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Camp Clothes for Kids

Rain Gear

The best rain gear for young children is an inexpensive plastic poncho, a coated nylon windbreaker, and a sou’wester-style hat. Trim the poncho to fit with scissors. Waterproof the stitching of the coated jacket with seam sealant (every camp shop has it). Be sure to glue the seams on the sou’wester hat too.

Rationale: The youngster wears the coated wind shell under the poncho—it keeps arms dry and provides a secondary “drip” layer in prolonged rain. The sou’wester hat is worn over the poncho hood and is tied beneath the chin. Together, these garments provide serviceable and inexpensive protection from rain.

Emergency rain gear for kids (or adults) may be fashioned from a large leaf-and-lawn-size garbage bag. Cut head and arm holes, provide a sou’wester hat, and you’ll stay reasonably dry.

Wet-weather footgear: Running shoes and galoshes, or any rubber boots sized large enough to fit over the sneakers, are all you need. When rains quit, the boots are removed and freedom of foot is instantly restored.

Camp Clothing and Sleeping Gear

Cotton clothing (except underwear) should be avoided except in the predictable heat of mid-July. Woolens may be too scratchy for some youngsters, so the logical solution is Orlon acrylic. Acrylic sweaters, gloves, and hats dry quickly after a wetting and retain their insulating properties when damp or soiled. Acrylic garments are also quite inexpensive; they are ideal for spring canoe and boat trips, for adults as well as kids.

Hats: Kids need three hats on a camping trip—a brimmed cap for sun, a warm stocking cap (wool or acrylic) for chilly days, and the traditional sou’wester for rain.

Sleeping gear: Kids do not need air mattresses or foam pads for comfort. Their young bones will happily conform to the most uneven ground! You must provide a foam pad (not an air mattress—these conduct cold!) if down sleeping bags are used. Body weight compresses the underside of a down bag to near-zero thickness, and chilling will result unless insulation is provided. The typical polyester (Polarguard, Quallofil, or Hollofil) sleeping bag provides sufficient insulation below so that, except in very cold weather, mattresses may be omitted.

Sleeping bags are unnecessary for typical summer camping. One or two light wool or fluffy acrylic blankets, folded as illustrated (figure C-8), will provide plenty of warmth in temperatures to 45 degrees.

Increasing the warmth of a sleeping bag: The warmth of a sleeping bag is partly related to the amount of space the body has to heat. By reducing dead-air space, you’ll increase warmth. Figure C-9 shows an easy way to reduce the dimensions, and add warmth, to the typical station-wagonsized sleeping bag. A flannel “draft collar” sewn to the top of a sleeping bag will increase warmth considerably.

Insects (see BUGS, page 30): A head net and a Susie bug net are wise investments if you’ll be camping in buggy country. Choose mild, cream-based repellents rather than more powerful chemicals, which may burn sensitive young skin.

Toys: Kids will want to bring a favorite doll or teddy bear. Be sure to provide a “raincoat” (plastic bag) for the toy, so it won’t be ruined in foul weather.


From the book Camping's Top Secrets, 3rd, by Cliff Jacobson. Copyright © 2006 by Cliff Jacobson. Used by permission of FalconGuides, a division of Globe Pequot Press. Visit

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