Gear and Gadgets to Take Your Camping Experience to the Next Level!
Whenever we think about (solo) camping gear, we focus on the big and obvious pieces: a tent, sleeping bag or sleeping mat. But beyond those, there are some nice items that can make even the most basic camping trip almost a glamping adventure.
I’ve collected a few “must-haves” camping gear items that should not be overlooked when thinking about the big stuff. Then, I added five luxury items – they might not be necessary but elevate your camping adventure from mere survival to sweet dreamy pleasure.
I know that it is important to lighten our loads up - but I am of the middle way philosophy - I prefer to carry a few seemingly unnecessary items for the added comfort and pleasure.
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Must-have camping gadgets: let’s start with the practical
Unless you are heading off to Iceland in summer, a headlamp is a must. It’s so much easier to use than a regular flashlight when you look around your tent or read a book (or a Kindle). And don’t even think about going to relieve yourself in the night with a flashlight in your hand. So much more bothersome! Grab a nice, light headlight with a few options of light strength. It is also a good idea to have one with a red light option – it helps when there are other people around.
And don’t even let me start about the pure awesomeness of early morning coffee! The moment you get out of your tent and grab a mug of hot coffee, all is good in the world. You feel at peace with your life and can’t imagine a more perfect moment.
Fine, I’m not sure about the angels but grab a stove with you (and a few appropriate cooking dishes). There are a lot of options out there and you can go with the small and light stoves like the MSR rocket pocket or the combos making boiling water a breeze, like the Jetboil Minimo. I own both of those stoves and can highly recommend them.
I’m sure you have noticed I don’t mention cooking over open fire. I am against making fires while backpacking for many reasons - it’s really bad for the environment and our own health. That’s why I advocate for switching completely to only use small gas or alcohol stoves. There is a lot to choose from, matching every need and budget - just take a look below:
Take a look below at what your stove options are:
Can’t see anything? Try refreshing the page.
If you happen to car camp, you don’t have to limit yourself to the tiny gas stoves. You can grab a proper stove with multiple burners, to feed the whole family or friends! Go crazy and even grab a grill - just watch out for the hungry campers from a nearby plot…
Get a few different kinds and sizes to fit all your needs. Soft things like sleeping bag or clothes can benefit from compression sacks.
Small electronics feel at home in a tiny, 1L bag. All the different colors can also help with finding what you are looking for in a breeze. Make sure you always have a dry set of clothes for the night.
Even if the day was a miserable wet and cold hike through pouring rain, the moment you change into your dry thermal base layer and get into the sleeping bag, all is good again.
If you want, you can also get a big bag liner - to protect all your things inside. It is definitely something to rely on when heavy rains are in your hiking future.
Buff /Neck gaiter (or two)
I am sure this one is not an obvious one! But I find it a must. I always have two of them with me.
Neck gaiters are obviously heaven-sent during hikes - not just for the night. They protect your neck or head, can serve as face mask or quick sweat drying headband. And they come in awesome designs!
No matter what the manufacturers say, most tents have condensation issues. They also can get wet from rain or dew. Sitting and waiting for them to dry could take you well beyond noon so you need some help with dealing with the unwanted moisture.
I’ve heard people use smaller quick drying towels but I found something much better for the task. I always take a square sponge cloth from my kitchen cabinet. They are the kind that is hard when dry but soak up a great amount of moisture and gets soft then. I use it to collect as much water as I can from inside or outside and then the tent dries in no time.
Wherever you are: make sure you drink safe water
Filtering water is a must, no matter if are in a popular camping destination or Wilderness. You just never know. If you go hiking and camping alone, you need a small and light filtration system. You can take purifying tablets or UV pen (if the water is clear) or small water filter. If you go in a group or plan a family camping vacation, it’s better to take a more robust filtration system, ready to clear liters of water in no time.
Take a look below to see your options of small and light water purifiers:
If group camping trips are in your future, invest in something bigger, like one the filters below:
Luxury, fun or borderline genius camping gadgets for all styles of camping aficionados!
Now, what makes a good and memorable (in a positive way) camping trip? A pleasant evening and a good night sleep. I found that a few pieces of gear make me enjoy the solo evening in a tent so much more when I have them with me. I also make sure that I sleep warm and comfortable; otherwise, the next day hiking is going to be miserable.
My favorite thing when I’m camping is the moment I’m all changed, cleaned and fed and I can grab my kindle and just read until I’m ready to turn the lights off. Second place takes the breakfast - oatmeal, coffee and a kindle. Hiking and camping trips are the time I read the most – during regular work-filled days I just don’t have the time or peace of mind to read.
But camping? That’s the perfect moment. I use kindle not just for holding my books. I also copy into it documents like my insurance info, guidebooks, useful information I collected online and compiled into a document (and then turned into a pdf), bus timetables, booking confirmation and so on. You could hold them also on your phone but I find reading on a phone a bit tiring, I prefer the bigger screen of my e-reader.
