Finding the best gifts for campers in 2019 might seem hard at first — after all, camping fanatics have much of the gear they need for their weekend outdoor adventures. That’s not game over, though: Campers have a tendency to wear out their camping gear, which means your best camping gift can be a replacement upgrade. In addition, most campers appreciate cool camping gadgets.
Best Camping Gift Ideas: Our Guide
We take pride in our gift guides for campers and camping enthusiasts because we not only recommend a particular can’t-go-wrong camping gift, we also tell you why our choices are cool gifts for campers.
Meanwhile, what about experienced campers? Finding gifts for campers who have everything is easier than you think: Sometimes a camper already has a piece of camping gear . . . but they could actually use an upgrade.
Here’s just one example: We have a buddy who now has three kids. Add in his wife and a family dog and suddenly the old 4-person tent just isn’t big enough. Boom, there’s your opening for a great camping gift. A 6-person or even 8-person tent would be a great camping gift idea for this guy and his family.
Tips for Choosing Camping Gifts
There are other clues you can look for to find gifts for campers. Has your camper complained about sleeping arrangements? Has an air mattress failed? Could they use a luxury or ultralight replacement? How about a camping cot?
If your camper uses an RV or camp trailer, consider how you can improve their camping experience outside of the RV — hammocks are pretty fantastic, as are pop-up sun shades with mesh walls that keep the bees and mosquitos out.
Everyone we know has used a cheap and uncomfortable camp chair — and we’ve broken more than our fair share. For a camping gift that can’t be broken, try the YETI Hondo Base Camp Chair. A good camp chair is always a welcome upgrade . . . just beware that kids and guests will go for the new chair every time, too — especially if it’s the super comfy NEMO Stargaze Recliner Luxury Chair.
Meanwhile, what are our favorite camping gifts for 2019 and beyond? Which are the best camping gadget gifts? The best camping stocking stuffers?
For more detail, dive into our camping gift recommendations for 2019.
There are many reasons why the BioLite Solar Lantern makes a great camping gift, starting with the fact that it works supremely well. It puts out a soft-yet-bright light that you can prop up or hang pretty much anywhere. We use it outside at camp as well as hang it up inside our tents. It’s just excellent. Plus, the price is right, and for the build quality, the price-to-value ratio is outstanding. You can charge it at home or in your vehicle via a USB charger — just like your smartphone — or you can set it up to collect rays from the sun during the day. The solar charger even includes a peep sight that lets you orient the BioLite Solar Lantern for maximum solar charging efficiency. And here’s a hint: Buy an extra one for yourself. They’re that good.
If you give your camping enthusiast a hammock, they’re going to put it use. Who doesn’t like hammocks? We’ve never met anyone who doesn’t. They’re astoundingly comfortable, and the Eno DoubleNest Hammock is big and strong enough for two. Your camper can take a nap, read a book, or just chill. If you sit sideways instead of lay lengthwise, you turn the hammock into an ultra comfortable lounge chair. And kids? That might be your camper’s biggest problem: Shooing the kids away so an adult can use the hammock. But wait, there’s more: What if you only have two trees in your campsite but want to hang two hammocks? Try the Eagles Nest Outfitters ENO Fuse Tandem Hammock System. Of course, if your camper camps in areas without trees, what do you do? Nab the awesome ENO Nomad Hammock Stand — you can set it up anywhere, even on a sandy beach. The hammocks and stands are sold separately, so buy accordingly. Because pretty much everyone likes a hammock, hammocks are always one of our top camping gifts.
The FireBuggz Family Fun Pak includes two awesome FireBuggz Fire Fishing Pole Roasting Forks, which are basically small ‘fishing poles’ that let you roast up to two hot dogs or four marshmallows at a time. Instead of a stick, the pole system dangles a stainless steel hook with a cutout of a fish. If you lift the rod up in a jigging motion, the fish acts as a counter balance that lets you flip your hot dogs or marshmallows to ensure even roasting. It’s surprisingly cool. The Family Fun Pak also includes two straight roasting sticks — the Crank-Eez Roasting Sticks — that allow you to turn the shaft to rotate your hot dog or marshmallow, letting kids (and adults) roast to perfection. It’s a great camping gift for anyone who likes to laugh and roast over a campfire — which is pretty much everyone.
