CAMPING GEAR GUIDE
our definitive guide to 25 products that will elevate your camping experience
Good gear is everything. It's the difference between a camping trip that you'll love, versus something you might never try again.
As camping experts, we've tried a ton of different gear out there and so we know quite a lot about what works, what doesn't, and the type of gear you should definitely bring with you.
We've assembled this guide to 25 products that will definitely have a positive impact on your future camping trips.
In this guide:
- Patagonia Black Hole Duffel
- Yakima Rocketbox
- Snow Peak Portable Fire Pit
- Snow Peak Fire Tool Set
- Dinuba Jerry Can
- Blue Ridge Chairs & Table
- Life Elements Healing Honey Stick
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp
- Nemo Wagontop 4P Tent
- Feathered Friends Condor Sleeping Bag
- Exped MegaMat 10 Sleeping Pad
- Camp Chef Mountaineer Stove
- Snow Peak Collapsible Pour Over
- Luminaid Packlife Firefly Solar Lantern
- REI Screenhouse
- Woolrich Wool Blanket
- Cold Steel Shovel
- Yeti V Series Cooler
- Goal Zero Yeti
- Heavy Duty Canvas Tarp
- Nite Ize Reflective Accessory Cord
- Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter
- Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe
- Nemo Helio Shower
- Autohome Columbus Rooftop Tent
Duffel Bag - Patagonia Black Hole
Duffel bags are ideal for camping trips because they can hold a lot of stuff, and quite frankly if you can drive to your campsite then there's no reason not to bring more stuff.
We picked the Patagonia Black Hole because it's made with 100% recycled materials, offers decent weather resistance, and is available in a variety of sizes. Also, Patagonia has a damn good warranty which is important when you actually use your gear in the wild!
Starting at $129 on Patagonia.com
Cargo Box - Yakima Rocketbox 14
If you need extra room for gear, cargo boxes are a solid solution. They can be a bit difficult to load if you've got a tall vehicle but still the best option for increasing cargo capacity on any type of vehicle.
The Yakima Rocketboxes are a good bet as they're durable, water-tight, and more affordable then some of the fancier boxes on the market. There's a few different sizes available based on your needs.
Starting at $449 on yakima.com
Portable Firepit - Snow Peak
This definitely doesn't qualify as an essential camp item but it is such a great piece of gear that we had to include it here. Not only does it allow you to safely (and ethically) make a fire wherever you like, but the available add on attachments like a grill, griddle, or even a pizza oven really steps up your ability to cook amazing food in the backcountry.
We've been using one of these consistently for over 6 years, in all types of weather and with heavy loads of wood and it's never shown a sign of aging. It folds flat and comes with a carrying case which makes it really easy to transport. Snow Peak really designed a solid product here and we couldn't recommend it more.
Fire Tool Set - Snow Peak
Definitely not essential camp gear but having a solid set of "fire tongs" makes the whole experience of tending to a campfire so much better.
Honestly we wish that they'd sell the tongs separately as they're by far the most useful of the set and worth the price of buying all three for just the tongs.
Water Storage - Dinuba Stainless Steel Jerry Can
For years we used the standard plastic water jugs on our camping trips until we finally found a better solution. Not only will these stainless steel jerry cans keep your water tasting fresh and potentially free of chemicals, but they look quite nice and hold up to some harsh abuse.
There's a couple options on the market but we've had nothing but success with these ones from Dinuba, and the optional spigot cap is more like an essential add-on.
Camp Furniture - Blue Ridge Chairworks
They set-up in seconds and instantly class up your campsite, the offerings from Blue Ridge Chairworks aren't the most compact furniture out there but they will outlast anything else on the market.
The low height of the chairs go perfectly around a campfire and the matching-height table is ideal for holding food, drinks, lanterns, and a game of chess. Can't say enough good things about this furniture.
Miracle Cure-All - Life Elements Healing Honey Stick
Maybe calling it a "miracle" is a stretch, but we've yet to find a skin ailment that the Life Elements Healing Honey Stick hasn't helped with.
