It’s the first week of May and just like everyone else, I’m starting to prep for camping season. I’ve already used my camping gear for turkey season, but as the weather warms up, the experience changes. Camping can be one of the most relaxing, fun, and mentally refreshing activities you and your family can do this summer. However, camping can also be a regretful experience with no sleep and comfort if you don’t prepare as well as you should. This blog is going to help you prepare to be ready for camping with your family in late spring and early summer. Hope you enjoy!

Sleeping Pad

I’ve owned at least a dozen different sleeping pads from inflatable to foam and everything in between. Luckily for everyone reading this, I have some wisdom to impart that will save you some sleepless nights in the woods. For starters, I think anyone over 150 lbs should not use an inflatable sleeping pad unless it’s thicker than 2″ or more. I know they seem convenient and easier to travel with (which they are), but I’ve owned 4 inflatable pads and I haven’t enjoyed 1 of them. I sleep on my back so I can distribute my weight evenly on the pad, but even at 180 lbs, I’m barely off the ground and I feel every pebble, stick, or grain of dirt.

My recommendation would be to use a foam pad that is at least 1.5″ thick and made with ridges or air pockets to allow air to circulate through the pad so you don’t sweat your ass off in your tent. A few of the sleeping pads that I really like are the Olee Sleep Tri-Folding Memory Foam Topper, Willpo CertiPUR-US Memory Foam Camping Mattress, and the Nemo Switchback Foam Sleeping Pad. The Olee Sleep and the Willpo sleeping pads are perfect for those who camp at a designated campsite with your family and friend where you can park right up to your campsite. 

Understanding your terrain and environment is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a sleeping pad. Personally, if I’m camping it’s normally in the middle of the woods with no chance to get a vehicle into my camping locations. Packing a sleeping pad is something you need to consider and the only one on this list that I would be comfortable bringing into the woods or mountains would be the Nemo Switchback. However, the Olee and Willpo sleeping pads are so comfortable you’d even feel good about using these pads for guests at your home or if you needed to sleep on the floor for a night, for whatever reason. The last thing you want to carry around is more equipment to inflate your pad, even if inflatable pads are easier to pack in and out.

Camping Tents For Families

Anyone who has ever grown up camping with their families most likely has memories that will last a lifetime (good or bad). I’ve camped my entire life every summer with my family and we’ve had amazing experiences camping and fishing with my mom and dad. However, we’ve also had experiences that we’re so awful that we’ve considered never going back again due to not being prepared or having a leaky tent in the infamous Washington rain. Hopefully, this blog will give you ideas on things to consider when choosing a tent and what to avoid before you buy.

Coleman 4-person Cabin tent

There are a few things that I look for in every tent that I buy and if the tent doesn’t have all 3 of these features, I don’t buy them or recommend them. If you’re camping you need to make sure your tent is waterproof, easy to set up, and durable enough to handle wind and heavy rain without falling apart. The newest technology in tents is really cool with a sort of base station for the poles to ensure that you don’t have to wonder or worry about if the poles are in the right place or not. The Coleman Cabin 4-person tent, WFS 8-Person 2-Room Cabin Camping Tent, and the QT QOMOTOP 6-person tent are my recommendations for families. 

Another thing to consider is that if a tent says 6-person tent, it’s not going to be comfortable for 6 people. Yes, it will fit 6 people for sure, but nobody would be able to move if they had to get up at night to use the bathroom or if someone rolls while they sleep, it would be a disaster. I always recommend if the tent says it’s a 6 person tent to have no more than 4 people if possible to maintain a level of comfort that most of us desire while sleeping.

The WFS 8-person tent is the only tent on this list that will take more than a couple of minutes to set up, but with 3 or 4 people helping could get this monstrosity setup in less than 5 minutes with relative ease. All of these tents are waterproof, windproof, and built with a reinforced bottom to prevent quick wear and tear from the forest or mountain floor below. As with anything that’s exposed to the elements, I recommend treating your tents with both permethrin and scotch guard to prevent ticks and mosquitos from entering your tent and to keep the water from building up on your tent and leaking through the seams. Fortunately, all 3 of these tents have reinforced seams to prevent any water from entering, but I always recommend scotch-guarding your tents. I’ve noticed that it also helps with slowing down the fading of the fabric from the sun, so your tent looks nicer for longer.


Camping lantern

When I’m camping by myself, I normally just use my headlamps to get around when it’s pitch-black and I can’t see anything. However, if you’re camping with a family, things can get really awkward and even unsafe if you have 4 people walking around without any light around them. This is why I recommend using a lantern when camping and there are some really cool lanterns on Amazon right now. The one that I use when I camp in the summer in Virginia is the Odoland Portable LED Camping Lantern with Ceiling Fan. The fact that it works as both a ceiling fan on top of a bright LED light is an awesome bonus that saves space, time, and money. 

The AYL camping lantern is a rechargeable lantern with 46 LED bulbs that offer 100% waterproof protection and recharges using a USB port. I would use this lantern if I were going to be camping for more than a night or two because it offers more versatility than any other camping lantern and doesn’t require much maintenance or upkeep to keep it running. I know I’ve dropped lanterns and they sometimes just shut off and stop working, but the AYL lantern is durable, practical, and works great in almost any light setting.



Getting ready to camp with your family can be unnecessarily stressful if you’re not as prepared as you need to be. Taking care of shelter is one of the 3 most important things to consider when camping (food, shelter, and clothing). I’ve spent more days in the woods camping than I could ever count and I know I’ve spent more nights awake than sleeping soundly. Figure out where you’ll be camping and how close you can get a car to the site. If you have to hike in a few miles, you might want to pack light and avoid the bigger, more comfortable sleeping pads and tents. There is something for everyone looking for the proper shelter and sleeping pads for their next family excursion. As always, good luck and stay safe!