices.
Before we head out of town, we make a quick grocery store trip for foods like yogurt, milk, string cheese, grapes/cherries, eggs, and beverages. I always pack oatmeal, bread, peanut butter, jelly, butter, jar of mixed nuts, marshmallows and a few snacks the kids pick out (these are usually reward items for longer hikes or evening time around the fire).
Our kids do not get a lot of juice but camping is a great time to bust out gatorade. They are playing hard and refusing to drink much of anything. It's also an easy reward when taking a short hike.
Coffee is a necessity for me when camping. We upgraded our coffee situation last year from a percolator to a french press and we pre-grind Starbucks bold beans for optimum camp coffee. It's pretty nice and makes wrestling kids with oatmeal a little easier.
We purchased Cabela's rocking camp chairs a few years ago and it's been really, really deluxe and nice. There's nothing better than rocking a little one on your lap, a blanket on top, and a warm camp fire. This might be the only reason I camp.
Ken's fishing gear which includes a few kid-sized poles
Ladder ball - it's a great way to hang out in the evening and always guaranteed to get to know your camp neighbors a bit better
Cooler bag and day pack - I never know if we'll do a beach day or a trail so we bring a few items and go with the flow. I like my Deuter ACT Trail 22 which is big enough for a few changes of clothes, sunscreen or bug spray, and a water bottles. I also love my Trader Joe's insulated bag which is easy for a few hours at the beach.
Annalisa's bike and the kids bring a set of wheels. Some campgrounds have paved roads and we're able to mosey while the little ones ride. There's usually no cars and wide open for our little ones who can't steer so well.
We also bring our kid carriers: We have a Deuter Kid Comfort Air and an Ergo. Hiking is really important to us. We try to let them walk as much as possible but inevitably, someone needs a break (include our 5 year old). We do incentive them as much as possible and try to be entertaining but the kid carriers make all the difference for us. (PS - check out our recommendations on how to make hiking with kids a bit smoother: https://www.lonecone.com/5-tips-happy-hiking-young-kids/)
Lighting: we have a big camping lantern we try to use instead of the trailer lights to save battery. The kids LOVE having headlamps and MPOWERD's solar lanterns.
Board game and cards. We have had lots of trips where these never get played, however, a downpour at Glacier National Park last year had us inside for a few hours and it was complete joy to have pounding rain while playing "go fish".
Safety: we store matches, lighters, newspaper, a CO2/Fire detector.