Top 10 Best Camping Essentials: The Gear Guide

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(Flickr/Ross Harmes)

Whether you are camping, hiking, or backpacking, preparedness is key. This is why we’ve put together a list of the most important outdoors essentials you’ll need for any situation.

Along with the essentials, you will find several hi-tech takes on traditional camping equipment, for the adventurer who wants to utilize technology for their trailblazing.

Keep in mind that bringing too much equipment with you can be just as bad as bringing not enough, so pack carefully anytime you hit the great outdoors, and leave room for necessities like water, food, and first aid gear.

But whether your idea of enjoying nature is more like glamping or camping, our list has you covered.


1. Sundome 2 Person Tent

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(Amazon)

A tent is an obvious item that is not so obvious to get right, as there a number of different sizes and style. And since there is no one tent that works for every camping trip, you can use Amazon’s tent buying guide to help make things a little easier.

For new campers and backpackers, something small like the Sundome 2 Person Tent will suffice, as long as you don’t need room for more people. Whatever size you go with, you will also want to make sure your tent is easy to set up, and that it protects you from the elements.

If you want your tent to be able to stand against windy conditions you might also consider purchasing a Coleman Tent Kit, which offers you a better mallet and additional stakes for holding your tent down.

Price: $55.89 (13 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Sundome 2 Person Tent here.


2. ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Camping Lantern

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(Amazon)

Thermacell’s Mosquito Repellent Camping Lantern offers a handy dual function in providing your campsite with light and a 15 x 15 foot zone of mosquito repellent. The lantern has some heft to it with its four D batteries, and has a grippable rubber plastic design. It has a sturdy fold-up handle for carrying, or can be strung upside down with a hidden hanging clip. The LED light has four brightness settings and an SOS strobe setting, with brightness maxing out at 300 lumens.

The real benefit comes from the lantern’s built-in mosquito repellent system, which operates separately from the light via an included butane cartridge. To use it, all you need to do is insert the butane cartride, place one of the three included mosquito repellent mats under the grill atop the lantern, and turn on the heat. Each repellent mat lasts about four hours, and they visibly change from blue to white when they need to be swapped.

The mats worked great fighting off the bugs of the moist Pacific Northwest climate on my last evening hike. The lantern also repels black flies and some other flying insects in addition to mosquitoes, so the Thermacell will be useful wherever there are flying pests.

If travelling light is your ultimate goal, you can consider the smaller Thermacell lantern of this series, which provides the same radius of pest protection albeit less total lumens.

Price: $51.98

Buy the ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Camping Lantern here.


3. Teton Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Backpack

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(Amazon)

You won’t get deep into wilderness without a good backpack, and unless you’re a camping pro, you will need to pack some drinkable water as well. The Teton Sports Oasis 1100 provides 18 liters of storage space, plus a built-in 2 liter hydration bladder that helps you keep extra water handy.

This mesh-covered pack has a hip belt and chest shock absorber to help evenly distribute weight. If you are going backpacking, you will need a pack slightly more spacious than this, but if you are doing a day hike or need an auxiliary bag when camping, the Oasis is a great pick.

Price: $38.13 (5 percent off MSRP)

Buy the TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Backpack here.


4. Anker PowerCore+ 10050 Portable Battery Charger

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(Amazon)

Even if you’re trying to escape from everyday life, odds are you will still want to keep key digital equipment like GPSes and smartphones charged when you are out camping. Anker’s PowerCore+ 10050 is a light yet durable portable USB charger that is easy to bring along wherever you go.

This PowerCore+ model is cased in a sleek shell made from laser-cut alloy, and has a handy LED power wheel that helps track remaining power left. This powerbank has a single USB out, and it can Deliver up to 2.4A out.

The biggest reason to go with the PowerCore+ is its use of Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 technology, which ensures a speedy charge on newer devices. With enough power to charge most phones 4 times over and a handful of efficiency and safety features to boot, the PowerCore+ 10050 is a choice portable battery that you will take everywhere.

Price: $29.99 (50 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Anker PowerCore+ 10050 Portable Battery Charger here.