In no particular order we've used this product to cure: painful burns (fire/sun/wind), chapped lips, bug-bites, dry skin, poison ivy, and to enhance healing on cuts and scrapes.
This is an essential for all of our camping trips and it come in two sizes for ease of packing. When this inevitably saves the day, you can thank us later.
Starting at $12 on lifeelements.com
Headlamp - Petzl Tikka
Headlamps are truly one of the simplest yet most effective pieces of gear you can own. They also come in handy away from camp - from doing tasks at home to going for bike rides in the dark. Definitely something everyone should have.
There's a ton of options out there but we really love the Petzl Tikka for the simplicity of use. Theres only one button - press once for low, press twice for medium, and three times for high. Red light is activated after a long press and you can toggle back to white light with another long press.
Also, and maybe even more importantly - Petzl has designed a couple accessories which really enhance the Tikka. The available Core battery is USB rechargeable and removable so you can bring extras along on extended trips. Also they make a protective case that doubles as a lantern and includes an elastic cord which makes hanging it from your tent really simple.
Tent - Nemo Wagontop
Looking for a roomy tent with plenty of space for creature comforts? Like any new tent, setup might take a bit of getting used to, but it does become intuitive after a couple trips. We like the Nemo Wagontop for it's spacious interior (standing height) and it's use of quality fabrics for weather resistance and a tough-floor material.
There are 3 different sizes (4p, 6p, 8p) with the larger sizes offering vestibules for storing gear and escaping mosquitos.
Starting at $500 on nemoequipment.com
Sleeping Bag - Feathered Friends Condor
The importance of a quality sleeping bag cannot be understated. There's a ton of options out there all claiming various temperature ratings but in our experiences the Feathered Friends have always lived up to their ratings.
We love the Feathered Friends Condor for car camping as it's rectangular shape doesn't restrict movement and it can convert into a double bed with the addition of their groundsheet. Paired with a good sleeping pad (see below) and you'll have a camping bed that'll change how you sleep in the wild.
Starting at $469 on featheredfriends.com
Sleeping Pad - Exped MegaMat 10
A common complaint for people who don't enjoy camping trips is that they don't get a good nights sleep. We're positive that those people have never used a really good sleeping pad.
The Exped MegaMat 10 is the most comfortable and warmest pad we've ever used (might even be better than your mattress at home). It's available in a variety of lengths and widths including double-wide for you and a friend. Some might say it's hard to put a price tag on good sleep, but in this case that price is $185.
Stove - Camp Chef Mountaineer
There's a ton of camp stove options out there but we love the Camp Chef Mountaineer for it's durability, corrosion resistance, and ability to easily fit larger cast iron pans.
In field-testing this stove we found the burners able to keep a low simmer flame even in windy conditions. This stove also cleans up fairly easily which is important when you accidentally spill a whole pot of coffee inside.
Coffeemaker - Snow Peak Collapsible Pourover
If instant coffee just won't do, this portable pour over is a good solution for camp coffee. Not a ton to say about it other than it's made by the good folks at Snow Peak so you're guaranteed to get a good product that works well and looks great. PS - don't forget the filters.
Solar Lantern - Luminaid Packlite Firefly
A good lantern makes camp so much friendlier during the dark hours. Whether you're cooking, playing cards, or trying to find your way back to the tent it's a good idea to have a lantern on hand.
We like the Luminaid Packlite because it's available in "warm white", has a nice diffused glow, packs down extremely small, and has a built-in solar charger which means you don't need to bring batteries.
Screen Room - REI Screenhouse
Even the most seasoned campers hate mosquitos. Having a place to escape their wrath is a lifesaver on camping trips but that usually means retreating to your tent or maybe your car - neither being the most ideal for cooking meals or hanging with friends.
The REI Screenhouse is a perfect solution to escape those damn mosquitos and it's sized just right to fit over most picnic tables. If you like to camp at the height of bug-season, this could be a game changer for you and your crew.
