Best Toddler Camping Gear and Toddler Camping Checklist



May 30, 2023

If your toddler enjoys the outdoors and nature then he or she will love camping; my toddlers think it’s the best thing ever. Spending the whole day outside, eating around a campfire and then getting to sleep outside with mommy and daddy can’t be beat. 

main toddler camping gear I use with my three kids
My three kids relaxing outside our family tent

Camping with toddlers reinforces the love for nature and unstructured play. In order to successfully camp with toddlers you will need some essential toddler camping gear. I liked to start my kids simply by backyard camping and once I was confident I had all the right gear I took them camping elsewhere. 

My two year old wakes up grumpy every morning. The first night he camped away from home he woke up on his camping bed, looked at me and said with a big smile, “I want to go camping again”. He was hooked. 

All of the toddler camping gear I mention here is gear I have vetted and bought on my own accord. These are the gear I find most useful and essential to camp with my toddlers. 

Looking for information on camping with babies and toddlers? Be sure to check out Best Baby Camping Gear and Checklist, Ultimate Guide to Camping with A Baby or 30 Camping Activities for Toddlers.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase. Rest assured all products I suggest are products I have bought or would buy based on personal experience or through my network of other mommas.

Can You Take A 2 Year Old Camping?

Of course you can! As long as you practice safe sleep procedures for your toddler, camping with a 2 year old is achievable. 

my 2 year old camping in our tent

The more you take a 2 year old camping the easier it will be. 2 Year olds like routine and familiarity, therefore if he/she is used to camping you should be able to anticipate how your toddler will react when camping.

What Does A 1 Year Old Sleep In When Camping?

A 1 year old has not figured out how to sleep in a horizontal position all night or manage blankets and pillows, or at least mine haven’t. The safest and most practical space for a 1 year old to sleep when camping is in a travel crib.

travel crib for 1 year old camping in tent
My daughter in her Pack-n-Play while camping

Travel cribs allow your 1 year old to have their own dedicated space that might even be familiar to them. Just ensure you dress your child properly for sleep and easy peasy. 

Where Should A 2 Year Old Sleep In When Camping?

A toddler who has outgrown a crib at home will no longer be happy in a travel crib. At this stage I have my toddlers sleep in cots. A cot gives them a designated space to sleep inside the tent.

I never found it realistic for my 2 year olds to stay sleeping on a ground mat. My toddlers move around too much and easily find their way off a ground mat. The cot confines them surprisingly well.

How Should I Dress A Toddler For Camping Sleep?

Always check the overnight temperatures before starting out to determine the best way to dress a toddler for sleeping when camping. On cold nights layering is a great option. A good base layer comes in handy, I recommend a merino wool base layer.

A wearable sleeping bag is the safest option as the top layer for a toddler. Up to the age of 4 I have my kids wear Morrison Outdoors sleeping bags. A wearable sleeping bag eliminates the risk of suffocation from a sleeping bag and is bought for certain temperature ranges.

What Is The Best Tent For Camping With Toddlers?

I find the best tent to camp with toddlers is a large family tent. My toddlers use tents as play space as well as sleeping space. They welcome the extra space to walk around, be able to stand, play and have room for bedtime stories etc. 

best tent for camping with toddlers my family tent
My oldest in front of our family tent

How big a tent depends on the size of the family you have. I have an 8 person tent for my family of 5, two adults and three kids. I think this works well for having space for my toddlers, baby and two adults.

If I were just camping with one adult and one toddler a 4 person tent would work. I could use our 2 person tent, but I like the ability to stand up in a tent. It helps when getting my toddler dressed for bed and overall not having hunching over too much.

Toddler Camping Gear: The Big Items

Camping Tent

The main piece of equipment you need to camp with toddlers is a tent. A family tent is best, with kids bigger is sometimes better. 

I have the Core 9 Person Camping Tent. For my family of 5 who camp in all seasons except winter it is perfect and affordable.

A bigger tent allows the tent to become more of a home instead of just a small sleeping area. Your toddler can play in the tent and get a break from the sun or rain for small segments in the day. A larger tent allows for easier bedtime prep and a place to read to your kids without being too confined.