5. Etekcity Ultralight Portable Camping Stove

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(Amazon)

Some campers insist on building a roaring fire every night, but a portable camping stove is a more modest option when heat isn’t an issue. Etekcity’s ultralight option is compact and collapsible making this butane-powered hand stove. The design leaves no trace on the environment, unlike normal campfires which leave behind soot and debris. The piezo ignition system works instantly regardless of weather conditions, making the stove even easier to use.

Obivously, you will need some portable cooking equipment to make use of this stove (unless you plan to cook a can of beans). This 10 Piece Cookset from MalloMe will have more than most will ask for out of a portable cooking set, but is far and away the best value for your cooking needs.

Price: $10.99 (58 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Etekcity Ultralight Portable Camping Stove here.


6. Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow

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(Amazon)

Backpackers who have gone without one know the value of a good pillow, but nobody ever has to be without one, as Therm-a-Rest offers an expanding foam pillow that expands big and packs small. The pillow has a comfortable brushed polyester case filled with soft urethane foam that can retain its shape no matter how many times you pack it. It comes in sizes from small to X-Large to accommodate any sized backpack, and is machine washable.

Price: $13.77 and up

Buy the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow here.


7. Meet Earl

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(Amazon)

Following a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, Meet Earl is a new type of tablet, designed to be the perfect companion for wilderness explorers. The tablet’s main function is as a GPS, which offers pinpoint location, direction and elevation data. It combines with hiking trail databases to offer precisely mapped routes on its high resolution E-Ink screen, which can be backlit for night use.

This tablet does everything from serve as a two-way radio communicator to measure your heart rate, and uses solar panels to extend its battery life to up to 20 hours. Since this device just came out, its availability will be slim, but Meet Earl can definitely change the way you hike forever.

Price: $299.00

Order the Meet Earl here.


8. Eton Scorpion ll Multi-Purpose Crank Light

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(Amazon)

The Scorpion II is a multi-purpose companion that can be anything from a hand crank light to a portable 800 mAh battery with USB output. It also has a solar panel for another power method. The Scorpion provides bright light and offers access to the AM/FM/NOAA Weatherband to keep you updated on weather updates when in nature. There is almost always a good reason to keep this light around, and when the time comes that you truly need it, you’ll be glad you have it.

Price: $36.25 (62 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Eton Scorpion ll Multi-Purpose Crank Light here.


9. BioLite Wood Burning Campstove

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(Amazon)

For those who truly prefer to subsist off what is naturally available, the BioLite Wood Burning Campstove is a great cooking utility that doubles as an alternative to a portable powerbank. This auto-starting wood stove allows you to turn foraged wood into a cozy cooking fire that also generates thermal power to charge USB-compatible devices.

This stove is about the size of a 1 liter Nalgene water bottle, and weighs about 2 lbs. If keeping your electronics charged is a top priority, a normal power bank will suffice, but for extended camping trips, the BioLite campstove will keep providing utility until you forget how to start a fire.

Price: $129.95

Buy the BioLite Wood Burning Campstove here.


10. Klymit Static V Lightweight Sleeping Pad

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(Amazon)

Sleeping bags are nice for warmth, but in terms of comfort, you will often still need a little extra cushion between you and the ground. The Klymit Static V is definitely one of the best sleeping pads you can get for its price, and will make a world of difference on your next overnight trip. The V chamber design allows the pad to inflate up to 2.5 inches tall in only about 12 breaths, making it quick to inflate and deflate.

The Static V packs small as well, adding hardly any weight or bulk to your pack. It might be okay to forgo a tent or sleeping bag if conditions allow, but you won’t want to be without a body supporting pad when you finally hit the hay.

Price: $50.99 (15 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Klymit Static V Lightweight Sleeping Pad here.

Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.

1 Comment

1 Comment

Deb Pearl

My family and I are going on a camping trip soon and I haven’t been camping in a long time and I don’t know what I should pack. I didn’t think about packing a crank light. That would be a good thing to have in case our batteries run out. Thanks for the tips on what to bring!

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