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Hi there!  Tanya here. 

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Best tents, sleeping bags, & pads for the whole family

Best tents, sleeping bags, & pads for the whole family

UPDATED 5.22.19. This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click through and end up making a purchase, I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

Best camping gear for family camping

Have you been thinking of jumping into tent-camping as a family but you're just not quite sure where to begin?  We are here to help.

Sleep is important wherever you are.  Especially when you’re camping. So here’s the best sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and tents for the money.

We've been at this camping / backpacking thing sporadically for nearly 20 years.  Not deeming ourselves total experts yet, but we've tent-camped in Normandy, France (see those cute cheeks below!), along the Niangua River in the Ozark Mountains, in Capitol Reef, at the Grand Canyon, and so much more.  

Our family camping experiences, mixed with a few weeks of summer backpacking in the Colorado Rockies with Young Life teenagers, have helped us discover and gather our favorite cozy, comfy sleeping gear and tents over time.  


If you're new to camping with kids

If you're not 100% sure you love a camping family vacation, consider borrowing good gear from experienced camping friends before you buy out Sierra Trading Post (the best place with low prices!). 

Durable, made-to-last camping gear is a long-term investment for budget-minded families like us.  Well-made items can last 20 years or more.

Thankfully, we lucked out 20 years back when our friends gave us a camping themed couples shower right before we got hitched.  That definitely gave us a head start. (See gift ideas for outdoorsy couples here.)  Christmas and birthdays are a great way to get your gear too. 

As kids came hopping along, we obviously needed more sleeping bags, more sleeping pads, and more tents.  Four more of everything to be exact.  

Did you know kids grow bigger by the minute?  Like weeds.  Then they require adult size sleeping gear.  And they ask for adult size ice cream cones.

Our favorite sleeping bags for kids, teens, and adults

You'll find all of these amazing things loaded in our Swagger Wagon plus StowAway Max Cargo Carrier for every camping trip.  

I also share our chilling-out favorite at the end.

Sleeping Bags

Kelty Cosmic Down 20

The hubs and I just bought new Kelty Cosmic Down sleeping bags after 20 years of sleeping with our synthetic Marmot.  We get colder as we get older, and these are perfect for 3-season camping and backpacking.  And the price is right for this impressive, pack-down-tight, lightweight bag.  

For the record, our Marmot bags are actually still quite decent, so we're just passing them down to our two teenagers for now.  We plan to use our new Kelty bags for the next two decades.

Kelty Tru.Comfort Kids 35 degree Sleeping Bag 

A few years ago, we bought our four kids 30 degree Kelty kids sleeping bags for Christmas and they have been worth their weight in gold.  These bags keep your kiddos warm and cozy, and they also pack up light and tight.  They come in fun colors too!

Sleeping Pads

Exped Synmat 7 

We just bought our fifth Exped Synmat 7 Sleeping Pad - a life-changer for moms ands who desire to car-camp with a comfy bed on the ground.  Our teens love them too. Durable, warm on the ground, light, and easy to fill with the integrated hand-pump, this pad is great for tent-camping and backpacking.  My favorite part: no crackling or crinkling when you move around in your sleep.  Zzzzzzzz.

REI Kindercamp Kids' Pad

REI makes the Kindercamp Kids' Sleeping Pad and it works well for kids and tweens until they hit 5 feet tall or taller.  Once your kids hit 5 feet, it's time to buy the adult size sleeping pad above.  

This kids' sleeping pad weighs about a pound and rolls up tight, deeming it perfect for car-camping.  When your kids are ready for backpacking in the backcountry, this remains a great option.

Rad Tents

mountain smith celestial two person tent

Mountain Smith Celestial

We just scored the 2-person Mountain Smith Celestial Tent on sale at Sierra Trading Post.  The design reminds us our ole' trusty Sierra Designs tent, so we were sold.  We bought this for our two boys to sleep in.  If they get into backpacking as they get older, this will do the trick.  Get yours before they're gone.   

Sierra Designs Summer Moon 2

A 3-season tent, the Sierra Designs Summer Moon 2 is great for two siblings or mom and dad to share. We have two boys and two girls, so our family camps with three 2-man tents.

We bought our first Sierra Designs tent 20 years ago, and it's still going strong. It's our very favorite tent.  Easy to set up, durable, and lightweight too.  Plus, we LOVE the net dome for star-gazing.  

Kelty Yellowstone 6 Tent

When our kids were younger, we preferred sleeping all together in the same tent.  The Kelty Yellowstone 6 Tent is great for families who want to cozy up and saw some logs together.  


Hanging out at camp

HOBO hammocks 

I know there are A LOT of people manufacturing hammocks these days. But seriously, Hobo Hammocks made by Jake and his team are the BEST.  They help feed the homeless with every hammock bought.  

They're so great, I wrote 11 reasons to love Hobo Hammocks.  

Buy a Hobo Hammock (complete with hanging straps, pouch, free shipping, and more) for just $59!  


The Stowaway2 Max Cargo Carrier

We're a family of six riding the road in our Swagger Wagon.  So just how do we tote all this dynamite camping gear around?  Read why the The StowAway MAX Cargo Carrier is the ultimate packing hack here.

How can we help?

If you want to talk more about camping gear or budgeting and planning your next great road trip, I'd be happy to chat!  Let's get connected.

Invest in quality sleeping gear and camping just might become a family vacation fave. 

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The actual cost of our California road trip

The actual cost of our California road trip

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