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The best camping gear for kids: 11 ways to help them enjoy the outdoors

These gadgets will bring some light, warmth and fun to your next outdoor adventure

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You've put in the time to locate and plan your next camping adventure with the family. Besides packing in gear to keep your pets safe, it's worth putting in some thought to have gadgets that are designed for children stowed as well. You wouldn't leave home without the proper outdoor cooking gear, so why would you think about camping under the stars without items you know would keep your family safe and also entertained.

Spending time outside, especially after being forced to be indoors for so long, is likely something the entire family is looking forward to doing. Medical experts even believe that outside time may help to reduce nearsightedness, all the more reason to start planning that camping adventure now.

Someone looking through a telescope A telescope can keep kids entertained for hoursGearBrain

Explorer tools

Children love to discover new things, and you might want to have a few things on hand to make their exploration more exciting. The $18 Coroler Cool Fingerless LED Flashlight Gloves are exactly as they sound — gloves that turn your fingers into directional flashlights. For anyone doing a little late night hike, or even searching for frogs or tadpoles, these could be great for spying under dark rocks or at dusk.

A telescope — especially one that's lightweight enough the be portable — is also a wonderful way to explore the sky above. Camp sites are usually in places w away from city lights, which makes it even easier to scan the stars. We recently tested, and very much liked, the $180 Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 80AZ telescope, which works with a smartphone app to help you pinpoint objects quickly, but isn't necessary.



goTenna devices The goTenna devices allow people to send private chatsgoTenna

Walkie talkies

Kids may want to go off exploring, a decision parents will make on their own. But having a way for them to stay in touch is important. Older children will likely have phones, but Walkie Talkies could be a fun option or devices that play as private chat boxes. The $179 goTenna Mesh Text communicators work off of a signal on a phone, but let people send each other private texts and group chats. They're sold in pairs and have a range of up to four miles.



Luci Connect Lights may help children feel more comfortable at the camp siteGearBrain

Waterproof headlamp or LED light

Being outside at night can be both exciting for children and also disorienting. While they're with their family, something familiar, they're also seeing things that are new, and even hearing sounds that may be a bit scary. Shedding some light into that space may help them relax.

There are lots of ways you can give kids control over the light around them, from headlamps, which are worn on their forehead like the $20 Princeton Tec Byte headlamp, to lanterns that use LED lights and are battery operated, making them not only long-lasting but safe. The $12 Coleman Kids LED Adventure Lantern is a good selection and comes in fun colors, as is the $65 Luci Connect, a solar-powered lamp that's waterproof and can glow in rainbow colors too.



La Roche-Posay A UV sensor can help determine when you've had enough sunLa Roche-Posay

Clothing

Heading outdoors? You're going to need some protection likely from insects, but certainly from the sun. While you may be somewhere forested, the summer sun wherever it peaks through can be strong. There are now clothes that are infused with sun protection that can block out some of the UV rays. Some brands that sell these products include Coolibar, Patagonia and even Uniqlo which have lightweight summer jackets, with UV protection that starts at $30, but are sometimes on sale. These can also be layered as the sun dips below the horizon to keep children warm while you're hanging out by the campfire roasting marshmallows.

You could also consider picking up a wearable UV sensor, like the $60 one made by La Roche-Posay, which reads UV exposure, and also details about the air around you including pollen and humidity, which you can then read on its app.


Mobile phone portable battery recharging a smartphone A backup phone charger ensures you have access to your device when you need it Getty Images/iStockphoto

Extra charger

Finally, if you're heading out for an adventure with children, you also want to make sure you have an extra charge for your devices. It's never a bad idea to keep phones, for example, fully charged so you can pull up apps even if you don't have a cell connection. You can also use the camera app then to take photos of things happening you'll want to remember.

Chargers can be rugged, like those made by ToughTested, or they can be small and lightweight so you can toss them into a backpack for a quick hike like the $13 mophie Power Boost Mini, or the $20 Anker PowerCore+ Mini.



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