Camping is an age-old tradition. In fact, it’s older than housing. I spent quite a few years camping in my van and out in the wilderness. Even before I lived on the road as an adult, my family always camped growing up. Both my parents were in the Army, so they both did it as part of their jobs. Growing up on military bases in Europe, we camped in some pretty amazing places.
We used Army-issued gear and ate MREs on those trips. My parents were never rich from serving our country. But as an adult, I’ve been able to gather a lot of great camping gear from PR agencies and marketing departments. Here’s everything you need for a great camping trip in 2019 or 2020.
ENO Hammock Set
Eagle Nest Outfitters is one of the premiere hammock companies, and it’s a brand you can trust to make quality. And they went all-out, sending the DoubleNest with InsectShield, a two-person hammock that includes an anti-insect tech fabric coating. On top of this, we have the Guardian DX Bug Net to really keep them out, and an all-weather, waterproof tarp to stay dry. All of this is held up by a set of Atlas Chroma hammock straps.
Each piece sells separately, but when combined, you’re looking at spending $300, but you get quite the value for that money. The tarp will protect everything underneath from sun damage (which is what kills most outdoor hammocks). You can even protect your gear. This is a great camping bed that’s much better than the ground, or worse, those military-issued cots.
Rumpl El Original
Rumpl makes a series of puffy blankets made for outdoor use. These tech blankets have been redesigned to use 100% post-consumer recycled materials, so you’ll be both physically and spiritually comfortable using it on your next campout. It’s basically a blanket that feels like your favorite sleeping bag or jacket.
This particular design, modeled after the classic Mexican blanket pattern, is no longer sold, but it’s a classic for the Southwest and Arizona. Obviously that means I’m going to rep for my home state. Maybe if enough of you email Rumpl, they’ll bring back the Mexican blanket. But I realize I don’t have that kind of following. I’m mostly just talking to myself in my blogs.
Thermacell Mosquito Repellent
Thermacell creates a line of mosquito repellents that are a lot different than the citronella candles and deadly sprays you’re used to. Instead, it uses what’s basically an essential oil diffuser to heat and vaporize allethrin, a synthetic version of the chrysanthemum plant’s natural repellent. The backpacking model above can be attached to your propane or butane tank, while the model below is battery-powered.
The company makes a wide array of styles for any occasion, whether it’s your campsite, inside the tent, car, or even to carry with you for personal protection while hiking. The last thing you need while exploring terrain far away from emergency services is to catch Zika or cholera or something from a mosquito.
Cyberfishing Smart Rod Sensor
The Cyberfishing Smart Rod is one of the more innovative products that was showcased at this year’s CES in Las Vegas. It attaches to your fishing pole and connects to your smartphone to provide deep analytics about how you’re casting, how often, where, and more. It even has GPS and other services to connect you to other fishermen in the area and help find good spots.
And once you catch a fish, just touch the screen, and your phone can take a pic, record the size, species, lure, and tackle used, and preserve the moment forever. It’s a handy tool for the fishermen who only go camping for an excuse to hit up the rivers and lakes. It’s even more handy if you find yourself in a survival situation needing to fish for food.
Big Agnes Mtn Glo Tent
Big Agnes makes some of the best tents on the market. As the name suggests, they’re especially great for mountaineering, and since they’re based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, these people know a bit about mountains. The mtnGLO tent line is a particular favorite of mine because of the sturdiness and feeling like a room inside.
A friend and I camped in Flagstaff for a weekend in one of these tents in the middle of the winter with a space heater, and it was one of the most fun moments of the past few years. If you can afford a Big Agnes tent, it’s definitely worth the investment.
Bear Minimum Bear Bowl
If you’re a fan of Shark Tank, then you already know about the Bear Pots from Bear Minimum. These collapsible silicone pots make the perfect camping companion to your camping stove. This is one of the more innovative survival products on a show with a decent track record of them. The Windcatcher Airpad may be a bust, but Uncharted Supply Co, Ice Shaker, and several other great camping products have been featured.
These pots come in three sizes (32oz Baby Bear, 64oz Mama Bear, and 128oz Papa Bear) and have a paracord handle and buttons that make it a lot easier to put together than I made it look the first few times. And it fits perfectly into your camping backpack, which reminds me…
Cotopaxi Taboche 55L Backpack
Cotopaxi’s Taboche 55L is my go-to camping backpack. It’s well-made and only weighs 3.29 pounds on its own. Pockets inside and out are expertly designed for whatever you need (there’s even ice axe loops), and a rain cover inside can be placed over the bag to keep your belongings dry on a wet day.
And Cotopaxi follows a long line of B Corporations working to support underdeveloped communities. They monitor their raw materials throughout the supply line and name their products after nature’s wonders. Taboche, for example, is one of the Himalayan mountains of Nepal, and there is a lot of interesting information printed on the inside of the pack about it.
Sea to Summit Latitude LTII
Sea to Summit makes a lot of great camping equipment, and they’re also noteworthy for paying particular attention to women campers. The Latitude LtII (now discontinued) is a great example of that, providing room for the shape of a woman’s body in a warm down bag. And they don’t just stop at the bag – the brand makes full sleep systems that include liners for an array of uses (heat, cooling, insect shield, etc), sleeping mats, travel pillows, and more.
Nekteck 21W Solar Panel
Nekteck makes a wide array of accessories for your tech devices, and I’m a big fan of their solar panels. Many “mobile solar” manufacturers go out of their way to design products that really aren’t functional. A solar case for my Galaxy S9, for example, won’t have enough surface area to get more than 5 watts of charge if I’m lucky. Usually it’s 2.5, and that’s if I’m leaving my phone, screen down, directly in the sun, and who on Earth is ever doing that?
NekTeck’s 21W solar charger is a high-efficiency, 2-port USB charger. That means it has plenty of juice to keep even the most power-hungry device charged. Of course, the best way to use a solar panel is to simply connect a USB battery bank, but I’m not one to tell you what to do with your life.
Helle Norway Knife
Helle Norway knives are beautifully crafted and absolutely sturdy. I haven’t held a blade this trustworthy since I was in Europe. The Arv weighs only 88 g, and it’s small enough blade to carry with you. The triple-laminated stainless steel is embedded in a birch, staghorn, and leather handle, coming in at 191 mm from end-to-end (87 mm blade + 104 mm handle). And it’s all stored in a solid, real leather sheath with built-in belt loop.
This knife came out in 2016 and I’ve been using it pretty steady since, despite it still looking brand new. It has precise control that’s perfect for artwork or carving your name in something wooden. It’s also the only knife in my house I would trust for self-defense, as most feel to cheap to trust with my life.
But if anyone breaks into my house, I know I can confidently give them Helle.
Hydrology9 Water Vape
The Dr. Dabber Switch uprooted Hydrology9 as my favorite at-home vape, but this marvel from Cloudious9 is still my go-to for camping trips. This all-in-one water vape with the optional leather case is sturdy, small enough to fit in my backpack, and provides both a clean, massive hit and a party light for when it gets dark.
This is a discrete way to carry some weed on you and get baked out in the wilderness where you should be. I’d also recommend some shrooms and ayahuasca while you’re out there. Everyone should have a proper spiritual journey sometimes in their lives.
And there’s no better place to do it than out in the middle of nowhere, where nobody will be bothered.