Wool Blanket - Woolrich
Wear it on those cold mornings, around the campfire in the evening, use it under or over your sleeping bag at night, and then put it over your car seats for the drive home.
A good wool blanket has so many uses that it's definitely an essential for all camping trips. Woolrich has a long history of making quality blankets and we've never found one that we don't love.
Shovel - Cold Steel Special Forces
Definitely the least "sexy" of all gear choices, a shovel is actually one of the most versatile pieces of gear that should be present on all camping trips. A few essential uses include: digging a poop hole, burying hot coals, and digging out your car if you get stuck!
We're big fans of the Cold Steel Special Forces shovel because its compact, has a replaceable wood handle, and is even sharp enough to split smaller kindling if needed.
Cooler - Yeti V Series
Cooking good food (or drinking cold beer) is one of the best parts of a camping trip. If you're camping with only dehydrated meals and water then you're bound to get bored it pretty quick.
The Yeti V Series is the latest innovation in their (famously expensive) lineup of coolers - it promises to hold ice even better than the standard coolers by using vacuum chambers (like a double-wall coffee mug) instead of thick plastic for insulation.
Quite frankly we haven't yet tested one of these yet but they look great on paper (and in photos)
Power - Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium
If you need electricity for your phone, camera, or anything else then it's hard to beat the lineup for Goal Zero Yeti portable battery backs.
They can be charged at home, in the car, or at your campsite using solar and offer 12v, USB, and traditional AC power all in one unit. The latest versions use lithium batteries for longer life and less overall weight.
Starting at $299 at goalzero.com
Tarp - Heavy Duty Canvas
Another ultra-versatile piece of gear, a good tarp has many advantages around camp: shelter for you or your gear, works as a fantastic ground cloth under your tent, and also comes in handy for an impromptu yoga session at camp.
Canvas tarps are much preferred over those cheap plastic (usually blue) tarps - not only are they more durable and weather resistant but using a blue tarp at camp kinda makes you look homeless.
Reflective Accessory Cord - Nite Ize
Rope is useful for many things at camp - securing a tarp, putting guy lines on your tent, and hanging clotheslines.
Pretty much any rope will work but we really like this reflective accessory cord as it'll help cut down on those times when you trip over your tent lines late at night. The small reflective strips shine back at you when you're wearing a headlamp and have definitely saved us more than once.
Water Filter - Platypus Gravityworks
If you'll be camping without access to clean drinking water, then you either need to bring it all with you (unlikely) or have a water filter with you.
The Platypus Gravity works filter has been the easiest filter we've ever used - from simple car camping trips to backcountry trips. Simply fill the (clearly marked) dirty side with source water and hang so it's higher than the clean side. Gravity does the rest and you'll end up with 4L of clean drinking water in about 20 mins.
Axe - Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe
The difference between a "good" axe and a "poor" axe basically comes down to the quality of steel. Good steel will hold a sharp edge longer, and then be able to be resharpened when necessary.
We've been using this Gransfors Bruks small forest axe for years now and it's only been getting better with age. The steel is high grade and the size (handle = 19") is a good compromise between something that you can use yet doesn't take up too much space.
Camp Shower - Nemo Helio
For that person who doesn't like to go days without a shower, the Nemo Helio is a portable shower that heats up using the sun and is pressurized using your foot.
The whole unit packs into it's own stuff sack and can do double duty as a way to wash your dishes. The standard size with give you about 5 minutes of continuous pressure and there's a larger size which will almost double the time.
Starting at $100 on nemoequipment.com
Rooftop Tent - Autohome Columbus
If sleeping in a tent on the ground isn't your thing, then rooftop tents might be a good solution. Though you'll be spend quite a bit more money then a regular tent, there are a few benefits (like being high above bears) which might be a game changer for you.
Setting up the Autohome Columbus is as simple as popping a few latches and you're set. Bedding is already in place so no blowing up an air mattress either. The downside? If you need to drive your car away from camp then you'll have to re-pack the tent each time.
Starting at $3000 on Autohomeus.com