While white light can attract a swarm of nighttime insects, amber light does not, which is where the Cabela’s Bug-Proof LED Lantern shines. The lantern has two main modes: One uses high-flux LEDs that produce up to 400 lumens of glare-free white light white while the other switches the bulbs to an amber mode. The amber light isn’t quite as bright, but it’s serviceable, and better yet, it doesn’t attract bugs. The white mode lasts up to 100 hours while the amber mode will run for 175 hours using 4 D batteries. A third mode is a small amber night light that will run for up to 1,000 hours. The Cabela’s Bug-Proof LED Lantern is IPX-7 waterproof, so you can leave it out in the rain, and if you knock it off of a boat or dock while you’re fishing at night, it’ll float. As a camping gift, it’s hard to have too many lanterns, and on a bad bug night, it’s the one you want.
Mosquitoes have the power to ruin an otherwise great camping trip. Some people are more susceptible to mosquitos, and if your camper has a guest who gets itchy red bumps from the little buggers, plenty of bug repellent spray is one answer. An even better answer is the ThermaCell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellant. It creates a 110-square foot zone of protection around your picnic table, camping table or campfire area. So cool. Most campers haven’t splurged on a ThermoCell, but we can almost guarantee that if you buy one as a gift for your camping enthusiastic, it’ll get used. Of course, in addition to this camping-specific model, Thermacell offers mosquito repellers for your patio, for backpacking, and for hiking. We also like the Trailblazer Mosquito Repellent Camp Lantern.
For car campers who might be short on space, it’s hard to beat the Camp Chef Rainier Campers Combo. This handy all-in-one unit blends a camp stove burner with a larger camp grill and/or griddle — you get all three: a stove burner on one side as well as a griddle that you can swap out with the included grill on the other side. So in the morning you can brew up some camp coffee while frying up some breakfast, then shift to grilling hot dogs for lunch or dinner. As a lightweight and portable all-in-one camp cooking unit, it’s hard to beat.
If your camping enthusiast has a bit more space, the Camp Chef Exlporer 2x Two-Burner Stove is the base-camp stove to beat. You get two massive 30,000 BTU burners set up with removable legs so you don’t have to take up camp table space to easily use this stove. Better yet, it’s completely upgradable with some cool accessories, which you can choose as camping gifts in the future: You can add a BBQ Grill Box to turn one burner into a grill or add a large griddle to one side to create an egg and pancake-frying machine. And yet that’s not all: You can add the Artisan Pizza Oven accessory to let you bake pizza in camp! If you’d rather have a more foldable design for easier packability — along with fold-out side shelves — check out the Pro 60X Two-Burner Stove (which also accepts the aforementioned add-on accessories) or the 3-burner Pro 90X.
The L.L.Bean Spin/Fly Combo is the best all-around portable fly fishing and spin fishing rod and reel combo we’ve ever seen. Why? You get both a complete fly fishing and spin fishing rod and reel combo. Of course, on their own, they’re not the very best rod or reel setups for either fly fishing or spin fishing, but that’s not the point. The point is to have always have a rod and reel handy for whatever type of freshwater fishing might present itself at any particular camping location. If you’re shopping for a true camping enthusiast, there is a great chance they have camped somewhere without a rod or reel and wished they had one handy. This is the camping gift idea answer you’ve been looking for. Plus, two people could fish at the same time. This ultra packable combo comes in a nylon-covered foam case and includes a fly box for flies and a box for lures.
A slack line, a.k.a. slackline, is a surprisingly great camping gift for campers who have kids. Simply set it up between two trees — along with the included top balance-assist strap — and you have a challenging and fun toy that kids will spend hours on. They’ll build micro-muscles and balance. And when it’s your turn, you’ll gain all the same mind-body challenging benefits of finding and keeping your balance on a slack line. Plus, it’s fun — and there are no digital electronic device game screens involved at all. Chalk that up as a another win for camping.
One note: Can you choose other brands of slack lines? Of course — just be sure they’re built with high standards of quality.
