What to know about camping gear before pitching up?

Before you go camping, there are a few things you need to know about camping gear. This includes what gear is essential, how to choose the right gear, where to buy gear, what gear you need for sustenance, what “extra” gear you might carry, how to take care of your kit, what gadgets to take, and how to choose camping gifts for a fellow camper.

What standard features are in camping gear?

Camping gear will typically be made from robust, durable materials often with a high degree of waterproofing. All camping gear must be portable, using a vehicle to transport it if need be, and therefore light and compact enough for this purpose.

What extra features may camping gear have?

Camping gear may come with extra features designed to enhance comfort and convenience. In tents, these can include easy-access storage features and multiple entrances, built-in LED lights for nighttime illumination, or darkroom technology to keep sunlight out. Sleeping gear can come with specialized distributions of insulation, be self-inflating, or have self-reflective surfaces.

What mistakes are made choosing camping gear?

The list below outlines the most common mistakes made when choosing camping gear.

  • Scrimping and then having to upgrade down the line.
  • Overspending on something that’s overkill for what you need.
  • Splurging on ‘luxury’ items that are too heavy to carry.
  • Buying too much gear.
  • Only buying from the biggest-name brands.
  • Not thinking about the specific needs of your camping trip.

Can you try camping gear before you buy?

You can try camping gear before you buy it from retailers that offer a “try it before you buy it” program, such as Outdoors Geek.

What gear to test out before you head out camping?

Before embarking on a camping trip, it’s essential to try out certain gear to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Test run pitching your tent in your yard or local park to iron out any potential issues. Also, make sure your camp stove ignition is working properly and the stove still cooks efficiently. Check any devices you plan to take camping are operational and that any batteries still work. Testing gear prior to your trip means that any adjustments can be made, or issues addressed, prior to reaching camp.

How does season affect camping gear choice?

The season will significantly affect what features to look out for in camping gear. 

In warmer summer months lightweight, breathable gear with lower temperature ratings will be required. 

Transitional seasons like spring and fall demand a greater degree of versatility in camping gear. Three-season tents and sleeping bags are best for these seasons and waterproof gear is recommended for rain showers. 

Winter camping needs a completely different set of gear. Four-season tents can withstand snow and wind, whilst sleeping bags designed for sub-zero temperatures are available.

How does terrain affect camping gear choice?

Terrain type greatly impacts how you select camping gear. Mountainous areas require sturdy and durable camping gear, coastal camping requires gear to withstand salty air and sandy conditions, whilst forest camping gear should incorporate features that offer insect protection.

How does group size affect camping gear choice?

The number of campers in your group significantly influences gear choice. 

For larger groups, more spacious tents with room dividers and multiple entrances are advisable. Your camp kitchen requirements will also be greater so a multi-burner grill or double-burner camping stove will make meal times a lot easier. For small groups or couples, you can opt for more lightweight and compact gear, perhaps even hammocks. And kitchen gear can be scaled down to a more minimalist camping stove.

What are some camping gear hacks?

Some useful camping gear hacks are given below.

  • Using a hanging shoe organizer as vertical hanging storage shelves in your tent.
  • Store matches/lighters in a small sealed waterproof container.
  • Freeze water in plastic bottles and store in your cooler. It will keep your food cool and when it melts provide cold water to drink.
  • Make sure to pack duct tape for repairs. You can even wrap pieces around your water bottle for quick access.
  • Packing a tarp is always worth it.
  • Foam floor tiles are great for flooring inside a tent.

What items should be on your camping gear checklist?

The main camping gear items on your checklist should be a shelter, sleep system, kitchenware, food, tools, camp furniture, lighting, and hygiene supplies.

What is a camping tent?

A camping tent is a collapsible fabric structure used as protection from the elements when camping outdoors. The fabric is stretched out over, and held up by poles. Check out all our guides to tents here.

What kinds of camping shelters are available?

Common types of camping tents include dome-shaped, A-frame, cabin, tunnel, geodesic, pop-up, instant, SUV, rooftop, backpacking, ultralight, teepee, canvas, screen, inflatable, multi-room, and hammock tents.

What materials are camping tents made from?

Most modern camping tents are made from either polyester, nylon, or a ripstop fabric. Tent poles are typically made from aluminum, fiberglass, or carbon fiber.

What features to look for in a camping tent?

When choosing a camping tent make sure to take into account the following.

  • Capacity, interior space, and storage space
  • Seasonality
  • Weather resistance
  • Ease of setup
  • Weight and packability
  • Durability of fabric and poles
  • Ventilation features
  • Vestibules and screened porches

What are the most popular camping tent brands?

