The trick to camping is to have great gear so you aren't miserable in paradise all week. (Trust me, it's possible if you aren't well prepared.) No, camping isn't nearly as posh as the Hilton, but with the right gear you can have a truly pleasant vacation for next to nothing.
All of the gear we are taking with us is VERY small. Here's a comparison shot of some of our necessities next to my mini ipad... and Kenna. (Left to right: sleeping pad, sleeping bag, hammock, camp stove.)
Here is what we are taking with us:
*Tent: Kelty Grand Mesa 2. ($100 via eBay, or $140 brand new.) Weighing in around 4 pounds (including a full rain fly) it's a tent that's prepared for almost any weather. It's exactly the right size for two people and a small toddler. Weight of items is super important when backpacking- and the weight adds up quickly. (Trust me, you'll get tired of lugging around a 7-10 pound four person tent, especially if you don't need anything that large.) It also sets up in less than 2 minutes, (literally.) which is perfect if you arrive to your campsite later than expected and have to make camp in the dark.
*Sleeping Pads: Big Agnes Insulated Air Core. They weigh less than 2 lbs each, and fold into a compression sack about the size of a Nalgene bottle. They elevate you off the ground just enough to keep you warm and comfortable. Sleeping pads add 5-10 degrees of warmth to your sleeping bag. In Hawaii, warmth isn't a big deal, since nights were still around 70 degrees. But, when we are camping in the Sierras, we need these desperately; the ground gets very cold.
*Sleeping bags: We are huge fans of down. There's nothing that packs as small, and keeps you as warm as duck down. Logan has a 32 degree Ozark Trail sleeping bag (from Wal-Mart, about $80!) that weighs less than half a pound. It was perfect for this trip to use like a blanket instead of a mummy bag... If you used it like a mummy bag, you would've been sweating profusely.
*Camp Stove- MSR Pocket Rocket. This was a gift to Logan from my dad, but can be purchased at REI for about $50.) Weighing in at 3 ounces, it boils water in less than five minutes with our GSI Soloist cook set ($40.)
Yes, good gear is quite expensive. But, buy things that are high quality and they will last you forever- and will help to make camping comfortable, and something you actually want to do!