If you want a unique camping gift, you’ll be hard-pressed to go wrong with the REI laser-etched Leatherman Skeletool Topo Multi-Tool. This multi-tool features outdoor-focused topographic map lines etched into the blade. Seems like a simple decoration, but it’s surprisingly cool for outdoor lovers. As for the tool design itself, it’s big enough to be useful but light enough to carry everywhere. The built-in carabiner doubles as a bottle opener. If the topo lines don’t do it for you, consider the red Skeletool RX, which includes a carbide glass-breaking tip. If your camping enthusiast is also the kind of person who might need to break a car window to rescue a fellow human trapped in a car in a lake or stuck in a car after driving off the road, the RX version is for them. If you’re looking for someone more tuned to outdoor survival, try the awesome Leatherman Signal Topo Multi-Tool — it features a safety whistle and a fire-starting ferro rod.
You really can’t get enough camp tables. In fact, we have never met anyone at any camping spot where they said, “Geez, I wish we didn’t have that extra camp table.” Never. Camp tables are great for food preparation, for use as dining tables, and for playing games. They hold your drinks and give you a good spot to place a lantern. The best camp tables are made from lightweight aluminum with portable designs. Why aluminum? If you’re cooking, you can remove a hot pot or pan from your camp stove and set it on the aluminum camp table surface. Vinyl and plastic camp tables will melt. We are obviously fans of the REI Co-op Camp Roll Table, but the Cabela’s Deluxe Roll Top Table and ALPS Mountaineering XL Dining Table are great, too. High-quality camp tables are another can’t-go-wrong camping gift.
Campers can often use a good shovel, but few campers want to pack around a full-size shovel. Enter the Gerber Folding Shovel. This shovel packs down small to 9.5″ x 2.5″ x 6″ but it’s stout. You can fold and set the spade to work as a traditional (albeit small) shovel or set it at 90-degrees to use it more like a pick or hoe — which is handy if you need to dig a small trench to prevent rainfall from seeping under your tent. You can store a folding shovel in a camp box, or better yet, just leave it in your vehicle. One more thing: Gerber has made a few different versions of this type of shovel — the Gerber NATO Folding Shovel from Cabela’s is the only folding shovel that is NATO and U.S. military approved, so nab that one for a slight step up.
While we appreciate high-end and ultralight air mattresses, it’s nearly impossible to beat the price-to-value-to-comfort ratio of an Intex Classic Downy Airbed air mattress. The entire Intex line is very inexpensive yet reasonably durable and surprisingly comfortable, making it a great inexpensive camping gift. Because they’re so thick, they absorb and protect you from errant rocks, sticks or roots underneath your tent. While we’re fans of ultralight camping air mattresses and luxury sleeping pads — check out our guide to the best backpacking and camping sleeping pads to learn more — the Intex Classic Downy Airbed is outstanding for the low price point. Available in Twin, Full and Queen sizes.
Every kid we’ve ever met loves the walkie talkie. The Sokos Walkie Talkies for Kids is a colorful and inexpensive camping gift that typically comes in under $25 — or nab two sets to get four for under $50. In the Sokos set, you get an auto scan function, auto squelch, a channel lock, and a built-in flashlight. The build size is a bit smaller than most two-way radios designed for adults, so kids can handle them. All in all, walkie talkies for kids are fantastic for letting kids play around the campsite, but if they’re getting old enough to head over to the lake to fish by themselves, having a way to communicate is handy for parents, too. If you’re looking for an adult set, the Midland GXT1000VP4 is hard to beat.
The REI Kingdom 6 Tent — as well as the Kingdom 4 and bigger Kingdom 8 — boast roomy interiors. The Kingdom 6 features two doors as well as an interior room divider, which creates a special place for kids, dogs or a living room for hanging out during a rainstorm. The price-to-value ratio on the Kingdom 6 is outstanding, and if you camp with a lot of extra gear like high-end coolers or bikes, you can nab a Kingdom Garage that extends out from your main door to create a massive 61 square feet of covered vestibule space. It’s great for storing wet and muddy shoes, and of course, gear. Even with the Kingdom Garage add-on, you end up with a high-quality, very price-competitive family camping tent system that can handle bad weather, wind and will last for years. It’s one of the best camping gift upgrades you can choose. We’re also fans of the jaunty green Big Agnes Big House 6 Deluxe Tent, and if you want to go really big, try the Eureka! Copper Canyon 12-Person Tent.