The downside of a large tent is that they lose heat quicker than a small tent. I personally don’t camp with my toddlers in freezing temperatures. As long as you dress your toddlers properly for nighttime temperatures the heat loss shouldn’t be an issue. 

best tent when camping with a toddler
My 2 person tent (Sierra Designs) when camping with just one of my kids

My 2 person tent (Sierra Designs) when camping with just one of my kids

If I am just camping with myself and one toddler a smaller 2 person tent works. I have a 2 person tent my husband and I used before we had kids that works well. 

Hiking Backpack: Back Carrier For Toddlers

Toddlers are known to be inconsistent. Sometimes they are happy to walk, other times they might throw a tantrum. It is best not to try to guess what type of mood your toddler will be in when camping. Having the option to carry your child comfortably when camping is a must.  

toddler camping gear: hiking backpack

If you are like me I like to go on hikes when camping. Or even have an easy way to carry my toddler to the bathrooms, playground, lake or around the campsite. A hiking backpack is my preferred method.

My husband and I both have a Kelty Journey PerfectFit Hiking Backpack. The pack is large enough to carry everything we need when hiking, while still being a lightweight pack. All three of our kids have found it comfortable and so do we.

A hiking backpack not only gives you a hands free way to carry your toddler but storage space to bring along snacks, water or other gear. When camping my toddler might not have slept well and I can often get them to take a nap in the backpack while I get some exercise. It's a win win toddler camping gear!

Toddler Camping Chair:

For my kids 2 years old and older I will bring along a toddler camping chair. My 1 year olds will use their travel highchair as their toddler camping chair. A 1 year old often won’t sit still in a chair unless strapped in.

My two toddler boys in their toddler camping chairs

Space is often a concern when packing for a camping trip. I like to own small, lightweight, travel friendly items that work in lots of different situations; this includes my toddler camping chairs.  My toddlers sit in Joey chairs when camping, the same chair that also works for kids and adults and takes 30 seconds to set up.

Our Joey chairs pack into  a small carrying case. This case makes it practical for me to throw it in a backpack to go hiking and takes up very little space in the car. 

Toddler camping chairs come in handy when you want to spend time sitting around a campfire. However, if your camping site comes with a picnic table then toddler camping chairs are not 100% necessary.

Travel Potty, Potty Seat and Small Stool:

If your toddler is potty training or is already potty trained a couple more toddler camping gear items will be necessary.

My boys were glued to their small potty before they upgraded to potty seats on the adult potty. Whenever we left the house, for camping or other activities, we had to bring along their potty. If your child is in this stage it will be easiest to bring a potty with you. 

Once your child upgrades to a potty seat on the big boy or girl potty life becomes easier. However, sitting without a potty seat on a new toilet can be scary and often my kids will shy away and not feel comfortable to poop.

Bring along a travel potty seat. Your toddler will appreciate the familiarity of the seat and help them relax when doing their business. 

Pro Tip: We bring our potty seats that we use on a day to day basis. This seat my toddler is comfortable with and use to.

Once your toddler is done using the bathroom he or she will need to wash their hands. Often restrooms at campgrounds don’t come with stools. Your toddler won’t be able to reach. Bring along a travel stool and now they can wash their hands and brush their teeth with ease. 

Toddler Camping Bed Choices and Gear:

Safe sleep is important when talking about young children. A traditional sleeping bag is not safe for a child under the age of 3 due to a risk of suffocation. Even a child over the age of 3 should only sleep in a traditional sleeping bag that is designed for young children. 

toddler camping bed options
My 4 Year Old uses a sleeping bag and larger cot than my newly 3 year old

I have different toddler camping bed setups for my kids based on their age. Below are the options, based on ages, and what I do when camping with toddlers.

I prefer to have a designated spot for my toddlers to sleep which contains them. A toddler realistically won’t stay on a ground mat; have you ever seen how a toddler sleeps? I have tried sleeping with my toddler and got kicked in the head when he turned completely sideways. 

