Last Updated: October 24, 2022
Our favorite gifts for camping kids are both fun and useful. Kids camping gifts are also a great way to get kids excited for new adventures and experiences. And it’s always handy to have a list at the ready for grandparents, family, and friends with your kid’s camping gift ideas.
We see camping gifts as three typical scenarios. First, needing gear before an adventure like summer camping. Second, needing a gift for your outdoorsy kid who loves camping (like a Christmas gift). And third, needing a “gift” or distraction while camping. So here’s our guide to finding the best kids camping gift for your situation.
Gifts for Camping Kids
While you don’t really need a lot of different camping gear that’s marketed just for kids, we love to slowly upgrade our family camping experience through well-thought gifts.
1. Walkie Talkies
Depending on the age of your kiddos, you can get more child-friendly walkie-talkies with more limited features. For older kids and to future-proof the gift, consider investing in higher quality walkie talkies that will last.
2. Kids Headlamp
Kids love having a headlamp or flashlight of their own. And for younger kids, when a flashlight might be too bright, a kids headlamp can be lower lumens so they’re not blinding themselves or others. This one also tops our list for stocking stuffer ideas!
Even if you already have a camping hammock for your family, a 2nd hammock can make a great gift. After a couple summers of near constant camping trips, we realized that a point of contention was whose hammock time it was. So we bought a 2nd double hammock that is the kids hammock to argue over and the other is the designated grown up hammock. Peace!
You can also get smaller “kids hammocks” that are cheaper and more lightweight. A good choice for families with more kids. Or invest in a second full-size hammock that anyone can use, and will grow with them!
ENO Hammocks – REI $74
Wise Owl Kids Hammock Amazon $20
4. Slack line
A slack line is a super fun camping activity. Especially if you’re trying to keep older kids busy! Slack lines are entertaining for little kids, big kids, teens, and adults! And if you get a kit that has arm guide training lines it’s easier for beginners. This also makes a great family gift or gift for multiple kids – both because of the price and that it’s a fun group activity.
Flybold Slackline Kit Amazon $55+
5. Harmonica or camp music-making
A small music-maker can be a fun camping gift for kids. Just make sure you can tolerate the sound said music maker makes! :)
Small Fish Harmonica Amazon $10
6. Roasting stick
This is another of those funny gift items that kids are thrilled to have their own of. You can go from basic to pretty fancy for marshmallow roasting sticks that rotate and telescope. And remember with younger kids, they still need constant fire supervision!
7. Pocket knife, multitool, or hatchet
Older kids will enjoy learning some pocket knife and whittling skills. A multi-tool is a good in between for some kids. And a hatchet is another camping utility item that makes a fun gift for older kids. Even younger kids can learn to use a hatchet safely with direct adult supervision. This is a category that you know your kids best and some children are ready earlier than others, and some later!
Soapstone Carving Kit Amazon
8. Card games for camping
Card games and small “dice games” are fun for camping. Uno is great for all ages. While Uno card boxes say age 7 and up, most kids can start playing uno around 3 or 4 (as a team with someone else). Their attention span may be short, but they can identify colors and learn some numbers. By 4 or 5, many kids can play Uno with their cards face up and (with some prompting, of course). The Uno games that come in a tin are great for camping vs the cardboard box.
And dice games like “left, right, center”, or farkle can be fun with a group too.
Uno Card Game with Tin Amazon $11
9. Knot Tying for kids
A knot tying guide or kit for kids (or anyone) can be really fun for those that like to keep their hands busy and learn things. While you could just print out some basic knots and cut some string or rope to size, there are also some great knot tying guides. This kit covers many knot styles, or choose by style for whatever hobbies your family has – boating and sailing knots, easy fishing knots, or camping and backpacking knots.
ReferenceReady Knot Kits Amazon $7+
While you can buy “kids compasses”, you can also just get them the real thing! From wrist compasses (Amazon $5) on a band, to carabiner compasses (Amazon $9) to compasses ones on a string (Amazon $10). This a great way to teach kids about mapping, directions, and orienteering.