When the fire danger rises, many camping areas and camp sites ban campfires. Fortunately, some locations still allow propane-based fire rings. Either way, we’re big fans of propane camp fire systems. We like to pair them with a lightweight propane canister instead of a full-size 20-lb barbecue canister just to make them more portable. Sure, propane fire rings are not as good as a real campfire with real wood and real coals, but the Camp Chef Propane Compact Fire Ring is surprisingly great. Plus, we must admit, it is nice to simply turn it off at bedtime rather than leave your campfire burning overnight or haul over some water to properly douse it.
Bonus: We like to take ours to the ski hill or on picnics and fishing trips when we want a little extra warmth and the ability to roast hot dogs and sausages. Very highly recommended.
You don’t have to hike in grizzly bear country to need a good can of bear spray, but if your camper is visiting Montana, Wyoming, Alaska and parts of Idaho where grizzly bears roam, bear spray is an absolute must, making it a go-to camping gift idea. For the rest of the country that has black bears, well, most often a black bear will run away as soon as it notices a human. But not always. Bear spray is for those not always times. And while it’s not marketed as a deterrent against mountain lions, there have been some reports where bear spray has successfully fended off cougar attacks. What about as a self-defense tool against an attacking human? Better than nothing, but bear spray actually has a far lower dose of oleoresin capsicum than pepper spray meant for human defense. Counter intuitive, right? Totally, until you remember that bears have a super-sensitive sense of smell. Either way, many hunters who carry guns also carry bear spray, so that tells you something about the effectiveness.
While the stainless steel construction makes this camping coffee pot a gift for the ages, it’s the cool-touch silicone handle that makes it awesome. Who always has a hot pad handy while camping? And who remembers in the early morning fog to test the coffee pot handle for heat before they fill their second cup of coffee? The cool-touch handle makes all the difference. Of course, the Cabela’s Stainless Steel Cool Touch Coffee Pot is percolator-based, so you’re bound to get a few tiny coffee grinds in the bottom of your pot and cup, but that’s part of camp coffee charm. However, if you want to brew coffee just like you do at home with a drip system, check out the Coleman Stovetop Coffee Pot — it fits over your camp stove burner and uses paper filters like a standard drip coffee maker. We have to admit, it’s pretty cool, too.
Some public lands like to see every visitor bring along a bucket, axe and shovel, especially if they plan to light a campfire. We’re big fans of the Gerber XL Axe II because its 24.5″ overall length is long enough to be useful while it’s small size remains packable for car camping. In addition, the lightweight glass-filled nylon handle is super strong and will last through years of abuse. While we’re fans of traditional wood handles, we have a tendency to leave our axes either in vehicles or in pickup boxes where they cook and dry out over hot summer days, leaving you with a loose head on the axe. Not a problem with this Gerber. Plus, if you need to tap a tent stake into hard ground, the flat back of the Gerber XL Axe II head works great. Still want a great traditional axe with a wood handle? We understand. Try the hand-forged Hults Bruk Akka Forester’s Axe or the L.L.Bean Hudson Bay Cruiser Axe.
Our favorite camping toilet does away with water, flush and containment systems — the easiest way to use it is with Reliance Products Double Doodie Toilet Bags, but you could use it with black kitchen-size trash bags and kitty litter if you find yourself in a bind. Sure, it’s not the funnest gift idea, but if your camper likes to go car camping in off the grid areas that don’t have readily available outhouses, a camping toilet makes the call of nature much easier. It’s fantastic for kids, so it makes a great gift for camping enthusiasts who have children. If you’ve ever had to suddenly pull off to the side of a mountain road, let’s just say having a portable toilet for a kid who has to go now pays for itself on the first use. It also works with Eco Gel Port-A-Potty chemicals, which solidify liquid waste and help deodorize things. One note: If you do prefer to flush everything out of sight, try the Camco Standard Portable Travel Toilet.
The Green Elephant Pop Up Utilitent is basically a fold-up privy, which gives you privacy to use the aforementioned camping toilet. It has a rain fly, plus it includes four bags you can fill with sand if you want to “stake” it down on a beach. You can also use the tent to change clothing or take a shower. If you do want to use it as a shower stall, you’ll have to orient the tent underneath a tree branch that can support a gravity-fed solar shower — or you could use the excellent Zodi Hot Camp Shower system. All-in-all, a privy makes a great camping gift because it extends the places where you can easily and comfortably camp, especially if you have kids and aging campers with you.
