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Gear Girl: Fall Family Camping

Fall is my favorite time to take my family camping. The crisp air makes a camp fire that much more enjoyable, the gold and crimson leaves setting the perfect backdrop for family walks, explorations, and star-gazing. Plus, you skip the summer crowds and get to truly enjoy the silence and solitude of nature. Before you head out for your fall family camp trip, here are some important essentials to keep you and your kids cozy and well cared for.

Get the Gear:

The right gear truly can make a camping trip a lot more enjoyable. Hate battling tent poles? Then you'll love this new series of tents from Kelty. The Mach 6 Air-Pitch tent (also available as the Mach 4) has no tent poles, but instead has inflatable supports that don't break or get left at home. The tent sets up super fast and not only has two spaces for sleeping (hurray for separate "rooms" so the kids can go to sleep while we stay up!), but it has a center common area for storing clothes, shoes and other gear. A brilliant, family-friendly tent.

Family Camping: Get the Gear

As the sun sets, you'll want to light your campsite or cooking area with a lantern like this LumaSpot Rhythm. This LED lantern not only provides ambient light, but can be focused with its rotating head to provide a direct spot light so you can see your book or what's on the stove. But what makes the LumaSpot Rhythm lantern perfect for families is its built-in speaker and included cord to plug in your phone or mp3 player for some dinner music and its "disco" function that allows you to choose from red, green, blue or a combination of coloring changing LEDs. Some times it's the little things that help the kids calm down or be entertained.

I'm always worried that my kids are cold when we're camping, but this Kelty Big Dipper sleeping bag not only protects them down to 30°F, but has a built-in, never-get-lost compression sack, pillow pocket and best of all? A bottom that unzips to reveal 12 more inches of foot room making it one thing your kid won't grow out of in a year.

After a good night's sleep, your crew is going to wake up hungry. I like to prep or pre-make lots of our camping meals - breakfasts especially because who like to scramble eggs when it's freezing outside? (This was my latest breakfast success.) Look for a camping stove that is compact to store, but has enough room for pots and pans big enough to cook for a family like this Coleman Triton Series Two-Burner stove.

Stay Warm:

Fall camping is beautiful but the weather can be unpredictable.Cold mornings often give way to warm days. Surprise showers can even turn to snow. Keep the family prepared and able to enjoy the elements with outwear that can adjust to the changing temps.

Stay Warm

The Columbia Bugaboo Interchange jacket for both boys and girls is a 3-in-1 jacket that fully prepares your kids for whatever the fall weather has in store. Just cold? Wear the interior microfleece liner. Drizzly? Don the outer waterproof jacket. And if it's cold and wet, you can combine the layers for a full service jacket. Plus this jacket has Columbia's OUTGROWN feature - an internal sleeve extension of up to 1.5" - to ensure this jacket lasts through multiple camp trips.

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I like the crisp air of a fall camping trip, but I have no desire to actually be cold. With the Kühl Flight jacket, moms can remain toasty warm and camping chic with this Italian two-toned polyester fleece that pretty much feels like you're cuddling with 100 über-soft kittens. It has Kühl's signature thumb loops, a huge, cozy, zip-out hood and four zippered pockets for all the "treasures" your kids will undoubtedly find and ask you to hold.

We're not going to forget dads here at Momtrends. My husband does the bulk of the fire building, tent-raising, and wild animal scaring, so it's important that he's protected from the elements too. This Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody is lightweight and bulk-free, but packs a major heat punch. It's also water repellent, hides dirt well, and still looks nice enough if we venture into town to grab dinner.

Don't forget to throw in a few other warm essentials like these adorable accessories from H&M - squirrel beanie,faux fur earflap hat, lined boots, and gloves.

Food Fun

I don't know about your family, but when we're camping - heck, even when we're not - my kids are constantly hungry. I'm always sure to keep a few of these fun and family-friendly food items packed for the trip.

Food Fun

I don't even want to look at the ingredients in this Jiffy Pop Popcorn, but these never fail to entertain kids who will have a blast shaking this over the fire and watching it expand into a mountain of popcorn. Oh, and eating it is fun too.

These extension roasters from LL Bean work just as well for marshmallows as they do hotdogs which means, theoretically, you could have a whole meal on these sticks with zero clean up.

This YaLabs! Ice Cream Ball is a brilliant family find. Put in the ingredients, fill the exterior with ice, and give the kids the ball to shake, throw, and roll around. They'll be tired, get entertained, and at the end, you'll have ice cream.

What is your favorite family camping must-have?

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