Packing the best camping gear is the key to a successful camping trip. The gear you bring along can help you brave the elements, can keep you warm or cool, depending on the season, and can make your trip comfortable, while leaving you prepared to handle just about anything mother nature can throw your way. But if you’re new to camping, then you may not know what important pieces of gear really matter, where to start, or which gear earned high ratings for quality and durability.
That’s where I come in. I’ve created a buyer’s guide that includes all the must-have gear for your next camping trip, the benefits of bringing along the right gear, and I’ve included four product recommendations for those in search of key pieces of camping equipment that will have a major positive impact on their next camping trip. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that lists each of the products that made it onto my list, their best features, and how they rated.
Camping Gear Comparison Chart
Coleman Sundome Tent
This is a four-person tent that’s waterproof and designed for summer and spring use. The tent doesn’t provide enough insulation for winter camping; however, it is designed to withstand wind up to thirty-five miles per hour. It also comes equipped with excellent ventilation, complete with ground vents and large windows, both of which work together to improve airflow. The built-in E-port makes it much easier to run electrical cords from inside the tent to a campsite power source.
- Ground vents
- Fast setup time
- One-year limited warranty
- Not designed for winter use
This model may not be suited for winter use, but it’s a great choice for summer and spring camping. The ground vents and large windows help to promote airflow, while the interior is large enough to accommodate one queen-sized air mattress or four sleeping bags. The fast setup time of just ten minutes allows you to easily and quickly setup camp, which is a huge plus for any new campers.
Vont 4 Pack LED Camping Lantern
This four-pack of lanterns by Vont is a steal for the price and perfect for any type of camping. Each lantern comes equipped with thirty bright LED lights, with a 360-degree design that allows the lantern to illuminate even the darkest campsites. The battery offers thirty hours of use per charge. The lightweight compact design of the lanterns is what makes them so perfect for any type of camping, regardless of where you are. The lanterns can collapse, so they can easily fit inside your pack, and their durable, waterproof design makes them a great choice for camping in any season.
- Lifetime warranty
- 360 design
- Set of four lanterns
- Thirty hours of battery life
- Lantern doesn’t have a dimmer switch
The manufacturer claims these lanterns are basically indestructible, so they can handle plenty of heavy-duty use on your journey through the backcountry. The collapsible design makes them perfect for hikers, yet their durability, long battery life, and overall versatility is what makes them perfect for any type of camping, any time of year.
Coleman Gas Camping Stove
This is one powerful little stove, offering 22,000 BTUs. This model has two burners with adjustable flames for precise temperature control. It also comes with panels that are designed to block the wind. These panels can be adjusted based on pan size. The pressure regulator provides a consistent performance even in extreme weather conditions. The chrome-plated grate is made out of aluminum and is resistant to rust and corrosion, for easy clean up.
- Includes three-year warranty
- Adjustable flame
- Not designed to handle a large volume of food
This is a beginner-friendly camping stove that offers a fast and simple setup that campers of all skill levels will appreciate.
This model can be used year-round, thanks to the built-in wind shields that will prevent the burners from going out during high wind conditions. The lightweight stove allows for precise temperature control, features a low-maintenance design, and offers 22,000 BTUs of raw power.
MalloMe Camping Sleeping Bag
This plush sleeping bag is water resistant, and features double-layer technology complete with S-shaped stitching and hexagon shaped fabric. This model is also easy to pack and store, thanks to the compression bag that packs the bag down to a very compact size for easier storage and transport. The bag is made out of one hundred percent polyester, which keeps the weight down, while improving the bag’s durability. Unfortunately, the bag isn’t quite warm enough for freezing temperatures, but it can handle temperatures of sixty degrees and up.
- Highly portable
- Perfect for temperatures sixty degrees and up
- Cannot be used during the winter
Lightweight, durable, and highly portable, this model can be used by the serious hiker or car camper. The sleeping bag can offer moderate temperature control, but it’s not recommended for use during the winter months. This is a great three-season sleeping bag, one that’s plush, comfortable, easy to clean, and includes a carry bag that allows you to roll this bag down to a small, compact package for easier transport. So, if you’re in need of a lightweight sleeping bag when you’re hiking, this is a bag that won’t weigh you down.
