Into the Wild … in Comfort

Camping gear for those who like their creature comforts on the go.

Like visiting amusement parks and celebrating Halloween, camping is one of those activities that, while fun when you’re young and single, is made even better with kids. Making S’mores, telling ghost stories, investigating the bugs intruding in your tent all gain a new interest when you’re with someone experiencing it for the first time. With or without kids, there are two very distinct types of campers: minimalist backpackers, and comfort-loving car campers. Both styles have their merits, but in either case camping with children also increases that cardinal rule: Be prepared. 

Bedding Down

For a shelter that won’t break your back, GoLite’s Shangri-La 3 ($225) sleeps three people and weighs under three pounds, including the pole and stakes. Although the model is four-season, add an on-the-floor tarp ($60; 1 pound, 5 ounces) to stay dry and warm while sleeping.

If you want a tent that serves as your unabashed headquarters in the wilderness, you can’t get much better than The North Face’s Trailhead 3-season series, which are made sturdy and spacious. The eight-sleeper ($459) and six-sleeper ($399) models have two sleeping areas separated by a common “room,” so adults can get a little privacy during the night. It weighs almost 30 pounds, but with a tent this nice, you won’t be straying far anyway.

Cook’s Call

Eating out of a backpack doesn’t have to mean limiting yourself to energy bars and trail mix. The online provision store at Mary Jane’s Farm offers a range of instant and easily prepared meals—try the Outrageous Outback Oatmeal ($4.40 per serving), Ginger Sesame Pasta ($5.40) or Curried Lentil Bisque ($5.95). All meals are organic, and packaging can be safely burned in a campfire. Bulk amounts are also available.

What good is picking fresh blueberries, if you can’t make blueberry muffins? For when the great outdoor inspires you to bake, Coleman offers a Camp Oven ($37.99) with a 10-inch wire rack that will draw heat from a two- or three-burner stove and folds flat for easy transport.

Keep It Clean

Biodegradable soap should be on every camper’s shopping list—regular soaps can be extremely damaging to the local ecology. Dr. Bonner’s liquid soaps are organically sourced and come in a variety of sizes and natural fragrances ($2.49-$49.99). Even biodegradable cleaners can contaminate, so be sure to do your washing at least 200 feet away from running water sources, and bury wastewater in a hole, so bacteria in the soil can properly break down toxins.

If showering and answering nature’s call au plein air is a little more roughing it than your family can handle, the Paha Que Tepee Shower and Outhouse with fiberglass poles ($149) offers some welcome privacy. At 19 pounds, it boasts walls over 5 feet and mesh roofing for optimum ventilation, as well as a handy side port so bathers can reach out to an attached aluminum towel rack.

Themes: Family Travel, Outdoor Adventures, Shopping

Activities: Camping