Compass Amazon $10
11. Kids sleeping bag
First up, let’s discuss that kids do not need a marketed “kids sleeping bag”. Any sleeping bag can be a kids sleeping bag if you put a kid in it. ;) When we first started camping with our toddler, I bought myself a new sleeping bag and gave him my old one (he was thrilled!). Then I just tied a large knot in the end of it so he didn’t burrow 5 feet down. If you are backpacking and looking to cut down on weight, or simply want to give a special gift, you can also buy shorter and lighter kids-specific bags – like REI, Big Agnes (fyi the Big Agnes bags require the Big Agnes sleeping pad as well) etc. Or invest that $70 into a bag that will last them as they grow taller! If you’re just getting into camping, Coleman makes affordable kids sleeping bags.
Coleman 50 Degree kids sleeping bag Amazon $20+
12. Kids Camp chair
This is another item that you don’t have to go with the marketed “kids” option. Most big box stores sell kids camp chairs with themes. Some made more cheaply than others. For accident-prone or younger kids these can end up being a hazard, especially near a camp fire, as they’re constantly tipping forward or back! We had great success with just having low camp chairs. REI Stowaway low chair is a favorite. But you can also get bright and silly kids camp chairs – you know your kiddo best!
Camp chair Amazon $20+
13. Camp Dirt/Sand Play Toys
Depending on where you are camping, bringing a few outdoor toys can add to the fun, especially for younger kids. If we’ll be near a sandy river or lake, we usually bring a few summer beach gear toys. Like nesting buckets (Amazon $13), digging tools, sand molds, or a few small construction truck toys.
Sand Play Toys Amazon $12
14. Water Toys
If you’re camping near a lake or river, water toys can be a super fun summer camping add-on. From water squirter toys, to buckets to lake floats – there are options for all ages and interests. Target’s Sun Squad brand is my favorite for these types of gifts.
For the toddler and preschooler years, a small water squirter and bucket can provide endless entertainment. Older kids will love cool lake floats or even kids kayak. Tip: Our favorite life jacket for young kids is the Airhead Gnar Life Vest (Amazon). It’s light, quick dry, and not bulky so kids can actually play in it.
Bubble wands are another great camping gift. We are still refilling our bubble wands for camping trips! Also a great camping trip surprise item to keep in your back pocket (metaphorically), for when things are going off the rails. What a great distraction! Bubbles for all! Older kids will love a giant bubble making kit instead (Amazon).
Bubble Wands Target $5
16. Sidewalk Chalk
Whenever we stay at a larger car camping campground – like a state park or one with more facilities – aka paved parking strips, we bring the sidewalk chalk! It’s always a huge hit and a great way for your kiddo to make friends at a campground!
Sidewalk Chalk Amazon
17. Outdoor “Yard” Games
Pass the camping day away with outdoor games or “yard” games. Think: frisbee, bocce, kites, spike ball, badminton, velcro catch game, ladder ball, outdoor jenga, cornhole etc. Target is a great spot to pick up these kinds of games, and their Sun Squad brand also has a bunch of fun yard games.
Yard Games Target
18. Kids Pulley System
While this gift you might not bring camping with you. Camping kids will love it! You can buy ready-made pulley fort kids or assemble your own with the help of Home Depot and some knowledge about pulleys. I can also recommend the book Pull, Lift, and Lower: A Book About Pulleys as a great resource for kids interested in pulleys. Older kids and teens may enjoy a pulley system in the form of a zipline or other usable activity.
Terra Kids Block & Tackle Pulley HABA $40
19. Kids fishing pole
We finally got a kids fishing pole for our four year old and he loves it. The Zebco brand makes tons of shorter and smaller fishing poles. From 29″ starter poles with pretend fish weight, to 4 foot junior reels. Getting a quality fishing pole (fiberglass, anti-reverse etc) that won’t just be broken in two seconds, is worth it. And they’re quite affordable.
Kids Fishing Pole Amazon $11
20. Spray fan or spray bottle
Hot summer camping calls for extra cooling systems. One of our preschoolers favorite summer camp activities is to carry around a spray fan and ask people if they want to get misted.
Note: this isn’t a super high powered fan, but most preschoolers do fine with it, safety-wise. If you have kids with long hair, tie up their hair so it doesn’t get tangled in the thin plastic fan blades.