Stainless-steel vacuum flask
Tea in a mug just gets cold too fast so an insulated flask wins. This one is a new item for me – I took it for the first time for my solo hiking trip to Crete and really loved it. I was also making some for the hiking day if it was to be cold. I got the 0,5L Esbit you can see on the right and it's just the perfect size for me.
Vacuum flask is also a great way to carry ice-cold water on a hot hike. Grab one in size, shape, and color that fits your style!
It takes no place in your bag and is light like a feather but the quality of sleep it brings is worth the price tag.
The ultra-light pillow is a new acquisition for me – I took it for the first time to Crete, but I am not going anywhere without it from now on! I also use it on planes or ferries – it’s just amazing. You can read my review of it right here.
The pillow on the upper-right isn’t of course your only option! Check out all the fantastic options below. If you are going car camping or don’t plan on carrying your stuff for long, consider also the bigger pillows filled with feathers or other supple and comfortable fillings.
Each evening when I hike, I take notes on it. Memory is not a perfect thing so I prefer to write my thoughts and emotions while they are still fresh. I generally take just a simple school notebook and a pen but I never use it outside of my tent.
If you think you might want to have it ready no matter what the outside conditions are like – grab a weatherproof notebook, so you can write your thoughts, poems, and navigation points whenever the inspiration strikes.
Small, packable backpack
It's probably useless for a one-night camping trip but pretty useful for longer ones. Some can serve as a dry bag or can get stuffed into their own pockets to take very little room in your bag.
Why I take one with me? First of all - it's perfect for traveling toward the hiking destination. I take it with me to the plane or a bus with a few useful items, while the big backpack in the luggage compartment. I also use it when staying on a campsite and taking a few things to take a shower, go to a pub or wash my clothes. A few times I had a chance to stay two nights at a campsite and take just this small backpack for a day hike.
Oh, you don’t want to run out of juice when you are out there! Navigating apps, camera, GPS, finding bad signal - all of that ruins batter very fast. When you add to it low temperatures, you might expect your phone (or camera) to die much faster than normally. In addition to being a not pleasant surprise, it can be dangerous. We do need our phones for navigation and we can read quite often about tourists who had to be rescued because their phones died and they had no idea how to find their way in the mountains. You don’t want to be that kind of tourist, do you?
Grab a good, mighty power bank that can feed your camera, phone, kindle, and whatever other electronics you happen to have. For the past couple years, I take with me a heavy brick of 20k mA to get me through a few days of no access to electricity.
If you happen to camp in a very sunny area, you might want to consider solar power banks. It’s a particularly good idea if you want to go off grid for a bit longer. If you hike and camp in an area that gets little sun (cloudy, early sunset, thick tree cover, etc.) - it’s hard to get the full potential of a solar battery. You might want to combine them both and take a power bank like the Anker on the left, and a good solar battery as a back up.
Take a look below at some fantastic examples of high-quality solar panels:
Regular camping chair are good for car camping and it’s hard to grab one when you have miles upon miles to walk with it. But there are some ultra-light options that can add comfort and luxury to your backpacking experience without adding too much load to your backpack.
One option is a proper chair, with legs and all (as the example on the left, a very popular ultralight Helinox chair, weighing 1lb 1.6oz <<<). Another - a simple seat with back support, that can fold to a small package (as you can see in the second example - a chair by Crazy Creek, 1lb 10oz >>>).
When I hike I just use a seat pad, but I must admit - a good chair with back support entered my dream list. I found the second kind particularly interesting, as you can use it inside your tent, when you want to read in sitting position. What a great idea - especially when you are stuck in your tent during on a off day or in heavy rain!
When you don’t have to shlep your camping chair for miles through mountains, you might want to consider taking something heavier and more robust, but probably also - more comfortable. Just check out some fantastic portable chairs that will transform your campsite into a luxurious den:
There is nothing like the feeling of reaching your camp after a long, sweaty hike and the only thing you have to wash yourself with are baby wipes. Been there, done that. A chance to take a shower - and warm at that! - is a true luxury. Sometimes, you might have an access to a lake or river to get some dirt off yourself, but for all the other campsites you have your own shower in a bag!
Just hang it somewhere from a tree, let it warm up in the sun, and enjoy!
I’ve mentioned already a headlamp, but that’s just basics. If you want, you can also grab a small (for a backpacking trip) or a big lantern to make your stay more fun and illuminated. From the very basic lanterns to help you find stuff around the tent, to beautiful fairy lights or groups of lantern for a romantic (and cute) campsites.
If you plan on staying longer in one place, it’s worth investing in a few sources of light.
First, check out a few examples of small and portable lanterns you can grab for your backpacking trip. They make your nights in the tent easier. If you go with someone, it’s much easier to illuminate your space with that kind of lamp than blinding each other with headlamps.
If you would like something more substantial, consider buying one of the standing lanterns. They are still on the light and packable side, easy to pack into one’s backpack:
Do you want to have the full glamping experience or a bit of romantic charm? How about solar (or battery operated) fairy light garland? They come in every possible style, color and length. You can use some tiny lights inside your tent or go all out and stretch them all around your camp, including your car or RV. Visit your local home & garden store for ideas directly from their summer patio section. Just look below for some fancy ideas!
