Spring Camping- Packing a light capsule wardrobe for kids

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I have a challenge of pulling together an outdoor capsule wardrobe for my 3 kids.

You see, we’re planning a camping trip to Northumberland, in North-East England, over the Easter holidays- there we can expect anything from wet, wintery weather to balmy, early summer heat. First thing in the morning and early evenings will no doubt be chilly. We will be spending most of our time outdoors.

My other constraint: We are going with our small family hatchback and probably squeezing a dog, three kids, two adults and all our 3 season camping gear and supplies in. Space is at a premium!

My challenge is to pack as light as possible for each person.

How can I get away with as few items of clothes as possible?

I want the clothes to be functional. What I actually mean by this is- quick drying, good at managing the sweat and keeping the children warm. This means no cotton or cotton blends! (Cotton kills! … in extremes.  Cotton absorbs water and only slowly releases it.  If it is the layer closest to the skin, which it often is, then this can lead to hypothermia.)

The concept of a capsule wardrobe has been playing on my mind for a while.  I’ve pulled together the clothes we actually have in our capsule wardrobe, but found we are still missing some pieces and others (like our thermals) are less than perfect (they are a 40% cotton content polycotton).  It blows my mind how little emphasis there is on proper functional clothing for kids.  The manufacturers are slow at catching up. I’ve had some really great help in my research from the lovely people*.

On the weekend I wanted to visualise how the “perfect” kids’ capsule wardrobe would look instead of just browsing on different sights.  So popped into our nearest outdoor store- Go Outdoors-, where the sales lady was extremely helpful.  I asked her to walk me through what I should be looking at (if starting from scratch). She had, roughly, the following suggestions:

Kids' capsule wardrobe for outdoor adventure

I’ve created visual to discuss where this is a good bundle of clothes for each child



  • 1 pair of wellies
  • 1 pair of walking shoes/ good trainers- ideally these will be waterproof and breathable; I like the pair I picked in my collage above because of the velcro straps- so much quicker than lacing up!
  • 1 pair of clogs – these are good for wet grass, beach and making the dash to the toilet block


  • 3 pairs of good quality woolen socks- woolen socks will retain warmth even when wet. In wellies feet sweat and there is nowhere for the sweat to escape, so little feet get wet and cold in regular (cotton) socks. (In theory 2 pairs would do, but wool does dry slower, so I’m packing in some redundancy.)


  • a cap with a sunvisor
  • a beanie- preferably windproof (especially as we are planning to go out to sea, to the Farne Islands)


  • Pair of fleece or poly propylene gloves

Base layer

  • 2 long johns – these can double up as PJ bottoms too; they have to be either wool or polypropylene blend to give warmth and be moisture wicking.
  • 2 short sleeved technical t-shirts- t-shirts that wick away sweat from kids’ body running around, but can also be used on its own in summer months; UV protection is a plus.
  • 1 long sleeved technical t-shirt

Mid layer

  • 1 lightweight fleece- this doubles as a PJ too; A zip down neck is a bonus- it’s a quick way of managing the body heat for the children; unzipping is preferred to taking it off if they are very sweaty.
  • 1 microfleece body warmer- keeping the core of the body warm is very important; a gilet leaves the arms freer to move
  • 2 trousers – quick drying fabric, windproof, nice to have zip off to shorts; In looking at the trousers, it is evident that there aren’t that many children’s technical clothes available yet. (Only one pair of trousers- a winter pair- had reinforced knees for those tree climbers, hide and seek playing, den building little monkeys.)

Outer layer

  • 3-in-1 waterproof & breathable jacket- I feel this gives most flexibility to a capsule wardrobe. The inner fleece or jacket can be used separately from outer rain and windproof layer.
  • Light weight rain over-trousers- I will probably have one spare pair of these between the two older ones.


  • 3 pairs- these are cotton, so if they get wet need to leave them off.

By packing light I foresee having to wash the clothes regularly, but with my choice of clothes this shouldn’t be a problem, as the items should dry quickly. An added benefit will be that there will be significantly less mess from clothes strewn around.

Wish me luck!

I’d love to hear your opinions, what’s worked for you, what hasn’t in terms of packing light for an outdoor adventure.


* a big thank you to the folks at Cozy Mole, Kozi Kidz and Polarnopyret, and of course GO Outdoors  (I’m blowing their trumpet because of the dozen information request I set out they came back so knowledgable and helpful- they really talked me through their range.  These companies were really good at not just getting me to spend money, but helping to spend it in the right place, choosing the the best product for the buck.)

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  1. This is great. We travel light with biking a lot and our mantra is lots of thin layers. Even very thin waterproof coats, with many layers underneath.
    Check out Buff too for scarves and headgear. We have a selection that we swap around the family, from fleece to merino blend . They work well in hot weather too, to protect from the sun. We have resisted the Hello Kitty version.
    In our experience once you are on the road, especially if camping, then everyone tends to wear the same things every day anyway.
    Happy travelling and hope you stay warm.

    • Mumonthebrink says:

      Thank you Kirstie! Very useful tips!

      Do you have any specific brands that have worked for you on your travels?

  2. Looks good to me, layers are the key to add on and strip off whilst still being comfortable. Make sure you have good roll mats and sleeping bags too then have a wonderful time. Take some insect spray so you don’t get bitten at dusk.
    Coombemill recently posted…What Motivates a Tween Girl?My Profile

  3. This is fab, no such thing as bad weather only bad clothes. It always seems like a huge investment, but so worth it as kids moan less, play more and wear off more energy in the right kit! PLus there is less washing when they have waterproof trousers. Bodywarmers are fab for freedom of movement. You’ve thought of everything!
    Alexander Residence recently posted…#Win Alternative Easter Gifts for Cool KidsMy Profile

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