Camping Gear Buyer’s Guide
There are many benefits that come with camping. Not only does it allow you to get away from busy city life, but it can work as an excellent stress reliever, it’s a great way for you to bond with family and friends, and it allows you to get much-needed exercise.
If you love the outdoors, then nothing can be more exciting than your next camping trip. But, if you’re on a tight budget, or you’re totally new to camping, then you may not know how to choose gear that will work with your budget and your camping needs.
The type of camping gear you need will depend on the type of camping trip you’re planning.
This type of camping involves getting away from it all and camping out in a rural area, far from suburban life, electricity, and many of the conveniences of home. Backcountry camping is usually reserved for more experienced campers, and it’s a great way to decompress from city life and bond with nature. For this type of camping, if you want to use any type of electronic device, it must be battery powered. You will not have access to an outlet, or any comforts of home. Basically, backcountry camping is referred to as roughing it, since you will be living off the land and will not have access to many, if any, comforts of home.
Want to enjoy a few comforts of home? When you camp at a designated campsite, you’ll usually find a power hookup, which allows you to plug in a few electrical appliances or devices, such as a phone charger, air compressor, or radio. These camping trips are perfect for the whole family. While you’re out exploring nature, you’re still not far away from modern conveniences such as grocery stores, home improvement stores, and fast food. With this type of camping, you’ll drive right up to your campsite and keep most of your gear in your car, so you won’t have to worry much about the weight or size of a tent or sleeping bag. This gives you more freedom to purchase bigger, more comfortable gear since you won’t be hiking several miles.
If you’re planning an upcoming hiking trip for your next family vacation, then you’ll need to bring along lightweight, durable camping gear. If you and your group are spending the day hiking several miles to the next campsite, then a low pack weight will be a priority.
Types of Camping Gear
In this section, I’ll go over the best basic types of camping gear to bring, based on camping type and how each piece of gear can benefit you on your trip.
A tent is one of the most basic pieces of gear you can bring along. Of course, if you’re on a hiking camping trip, then you’ll need to either search for the lightest tent possible, or plan on splitting the parts of the tent up amongst you and your buddies, in order to share the load and keep the weight of your pack manageable.
Before you buy, take a look at a tent’s sleeping capacity, weight, and extra features such as doors, room dividers, shelving, and other storage options. If you’re camping out in the winter, then you’ll want a model that provides top of the line insulation and protection from rain and freezing temperatures. If you’re camping during the summertime, then a model equipped with an excellent ventilation system, plenty of windows, and netting on the roof, will be crucial when it comes to keeping you and the family nice and cool.
Of course, lighting is another camping gear essential, and one that you definitely can’t do without, regardless of when or where you’re camping. There are many different types of lighting options to choose from ranging from headlamps and lanterns, to tactical flashlights.
The flashlight is probably the most handy piece of lighting equipment you can bring and is a must-have for hikers or those camping out in the backcountry, since it can light up a path and allow you to clearly see any obstacles in your way.
The best lighting option for your campsite is a powerful lantern that works to illuminate the area for several hours at a time. When you’re shopping for a lantern, learn about each model’s power needs, how long a model can provide lighting for per charge, and other features it offers such as dimmer function and different lighting options.
Headlamps are important for hikers or anyone traveling through the backcountry. These lamps can allow the hiker and camper to see things from a distance and will keep the user’s hands free. Like flashlights and lanterns, a headlamp will have different hours of use per charge.
For the hiker, cooking gear won’t be nearly as crucial as it is for the car camper. For the hiker, a camping stove may be used, but in many cases, hikers will use canned food, freeze dried foods, or anything that can easily be cooked in a pot over a campfire. Why? Because with a camping stove, not only will the user have to carry the stove itself, but these stoves also require the use of propane canisters to power them.
For the car camper, these stoves will come in handy, allowing you to enjoy many of your favorite foods in the great outdoors. If you’re shopping for a camp stove, make sure you pay close attention to the size of the cooking surface, especially if you’re camping out with a large group. You’ll also want to learn about the stove’s fuel needs, how many burners it has, and whether or not it comes with any great extras.
