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Get in Gear: Family Travel and Camping Picks

Plus: 6 Great Travel Apps

Published on: February 06, 2014

Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock

ENO DoubleNest Hammock

Perfect for everything from woodsy picnics to lakeside camping, this roomy nylon hammock will quickly become your family’s favorite piece of on-the-go gear. It’s a cinch to set up and take down — just snap on the straps and attach them to trees or posts. The family-size version of ENO’s popular hammock comes in fun colors and holds two or more people (as much as 400 pounds) for afternoon lounging or overnight sleeping under the stars. Packing light? No problem — it packs down to the size of a grapefruit and weighs just over a pound, so you can even toss it in your pack for day hikes.

Buy it: $70* (straps sold separately) at or

Petzl Zipka 2 LED Headlamp

Petzl Zipka 2 LED Headlamp

Every member of the camping family will enjoy their own light source for night trips to the bathroom or reading in sleeping bags. This hands-free LED lamp is compact enough to slip into a pocket. It attaches with a retractable cord that slips over the head and automatically adjusts to fit, making it the perfect choice for small hands not suited to adjusting a strap manually; it can also be worn on the wrist or attached to anything else, such as a kick scooter. The headlamp comes in eye-popping red or blue, and basic gray.

Buy it: $25–$35 at or

YayLabs! Ice Cream Ball

 BLUE YayLabs! Ice Cream Ball - Pint

Put the kids to work making ice cream while you finish cooking dinner on the camp stove. Load ice and rock salt into one end, then put cream, sugar and vanilla into the other. Toss or roll the ball around for 20 minutes (it’s pretty durable), and soon you’ll have a pint of delicious ice cream.

The exterior is copolyester plastic, and the interior can is anodized aluminum, both BPA-free. The ball comes with an easy recipe for basic vanilla ice cream; just add ingredients, such as chocolate chips or freshly picked huckleberries, for variations.

Buy it: $21–$30 at or

Camp Chef Cooking Iron

Camp Chef Cooking Iron

After you try this vintage-inspired pie iron, your family will never go car camping without it! This well-made gadget makes the absolute tastiest grilled cheese sandwiches and fruit pies over a roaring campfire.

Kids will love creating their own special sandwiches for dinner — pile on the cheeses, meats and spreads between two pieces of buttered bread, lock the iron closed and hold it over a campfire flame or atop a bed of hot coals. The iron comes with a recipe book for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Buy it: $17 at or

The Napsack by Poler Outdoor Stuff

napsack by Poler

Keep kids warm and cozy in this ultrahip body sack, essentially a sleeping bag you can wear. Poler Outdoor Stuff is a new Portland-based company with a rough-and-tumble approach to the outdoors, creating gear for urban adventurers who are more likely to camp ’round a fire at Mount Rainier than scale a peak in Patagonia. Its signature Napsack can be used as a sleeping bag, but it’s so much more: Zippers at the shoulders mean you can stick out your arms, and a cinch at the bottom lets you stretch your legs. Cinch it at the waist and the Napsack transforms into a full-length puffy coat, perfect for cool Pacific Northwest evenings. Kids’ sizes come in orange or black. 

Buy it: $100–$130 at the Poler Stuff store or 

Travel Tot Travel Childproofing Kit

Travel Tot Travel Childproofing Kit

When you’re traveling with a toddler in tow, modern hotel rooms can be a festival of safety hazards. Get your room baby­proofed quickly and easily with this mobile kit of safety devices, including two-prong electrical outlet covers (note that these won’t fit the outlets in some countries), finger pinch guards, foam corner guards, doorknob cover, cord winder, sliding-door lock, cabinet lock, multipurpose straps, water thermometer and more. These items are designed for repeated use and won’t leave damaging marks on hotel furniture.

Buy it: $35 at

National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas

National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas

No Wi-Fi? No problem. Whether you’re driving through states or flying over them on your family vacation, this cool atlas will keep kids engaged with the geography and history all around them.

Each state has its own easy-to-read road map, plus state symbols, cool things to do, boredom busters, fun facts, wacky roadside attractions and games.

Buy it: $6 at

Coghlan's Six-Function Whistle

Coghlan’s Six-Function Whistle

Safety is always a priority when you travel with little kids, but they just want to have fun. With this $12 clip-on tool, your little one can pretend he’s Inspec­­tor Gadget while you feel secure knowing there’s a whistle at the ready should he get turned around. It features a loud whistle, thermometer, pull-out magnifying lens, LED light, signal mirror and compass with a glow-in-the-dark dial.

Buy it: $12 at


*Please note that all prices are approximate and may change since this article has been posted.

Cool travel apps

Here are a few organizations and sites to to get you summer-adventure ready.

Trailblazer outdoor travel app by washington trail association iconTrailblazer (Android, Windows and iOS, free): Created by the Washington Trails Association as a mobile-friendly portal into its vast database, this app lets you search for local kid-friendly hiking trails, check trail conditions and bookmark your favorites.

TripDoc App

TripDoc (Windows and iOS, $2.99): Created by the Seattle blogger behind the travel blog, TripDoc allows you to plan and track your trip by map.


Mom maps app iconMom Maps (Android and iOS, free): Find local playgrounds, museums and other kid-friendly hot spots by map — wherever you are. 


Best Road Trip Ever App IconBest Road Trip Ever! (iOS, $0.99): Using your location, browse a map for nearby offbeat destinations, funky eateries and roadside attractions.


Road Trip Bingo App IconRoad-Trip Bingo (iOS, $0.99): Pass time in the car by looking for road signs, dump trucks and farm buildings until somebody gets Bingo!


Hotel Tonight App IconHotel Tonight (Android and iOS, free): Need a room? This app makes last-minute hotel reservations a breeze. Deals on discounted rooms nearby are posted daily, along with useful hotel descriptions. 

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