The list below contains some of the most popular brands of camping tents.

  • REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.)
  • MSR (Mountain Safety Research)
  • Big Agnes
  • Marmot
  • The North Face
  • Coleman
  • Kelty
  • NEMO Equipment
  • Eureka!
  • Black Diamond

What is a camping sleep system?

A camping sleep system is all the gear required for getting a good night’s sleep when camping. Typically this includes a sleeping bag or quilt, a sleeping pad/air mattress/camping cot, and perhaps a camp pillow to improve comfort and insulation when sleeping outdoors.

What sleeping gear is essential for camping?

The time of year, where you are camping, as well as personal preference, will determine what sleeping gear is essential for you. At a minimum, an insulating layer between your body and the ground and something to sleep in/have over you is sufficient. If camping in summer and you like to pack light then a sleeping bag liner and sleeping mat can suffice. For camping in colder weather, a well-insulated sleeping bag and a camping cot to raise your body off the cold ground may be preferred. 

What is a camping hammock?

A camping hammock is made from durable material suspended between two anchor points, typically trees, creating a sleeping platform elevated off the ground for camping in. Check out all our guides to hammocks here.

Why use a hammock for camping?

A hammock is an even more lightweight and portable sleeping solution than using a tent for camping. Some campers find they get a more restful, comfortable sleep in a hammock due to the reduction in pressure on the body. There is also far less need for an insulating layer on the underside of the body as compared to sleeping on the ground.

What makes a good camp kitchen?

Any good camp kitchen will need to be durable enough to withstand any rough handling in transportation as well as to hold up against the elements. A camp kitchen needs to be well organized with space optimized efficiently for utensils and food storage. The various areas of a camp kitchen should include a food prep area, a flat and stable surface for a cooking area, and a washing-up station.

What are the main essentials in a camp kitchen?

In a camp kitchen, the main essential kit items include the following.

  • Something to cook on (stove, grill)
  • Pots, pans
  • Cooking utensils (dependant on your cooking device and what you cook but typically tongs, spoons, spatulas)
  • Eating utensils
  • Plates, bowls
  • Cooler or icebox
  • Water container
  • Two basins for washing dishes

What essential camping tools do you need?

The most essential camping tools to pack include the following.

  • A camping knife or multi-tool
  • Firestarter, matches, or lighter
  • Axe or hatchet
  • Shovel

What can you use a camping knife for?

A knife is incredibly useful when camping with uses ranging from food prep, whittling wood, preparing kindling for a fire, gear repair, and general cutting, of rope for example.

What features to look for in a camping knife?

A good camping knife will have a blade made from high-quality stainless steel or carbon steel and a handle made from non-slip rubber, G10, or Micarta. The length of blade you choose, as well as the blade shape and edge type, will differ depending on the main tasks you need your camping knife for. In general, a blade length of 3 to 5 inches is sufficient for most camping tasks. A more versatile option may have a drop point or clip point blade. A plain edge is for more general use whilst a serrated edge can be useful for cutting rope or fibrous materials.

What can you use a camping axe for?

A camping axe is handy for splitting and processing firewood, clearing trails, shelter building, bushcraft skills, emergencies, and even food prep.

What features to look for in a camping axe?

When choosing a camping axe the size, weight, materials, and design are important to think about. Blades are typically made from high-quality steel. A carbon steel head has excellent edge retention and sharpness, whilst stainless steel offers better resistance to corrosion. An ergonomically designed handle is advised for better grip and to reduce strain and options typically vary from wood, fiberglass, or synthetic composites. The length of the handle determines chopping power, with longer handles offering more force and shorter handles more control.

What can you use a camping spade for?

When camping a shovel can be used for digging a fire pit, tending to a campfire, leveling ground to pitch a tent, digging cat holes to bury waste, clearing debris around camp, and clearing snow.

What features to look for in a camping shovel?

When choosing a camping spade the size, weight, and materials it is built from are important factors to look out for.  For space saving a collapsible or foldable shovel is ideal and for a lighter, yet strong and durable shovel, opt for high-quality steel or aluminum. Preferred blade design will depend on the intended use. A serrated edge allows for cutting through terrain and roots whilst a flat edge is ideal for digging or levelling ground.

What camp furniture is handy for dining?

When it comes to eating at camp you can always eat standing or have dinner on your lap yet a simple camping table makes things a little more enjoyable. The size, weight, and portability of your table will be dependent on the needs of your camping group but ease of setup is always a bonus!

What furniture is handy for sitting around camp?

