I see this question a lot in the camping groups I’m part of: “Do we need toys for camping?”
My opinion is yes, and no. The appeal of camping for us is to get outside and away from screens, rules and structure. So we don’t always pack games that are crazy involved.
We think the best camping toys are those that encourage pretend play and get kids excited for an outdoor adventure. So for toddlers, that can mean a stick or a rock. For older kids and teens you might have to pack a few things to bring with.
We avoid bringing all the toys and try to stick to just a few camping toys for our son.
Best Toys to Take Camping
When we’re looking for toys to take camping we’re looking for something that will still get us outside and moving or something that is small and packable for a rainy day inside the tent.
Top 3 Outside Toys for Kids
- Advanced features: VOX, Low battery alert, Keypad lock, 22 channels, LCD screen, NOAA's Weather Emergency Alert.
- Create your own privacy code to ensure you're only talking to people you know.
- Rechargeable walkie talkies have USB fast charging cable and rechargeable AA batteries.
- Great for family indoor & outdoor activities, such as camping, hiking, biking, boating or between cars on a road trip.
Tiny Critter loves his walkie talkies. We’ve used them to stay connected while mushroom hunting, used them on hikes, and used them to play hide and seek in a cabin.
They can be used as a make-shift baby monitor, or just a nice way to stay in contact with your older kids who you may be allowing a bit of freedom to.
You can get foam airplanes for pretty cheap at most grocery stores, they’re good camping toys for kids of any age.
Foam airplanes are cheap, pack small and can be used in a relatively small area. Momma Critter used one when camping a few times, if you get a bigger one you can even make it do loops! We also flew ours out over the water and if I didn’t make a perfect loop, the pieces float for easy retrieval!
There are a ton of games you can play with a ball, from actual sports games with rules to just a game of catch with the whole family!
The last time we went camping Tiny Critter and his older cousin played games with a ball for most of the trip.
Top 3 Toys for Inside a Tent
Story dice are the perfect indoor activity for a rainy day or just before bed time. Instead of reading a story, you roll the dice and make up your own story to go with the pictures.
We all love playing this game before bed time, it’s a nice way to wind down the day in a fun way.
Everyone loves glow sticks! If you’re stuck inside the tent or need a small night-light for a young kid who might be a little scared of the dark, this is your answer.
With young kids playing hide and seek with the glow stick is an amazing night game. For older kids wearing them as bracelets and having a dance party is great fun!
Tiny Critter’s favorite toys are stuffed animals and he loves bringing them on every camping trip. He plays all kinds of imaginative games with them and we pretend the animals have their own journey while we’re off hiking or exploring.
He says his favorite part of the camping experience is tucking into his sleeping bag at night with all of his chosen animals.
As long as you’re not backcountry camping, there will be a place for your kids to ride a bike or a scooter. Tiny Critter has ridden his bike on hiking trails and around the campsite loops and had a blast.
Strider Bikes and scooters are great for toddlers and older kids will love riding their bikes around the campsite to burn off some energy.
Let’s face it, if you put a kid outside, they’re likely to start exploring nature and catching bugs. We’ve found it’s best to be prepared with some gear that will allow your child to have the most fun and do the least damage to the insects.
Bug net sets are a good way to let your little kids observe nature in a safe way, both for them and the bugs. A magnifying glass is also a good way to get a closer look at tiny bugs without getting too close!
A great camping toy for after dark is a standard flashlight. The possibilities are endless on the flashlight games you can play. Flashlight tag is a standard at all campsites.
If you’re going to be playing outdoor games, having a headlamp for each camper is a must. Your kids will be excited to have a piece of their own camping gear to play with each night.
Ladder golf is a great portable game to bring on your next camping trip. Campers of all ages can play, and you can pack it down for easy storage and transport.
Set up your targets and take turns throwing the golf balls on strings towards your goal. We play this often while camping, it’s a great activity to keep kids occupied while you start the campfire or set up the tent.
- This well built and foldable plastic cornhole board comes with everything you need to set up and play.
- Setting up the beanbag board is super easy
- This all-weather resistant cornhole board will survive outside without getting damaged.
- Bean bags don't slip off the cornhole board giving you a better and more realistic game.
- Premium carrying case that fits everything in with a built in spot for bean bags.
Beanbags, or cornhole as it’s called in our part of the country is a campground staple. It’s a regular part of the camping gear for many people I know.
People even have big tournaments during their family camping trips and hand out fun medals to the winners!
We often bring stomp rockets as a camping toy for Tiny Critter. It’s a fun way to pass some time by seeing who can shoot a rocket the highest, the furthest or land it in a specific spot.
We’ve even used the stomp rockets on a frozen lake while ice fishing!
- Stomp the extra-large foot pump on the kids toy rocket launcher and send your air rockets flying high!
- LED lights can be turned on and off. Take outdoor play to the next level with a spectacular rocket light show!
- Contains rocket flight experiments and insight into the physics of motion and aerodynamics.
- Kids rockets encourage physical exercise, scientific exploration, fine motor skill development, and balance.
Camping Board Games
This is a super cute game that teaches counting and math to kids. The goal is to get your camper to their campsite the fastest by drawing cards and either going backwards or forwards on your path.
When we played this game I thought it was a perfect game to teach our son to stick with a game even if you draw a card that makes you go backwards. It was awesome to watch him go from running out of the room if he was losing to now playing to the very end because anyone can win!
- Kids matching memory game set.
