Camping is one of the great American pastimes, but anyone who has slept out much knows that you need the right camping gear. Whether backpacking, canoe tripping, or car camping, the right gear will help you stay safe and comfortable. In this article we'll look at some of the best camping gear available on the market and help you decide which pieces are must-haves and which ones can stay home.
To break down the camping gear on this list, we compared their features, prices, availability and specs like size and weight. We also included a few pros and cons for each product to give you a quick reference of how they stack. We also chose an overall top product from all the camping gear on this list based on quality, value, performance, and usefulness.
The outdoors industry is awash with camping gear and even the most experienced campers can have a hard time deciphering necessities from novelties. Each product in this article could be a useful item, depending on the style of camping trip you've got planned.
Camping Gear FAQ
1. Will Different Styles of Camping Require Different Gear?
While some camping gear is a must all the time, other pieces are reserved for specific types of camping. This is largely a matter of weight. If you're car camping, it can be fun to bring lots of creature comforts like big, heavy tents, coolers, electronics, and portable showers. If you'll be paddling your gear in a canoe, you'll have less space but still have the flexibility to carry lots of weight. If you're backpacking, however, you'll want to count each ounce carefully and opt for the smallest and lightest gear you can afford.
2. How Do You Know What You Need?
Every camping trip can hold lessons, and there's no replacement for experience. If you're new to the sport, speak with knowledgeable friends and family about everything you're planning to take camping. They can tell you what gear is worth the carrying weight and which pieces you won't need. If you don't know any experienced campers, stop into a retail shop like REI or Cabela's. Most of their workers will be experienced and up to date on the newest camping gear.
3. What Are the Most Important Pieces of Camping Gear?
This will vary depending on the camping, but it's always worth it to spend a bit of extra money on a high quality sleeping bag and tent. If you have a warm, comfortable sleeping bag and quality tent you'll always have the peace of mind that there's a good night's sleep awaiting you at the end of any hard day on the trail.
4. Where Can You Buy Camping Gear?
Outdoor retailer's like Bass Pro Shops and Campmor will have a wide selection of gear for any camping adventure. Amazon.com will often have good deals on a range of camping gear.
5. Should I Buy Expensive Camping Gear?
More expensive camping gear is usually made of higher quality components and have better design features than less expensive gear. If you plan to camp a lot, you'll likely be happier with higher performance and more durable gear. If you only plan to get out every occasionally then lower-cost gear will often suffice.
What We Reviewed
[amazon box=”B00GIDQCAU,B00KMAXIEI,B00U9BHKM6,B07782GG5T,B07F1XM389,B0117U1W5S,B00J955FH0,B019ZUVE50,B07C1H3PH6,B075S9STW5″ template=”table”]
[amazon link="B00GIDQCAU" title="Dutch Oven" /]
If you are car camping or riding to a campsite in a boat, a cast iron dutch over can be a great way to cook. This dutch over from Lodge is pre-seasoned, so it's ready for use right out of the box. The lid on this unit also has a generous lip so hot coals can sit on top and heat from above.
[amazon link="B00KMAXIEI" title="Road Shower 4S" /]
The Road Shower is 10 gallon tube that mounts directly to the roof rack of any SUV and houses pressurized water. A rubberized tube can then be opened to release either warm or cool water for use either bathing or cleaning.
[amazon link="B00U9BHKM6" title="GCI Outdoor Slim" /]
The Master Cook Station from CGI Outdoors is another excellent choice for those who need not travel light. This unit is a complete fold-out kitchen that boasts an aluminum counter top, a lower rack for storage, 3 plastic side tables, a telescoping lantern pole and a soft-shell sink with a drain.
[amazon link="B07782GG5T" title="NOMATIC Travel Pack" /]
Nomad's travel backpack won't be the option for those hitting Appalachian Trail, but could be perfect for the adventurous traveler who might spend a night or two under the stars. This is an expandable travel pack that can cinch down to 20 liters, but also expand out to 30 liters. It has a large main compartment like a suitcase and many travel oriented pockets and sleeves. Storable shoulder straps will also make this winner when coupling with rolling baggage.
[amazon link="B07F1XM389" title="Hydrapak Expedition" /]
The Expedition from HydraPak is not only a clever piece of camping gear, but it could also be a lifesaver. This is a soft-sided water reservoir with a huge 8 liter capacity. It would likely be too heavy to carry while filled, but it could be great to have while car camping or setting up a base camp. It packs flat, so it will be easy to carry into the backcountry and features an easy plug-in spout.
[amazon link="B0117U1W5S" title="Geralt Pocket Knife 11-in-1" /]
A solid multi-tool is a must-have for any serious camper, this 11-function Swiss Army knife from Geralt has a selection of key tools that could prove helpful in a pinch. Features on this tool include a large knife, a small knife, scissors, combination nail file, nail pick, combination bottle opener, flat head screwdriver, and many others.
[amazon link="B00J955FH0" title="Coleman 8-Person Tent" /]
This eight-person tent from Coleman could be a great piece of camping gear for those heading out with a large group. It's a heavy tent and best reserved for car camping but has lots of space for an entire family. It stands almost seven feet in the center and sets up in just a few minutes, so this will provide a comfortable space without too much effort.
[amazon link="B019ZUVE50" title="Nemo Sonic" /]
Nemo makes some of the highest quality camping gear on the market and their Jazz Luxury sleeping bag is no exception. This is an oversized bag with luxury features like a pillow top, a large hood, integrated sheet, and a sleeping pad sleeve. You won't want to pack this for a long trip into the backcountry, but it will be perfect when you can spare the space and want a little extra comfort.
[amazon link="B07C1H3PH6" title="Wise Owl Outfitters Hammock" /]
This hammock from Camping for Foodies could be a fun accessory to have on hand when hitting the campground. There's nothing earth shattering about this hammock but it has one crucial feature—a beer holder. The holder pocket also has space for a good book and is embroidered with the message "I'm Unplugging."
[amazon link="B075S9STW5" title="Thermacell Radius Zone" /]
Mosquitos and other creepy crawlies can turn a fun night of camping into a nightmare. Thermacell's Radius Zone repeller is a battery-powered device that emits a mosquito repellent vapor creating a 150 square foot bug-free radius. Each charge lasts for over six hours and each repellent cartridge has a 12 hour capacity. For extra power Thermacell also offers a 40-hour Radius Zone cartridge.
Our top overall pick from this list of camping gear is the HydraPak EXPEDITION water reservoir. This is a product that would serve just about any camper well. If you're heading into the deep backcountry this water bladder can pack down flat and weighs just 9 ounces. It's an ideal choice for a base camp and will keep you from needing to fill water bottles repeatedly throughout the day.
And while it's great for more advanced campers, this is also an ideal piece of camping gear for those going less intense. If you're at a camp group, or even RVing, you won't want to spend your time running back and forth between the water hook-ups. With this reservoir you'll have plenty of water for drinking and dishes and have easy access with their Plug-and-Play hose system.
Each of the products on this list could serve you well on a camping trip. While you wouldn't want to carry a portable kitchen or eight-person tent into the backcountry, they could be the perfect choice for a fun weekend out with friends and family. The HydraPak EXPEDITION reservoir is a great choice for campers of any stripe. If you're looking for one product that will make the cut no matter how you're camping, this product is definitely worth a look.