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A Simple How to Dress for Camping Guide with Outfit Ideas!

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what to wear camping photo collage showing different camping outfits and how to dress for camping

Hello, my friends! Are you planning a camping trip and wondering what the right camping clothes are to pack? Look no further! In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to dress for camping, from the best clothes to wear to the most appropriate fabrics for different seasons and weather conditions. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a first-timer, the right camping clothes are crucial to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable trip.

I’ll also add some tips for your young children (because we all know if they aren’t having fun, nobody is having fun!). I LOVE camping with my kids, it is a great option for low-cost family trips. So, let’s dive into how to dress for camping so you can get planning and get outside!

Still not sure how to do all this nature time with your family?

Let’s take a pause then: for some families, all this nature time and outdoor time can feel overwhelming. Usually, for us parents. I have lots of info on getting outside and making that time successful! Check out my article on learning to love nature time here, and on how to start family hiking here. Don’t worry my friends, I got your back! Now on to the best camping gifts for kids!

How to dress for camping: synthetic vs natural materials

When it comes to camping, choosing the best clothing materials can be a tricky task. Should you go for synthetic materials or natural materials? Well, let me tell you, both have their own unique advantages! Synthetic materials are a better option if you want to stay dry and sweat-free. They are lightweight, quick-drying, and easy to care for. On the other hand, natural materials like cotton and wool are perfect for chilly nights around the campfire. They provide insulation and keep you cozy when the temperature drops. So, what’s the best clothing material for camping? It all depends on the weather and your personal preferences. Just make sure you choose the right materials for the right conditions, and you’ll have a blast!

mother carrying daughter during a camping trip

How to dress for camping based on warm or cold weather

The right camping clothes are very different depending on the season and what weather conditions you will expect. Camping is always more fun if you are prepared for the weather forecast. Especially when you are camping with young children! They do not handle cold and wet or super hot very well.

So how to dress for camping in warm weather

For warm weather, you want to wear light breathable layers that you can take off. That way if the mornings are cooler but then the weather warms up you can take off some layers or if you end up doing a day hike and once you are more active you warm up you can again remove some layers

warm weather camping outfit:

Warm Layer for the cooler mornings/evenings
Light and breathable long sleeve shirt
Comfortable crop top with built in bra for when it gets hot
high waisted leggings with a pocket (always!)

This outfit has enough layers that as the day warms up you can take off layers and still feel comfortable. All the colors are simple so you will easily be able to mix and match. You could opt for a lighter top layer if the mornings wont be as cool during your trip.

How to dress for camping in hot weather

With hot weather camping you have a few more elements to think about: Sun protection and insect repellent. 

Consider insect-repellent clothes

For myself and my kids, we usually opt for breathable fabric in long sleeves and long pants to help keep insects away. Recently I have also seen clothing that has insect-repellent built-in. I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t promise if it works, but we are hoping to give it a try soon so I can keep you posted! 

example of how to dress for camping near water, mother and two kids camping near river
Showing off my layers here: my overshirt is tied around my waist since it got hot! Kids are in swim shorts and light shirts so we are ready for the water!

Sun protection while camping

A great option for sun protection is wearing a hat: either a wide-brimmed hat or even a baseball cap can provide some protection from the sun. Also choosing a loose-fitting long sleeve shirt or long pants in breathable fabrics can provide some sun protection on those hot days. 

Many activewear clothes have built-in SPF. That is what we opt to use for my kids, SPF clothes and hats (when I can get them to keep them on!). If I can’t I will add a little all-natural sunscreen just to their face. 

Also, consider fast-drying or moisture-wicking fabric that will help with body sweat if you are an active camper but, if you decide to take a dip in a river or lake nearby, you will still dry quickly, especially on those hot days, that water can be too tempting!

Example of a hot weather outfit

Sun hat, embrace it, you’re camping!
Light and breathable short sleeve shirt
Comfortable crop top with built in bra
Long bike shorts

You have a layer option here (you could always add in a button-down shirt if the morning is cool, I usually do! I can’t help myself!), and the hat gives you some sun protection. If you aren’t doing any huge hikes you could switch the bike shorts for jean shorts if that’s more your style.

Tips for how to dress kids for camping in hot weather

Now if you have young kids, I will again recommend fast-drying fabric, you will not be able to keep them out of that water, and really, why bother? Let them walk right in and enjoy it! My kids have multipurpose water shoes that also work well on trails. Combine those with some quick-dry fabric and your young kids are ready to be wild and free on your next camping trip!

Favorite kid’s clothing brand: Primary

The clothes are very high quality, have lots of fun colors and are great for layering. They also have active fabric options that are quick-drying (check them out here!).

