If you have kids, you're likely no stranger to the magic of backyard camping. Setting up a tent in the backyard, reading bedtime stories by flashlight, turning your firepit into a marshmallow-roasting station, and falling asleep cozy in a sleeping bag are sure to wow any kid—and it doesn't hurt that backyard camping is also oh-so-close to the comforts of home.
Once your kiddo has graduated from backyard camping to the big leagues—a camping trip out in "real" nature—the steps you'll need to take to prepare will be more involved. And just like for any outdoorsy adventure, what you pack for a boys' camping trip is the first step in getting ready and essential for ensuring he has a great time.
Whether he's gearing up for a father-son camping trip, he's been invited to a friend's family's weekend in the woods, or he's heading out on his first ever camping trip with a group of classmates, the items below are must-haves for his adventure.
Before we dive into the list, we wanted to kick things off with a few useful tips for kids' camping trips. First, if you read through the paragraph above and thought to yourself, "oh, backyard camping, that sounds like a fun idea!" then now's the time to do it up! Especially for younger kiddos who haven't gone camping before, the backyard camping experience can be an important trial run. This is a great way for kids to get a sense of what it feels like to spend a night out in nature before really heading out into nature, which can make for a much easier first night on their first real camping trip.
Second, if your kiddo is going on a trip that's been organized by his school or summer camp, check in with the chaperones to make sure you have an updated packing list. Most organized camping trips for kids will have a specific list of necessities they'll need based on where they're going to be camping and what might be on the agenda. The list below will likely cover lots of those items, but you'll want to ensure you have any specifics checked off as well.
Third, and lastly, make sure you have the right boys' backpack for the trip. The backpack itself will be just as important as what's in it! If he already has a school backpack he loves, you can certainly use that, especially if it has several storage pockets to help him easily locate certain items while he's away.
If you're purchasing a new backpack for the trip, go for a large or extra-large backpack with zippered compartments, an adjustable compression strap to keep the pack weight balanced as he traverses to and from the campsite and sturdy mesh side pockets to hold items like his water bottle.
The first items on your packing list will be the same essentials you take on any camping trip—just make sure you're opting for kid-friendly brands for these items. Pack a travel cube or a Ziplock baggie with bug spray, lots of sunscreen, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a mini first-aid kit.
Next, pack lots of extra boys' socks (more than you think he'll need!) since his socks will likely get wet or muddy even with sturdy hiking boots or sneakers on. Make sure he also has a flashlight or headlamp with backup batteries, a full reusable water bottle, and a sleeping bag that fits the temperature needs of wherever he'll be camping.
You might also want to pack a boys' lunch box with some snacks or extra water, but be sure to check in with the chaperone or whoever is planning the trip first, in case they want to be in charge of all of the food themselves (especially for bear bag purposes).
When packing for his adventure, it's essential that he has enough clothes—and the right clothes—for the entire trip.
No matter where he's camping, it'll likely get cold at night. Make sure to pack comfy items that he can layer with, like some thermal boys' underwear & long johns that he can wear under his boys' pajama set after roasting marshmallows and telling stories around the campfire.
You'll also want to ensure he has clothing items like a boys' fleece jacket, some hiking pants or shorts depending on the weather, a breathable long-sleeve athletic shirt for daytime wear, and an outdoorsy boys' flannel shirt.
By following these tips and packing the items on this list, he'll be ready for his outdoor adventure. He'll likely come back from his camping trip with lots of stories and great memories, and, hopefully, lots of questions about when he can get back out there!