The Best Summer Camp Gear for Kids

Don't let your little camper be the aqua socks kid. Guarantee them the best summer ever with this essential summer camp gear checklist.

by Steve Schiff
Originally Published: 
Summer Camp Gear

Summer camp season is here, and it’s tough to tell who is more excited. Your kid, who is free from pencils, books, and dirty looks, or you, who is free from your kid (at least for a few hours a day, unless they fell for the old sleepaway camp racket). Either way, that excitement will be equally short-lived for both of you if your kid is not properly outfitted for their camp experience. This list of the best summer camp gear will keep them comfortable and prepared for any activity so neither of you is reduced to a sweating, sobbing mess at the end of the summer (or, worse, the day).

Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket

When a classic summer downpour inevitably washes out the day at camp, junior has 2 options: Enjoy the rest of their day in this breathable, windproof, waterproof shell, or have their counselors hastily wrap them up in a garbage bag. The choice is yours.

Buy Now $99

North Face Happy Camper Backpack

It remains to be seen if everyone in your kid’s generation will sport the same North Face jacket the way everyone in your college dorm did, but this scaled-down version of their adult-sized backpack will ensure your kid fits right in at camp — or they’ll just have the coolest backpack. Plus it can hold, like, 20 juice boxes!

Buy Now $60

Keen Newport H2 Sandals

These sandals are rugged, waterproof, quick drying, and adjustable, with a toe guard to protect those precious little piggies. Perfect for any warm-weather summer camp activity from hiking and kayaking to roaming the water park or just walking around, and impervious to the heckling the kid with the aqua socks is going to endure.

Buy Now $40-$100

L.L.Bean Waterproof Solar Flashlight

Charge this flashlight under a lamp at home before you leave or under the sun while you’re hiking all day. Either way, it pumps out 60 lumens and 12 hours of light on an 8-hour charge. That’s a lot of ghost stories. And since it’s waterproof to 80 feet, you can tell those stories on an actual dark and stormy night.

Buy Now $18

Camelbak Eddy Kids Water Bottle

Having already cornered the market on runners in fanny packs and dehydrated festival ravers, Camelbak is bringing their BPA-free, never spilling, lifetime guaranteed water bottle technology to your kid. Fun design themes like dinosaurs, puppies, and sports gear mean they can show off their personality in a more counselor-friendly way than crying for a drink of water every 5 minutes.

Buy Now $12

Beyond Bookmarks Outta This World Basket

Even if your kid is heading to sleepaway camp, you can still control what toys they play with by sending them this gift basket full of bouncy balls, moldable putty, a flying foam rocket, squirt guns, and something called Lazer Fingers that will surely drive their counselors nuts after lights out. If you’re crafty, there’s plenty of nooks and crannies to sneak your kid some of their favorite candy contraband.

Buy Now $45

Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids

Kids love joke books, so this would make a great gift for just about any reason, but it’ll especially come in handy when they’re trying to break the ice with new kids they might not know from school. It also provides an early lesson that will serve them well in the office one day: funny gets you out of any awkward situation.

Buy Now $3

Kikkerland Platanus Log Pillow

A super-soft log-shaped pillow can serve a dual purpose for your kid this summer. First, if their idea of roughing it means not playing on your iPhone for an hour, putting this in their bed is probably as close to the great outdoors as they’re going to get. Secondly, if they’re going to actually, you know, summer camp, they’ll look like a badass who sleeps like an angel while resting on a hunk of wood.

Buy Now $23

Melissa & Doug Camp Bunk Box Of Questions

This stack of 42 entertaining questions is the perfect way for your kid to start meaningful conversations with their new summer camp friends about their backgrounds and personalities. The alternative is ‘Truth Or Dare?’, the perfect way for said friends to start embarrassing conversations with your kid about their crushes and bedwetting habits.

Buy Now $19

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