Summer Camping Gear Guide
In fact, to the contrary, you often just want to unplug and unwind.
Despite this, camping still requires—at a minimum—a large backpack’s worth of items. Sleeping, cooking, eating and contending with nature’s unpredictability all demand you cough up some dough and add a little weight to your pack.
With that said, we’re confident these products hit that specific balance of providing comfort and practicality while keeping your attention on nature.
Enjoy the great outdoors and prepare for all its wonderful uncertainty with these 17 must-have camping supplies.
Sleeping BagEddie Bauer First Ascent 1 of 18
Like sleeping with a feather-packed comforter because, well, that's exactly what it is. Warm yet light, the fabric also does an excellent job of repelling water—forcing liquid to bead off instead of soak in.
Whether experiencing warm or cool nights, this comfy sleep sack will keep you snug as a bug in a rug.
BackpacksMountainsmith Approach 45, Eddie Bauer First Ascent Alchemist 40 2 of 18
The backpack is a camper's calling card; it's the one item every outdoorsman/woman must have to both prove they're ready for a day in nature and—more pragmatically—to carry God knows what.
For a weekend camping trip, we like the Mountainsmith's Approach 45 liter and Eddie Bauer's Alchemist 40/55 liter backpacks.
Mountainsmith got the geometry dead on with the Approach, which is one of the most comfortable internal frame packs we've ever tested, and Eddie Bauer's integrated pullout lid that allows you to expand the pack by 15 liters makes it one of the most versatile backpacks we've come across.
Both packs are durable and provide plenty of space for a weekend trip.
TentCotopaxi Techo 3 Tent 3 of 18
A roomy yet light (a mere 6.5 pounds) three-person tent, the Techo is the ultimate shack for your camping adventure. The tent includes double doors to enter on either side and plenty of storage compartments for all your gear.
We also loved the rainfly that includes two vestibules to keep any additional gear dry.
Sleeping PadNeoAir Trekker SV 4 of 18
While this rugged and compact sleeping pad certainly brings enough comfort to the floor for a good night's rest, it's the ease with which it inflates and stores that sets it apart.
Forget cumbersome valve stems or unreliable automatic pump systems—NeoAir's Trekker quickly inflates with a few deep breaths. We also noticed zero air leakage through the night, and it rolls up and deflates just as easily as it rolls out and inflates.
Cooking StoveMSR WindBurner Stove System 5 of 18
Cooking with a camping stove in windy conditions can be a bear. As its name suggests, MSR's Windburner stove keeps its heat despite nature's best try to blow it out.
Not only does the Windburner's enclosed burner protect the flame from wind, but it also boils water twice as fast as a similarly sized camping stove.
HeadlampColeman Conquer 250L Headlamp 6 of 18
It's not just coal miners who have a need for headlamps. Proper lighting is critical when spending a night under the stars, and we love the amount of innovation Coleman packed into its Conquer 250 lumen headlamp.
With five different modes that easily adjust with a wave of the hand (a sensor in the headlamp detects movement and immediately changes modes), and your AAA batteries lasting up to 10 hours, the Conquer will keep you pointed in the right direction.
LanternColeman Northern Noval Propane Lantern 7 of 18
The lantern maker of all lantern makers, Coleman made this propane lantern a massive 3,000 lumens, making the Northern Nova the brightest piece of equipment the company produces.
We love the lantern's three-legged design, build quality and ease with which it starts. This is unmistakably one of the best lanterns you can buy for your adventure.
Portable ChargerWaka Waka Power+ 8 of 18
Low battery on your lifesaver (aka your smartphone) is a near nightmare when camping in the wilderness. With the Waka Waka Power+, you'll never have to worry about running out of power again.
Not only is the Power+ a portable charger, but it's also a solar powered portable charger. For camping, it's a must have.
As an added bonus, a super bright LED light provides up to 150 hours of illumination on a single charge.
Speaker/Light/Power BankOutdoors Tech Buckshot Pro 9 of 18
Three birds with one stone, the Buckshot Pro is one of the most versatile pieces of gear we've come across. A Swiss Army knife of modern capabilities, the Buckshot Pro includes a surprisingly powerful Bluetooth speaker, light with three settings (strobe light, flashlight, camp-light), and a powerbank. And it's waterproof to boot.
BuffNational Park Collection 10 of 18
A resourceful piece of clothing, a camper can wear a buff on is or her head or around the neck for cool summer nights.
With new art deco national park designs, this new line of buffs pays tribute to the National Park Service centennial. Like wearing a tee of your favorite band, you can now rock your favorite national park with pride.
Wilderness SafetySABRE Bear Spray 11 of 18
The wild is just that, an unpredictable place full of awe-inspiring yet potentially harmful creatures. That's why it's best to stay prepared for whatever nature might throw your way.
SABRE's Bear Spray is a vital piece of equipment for your wellbeing. With a 35-foot range and the maximum amount of capsaicin allowed by the EPA, the liquid in this bottle is sure to keep you safe.
CoolerPelican 35QT + Seat Cushion 12 of 18
Speaking of bears, do you want a cooler strong enough to withstand the brute force of a giant grizzly? Well, the Pelican 35QT fits the bill.
This heavy-duty cooler includes 10 days ice retention (that's right, ice will last 10 days in this cooler), and an attachable cushioned seat, which makes the cooler far comfier than the tree stump you were about to sit on.
CookwareMSR Alpinist 2 System 13 of 18
We no longer have to travel with tin cups and speckled blue plates, as camping cookware has vastly improved over the years. With deep-dish plates, mugs, pots and a strainer, all included in a compact form that makes it easy for travel, we love the Alpinist 2 System.
Made of hard-anodized aluminum, this durable set is all the cookware from your kitchen cupboards in a smaller form factor.
Water FilterPlatypus Gravityworks 2L Water Filter 14 of 18
If you plan on spending an extended period of time in the backwoods, packing a week's supply of Dasani would be ineffectual, to say the least. Instead, you might want to consider a water filtration system to keep your whistle wet.
We love the Platypus Gravityworks system for its dependability and ease of use. It's pump free and provides up to 4 liters of drink-ready water.
Multi-toolLeatherman Charge TTI 15 of 18
According to its website, Leatherman claims it combined all the most requested features into this single tool. Given the Charge TTI's incredible usefulness, we don't doubt that for a second.
Eighteen tools, including two types of pliers, saw, wire stripper, can opener and scissors, all in an easy-to-use compact form. Never leave the tent without this versatile gadget on your person.
FirestarterUCO Stormproof Match Kit 16 of 18
Nature's unpredictability and your need for fire can end up at odds. But if you're camping with these ultra-thick stormproof matches, rain, wind and snow won't have any effect.
Not only a must-have to start a fire—the matches sustain fire for six minutes—they're also a potential life-saving instrument should you lose your way.
Parks Project Tee17 of 18
It's not just the beautiful designs and amazing quality, but the charity behind it that makes the Park Project's tees a must have for all campers.
Find a tee advertising your favorite national park, and your purchase will help support youth and conservation programs, habitat restoration and more.
The Parks Project has plenty of sweet tees and other items on their website to choose from. And when considering the philanthropy behind your purchases, feel free to drop some major dough.