Tips for camping near water

Now if you are camping near a body of water definitely plan to pack your bathing suit and flip flops! I don’t recommend that kind of summer wear on a day hike, but they are a great option to have at the campsite if you are camping right on the water (and of course, nothing says you’ve embraced the camping lifestyle like sandals and socks in the morning!).

wool socks and sandals by fire
ah yes, the most clasic camping outfit

Ok on to how to dress for cool weather camping

This is a little bit tricky and it is different depending on if you are talking about simple cold temperatures or EXTREME temperatures (I am talking about covered-in snow below zero camping). Here I will cover regular cold temperatures as in late fall or early spring when it might get to 30 degrees at night or early morning but does warm up during the day. I camp with my kids so I don’t do those extreme temperatures where it’s freezing, literally, all day (just keeping it honest here!).  

Honestly, camping in spring or fall is my favorite time to camp. I would much rather snuggle in a sleeping bag and wear lots of layers than be sweating all night!

Showing camping layers: outer layer with pants and wool socks, women tending campfire
Some layers here: my warm flannel button down, then a long sleeve shirt, then my standard black leggings paired with wool socks and sandals (because nothing says camping like socks and sandals!). Cooking over the fire keeps me pretty warm, I would add a light jacket to this if needed.

The best way to stay comfortable while camping during cooler weather is to wear LAYERS. Pack layers and then wear all those layers! You will need a minimum of 3-4 layers. 

Layer 1

First, you need a base layer like long underwear. For this, I prefer a natural material like merino wool. It is more expensive but the best option for an inner layer because merino wool is the best way to stay warm but not overheat. It helps your body temperature stay regulated and wicks away any extra moisture. 

Layer 2

Then you need a middle layer, this will be more like regular clothing, long sleeves/sweater, and long pants. 

Layer 3+4

On top of that, you will have 1-2 outer layers depending on the temperature and weather conditions. So you might choose a sweater plus a light jacket if it’s not too cold that combo should do it for you. If it is colder than a thick sweater and medium weight or heavy warm jacket. 

Cold weather camping tip

You don’t really want to overpack with camping. So, my outer layers all match and I just wear them all when it’s cold. As in all the things I packed for outer layers all at once! I only really change my underlayers (you know what I mean). Now, if it’s a longer trip I will bring two options for each layer and just mix and match them. But, again, all my things are mix and matchable. It makes it much easier.

Example of a cold weather camping outfit

Warm but light-weight (and packable) outerlayer
Sweater layer
Insulating long sleeve wool layer
Thick wool socks (because nobody wants cold feet!)

Ok, you got yourself some warm upper layers and some nice warm socks. Pair this with your standard black leggings and if that’s not warm enough do an insulating pair of leggings and joggers.

Rainy weather camping

Now if it is raining out then your outer layer should be a rain jacket or waterproof jacket, also consider rain pants if you are still going to be hiking no matter the weather.

For young kids, you can get a whole rain suit. They are a thin outer waterproof suit, but, because they are all one suit (top and bottoms connected) they can still keep kiddos pretty warm especially if you layer warm clothes underneath. 

little girl dressed for rainy weather camping
my daughter wearing her brother’s hand-me-down rain gear. When the kids were younger we did a full rain suit.

We love rain gear. We are active campers and do not let the weather hold us back when camping. 

My favorite rain gear for adults and kids:

Best Rain Suit
Kids Rain Pants
Kids Rain Jacket (in fun colors!)
water resistant pants for women

Here are some great options for kids’ rain gear. Plus, the last one is a water resistant pants for women. I like these pants because they don’t make me feel like a blob, and I can still layer leggings underneath.

My go to camping uniform

well, nobody asked, but here is how I keep my camping outfits simple:

  1. wear things that all can be mixed and matched (then just re-wear stuff…its camping, everybody just smells like the campfire anyways!)
  2. On cold mornings just wear ALLLL your layers. I pack one jacket and one sweater, then I just layer
  3. A flannel shirt is always the best layer! You may have noticed but I can pair a flannel shirt with just about anything!
  4. Wear a crop top with a built-in bra as your base layer so if you get hot you always have that, and you’ll still feel cute!

Ok, that’s a wrap, folks! I hope these tips help you on your camping adventure. Remember to pack some extra clothes and wear layers! Good luck my friends!

Do you have any go-to camping outfit tips to share?

Post Disclaimer

DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this article should be construed as medical advice.  Consult you health care provider for your individual nutritional and medical needs.  The opinions are strictly those of the author and are not necessarily those of any professional group or other individual

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