- Includes 16 matching card pairs, 3 inches in diameter.
- Kids will love the fun summer camp theme that features vibrant, colorful and artist-commissioned artwork, highlighted by polished double-sided gloss printing.
- Made of durable 3mm chipboard, enclosed in a reinforced packaging box to protect the cards when not in use.
Nut Nut Squirrel
Trekking the National Parks
- Winner of Mensa Select Board Games and Parent's Choice Gold Award
- One of the best board games for kids 8-12 and up!
- Created By National Parks Enthusiasts.
- It’s the perfect recipe for a family game night! Share your memories, and dream about where you’ll travel to next.
Water Toys for Camping
When you’re camping in hot weather, it’s a good idea to have some activities planned to help everyone cool off. Water toys are a great way to make camping fun even when it’s getting hot out!
Grab your towels and lifejackets and head down to the beach, or make your own water fun in your own campsite!
Squirt guns are an awesome way to cool down on hot days. Tiny Critter loves running around with these water guns squirting everyone and every thing.
Get a squirt gun for everyone in the family and have an awesome time laughing and staying cool on your camping adventure!
Reusable Water Balloons
Reusable water balloons are quickly becoming a cool thing to have. No one wants to spend their camping trip teaching their kids good camping etiquette by picking up hundreds of balloon shreds after a fun water fight.
There is no waste left over like with normal water balloons and once you buy them you’ll always have them.
Keep these awesome reusable water balloons with your camping gear for a quick way to cool down on a hot day. We love using ours because it’s so easy for Tiny Critter to do, and there is no limit to the water balloon fun or arguments about who got more balloons to start with!
Keep filling and throwing all day!
Camping Toys for Toddlers
Toddlers are a special category all their own, aren’t they? Too old for baby toys, but they lack the fine motor skills that so many games for bigger kids require.
As long as you pack a few camping toys for toddlers, you should be good to go. A lot of toddlers love outdoor play and can be entertained for a long time by the simplest things.
Having a camping toy just for your toddler to play with while you set up the camp site or start the campfire is also a great idea.
If you’re camping in an area with sand or dirt, then sand toys are a must-have. Our son always found something to scoop up and put in a bucket, dirt, rocks, pinecones, acorns, the list is endless.
Good outdoor toys for toddlers don’t have to be super involved and need batteries. They just need to provide them a way to manipulate their environment.
Brink a bucket and shovel set, it will quickly become one of your favorite toddler toys.
Cars and trucks to drive around in the dirt are another awesome camping toy. Toddlers love driving cars around and the added fun of sticks, rocks and dirt to drive in will keep them entertained for hours!
- Tiny hands friendly: easy to grab and drive around.
- Indoor/outdoor fun: drive them around the living room or around the sandbox!
- Textured wheels: create beautiful designs in the sand as you drive around the mini truck!
- Storage bag: grab the handle and you're ready to go. Perfect beach toys for your next camping trip!
Sports Gear for Camping
Some of the best camping toys are the toys that are good for all ages! Bringing a few activities to burn off extra energy is also a great idea to help kids settle down for sleep easier!
We have this ball and it’s not only a great playground or backyard ball, it’s always easy to find when it gets kicked into the underbrush or rolls into the woods.
A kick ball can be used for so many camping games, soccer, 4 square, catch, kick ball, ect. Your kids will find a million and one uses for a ball during the down time on your camping trip.
Playing a game of catch on a sunny day is an awesome way to spend a few hours. We prefer the fabric discs as they’re easier for our son to catch.
A lot of campgrounds have frisbee golf courses too, so if you bring a few discs you can go play a round after lunch!
Pretend Camping Sets
Toy camping sets are an inexpensive way to get kids excited about camping trips, while also teaching them about the great outdoors. Kids learn by playing, so playing with toy camping sets is the BEST way to learn!
These sets come with all sorts of accessories, including tents, campfires, and even sleeping bags. They’re perfect for letting kids experience the excitement of camping without having to leave the comfort of home.
You can practice fire safety with a pretend fire, learn about the camp stove or what sleeping in a tent is like without leaving your living room. Tiny Critter still loves setting up his tents in the house and creating his own campsite as often as possible.
Kids Camping Tent Sets
Little Tikes Forest Friends Tent
A hoot-tastic time, pretend play is endless with the included exploring map, bug magnifying glass and firefly projector! Pop n play tent, ready in minutes.
KidKraft A-Frame Hideaway & Climber
Melissa & Doug Let’s Explore Camp Stove
- 24-piece pretend play wooden camp stove with cookware and utensils to prepare and serve play food outdoor meals
- Wooden camp stove has knobs that turn, reversible grill and griddle, burner with adjustable “flame”; all pieces store inside
- Includes sliceable wooden fish, double-sided felt food, felt egg in a plastic egg shell, durable kettle, 2 cups with drink inserts, 2 plates, 2 sporks, collectible medallion, reusable activity book
Fisher – Price S’more Fun Campfire
Tiny Critter loves pretend camping and we roast pretend smores and set up tents in our house as often as possible.
He loves this soft campfire set and always makes sure to put on the bear gloves before moving the pretend fire.
You and your kids will love these toy sets!
I’m Molly Foss, aka Momma Critter. I’ve been camping since I was 9 years old and I always wanted to be Robin Hood and live in the forest when I grew up. I’m excited to share my love of camping with my son as he grows up. My favorite thing to do while camping is roast marshmallows over the fire.