Whether you’re a back-to-basics camper or like to bring some creature comforts along, you’ll need the right gear to make your camping experience comfortable. We’ve found some of the best camping equipment at JamHz that we tested over the summer and are excited to share.
A good sleeping bag is essential for both backpacking and car camping. Consider both shape and comfort rating. Mummy bags are snug and have hoods, while rectangular bags can be zipped together for sharing.
Tents are the basic shelter for camping. They must be weather-appropriate, sturdy, and large enough to accommodate all campers. They should also have easy-to-open and close doors. Some tents come with a rainfly for additional protection from the elements.
Other camping gears include stakes or pegs, a mallet or hammer for driving them in the ground, and bungee cord for tieing down equipment. A tarp is another essential piece of camping gear, which can be used as a covering for the tent, to help with water run-off, or to protect gear and people from falling objects.
A vestibule is a floorless covered section outside the entrance to a tent that is usually used for storage of clothing, equipment, and boots. It can be a removable attachment or built into the tent. Some tents also have awnings, which can be extended over an area of the tent to provide shade or cover equipment.
The style of tent chosen depends on the needs and preferences of the campers, with a particular emphasis on ease of use (though that may be in exchange for cost and durability). Tents which dismantle for transportation are usually colour-coded or linked together with chain or cord so there is no confusion about how they connect during setup. Some are free-standing, requiring only pegs to hold them in place and making them relatively easy to pitch even on uneven ground.
The sleeping bag is the quintessential piece of camping gear; it’s a zippered blanket that keeps you warm while you sleep. There are many options for sleeping bags, ranging from basic rectangular designs that offer plenty of room to roll around to pared-down mummy-style models that are more efficient at trapping heat.
When shopping for a new sleeping bag, consider the temperature rating and how you plan to use it. Different people will feel colder or warmer than the average person, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before purchasing a particular bag. Look for a bag that has its Comfort Temperature (the temperature at which most campers would be comfortable) and a Lower Limit rating that indicates the lowest temperature that the bag is rated to keep you alive and safe from hypothermia.
Some sleeping bags also feature extras like a pad sleeve or a hood designed to seal out drafts and improve warmth. A few additional features that might make you want to spend the extra cash on a higher-end model include a water-resistant YKK main zipper, plush tricot lining, and a spacious pillow pocket with snaps that can hold two standard-sized pillows.
For an even more luxurious option, consider a backpacking-ready sleeping bag like NEMO’s Jazz 30 Double, which pairs a premium-quality down outer bag with a lightweight synthetic midlayer that can be layered together or separated depending on the conditions. This combo package comes with a compression sack for easy storage and packs down to the size of a large duffel for transport on backpacking adventures.
Whether you’re tent camping or car-camping with the kids, a well-stocked camp kitchen is a must. Start with a stove (see our guide to the best camping stoves) and then stock up on pots, pans and cooking utensils.
Cooking utensils can be organized into several categories based on their function and the kind of cooking that’s done. They can be divided into preparation equipment; cookware such as pots, kettles, skillets and cauldrons; griddles for roasting and baking; and tabletop utensils for serving and eating.
When shopping for camping utensils, choose items that are lightweight and pack down easily. GSI’s Destination cooking kit, for example, has 24 pieces that include folding tools like spatulas and spoons, prepware including a cutting board and cheese grater, two condiment containers with shakers and full sets of plates, bowls and mugs. It also includes a 1.8-liter pot, a strainer lid and a welded stuff sack that doubles as a small sink.
Another essential piece of camping gear is a fire starter. Look for natural options that don’t contain any chemicals. For example, the Ooni fire starter uses wood shavings that work with a variety of campsite cooking methods. It’s also so light you can carry it in your backpack or daypack. The Ooni fire starter is a great addition to any camping gear set. It also makes a thoughtful gift for any outdoor lovers in your life.
Hiking and camping require a lot of hydration. For that reason, a water bottle is an indispensable piece of camping gear. Camping water bottles should be sturdy, durable and have a big capacity. Other features to consider include a good cap, leak resistance and ease of drinking from the bottle.
During our durability testing, the best bottle we found was the HydraPak Katadyn BeFree, which is a collaboration between two respected outdoor brands and combines the carrying comfort and weight savings of a collapsible soft bottle with the ability to carry filtered water. This bottle feels sturdy, has a large opening for easy drinking and is compatible with most hydration filters.
It is also BPA and BPS-free, has a tethered screw top that won’t lose its cap, and is a great choice for long hiking trips. It has a big capacity of 70 oz and folds up easily when empty. It also has a gusseted bottom to stand up on its own and a carabiner attachment hole. It’s a little pricey, but its superior performance and features make it a great choice for camping. We found that insulated bottles have better temperature perseverance than non-insulated ones. Some of the insulated bottles we tested reached temperatures 40 degrees above ambient air temperature, while non-insulated ones only increased by 15 degrees. The quality and thickness of the insulation makes a difference.
The right flashlights and lanterns can keep campers comfortable and safe. These battery-powered lighting tools may be as simple as a flashlight with a single on/off switch or as advanced as a high-performance tactical flashlight used by military personnel.
These lights are a must for car camping because they make it possible to see in the dark, and they’re also helpful for hiking and backcountry excursions. The best camping flashlights feature multiple modes, a rechargeable battery and durable, weather-resistant construction. Some of these flashlights are so compact they can fit in a pocket, making them ideal for backpacking.
Many people enjoy caving and spelunking when camping, and having the proper illumination equipment is essential. These flashlights have extended runtimes to allow explorers to focus on their adventure, rather than worrying about battery life.
In addition to flashlights and lanterns, other camping gear includes tarps, camp chairs, first aid kits and mess kits. A tarp is a piece of water-resistant material that can be pulled over tents and other gear to protect them from rain or snow. A tarp can also be pitched under a picnic table to provide additional coverage for dinnertime or to shield campers from the sun or wind. First aid kits come in a variety of sizes and can be packed for a day hike or multi-day backpacking trip. Mess kits include a small skillet, pot, cup and plate; some contain canteens as well.
A multitool combines multiple manual hand tools into a single unit for easy transport and use. They are incredibly useful pieces of camping gear, especially for those who frequently go on outdoor adventures that require a lot of repair work. They are also used by professionals in fields like construction and law enforcement.
There are several different types of multitools, each with unique features that target a specific activity or task. A cycling multitool, for example, will have screwdrivers and hex heads in the most common sizes that bicycles use, as well as other bike-specific tools such as a chain breaker or spoke spanner. Other multitools may focus on fishing or include a fish scaler and a tool for cutting line. Some have specialized tools for first responders, such as a seat belt cutter and strong scissors, or weapon-specific features, such as a carbon scraper to get the gunk off of triggers and barrels.