For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!
Leave the old-school bedroll and matches in the garage. Upgrades to camping equipment have made roughing it, well… just a bit less rough.
But while it's all too easy to get carried away with cool adventure toys and survival gear at the outdoor supply store, the key to enjoying your camping experience is keeping it simple. Let our own camping trial-and-error experiences save you some trunk space and send you into the wild for some clutter-free peace.
We've honed in on the 10 most essential pieces of camping gear, which should fit well within the cargo space of your SUV. Toss 'em in the back and the only thing you'll have left to do is grab a few jugs of water, consult your map, and head confidently into the great outdoors.
The Stoic Somnus 15’s unique center-zip was designed with climbers in mind, but you don’t need to be a climber to appreciate its advantages. The easy-to-find center zip eliminates scrambling in the pitch black for nighttime venting or bathroom trips, and side sleepers won’t dig their hips into a hard zipper all night. (Caveat: the center zipper tends to dangle in your face if you don’t tuck it into the top flap.)
Its Quantum Pertex fabric is ultralight and durable, and 850-fill goose down—rated to 15 degrees—will keep you warm even in mild winter conditions. A zippered pouch in the footbox even holds a hot water bottle for extra warmth in a cold pinch. ($349; stoicgear.com)
The Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core stops just shy of glamping-style comfort at a cushy 3.5-inches thick. And its alternating I-Beam construction of vertical and horizontal baffles prevents you from sliding around at night. Best for cold sleepers, the polyester insulation is woven with silver filaments to enhance body-heat reflection that keeps you warm down to 15 degrees—so no need to pack away the camping gear when winter hits. ($120-180; bigagnes.com)
A solid base camp means more than a dry place to lay your head. Big Agnes took that to heart with the two-person Wyoming Trail 2 Camp tent, which boasts an outsize vestibule more spacious than the tent itself to keep your gear out of the weather. Bikes, surfboards, and large packs fit comfortably inside the garage-like space, and you can prop the vestibule door flap with trekking poles for a dry kitchen. Or hang some mosquito netting inside, and you’ve got a 5-person tent to accommodate your ill-prepared friends. ($350; bigagnes.com)
The Primus FireHole 300 is a monster stove for serious, but convenient, camp cooking. Its two propane burners light via a built-in igniter, onboard lights illuminate the cooking area, and the mounted windscreens double as a pair of prep areas. Adjustable legs counter uneven surfaces, and the included utensil set (cutting board, spoon, and spatula) adheres to the stove with magnets. And no need to hover—while you’re busy sipping beer around the fire, a timer ensures your dinner won’t be torched. ($295; store.primuscamping.com)
GSI Outdoor’s Pinnacle Camper cookset is your whole backcountry, family-sized kitchen tucked into one pot. Included are two anodized aluminum pots (3L and 2L); fry pan; two rubber lids; pot gripper; four plates, insulated mugs, and color-coded bowls; and a welded stuff sack that doubles as a wash basin. And the Radiance non-stick teflon pots heat up 25 percent faster than others, which means a fast boil whether you’re watching or not. ($130; gsioutdoors.com)
The Kelty Folding Cooler isn’t the burliest icebox around—in other words, it won’t double as an extra seat around the fire—but it’s handy nonetheless. Four molded cup holders in the lid keep your beer from spilling, and the soft, foam-lined sides collapse for easy storage back in civilization. A reinforced plastic bottom makes this cooler durable enough to keep your drinks cold around many a roaring fire. ($46; kelty.com)
Eureka!’s Warrior 230 camp lantern is the only light you’ll need beyond the fire. Its considerable output of 230 lumens will shine for up to 48 consecutive hours, but a dimmer conserves energy when you’re reading or playing cards in the tent. The Warrior 230 also sports a hook for hanging and, best of all, a remote that works from 25 feet away and includes its own LED light. No more dark walks to the tent after lights out. ($65; store.eurekatent.com)
A gnarled oak makes a fine backrest if you’re backpacking, but if you’re not carrying your seat you might as well get comfortable. The Kelty Lowdown camp chair has everything you need for fireside lounging—sturdy steel frame, tough nylon fabric (the same used in many of the best packs,) adjustable armrests, and a well-angled backrest for proper lazing. Even better, the Lowdown sports an adjustable holder for your sundry beverages, complete with tethered bottle opener. So much for roughing it. ($48; kelty.com)
Helle has been handcrafting superior knives since 1932 but has crafted exclusively fixed blades until now. The Helle Dokka is the company’s first folding knife and lives up to its standards, with a beautiful hand-carved birch handle and a 3.3-inch triple-laminated stainless steel blade that will meet any cutting challenge you’ll find in camp. Carve, slice, whittle, and then display it on your mantelpiece. ($159; helle.no)
The Westcomb Switch LT Hoody is built for backpackers, cyclists, and climbers (long in the arms and tail for covering a range of motion) and doesn’t skimp on bomber protection from the elements. Two Napoleon pockets, a triceps pocket, and internal media pockets will keep small items dry if you are venturing out, though it bears no hip-level hand pockets. No matter. Heavy-duty ripstop nylon and stronger-than-average stitching will keep you nearly as dry as your tent. ($430; westcomb.com)
Rest Easier At Night With This DMI Side Sleeper Pillow
Dream Garage: The Car and Truck Auctions We'd Bid on Right Now
Apple’s Newest Fall-Detection Tech Could Literally Save Your Life
First Look at the Insanely Sleek New 2022 Range Rover
The Best Weighted Blankets for Men Who Have Trouble Sleeping
The Best Star Wars Gifts for Men This Holiday Season
15 Outdoor Jackets Primed to Take on Any Adventure
20 Hiking & Adventure Gifts for Outdoors Lovers
Hate Cleaning? Let the Roborock S7 Robot Vacuum and Mop Do the Dirty Work