The Lunatec Aquabot Spraying Water Bottle is a deceptively simple camping gift. Basically, it’s a water bottle with built-in pump that lets you add pressure, which lets you shoot the water out of the bottle in a stream or mist. It’s great for washing hands and washing camping dishes without using much water, but it’s also great for rinsing off dirty dog paws in camp and spraying off sand that sticks to legs and feet before you enter your tent or put on your shoes. As a first-aid tool, you can use it to irrigate a wound, and as long as you use clean water, wound irrigation is a very effective way to prevent infections. So yeah, lots of uses.
The Radiate Portable Campfire is an ultra packable pre-made campfire system. If you think of it as a giant candle with multiple flame points, you’re not far from the truth. The Radiate Portable Campfire embeds chunks of recycled paper pulp into a non-toxic, unscented soy wax and delivers it in a round metal container. Simply set the Radiate Portable Campfire on the ground or on a heat-resistant surface and light. You’ll get 3-5 hours of decent campfire flame. To put it out, just slide the lid over the top and save the remainder for another time. We like it as a camping gift because it’s affordable and it’s perfect for more casual campers. Comes in packs of 1, 2 or 4.
Yes, you read that right, an inflatable standup paddle board, a.k.a. SUP board. We used to doubt the paddle board because we just couldn’t see ourselves tooling around on a lake on a paddle board. We’d rather be fishing or boating or rafting, right? And then we tried it with kids on the beach. For starters, kids can stand up and paddle these things around way better than most adults. They get great exercise and tons of fun. Kids will sit on them, lay on them and play on an SUP all day long, and when they finally get tired and need a snack, you can sneak out for a few minutes yourself. The RoC Inflatable Standup Paddle Board is an entry-level SUP that will let you try out paddle boarding for yourself. When it’s time to get serious with a board that will last through years of frequent use, choose any inflatable SUP from NRS.
Not sure about the SUP camping gift idea? An inflatable kayak brings a similar sort of fun to the camping experience. The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is inexpensive yet surprisingly durable and it’s built for two. It’s a pretty fantastic deal, really. It’s not rated for whitewater, but for tooling around near shore on a mountain lake, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better at this price point.
The Klymit Double V Sleeping Pad is great for camping honeymooners and car-camping parents who still like each other. Better yet, the side-by-side V-chamber construction reduces the movement of air between the two sides, which means a big guy can roll over without bouncing his partner around, waking her up and creating a heightened need for coffee in the morning. It’s 74″ long, just under 4′ wide and it’s 3″ thick. It weighs in at about 2.7 pounds, which makes it fantastic for car campers who like to travel light and don’t have a lot of extra room. Oh, one more thing: The Double V comes with a pump-integrated stuff sack for easy, rapid inflation, so you don’t need to pack a bulky pump.
RV campers often have refrigerators, and most every camping enthusiasts has a hard-sided cooler for food and drinks, but few campers have soft-side backpack coolers — yet. The soft-sided backpack cooler lets you load up with cold drinks and food at base camp then head for the beach or day hike. No one likes to lug a cooler more than 40 yards but a backpack cooler lets you take ice cold beverages far off the road with ease. We’re big fans — check out our guide to the best backpack coolers for more detail or just nab the ICEMULE Pro Large. The price-to-value ratio is fantastic, it works surprisingly well, and it packs down small. Very highly recommended.
The Coleman Instant Screenhouse is basically a pop-up shelter with screened walls that keep the bugs out. Remember the Thermacell Radius mosquito repellant system? A good screen house helps keep other insects at bay, too, namely yellow jackets, hornets and bees that might be attracted to your dinner. The Coleman Instant Screenhouse is a roomy 15 by 13 feet but sets up in about a minute. You get two large doors for easy access. The canopy acts as a sunshade.
The Luminoodle LED Light Rope for Camping is a waterproof, USB-powered LED string of lights. You can hang the string of lights around camp, which provides a fun, jaunty environment for both kids and adults. It comes in a nylon bag, and if you pack the string into the bag, it transforms into a more diffuse lantern-like light. The string has built-in connectors for attaching it to branches, your tent or vehicles. Just make sure you nab the version that comes with a battery pack, otherwise you’ll need to supply your own portable battery charger with a USB connection. Alternately, we’re fans of the Big Agnes mtnGLO Tent & Camp Lights, which uses three traditional AAA batteries. Both are great under $50 camping gifts.