Toddler Camping Bed for 2 Year Old and Younger:

The safest sleep option for a child 2 and younger is in their own space on a hard surface. At home a child of this age would still be in a crib. For a 1 year old camping bed I use a travel crib

ProductCategoryWeightTravel Features
Longest Use Travel Bassinet/Play-yard Best Outdoor Infant Nap Bassinet
6 lbs
Compact Size Carrying Case Included Lifetime Warranty Waterproof Mattress Detachable Sun Canopy
Best Traditional Travel Bassinet
12 lbs
Bug Net And Sun Shade Folds With Carrying Case Ability To Rock Washable Cover

A travel crib is easy to transport and takes little effort and time to set up. If you travel with your 1 year old he/she is often familiar with sleeping in a travel crib. Place it inside the tent next to you and you have a safe toddler camping bed for a 1 year old or younger.

Pro Tip: Some toddlers take time to warm up to new surroundings. Getting a young toddler to sleep the first night in a tent might take some time, the second night should go better.

Toddler Camping Bed for 2 & 3 & 4 Year Olds:

Once I have switched my toddlers out of their crib to a toddler bed I move away from a travel crib. For one thing a travel crib at this stage becomes cramped and too small. 

best camping beds for toddlers Regalo my cot for my two boys
Back gray Regalo cot is in extra long vs the normal size in blue

I find it necessary to still have a designated spot for my toddler to sleep and recommend toddler travel beds. I use a Regalo my cot for my toddlers aged 2 and older. The cot is lightweight, easy to pack and takes seconds to set up. It is low to the ground which makes it safe for a toddler to get in and out of.   

Sleeping directly on the ground can be cold and uncomfortable. Your toddler might have difficulty settling down.  A cot keeps them contained, warm and snug. Although it is easy to get out of the cot, neither of my toddler boys have fallen out while sleeping.

A cot is easier to set up than a portable blow up bed or one that comes with lots of bumpers. Remember you have to fit all your gear in the car and unload it and reload it at the end. Space and time matter!

Regalo my Cot comes in a long version as well. If you have a tall toddler or young child upgrade to the long version. The long version is 54 inches long instead of 48 inches and should last until the child is about 8 or 9 years old. The longer version is also a couple inches taller and wider.

Toddler Sleeping Bag for 1, 2 & 3 Year Olds:

A traditional sleeping bag isn’t safe for a young toddler due to risk of suffocation. The safest way to keep your young toddler warm when camping at night is to have him or her in a wearable sleeping bag.

A wearable sleeping bag cannot come over a toddlers face and is designed for warmth in a range of temperatures. When my kids are babies and young toddlers I have them in Morrison Outdoor wearable sleeping bags.

Morrison Outdoors have a wearable Sleeping bag for 6 month-24 month olds (Litte Mo) and 2 to 4 year olds (Big Mo). You can either get the sleeping bag rated for nighttime temperatures of 40-60 degrees C or down to 20 degrees C. 

Other wearable sleeping bags exist but I find Morrison Outdoor sleeping bags the best and most reliable and they last through multiple kids.

Toddler Sleeping Bag for 4 Year Old and Up:

Once your child is 4 years old it is now safe to get a more traditional sleeping bag for camping. However, you will need the right size sleeping bag. An adult sleeping bag or one made for older kids is too big and does not keep your 4 year old warm at night, due to too much heat loss. Besides heat loss the risk of suffocation still exists.

best toddler camping gear: toddler sleeping bag
My 4 Year Old in his ANJ youth sleeping bag for camping

A sleeping bag designed for little sleepers is necessary. The shorter length and width will keep your toddler warm and prevent risk of falling too far into the sleeping bag for suffocation risk. 

I have my 4 year old sleep in the ANJ youth sleeping bag, designed for kids under 4 feet 3 inches tall. It features a mummy design that contours around his face keeping him warm and snug. It is rated for freezing temperatures up to 60 degrees. This is in the range I take my toddlers camping, I don’t take them in below freezing temperatures. 

If you plan on camping with your toddler below 32 degrees I would recommend the Big Agnes Little Red Sleeping Bag. This toddler sleeping bag is rated to 20 degrees and made for kids shorter than 4 feet tall. 

