I'll see you one Clif Bar and raise you some Gorp

In our family we now have an unofficial tradition of going hiking and camping in the rain (and I mean a lot of rain) every June, and it looks like we'll be keeping the streak alive.

Sure, it's nice to get outside on sunny days, and we do, but given the choice between spending a rainy weekend in a tent or at home, we often pick the tent.

After packing proper clothing and footwear for the kids, I've been thinking about another essential, games. While we like being out in the rain (Puddles to jump in! Rushing streams! No bugs! No other people!), since our family of four will be spending two straight weeks in one four-person tent later this summer, entertainment could become an important factor in family harmony.

So, I've been wondering, calculating for size, weight, and the fun factor, what are the best (non-electronic) games for backpacking and camping families bound together in one four-person tent? Is it cards (unlimited possibilities), Uno, trivia, travel chess or checkers, knot tying games (potentially fun and educational), or Left-Right-Center (a favorite of ours), and how well would a Twister mat fit in an REI Half Dome 4 HC?

The search for the ultimate, lightweight, packable tent games is on. Share your favorite, family- and trail-friendly games below.


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June 4, 2010 at 4:20 p.m. (EDT)

Our family backpacking kit has CLR, a deck of cards, and 6 dice for 'Greed'.

I don't know if you could do twister, but we fit 2 adults and 3 kids under 8 into the 4HC. The older boys sleep in a 2HC.

We've also picked up magnetic/ small versions of backgammon, tic-tac-toe, & chutes& ladders. Don't forget a plain old pad & pencil- our kids will draw for hours- or write stories about the adventure they are having.

Explorer Robby
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June 4, 2010 at 6:25 p.m. (EDT)

Dominoes. You can find some small versions, even if they are not particularly lite weight. Also, Yatzee would be a good one. Some dice, paper and your coffee cup. My kids have always loved that game.

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June 4, 2010 at 6:55 p.m. (EDT)


6 dice and some paper and pencil . Fun game.


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June 4, 2010 at 8:59 p.m. (EDT)

When my kids were young we would play various card games and even their favorite board games. We even took 'Connect Four' a couple of times while car camping.

When I was a teenager we couldn't wait for the weekend to come so we could go camping in the local woods with friends and play Dungeons & Dragons. We would play ALL night long, get some sleep and do it again. The sounds you hear at night, and the flicker from a couple candles made it real spooky, we loved it.

On some recent trips with my friends we played poker. We pool our money to pay for the gas to get there and back. To make it interesting we gambled with the groups 'return home' gas money, split evenly between players. The winner buys the gas, that way nobody really looses any money and the winner can brag about how much money they won.

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June 4, 2010 at 10:07 p.m. (EDT)

I can't go on a hike\camping without bringing along the fold-up checker board - son loves that game. You also can't beat a good game of war with some cards. I try to avoid games with lots of little pieces - he wanted to bring monopoly - we left that at home lol.

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June 4, 2010 at 11:50 p.m. (EDT)

I usually carry Pigmania.

It's a dice-type game, using two pig-shaped dice. You score points by how the pigs land. it's good for a few laughs and to pass a bit of time. Best part is that the entire game only weighs a ounce.

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June 6, 2010 at 3:08 p.m. (EDT)

Once had 5 adults in a two person tent. It was a chore to even shuffle the cards. But since we couldn't sleep we played cards all night.

second gear
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295 forum posts
June 7, 2010 at 1:10 a.m. (EDT)

When our kids were younger, my hubby, son, daughter, and I would shoehorn into the 2 man tent to play rousing games of UNO and night. We finally were no longer able to play when our son couldn't fold himself into the tent anymore :)

My best friend and I enjoy playing cribbage and yahtzee in the evening. I have even made a little bitty game box that the box is the cribbage game on top, holds a mini deck of cards, mini dice, and yahtzee score cards. Whiled away a few rainy days and cold evenings :)

And I have played pig mania with the youth group kids on church back pack trips...gets pretty funny...

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June 7, 2010 at 9:17 a.m. (EDT)

Thanks for all the game suggestions. I love games!

I think cards are a no-brainer to bring along on a camping or extended-backpacking trip with family. I may get a mini version to replace our regular decks. I also like LRC, since it's easy for everyone to follow.

I've never played Pigmania, but I've heard it's fun. I think little kids might like that too. And Yahtzee idea is great idea too. I also agree with the paper and pencil suggestion above.

Obviously, I'll have to narrow our choices down for backpacking trips, but it will be fun to pull together an assortment of lightweight games for camping that we can pull from when backpacking.

I'm now searching for a lightweight magnetic, travel chess set, since my son is into chess. Unfortunately, most stores don't list the weight of such games, so it's hard to tell.

If anyone has a recommendation for a lightweight, magnetic chess set, share it here. I'm looking at one from Fridgeplay that is 4.2 ounces:

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June 7, 2010 at 10:20 a.m. (EDT)

There's a new version of Boggle that is completely self-contained (no lost cubes!) and MUCH quieter than the one we all know. It does require a battery for the built-in timer, but is otherwise the same game.


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June 7, 2010 at 1:28 p.m. (EDT)

Pigmania looks like something I would like, as well as other dice games, dominoes too. I used to be fascinated with how my grandfather kept score of dominoes with paper & pencil. He used a series of X's and 0's.

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June 8, 2010 at 10:28 a.m. (EDT)

I just recently played Bananagrams and plan on taking it with me this summer on a few trips. It is a little bulkier than a deck of card but the fun of the game is worth it. It is like scrabble with out the board and it moves faster.

I also really like Zigity. It is based off the game Cranium. The cards are made of a clear plastic and can get wet, which sadly seems to be a problem for my camping trips lately as well. It is a pretty basic game that you do what th ecenter fo the card says: add cards to 11, spell a word, match a similar picutre or createa picture. It is all contained in the see through cards. I'd highly recomend it.

Parcheesi is my wifes favorite to play. There aren't many peices to but it is still a great board game.

One last one that is fun and won't get boring becasue the rules always change is Fluxx. Through the game the rules keep getting added to so the way you win is diffrent each time.

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June 8, 2010 at 7:39 p.m. (EDT)

+ 1 for Pigmania...... it's too FUN.

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