Usually camping enthusiasts pack enough freshwater for drinking, but sometimes we run out — we tend to underestimate the amount of water our bodies crave while overpacking on the sports drinks, juice boxes and beer. The answer is the MSR TrailShot Water Filter. This little water filter will filter-clean fresh water from lakes, rivers and creeks. All you have to do is drop the pre-filter hose in your water source and start squeezing. You can drink directly from the nozzle or squirt the clean water into your water bottle. It works surprisingly well. It’s one of our all-time favorite portable water filters because it’s lightweight and works so well. We’d trust it with most any water source in the U.S. and Canada. If your camper is also a hiker or backpacker, the MSR TrailShot Water Filter should be on your camping gift shortlist.
The camping first-aid kit gift idea is the least sexy camping gift idea, but it’s arguable the most important: When you’re camping, you’re usually far away from medical attention and facilities, so having a great first-aid kit is a necessity. Sadly, most campers have poor first-aid kits . . . or none at all. So show your camper that you really care — and in the off-chance they seriously need it, they’ll appreciate your smart thinking. The Cabela’s Essentials First Aid Kit by Adventure Medical is one of our favorites, balancing a lightweight package with the key first-aid supplies you might need while camping.
The Coleman CPX 6 Lighted Tent Fan doubles as a light and a fan. You can hang it from the ceiling of your tent with a magetic plate or carabiner clip or use the included stand if you want to set it on the floor. If you’ve ever camped in hot weather, a little breeze inside your tent can kick the hot air out and help bring the cool air in, making it a great camping gift for hot summer campers — or anyone who gets stuck in the full sun in the last camping spot available.
The Coleman CPX 6 Lighted Tent Fan will run for up to 30 hours on low with 4 D-size batteries or you can nab the Coleman CPX 6 Rechargeable Power Cartridge for recharging through your vehicle or a standard outlet.
When you need to pack more than a gallon of clean drinking water into your campsite, you want the 7-gallon Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer. It’s durable, inexpensive, BPA-free and it works great. We like to set one up in camp so that the water spigot is easy to access for filling water bottles or camp cooking.
The classic Aqua-Tainer is truly a can’t-go-wrong camping gift. Better yet, when you wrap it up as a camping gear gift, it’s big enough to spark some interesting gift guesses. Just don’t fill it with water first.
The great thing about a heavily-insulated rotomolded cooler is the excellent ice retention — you can use less ice and keep the contents cool for days. The Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer Cooler gets our nod for our favorite line of rotomolded coolers. It’s just a bit better than most and usually available at a slightly better price point, but seriously, most every rotomolded cooler is excellent, so we’re splitting hairs. What we like about the Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer Cooler are its burly grab handles. It has rope handles, too, but the built-in grab handles let you strap this cooler down in more ways that most. Our second pick would be the iconic YETI Tundra 45 followed by the OtterBox Venture 45 Cooler.
Speaking of high-end coolers, why not just go with a refrigerator/freezer? The Dometic 12v Electric Fridge/Freezer lets you not only keep things cool, but you can keep ice cream frozen, too. Ever had ice cream while camping far from the pavement? We bet you’d like it. So why does the Dometic 12v Electric Fridge/Freezer make a great camping gift? Admittedly, it’s a bit of a luxury item — most every outdoor adventurer wants one but few actually make the investment. If your camper only camps in a big recreational vehicle that already has a built-in refrigerator, sure, skip this idea, but if your camper is a tent camper or hunter or fisher, the Dometic 12v Electric Fridge/Freezer is a sweet camping gift: Shop Dometic’s full line of portable electric coolers here.
Bonus: YayLabs SoftShell Ice Cream Ball
The YayLabs SoftShell Ice Cream Ball lets you make homemade ice cream at your campsite without the need for electricity. All you have to do is put cream, sugar and flavorings (like vanilla) in one end of this ball then fill the other with ice cubes and salt. Next, roll the ball around for 25 minutes and you’ll have astoundingly great homemade ice cream. Just choose the quart size option because you can never have enough ice cream at camp.
Cots are stable yet comfortable, especially with a cushy pad. More importantly, cots are raised so aging campers can get into and out of their camp beds more easily . . . but you don’t have be older to appreciate the stable comfort of a great cot.
As for tent camping with most grandparents, the bottom line is this: Set them up with cushy cots to ensure everyone has a great time. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll come tent camping with you and the kids again.