Camping is one of life’s great pleasures, and almost anyone can take part. Some campers pack their gear deep into the back country, while others prefer to stay in a campground with electricity and showers. No matter who they are or where they live, their common interest gets them out of the house to enjoy “roughing it!”
To make the most of their outdoors experience, whether in the woods, on the beach, or in a park in town, campers need equipment.
A successful outing depends on having at hand an assortment of the best camping gear to support a basic level of human comfort, including hearty meals and a warm, dry bed.
A basic setup will include a good camp stove, a high quality sleeping bag rated for the appropriate temperature range, and perhaps a tent. Light-weight camping gear is essential for a pack trip.
Please read on for tips on selecting the best camping gear and some recommended brands.
What We Recommend
Selecting the right sleeping bag is essential for camping comfort, and the number of options available for today’s camper can make this a mind-boggling task. To get the best fit, the camper must first identify how and where she will use the bag.
Bags are rated for specific temperature ranges, starting at -40 degrees; they are filled with down or synthetic fill; they are sized to fit tall and short men and women.
Most recreational campers will probably be most satisfied with a three-season bag rated for +15 and above.
Shape and size depend on, well, the shape and size of the camper.
Some bags come with right- and left-handed zippers which allow friends to zip two bags together.
A camper can spend up to $700 for a good bag, but that is not necessary as North Face, Kelty, and REI offer quality products for a reasonable price.
Although not always necessary, a tent is a highly desirable addition to one’s camping gear, particularly in buggy areas.
As with bags, the range of features is amazing, so before choosing the best tent, the camper needs to understand the nature of the expedition; a car camper may not care how much the tent weighs, while someone packing into the wilderness wants to carry as little weight as possible.
Consider these questions when looking at tents:
- Is it waterproof?
- Is it well-ventilated?
- Is it lightweight?
- Is it relatively easy to set up?
- How many people will it sleep?
REI makes some excellent two- and three-person tents. Also, a ground sheet under the tent will protect its bottom and provide an additional barrier against moisture.
At the end of a great day of camping, there is nothing better than enjoying a delicious hot meal. A good camp stove takes the place of the traditional camp fire without the smoke, sparks, and threat of starting a fire.
Backpacking stoves are small, lightweight burners that attach directly to a gas bottle; they provide instant heat to cook a one-pot meal or a cup of cocoa.
For the car camper, Coleman makes a variety of two-burner stoves and portable gas grills that are ideal for fixing meals for multitudes; their Grill Stove lets the camper grill steaks while using the stove top!
Many retailers will let customers “test drive” camping gear in the store before purchasing it.
Take some time to crawl into the tents (do you have enough head room?), zip into a sleeping bag (do your feet touch the end?), and imagine waking to the smell of coffee on a cold morning.