When it comes to lounging around camp there are a few optionsto choose from. Foldable camp chairs, camping stools, inflatable sofas or chairs, and foam or inflatable seating pads.

What lights are most suitable for camping?

There are many options for campsite lighting including LED headlamps, flashlights, lanterns, solar-powered lights, string lights, glowsticks, candle lanterns, solar-powered path lights, and of course a campfire.

What are the most portable options for camp lighting?

LED headlamps are great portable options when camping as they provide hands-free illumination so in the dark you can set up camp, cook, or go for midnight pees with ease.

What are decorative options for camp lights?

For a cosy and festive ambience string lights are a great addition to any campsite. They are also useful for finding your tent in the dark!

What electrical gear is useful when camping?

For some, camping is a way to get away from devices and electrical goods, for others they help make the camping experience a little more like a home from home. Here are some popular electrical camping items.

  • Portable fan or AC unit
  • Portable heater
  • Electric camp shower
  • Electric camp stove
  • Electric cooler or refrigerator
  • Power banks and charging units
  • Campsite lighting

What size generator do you need for camping?

The size of electrical generator you need will depend on the power requirements of your particular camping group. 

To work this out list the wattage of all the devices and appliances you plan to take camping with you. Add up the wattage of all these items to give you the total power load, an estimation of the maximum power your generator needs to handle these. Make sure to use the starting wattage value for devices such as refrigerators and AC units as these are typically higher than their running wattage. Finally, select a generator with wattage greater than your maximum calculated total power load. It is a good idea to buy a generator with a little extra capacity to handle any unexpected power needs on top of this.

What features to look for in a camping generator?

Important features to look for in a camping generator include the following.

  • Power output to meet demand (including starting wattages).
  • Fuel type – gasoline, propane, or diesel.
  • Noise level. Some campgrounds have restrictions on noise levels.
  • Runtime before needing refueling.
  • Outlet types (AC, DC, USB etc.) and number.
  • Parallel capability for use with another generator.
  • Portability.
  • Safety features such as overload protection, low-oil shutdown, and automatic voltage regulation.
  • Fuel efficiency.

What size power bank do you need for camping?

Again, if opting to take a power bank for camping the size you opt for will depend on your power consumption. Power banks are rated in milliampere-hours (mAh) or watt-hours (Wh). Calculate the total mAh or Wh of all the devices you want to take camping and that will tell you how large a power bank you need to take. Typically the average camper should be able to charge several devices multiple times with a power bank rated at 10,000 to 20,000 mAh.

Why have specific footwear for around camp?

Having footwear specifically for around camp is great for several reasons. It gives your feet a chance to relax and recover if they have been tied up all day in hiking boots yet protects them from rocks, sticks, and other debris on the ground. It also helps keep the inside of your tent mud free without the need to untie your shoes or boots every time you need to go inside. It also helps to maintain your daytime footwear by giving all that trapped sweat and moisture accumulated in there a chance to dry out.

What are camping shoes?

There are several types of camping shoe to choose from including sandals, water shoes, and flip-flops. All these options free your feet from hiking footwear yet protect them at the same time and are versatile for activities such as river crossings.

What features to look for in camp shoes?

The following are features to look out for in camping shoes.

  • Lightweight and packable
  • Cushioned footbed for comfort
  • Breathable materials to help with ventilation
  • Quick drying
  • Easy to slip on and off
  • Durable
  • Non-marking outsole for inside tent
  • Traction on soles for slippery surfaces

How do camp slippers differ from camp shoes?

There are several ways camp slippers are different from camp shoes.

  • Softer and cozier, more like house slippers
  • Less versatile, only intended for relaxation and comfort around camp
  • Made from fleece or soft fabrics
  • Not as quick drying, more care needed to keep them dry
What features to look for in camping slippers?

The following are features to look out for in camping slippers.

  • Lightweight and packable
  • Cushioned footbed for comfort
  • Breathable materials to help with ventilation
  • Rubber, non-slip outsole
  • Easy to slip on and off
  • Durable

What to know about buying camping gear?

There are several things to keep in mind when buying camping gear. The type of camping you do greatly determines what to choose, as do potential weather conditions, as well as how you plan to get gear to your campsite. Make sure to research and compare different brands and models and look up recent customer reviews as well as check for return policies and any warranties. 

What can you find in a camping store?

Most camping stores will cover everything you need for a camping trip. This includes shelters, sleep systems, cooking equipment, backpacks, camp furniture, camp lighting, water filtration systems, camp hygiene products, first aid supplies, campfire accessories, camp clothing and footwear, camping electronics, and gear repair kits.