Portable Sound Machine:

If your toddler is used to falling asleep to a sound machine you might want to pack a portable one. Toddlers are creatures of pattern and familiarity. 

As your toddlers get older their dependences might go down. My 3 and 4 year old no longer need the sound machine, but I often still put it on to go to bed out of habit. 

Pro Tip: See if your toddler notices if you forget to turn on the sound machine at home before deciding if you need one for camping.

Toddler Camping Gear for Meal Times:


Toddlers love to snack. Food is mentioned at least every 10 minutes in my house, not that they get food every 10 minutes. A very useful toddler camping gear is a cooler. Here you can pack enough food and snacks for your toddler and you.

I love to pack already cut fruit, yogurts, milk, hummus, deli meat and cheese in our cooler when camping. Some coolers are better organized than others, but really any cooler will do as long as it fits in your car and keeps your food cold. 

Travel Highchair For Camping

A travel highchair is a game changer for a toddler aged 1-3. At this age having a designated spot to feed your toddler where they cannot get up is pivotal. 

toddler travel highchair used for camping
Love the tray on this travel highchair

A good travel highchair also works as a toddler camping chair. And again the benefit of strapping them in so that it’s a safe spot if needed. Great way to keep kids the right distance away from a campfire or contain them when you have to do something.

I have used the Hiccapop Omniboost travel highchair for all three of my kids. It becomes useful around 6 months all the way up to a seat for a 3 year old. I use it camping, hiking, out in the backyard, at friends houses and at restaurants. It can be used directly on the ground or strapped to a chair.

Toddler Water Bottle

One of my toddlers’ favorite camping gear is their water bottles. For some reason my boys really like water bottles. They currently have two different styles and I find different types best for different situations and kids’ skills.

Water is important. When camping it is great to have a reusable bottle instead of producing more trash by using disposable ones. Also a toddler loves having their own gear. 

My middle child was a big drooler as a baby and still is as a toddler. A toddler water bottle with an open spout means lots of backwashing; it gets gross. For him I find the best toddler water bottle is one with a straw. Camelback water bottles work best for him. 

My oldest child who is 4 years old was not much of a drooler. He does great with a pour spout toddler water bottle. For him we have a Thermos water bottle. The Thermos bottle is great for an older toddler; it is bigger and teaches a kid to control the flow of water.

Toddler Camping Utensils, Bowl & Plate

Think ahead of what you will be feeding your toddler when camping. If you know he/she does great with cereal than plan to pack a bowl and spoon you know your toddler will use.

Toddlers can be picky and only like to use "their spoon". My middle child is this way. Instead of getting compact utensils I bring their toddler spoon and fork I use at home.

You know your toddler best and what he or she will be willing to use.

Essential Toddler Camping Items

Some items should always be mentioned, although they are not gear. These essentials I take on all camping and hiking trips with my toddlers.

Bug Spray for Toddlers

Its never fun when a toddler is itching all night due to bug bites. No matter the season or weather, bringing a can of toddler friendly bug spray is worth it.

I personally don’t like to spray my kids with a heavily used deet spray. We buy family bug spray and spray their clothing and legs. I also will spray their hats and the hiking backpack. 


Even if your campsite is shaded, your daytime activities might not be. Perhaps your campsite offers a lake or pond to play in, hiking trails or a playground. Apply sunscreen to your child’s exposed skin to prevent sunburn.

Sunhat for Toddlers

Like sunscreen, a sunhat is a must. It is hard to protect a child's head from the sun. The best protection is a hat.

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I personally use a sunhat for my toddlers aged 2 and under. After age 2, I moved my toddlers to baseball style hats. Anything that covers your toddlers scalp from the sun works!

First Aid Kit

Safety first when out with toddlers, you never know what will happen. Maybe fall from climbing a tree, or just trip over their own feet! I have seen it all.

Most the times I don't need a travel first aid kit, but a couple times I have it was worth it! Also eases my mind knowing if something happens I have the basics covered.