Every hour spent in the mountains is a happy hour!
Normally, I advise to take as little as possible, with no silly gadgets to fill your backpack. But sometimes you might want to go camping for your anniversary, your loved one’s birthday or other special day. Such a trip calls for something more than just one pot and a spork!
If you go to hike, camp, and celebrate, you might need a few more pieces to your kitchen. We need to avoid glass, for the obvious reasons, but it does not mean you can’t have a celebratory glass of sparkling wine with your spouse up in the mountains! Don’t worry - you don’t have to drink the wine from aluminum coffee cups (although it has its charm)!
Let’s start with unbreakable (and nesting) wine glasses, shall we?
And now let’s look at some clever (and spillage-free) ways to carry all the liquid goodness up to the mountains!
Do you prefer beverages of different kind? If enjoying spirits after a long hike is your way to relax, a proper hip flask and a good (insulated) glass are a must!
For all the coffee lovers!
If you love coffee, you can’t imagine not having a delicious cup of java while you camp! The good thing is, there are a lot of great ways to ensure you get the liquid gold with mind-blowing aroma, while enjoying nature.
No matter if you are a hiker or car-camper, you can find gear that can help you get your caffeine fix!
Let’s begin with preparing your fresh grind. Something for the die-hard baristas who cannot drink coffee.made from instant or pre-ground beans. Yes! You can take a unique, light, and purely beautiful coffee grinder with you:
Your freshly ground coffee is ready, so it’s time to brew it! Here’s my favorite way to brew coffee in the Outdoors and at home: pour over dripper! Some of them require paper filters (that’s what I use), some can be used without them and just rinsed after use.
Do you like making your coffee with a French press? You can keep doing it in the Wild! You can grab one of the mugs with built-in French press, or buy a separate one to share the brew with your friends.
And now something for the old school coffee lovers. Wake up everyone in the camp with the delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee in a traditional percolator. Can a morning get any better than that?
First - the light, small, packable yet powerful gear to brew a cuppa!
Love is in the air…
Do you plan a camping trip with your loved one? Can’t imagine sleeping next to each other without snugging and snogging? How about a double sleeping bag? Way more romantic (and practical) than trying to get close without freezing your naked bits off. You have quite a big range of options - from ultralight double mummy styles to comfy home-like comforters, perfect for that car camping getaway.
Awesome bags for car campers!
Not all of us hike for hours to get to the campsite. Many enjoy fantastic camping trips in the Wild thanks to their cars. If that’s you - you are lucky! You don’t need to worry about weight, size or limiting the number of fun stuff to take with your. You also don’t need backpacks: it’s a much better idea to grab a good, waterproof and roomy duffel bag. The bags below will survive a lot of abuse and protect your valuables, no matter where you go!
Raging in sizes from 60L to 120L - I’m sure you will find one to fit all your stuff (and your family’s).
Dog in the Tent!
Do you camp with your four-legged furry friend (or two, three…)? You might need a few bits and pieces to make the experience fun for everyone involved!
First of all, let’s get your dog geared up for the adventure! Why carry all his stuff? If your dog is big enough, it can carry some of the load! Fantastic idea for carrying treats, water bowl or first-aid kit.
Now, let’s see to some proper clothes for your puppy. If you know the terrain you plan on hiking is rough or covered in ice/snow, it might be a good idea to protect your best friend’s paws. Plus - depending on the weather, you need to help your dog stay either warm or, on a hot day - cool. Oh, and did you know there are buffs for dogs? How awesome is that! :)
Now, that you got safely to the camp, you need a few pieces of gear for your dog. A water bowl that is easily packable, warm sleeping bag or a blanket. It’s also worth having a first-aid kit prepared with dogs in mind.
For the dessert: camping electronics
I know, I know… we go camping to escape the world of machines… but there are some electronic gadgets and gear that can help us stay safe, call for help, or - create memories. Now that you have a power bank (or a solar charger) you need a few things to charge, right? :)
First of all: safety. GPS, personal locator beacons, and satellite communicators are particularly important when we plan to go reach places, where it’s hard to catch any signal. You want to make sure your family doesn’t worry or that you have a chance to call for help if anything happened. Take a look below for a few examples of high quality satellite messengers and personal locator beacons:
Some of the best handheld GPS:
I love taking photos when I hike and camp. The phone camera just doesn’t do it for me, so I always take a proper one when I head off into the mountains. There is too many amazing cameras out there to show them here, but I want to present at least the different kinds of cameras you might want to consider. An adventure camera you can strap to your bike, chest harness (or dog) or go swimming with, a tiny compact camera that you can easily hide in your backpack’s hip belt, a semi-professional hybrid camera providing amazing photos but cutting down on the size a bit (as compared to full-sized dSLR).
And now, that you have a camera, a few awesome gadgets to support them!
That’s it, friends!
I hope you could find some helpful, funny, cool, life-saving or simply useful gadget for your next camping trip!
Let me know if you did - or maybe you feel I should include something that you find to be absolutely necessary for any camping trip? Let me know!