Regardless of whether or not you intend to journey into the great wide wilderness for a week long camping trip or just want to spend a little time with your friends or family out in the great outdoors for a night or two, you’ll need to make sure that you have purchased the right camping gear to tackle the trip.
Credit: Allen StonerOne of the biggest mistakes then new campers make time and time again has to do with purchasing the wrong pieces of camping gear, pieces of camping equipment that are pushed by aggressive marketers and advertisers promising you a “frontier like experience” without ever giving up any of the comforts of home.
And while there are certainly some pieces of equipment that can help you enjoy modern life luxuries underneath a canopy of pine trees, the truth of the matter is your trip will be a success or failure depending entirely upon the five essential (and almost foundational) pieces of camping gear described below.
You won’t need much more than the five pieces of gear outlined below, and you also be happy to hear that all of this can be packed away into the cargo space of just about any SUV out there. If you’re ready to get out into the woods, snap up these pieces of camping gear and journey outward!
Make sure that you've picked the perfect tent
Ranking right up there with clothing and water, you need to make sure that you have a solid “headquarters” or base camp established when you’re out camping. Frequently, this is a going to be the tent that you have packed with you – but there are so many different options and choices out there that finding the perfect tent can be a bit of a headache and hassle.
Before you start to look at different options available, focus instead on the kind of camping you’re going to be doing. Don’t just purchase the “premier” tent available in anticipation of that life-changing adventure you have always wanted to take, but instead purchase the tent that suits your “every day” or regular camping needs. Just as you would purchase a panel van on the off chance that you might move in the next year or so, you’ll want to make sure that your tent is versatile, comfortable, and capable of withstanding the kind of camping conditions you will be exposed to.
You also need to make sure that the tent you’ve chosen is lightweight, durable, and can withstand the beating that outdoor life will throw it. You may end up spending a little more money than you had anticipated on a top shelf tent, but this is as close to “life or death” determining camping gear as you’re going to find.
Always invest in a high quality sleeping bag
The modern day sleeping bag has very little in common with the traditional sleeping bag (which was basically a heavy blanket with a zipper around the perimeter). Modern textiles, technologies, and insulating materials all have advanced well beyond the products that were available on the market even just 10 or 15 years ago, and you’ll want to take full advantage of all the benefits that they bring to the table.
Credit: Allen StonerAgain, how you plan to you need to consider the kind of camping and that you are going to be doing on a regular basis before you purchase a sleeping bag. Buying a “mummy style” subzero bag won’t make a lot of sense when you are spending the majority of your time camping on clear nights in the middle of the summer.
At the same time, don’t be afraid of looking into sleeping bags that may not fall in the “camping gear” section of a website. Minimalist backpackers, mountain climbers, and a whole host of other outdoor activities all have incredible sleeping bags “tailor-made” for their specific activities – and most of them make for amazing and versatile camping sleeping bags as well.
Do not enter the woods without navigational tools you know how to use
One of the biggest mistakes that people make (and one of the mistakes that can prove dangerous or even deadly) is walking into the wilderness without navigational tools. Each and every year, we hear heartbreaking stories about outdoors people that were camping in their favorite spot – a chunk of wilderness that they had been camping in for decades – but somehow, someway, had gotten lost in the region and never were able to find their way out in time.
You may decide to camping areas that you’ve been exploring since you were a child, or areas that you’ve never step foot in before, but you always need to make sure that you have a handful of navigational tools that you can use effectively every single time. A standard compass would be the bare minimum for any adventure into the woods or camping experience, but you might also want to invest in a GPS tool, a fold up and weatherproof map, and a handful of other navigational elements to make sure that you and your party are always able to get out of any jam you find yourself in.
It's impossible to have too many tools for starting the fire
Absolutely one of the more critical pieces of camping gear that you can pack with you – and truthfully, a piece of camping gear that you should probably have in your vehicle or on your person at all times – you’ll never be able to pack enough tools for starting a fire.
Not only are you going to want to make sure that you have a high quality lighter on hand with a full fuel supply, but you’re also going to need to make sure that you have weatherproof matches, flint or magnesium fire starters, and a supply of “tinder” that you can use a no matter where you find yourself.
The last thing that you want to have happen is realize that you only brought a single tool for starting a fire, and it has mail function. This is going to put you in a pretty dangerous and precarious situation, one that you simply cannot – and should not – ever find yourself in.
Zippo makes fantastic lighters, just about everyone in the outdoor space makes wonderful weatherproof matches, and a magnesium firestarter can attach to your jacket or other pieces of camping gear with a dedicated keychain so that you are never without. As far as tinder is concerned, nothing will start a fire faster in almost any weather condition than a handful of cotton balls that have been rolled around in petroleum jelly. Put these in an unused Altoid tin, and you should be able to start a fire just about anywhere at any time!
Never leave home without a multi tool
The last real piece of essential camping gear is that you’ll want to make sure you bring into the woods with you each and every single time is a dedicated outdoor multi tool, something like the Leatherman products or Benchmade products that are available at all outdoor stores or online.
Combining knives, saws, screwdrivers, can openers, and all kinds of other tools that you are going to want to have on your person a win away from civilization, multi-tools have quickly become the “go to” piece of survival equipment for daytrippers, weekend campers, and those that are looking to spend weeks and weeks out in the woods alone.
Make sure that you have invested in a high quality multi tool (one made of metal that will not rust and should not dull too quickly), and do everything you can to properly maintain and oil this piece of equipment so that it doesn’t malfunction.
There are some multi-tools out there that have more than 40 pieces or components, you should be able to get away with the one that has 10 or 15 components – provided that they are the ones that will help you survive in a pinch. Some people don’t like having all of this extra bulk on their belt when they go out into the woods, but the moment that you use your multi tool to get out of a sticky situation is the moment that you realize just how important this camping gear is.
Not the complete and total list of camping gear you need, but definitely a solid foundation
Though this is nowhere near the complete and total list of pieces of camping gear that you’ll want to bring with you into the wilderness every single time you head out from civilization, it’s definitely a rocksolid foundation you can build upon moving forward. Camping is absolutely one of the most exciting, interesting, and even relaxing ways to spend a night, a weekend, or some weeks – and truly one of the “lost experiences” in our modern hustle and bustle lives.
Investing in high quality camping gear when it comes to the pieces above will have a tremendous impact on the overall experience you have out in the great outdoors, something that you’ll notice the moment that you strike camp.