Coolers are commonly used for car camping and will keep drinks, meats, dairy, and other types of food nice and cool, preventing bacteria growth. When you’re shopping for a cooler, take a look at the type of material the cooler is made out of since this can have an impact on how durable it is and how well it can maintain temperatures. You’ll also want to get a closer look at the cooler’s weight, capacity, how the lid latches, and how easy it is to transport.
If you’re camping out in the summer, then a lightweight sleeping bag will be perfect. However, if you have big plans to rough the winter months in a tent somewhere in the backcountry, then you’ll need to do your research and ensure the sleeping bag you choose is specifically designed to protect you from freezing temperatures. Sleeping bags will vary in thicknesses, weight, and size. The climate, weather conditions, and the place where you camp will all have an impact on the type of sleeping bag you end up buying.
If you’re hiking, then you’ll definitely want to go with a lightweight bag, one that can easily attach to the exterior of your pack.
If you’re camping out in the elements, without a tent, then a bag that can provide proper insulation, one that’s waterproof, and durable, will be important.
Again, the type of sleeping bag you choose will ultimately depend on the time of year you’re camping, where, and the weather.
A camping pad is used for a couple of reasons; to improve warmth and comfort. If you’re camping out during the winter, then using a camping pad is essential, since it can help to keep you warm in freezing temperatures, when used with the right type of sleeping bag.
For hikers, a lightweight camping pad will be a must. These pads can easily fold down and can be attached to the bottom of your pack. Despite their lightweight design, many of these pads can still do an excellent job of keeping you warm, depending on the type of material the pad is made out of.
For car campers, the size and weight of the pad will not matter as much, since the user will not have to haul it for several miles. This will allow you to focus on finding a pad that will not only help to keep you warmer, but one that’s thicker and can provide a more comfortable, supportive surface to sleep on.
Just like a sleeping bag, these pads will come in a variety of sizes and lengths. Additionally, the type of materials the pads are made out of can also have an impact on how warm it keeps you and how comfortable you are.
Since your camping gear will be put to work, whether you’re at a campsite or roughing it in the backcountry, look for a product that comes with a warranty. Many manufacturers will cover their products against manufacturing defects, or will offer a thirty-day money-back guarantee.
If you’re someone who only camps once a year for a few days, then dropping hundreds of dollars on new camping gear may seem like overkill. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable pieces of gear to choose from. However, if you camp out often, then purchasing the very best gear should definitely be considered a worthy investment, otherwise, you can expect to replace your gear year after year.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Ten Essentials for Camping?
Many new to camping want to make sure they’re prepared for anything their first time in the backcountry, so what are the ten most important pieces of gear for camping?
- Rain jacket
- Fire starter
- Pocket knife
- First aid kit
- Sleeping bag
- Camping stove
What Should You Not Bring Camping?
- Raw chicken
- White clothing
- Loud electronics
What Food Do You Bring Camping?
- Ingredients for smores
- Materials to make sandwiches
- Instant coffee
- Dried fruit
- Beef jerky
- Cup of noodles
- Trail mix
- Protein bars
Do I Need a Tarp Under My Tent?
While you don’t have to set up a tarp under your tent, many experienced campers highly recommend it. Using a tarp under your tent will prevent tears and holes in the floor of your tent, while also preventing the moisture from the ground from soaking into the tent floor.
The best camping gear will protect you from the elements, will make your camping adventure safer, and will provide some of the comforts of home. Whether you’re shopping for a new tent, camping pad, lantern, or sleeping bag, it’s important that you do your research and make your choices based on the type of camping you’ll be doing, the environment, projected weather, and the season. By following the tips I’ve included in this guide, there’s no doubt that you’ll enjoy a fun and safe camping trip whether you’re headed to local campgrounds or you’re slowly making your way through the backcountry.
To complete your camping gear, it is vital to have a first aid kit. Read our comprehensive best hiking first aid kit buyer’s guide here.