Toddler Camping Clothes

There isn’t specific toddler camping clothes. But certain types of clothes, such as hiking clothes, often make more sense when camping.

Merino Wool Base Layer

Layering a toddler is a great idea in colder weather and merino wool works as a great base layer. It is water wickering, insulating, temperature controlling, breathable, and odor resistant. 

I like to use merino wool layers under pj’s or day clothes in colder weather. 

Rain Gear for Toddlers

One of my favorite outdoor clothes for toddlers is rain gear. Not only is it great for wet or dewy mornings but also a repellent of dirt. I have my children wear rain pants as their main hiking pants. They can splash in all the puddles, sit in the dirt and make mud cakes without me worrying about it.

For a younger toddler a full rain gear suit is handy. I use my Oaki trail suit for my 1 year old when out in nature and love it. I just wish it came in a smaller size than 1T for when my kids were babies.

For an older toddler, one that is potty training or potty trained, I move toward a waterproof pant only. A one piece is harder for a toddler to go potty and I want to encourage going to the potty on their own. 

I have my two boys in Oaki Trail Pants. The cuff around the ankle fits perfectly secure around their rainboots, trapping out all the rain and mud. I use these pants when camping, hiking, in the mornings at home and whenever it rains. I highly recommend it! 

oaki trail hiking pants
Oaki Trail Hiking Pants are great for camping

Only if it is raining do I put a waterproof jacket on. My main concern is sitting in moisture and splashing in puddles which requires rainproof bottoms. 

Toddler Hiking Shoes/Sandals

Camping and hiking go hand and hand for me. Therefore I always pack my toddlers hiking shoes and/or sandals while camping with my toddlers.

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Hiking shoes are better for hikes on tough terrain, ones where water is not present, or in colder weather. A hiking sandal is best for warm weather and encourages water play on hikes or in a lake stream. 

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Toddler Camping Gear: Essential Toys

Are toys 100% required?  No, however, certain toys are gear and do have a place when camping with toddlers. I want to touch on the toddler camping gear toys I find most useful. For a full list you can read my 24 Best Camping Toys for Toddlers.

Toddler Camping Lanterns:

camping toys: toddler camping lanterns
My two boys testing out their camping lanterns

Camping outside means it will get dark. Regardless if your toddler has reached the stage where they are afraid of the dark, a light will come in handy.

Maybe you need to go to the potty in the night, walk to get something or want to read a story when it's already dark. A lantern is necessary. Letting your toddler have their own lantern allows them a feeling of control. And we know toddlers like to feel in control!

When camping with more than one toddler or child I recommend getting different colored lanterns. Each kid can have their favorite color and not fight over whose is whose. 

Toddler Camping Backpack:

hiking backpack for toddler

You might wonder what a toddler camping backpack is, well really it's just a backpack that they can take camping. Again this is more a camping gear item to make your toddler feel like a big person. We take our bags camping so why shouldn’t they?

You can have your toddler pack their “gear” in their backpack. What gear do I have my toddlers pack? Think camping essentials. I have mine pack their toddler water bottles, snacks (such as bars), favorite stuffed animal and a must-have toy.

Toddler Camping Books:

camping books for toddlers Llama llama loves camping
Reading to my two toddlers before going to bed while camping

I am a big advocate of reading to toddlers. I personally enjoy the snuggles and value the one on one time reading books offer.   

Toddlers learn a lot through books, from new concepts to new way of looking at the world. Camping is a great time to reinforce books about camping to your toddler. Camping books will have lots of similarities of what your toddler is currently doing and can be a great conversation starter.

Some of our favorite toddler camping books are:

Toddler Camera

best toddler camping gear: camera for your toddler
My 4 Year Old snapping a shot on his hike

A great toddler camping gear item for an older toddler is a toddler camera. With a toddler camera a toddler can own taking their own pictures and being able to relive that memory whenever they want.

My boys at the age of 3.5 were able to understand the toddler camera. They love to take photos when we are out doing fun things such as camping and hiking. After the fact they will show their photos to people like their Nana or Uncles. 

Toddler Camping Checklist

PDF version of Toddler Camping Checklist