Buy online or at a camping store?

Whether it’s better to buy online or in-store depends on the type of camping gear you are looking to buy and your previous experience with this bit of kit. For example, if you have not seen a particular tent in person before then tents are best looked at in-store to gauge capacity, height, ease of assembly, etc. Equally, backpacks are best tried on and adjusted in-store too, and an experienced staff member will be able to help find the right size for you.

Do camping stores offer gear rentals?

Many camping gear stores do rent out camping equipment. These include REI, Arrive Outdoors, Lower Gear, Xscape Pod, and Outdoors Geek.

Why rent camping gear instead of buying?

Renting out camping gear, rather than buying, suits a variety of people for a number of reasons. For infrequent campers or those needing one-off specialized equipment renting is more cost-effective. For those looking to try before they buy renting is a risk-free way to test out goods before committing what can be a $100s or $1000s investment. Practical reasons such as lack of storage space at home, lack of ability to maintain equipment, or perhaps traveling by air to your campsite also make renting gear attractive.

What are popular camping brands?

The list below contains some of the most popular camping brands.

  • REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.)
  • MSR (Mountain Safety Research)
  • Big Agnes
  • Marmot
  • The North Face
  • Coleman
  • Kelty
  • NEMO Equipment
  • Eureka!
  • Black Diamond

What are some budget-friendly camping brands?

If on a budget some popular camping gear brands include the following.

  • Ozark Trail – Available at Walmart
  • Naturehike
  • REI Co-op
  • Kelty
  • Teton Sports

What camping stores offer discounts or sales?

Many retailers have year-round discounts, sales, and clearance events. Some popular ones include the following.

  • REI
  • Backcountry
  • Moosejaw
  • CampSaver
  • Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS)
  • Steep&Cheap

What camping gear is OK to buy cheap?

Some camping gear is more suitable for buying on a budget than others.

  • Tents for occasional use in fair weather only
  • Basic foam mats for use as a sleeping pad
  • Camp chairs 
  • Headlamps and flashlights
  • Camping utensils and cookware
  • Camping stoves for occasional use
  • Rain tarps

What are popular stores to buy camping gear from?

Popular stores to buy camping gear from include REI, Backcountry, Moosejaw, Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), and Evo.

What are popular online retailers to buy camping gear from?

Popular online camping gear retailers include REI.com, Backcountry.com, Campsaver.com, Evo.com, and Moosejaw.com.

Where to store camping gear at home?

After cleaning and drying camping gear store it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. To further protect camping gear when in storage it is a good idea to keep it in waterproof containers to prevent potential damage from moisture and pests.

How to store camping gear at camp?

Having designated spaces to store your gear at camp will vastly improve your camping trip. Tent vestibules are ideal for storing larger gear or items like shoes that get dirty, whilst gear lofts are great for smaller items utilizing otherwise dead space. Always store sleeping gear inside the tent to keep it dry or if not possible store in waterproof stuff sacks. If there are trees nearby then use carabiners and ropes to hang items such as kitchen utensils or lamps. 

How to keep campers happy when not pitched up at camp?

If you can’t be on a camping trip right now then the next best thing is receiving camping gifts in anticipation of your next outdoor adventure or reminding your senses of that camping feeling!

What are good gifts for beginner campers?

If someone in your life is just getting started on their camping journey, they likely won’t have much kit yet. Larger pieces of camping kit can be expensive so gifting store credit or vouchers so they can rent this out can help your loved one decide if camping is for them without being saddled with all the gear if they decide it isn’t! Power banks and water bottles are also great gifts since they have applications outside of camping too.

What are good gifts for more experienced campers?

For the veteran camper, any camping gear gifted will likely be an upgrade on what they already use at the moment. This could be in the form of lighter, more compact, more convenient, more reliable, more durable, and/or easier to use. Another angle is to gift gear with added-on bonus features or multiple uses such as a backpack cooler that doubles as a chair. 

Can you get cologne with a camping fire fragrance?

For those that love the smells of camping, there are options to have a campfire scent sprayed onto yourself. On the more subtle end of the scale, Pinrose’s Campfire Rebel is a unisex perfume. For a deeper scent, Outlaw’s Fire in the Hole cologne will have your senses taken all the way back to the Wild West.

Can you get room spray with a camping fire fragrance?

If covering your body in the scent of campfire isn’t enough then there are campfire room sprays out there too. Candeo campfire smoke linen and room spray is ideal for this or for a more budget option, you can opt for Yankee Candle’s Crisp Campfire Apple’s spray.