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Outdoor Clothing Gear

Good quality outdoor clothing gear helps to make your family camping trip a success!

3 small boys hiking

The bad news

I hope I'm not the first to tell you this: you're not always going to have good weather when you camp!

  • It will rain sometimes.
  • It will get cold.

The good news

You can have a great time, no matter what the weather, as long as you and your family are dressed appropriately in 
good outdoor clothing.

Layer up!

The secret to staying warm, no matter the weather, is to wear layers. On a cold morning, bundle up in all three of these layers. As the day gets warmer,  remove a layer or two.

1. Base layer

The base layer goes against your skin. It needs to be comfortable; no one likes something itchy next to the body! The base layer should be lightweight and should be made of a material that transports moisture away from your body. Synthetic long underwear makes the perfect first layer.

Here's a good long underwear top for kids, and here are the matching bottoms. You can even get long underwear for infants and toddlers. Here's a good set.

Silk long underwear has all the advantages of synthetic underwear, and has the bonus of feeling luxurious against the skin. Have a look.

2. Insulating layer

The second layer traps air and keeps you warm.

Wool clothing is very warm, but it takes a long time to dry if it gets wet.

I recommend fleece clothing for the second layer. It is warm and it dries quickly. Check out the cute kids' fleece in the right column of this page.

Here's a good quality womans fleece jacket.

3. Outer layer

The top layer should be windproof and rainproof.

Look for something that not only protects you from the rain, but also breathes so that you don't get all sweaty.

Look for something like this.

Avoid plastic or PVC rainwear. It won't breathe, and you'll be hot and sweaty and cranky!

Shopping tips

Here's what to look for when you go shopping for camping clothes.

Good quality

You may be tempted to buy the cheapest option. Don't do it! Good quality outdoor clothing gear will keep you warmer and drier and will last much longer than bargain gear.

You don't want to spend outrageous amounts of money, though - especially since your kids are going to be rough on their outdoor clothing.

Fortunately, it's possible to find clothes that are good quality and inexpensive too - if you know where to look. Here's how I find good cheap outdoor clothing gear for my family.

Quick drying fabrics

Here's something else you should know before you head off on a camping trip:

Your kids are going to get wet!

Why? Well, it might rain.

Or seomeone might fall, fully clothed, into the lake.

Or someone might think it's funny to dump a pail of water on his brother.

Cotton takes a long time to dry.

If you have brought only blue jeans and cotton T-shirts, your campsite will quickly be full of wet clothing hanging from every available branch.

Unless there is a laundromat at your campground, leave the cotton clothing at home!

Bring clothes that will dry quickly: synthetics.

boy wearing synthetic shirt

Here's a nice long-sleeved synthetic shirt for boys.

If (or when!) your kids' synthetic clothes get dirty, you can quickly wash them out, knowing that they will dry easily.

Packing Tips

Now that you know what types of camping clothes work best, you need to know exactly what to pack. Click here for a clothes packing list for the whole family.

For tent camping, we pack our clothes in duffel bags, one bag for each person. To make mornings go more smoothly, we pack our socks and underwear in cloth bags. It's easier to find a cloth bag inside the duffel bag than it is to hunt for a missing sock when you are in a hurry to get to the bathroom!

More outdoor clothing gear

Bug gear

Mosquitoes and other insects can spoil a camping trip. If you're going camping where you know the bugs will be bad, you might want to consider investing in some bug clothing - or at least a head net.

boy wearing bug head net

Click here for some more thoughts on mosquito bite prevention.

Sun protection


Good camping hats that keep off the sun are essential, not only for preventing sunburn but also for avoiding heat exhaustion and sunstroke. Read about recognizing and preventing heat exhaustion here.

I like a sunhat with a big brim that shades the face and the back of the neck.

Here are some excellent sunhats for the whole family.

Sun protection clothing

You may want to consider getting some spf clothing, especially for the kids. They'll be protected from the sun, and you will avoid the whole putting-on-sunscreen battle!

These suits may seem pricey - but I highly recommend them. They'll pay for themselves in sunscreen savings, especially if you can pass them down to another child. We bought a larger-than-necessary size for our first child. He wore it for years, and then passed it to his younger brother. As you can see, it was still in perfect shape.

small boy wearing spf suit

If you are using sunscreen, read this page about how to apply sunscreen effectively.

I hope you won't need to know how to treat a sunburn, but here is the information, just in case!

Now that you know about choosing outdoor clothing gear, be sure to visit The Camping Family home page for more camping hints.

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