O2Cool Spray Bottle Fan Amazon $12
21. Nature Journal
From a basic sketchbook to a more involved nature identification journal, outdoor-ish kids love having a place to record their adventures. The Exploring Nature Activity Book for Kids (Amazon) makes a great gift for older kids (ages 6-12). The book is full of identification guides (plants, trees, animals), and activity ideas for both at home and in the wild. The KiwiCo shop also has a great kit for younger kids in their Koale Crate line (ages 3-5) called the Nature Explorer kit.
Nature Journal Amazon $8
22. Magnified Glass
We’ll never know the attraction of lighting and magnifying things, but boy do kids love magnified glasses. Toddlers will be delighted in the Melissa & Doug snake handle one (and grown-ups will be delighted in the shatter-proof lens). Older kids may want a more serious and grown-up magnified glass (Amazon $6+)
Melissa & Doug Kids Magnified Glass Amazon
Most little explorers will love their own set of binoculars. For the younger years (toddler & preschoolers), I can recommend the Educational Insights brand GeoSafari Kidnoculars. The rubbery eye shield is great for protecting around their eyes when they’re younger and don’t yet understand not jamming something quickly up to your eye socket. Older kids will want a more legit pair – that is not for babies! Nature is the best playground, so they’ll love some extra tools to explore the outdoors.
Binoculars Amazon $6+
24. Camping books for kids
There are so many great books about the outdoors for kids. Whether you get a story book about camping for preschoolers, books about bugs, or even the summer season – books make the best gifts. One of our favorite kids story books about outdoor adventure is Emily Winfield Martin’s The Littlest Family’s Big Day.
Books Powell’s Books
25. National Geographic Magazine for Kids
Since kids love to get a monthly magazine in the mail, consider the National Geographic Kids magazine (ages 6+) or Little Kids (ages 3-6).
26. Patches and stickers
Never underestimate the ability of stickers and patches to make a utility gift be less boring! Think water bottles and backpacks. Outdoor sticker sets are also great as an extra add-on for any outdoor lovers gift and make great stocking stuffers.
Speaking of the “boring, but useful” category, sometimes outdoor gear for kids can fall into this area, but it can also be a fun gift. Is your kid ready for their own backpacking pack? Or maybe your little hiker just needs to be able to carry their own water. Backpacks can make great camping gifts for kids – from pre-trip in the summer, to back to school time, or even as a Christmas present.
28. Water bottle
Most kids tote around water bottles now, due to school requirements and it just being a good idea to stay hydrated. And from time to time, they need a new water bottle. So while this is another of those utility gifts, it’s also a fun thing to get something new! From CamelBak to Hydro Flask to Nalgene. And if your kiddo loves camping, you can even get a kids camp themed water bottle from CamelBack.
29. Welly camping bandages
Welly makes bandages fun with themed tins and colorful bandages. The tins are also reusable for other things. And the camping tin and bandaids are super cute for outdoor kiddos! Usually available at Target.
Welly Bandages Kit Target $7
30. Sun Hat
Fun colors and patterned sun hats are great gift for camping kids. Another utility type gift, this one will keep them outside longer without needing as much sunscreen! One of our favorite UPF sun hat brands is Sunday Afternoons and we also like REIs kids river hat.
Sunday Afternoons sun hats REI
31. Sun Glasses
New shades will keep your camping kid out of the glare. Older kids and teens will also love the polarized lens sunglasses from goodr.
goodr or Knockaround sunglasses, REI
32. Buff Headband
I’ve saved the most boring for last. The Buff headband is the ultimate in utility camping gifts. This also makes our list of the best kids winter gear. What is exciting about it, is that it’s multi-functional. Great for summer camping mornings or cool nights instead of a large beanie, fits under a bike helmet to keep kids ears warm and out of the wind. And you can even use it around your neck.
Kids Camping Gift Ideas
In summary, here are some our favorite ideas of gifts for camping kids!
- walkie talkies
- headlamp or flashlight
- slack line
- harmonica or other camp music making
- roasting stick
- older kids: pocket knife, multi-tool, or hatchet
- card games for camping
- knot tying kit
- kids sleeping bag
- kids camp chair
- sand toys
- water toys
- sidewalk chalk
- yard games
- kids fishing pole
- spray fan
- nature journal
- magnified glass
- camping books
- outdoor magazine
- stickers or patches
- water bottle
- camping bandages
- sun hat
- Buff headband
I hope this list gave you some ideas for a kids camping gift. Happy camping!