As our society becomes more plugged in, our innate desire to live simply just might be stronger than ever. No matter if it’s your first time camping or your one hundredth, being prepared can never be overstated, and saving money where you can is smart, especially considering all the amazing — and often pricey — essentials that are available and required to make your outing run as smoothly as possible.
It’s understandable that you’d want to shell out some dough for great camping gear, but when you account for everything you’ll need or might need, on your next trip, the budget can grow and grow. Quality outdoor supplies don’t come cheap, which is why our guide to the best camping gear under $100 won’t just save your money but will help you know where to start, serving as an outline of most of the essentials you should bring with you on your next adventure. Whether it’s tents, shoes, lanterns, or knives, there are solid options out there if you know where to look.
SOTO Refillable Pocket Torch
Although fire can often be a luxury these days, campfires still make the camping experience so much more enjoyable, and we don’t always want to take the time to build one the old-fashioned way like a caveman. SOTO’s Pocket Torch can be used with your run-of-the-mill lighter, enhancing the flame for a bigger, stronger burn. This wind-resistant torch can reach temperatures up to 2,300ºF and increases the lifespan of your disposable lighter by 60%.
My Medic Hiker Medic Med Pack
Safety is most important when hiking the trails and traveling off the grid. That’s why My Medic’s super compact first-aid kit is an absolute essential. HSA- and FSA-approved and put together by experts to have what you’ll need to stay ready for emergencies, the Med Pack shouldn’t be your only resource, but oftentimes it may be. This 6oz bag comes with small packets of sunscreen, lip balm, sting relief, vitamin mixes, a space blanket, burn gel, bandages, ibuprofen, ointment, antibiotic pads, and even a paracord.
Magpul DAKA Pouch
As simple as it sounds, this 13-by-9-inch pouch might be the only thing protecting your phone and camera from the harsh elements of the outdoors. Magpul’s DAKA Pouch is made from reinforced polymer fabric with an anti-slip texture. Four carabiner attachment points let you hook this onto your backpack or belt for easy access. The YKK AquaGuard water-repellent zipper has a 550 paracord attached with a heat shrink tubing for a reliable grip for opening and closing, whether or not you’re wearing gloves.
AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker
Already on its way to becoming a proprietary eponym, AeroPress is an entirely new way to brew coffee altogether. Evolving classic French press technology but removing bitterness that comes with over-brewing, AeroPress coffee takes mere seconds to make and retains only a fraction of the acidity that comes when using a traditional drip machine. Inherently lightweight and travel-perfect, this coffee maker requires no electricity at all. Just screw on the filter, add your coffee grounds and hot water, stir, and then plunge the mixture into your cup down below.
YETI Rambler 36oz
Hydration is key when camping, especially during the hot summer months. With an array of tumbler options out there, it’s smart to go with a brand that’s as ubiquitous and reliable as YETI. The Rambler is one of the brand’s flagship flasks and comes in a plethora of colorways and add-ons to make this the ultimate hydration buddy when out and about. The double-wall vacuum insulation is perfect for both hot and cold drinks, and the kitchen-grade stainless steel is both puncture- and rust-resistant to last you a lifetime.
Nemo Switchback Foam Sleeping Pad
One of the main reasons we hear people are hesitant to spend their camping trips inside a tent is their aversion to sleeping on the ground. Nemo’s Switchback Foam Sleeping Pad is an affordable solution that can help you get through the night comfortably. Taller and wider than most sleeping pads on the market, the Switchback is made from the brand’s proprietary dual-density foam that prevents abrasion and compresses down significantly better than the competition for easier, hassle-free travel. What’s more, the thermal reflective film provides you with all the warmth you’ll need if it gets chilly.
LifeStraw Peak Series Gravity Filter System 3L
As we learn more and more about how to improve our drinking water, LifeStraw is changing the game with its groundbreaking technology for obtaining potable H2O wherever you are. Recently, the company has expanded on its handy namesake straw with the Peak Series, which includes a set of Gravity Filter Systems, such as this 3L pack that’s perfect for group outings. Protecting you from 99.999999% of all bacteria and 99.999% of parasites, microplastics, silt, and sand, the collapsible container allows you to use the water from lakes and streams to stay hydrated.
Jetboil 1.5L Ceramic FluxRing Cooking Pot
Don’t get stuck eating canned tuna and freeze-dried broccoli when you’d really rather dig into a hot bowl of beef chili or mac n’ cheese. Jetboil’s Ceramic FluxRing Cooking Pot is the ultimate option for people who want to plus-up their meals when spending time off the grid. The ceramic coating is PFOA-free and non-stick for easy food release and cleanup. The FluxRing tech ensures your food cooks evenly and maximizes fuel efficiency for a quick boil. And at only 10oz, this pot is virtually unnoticeable if you’re trekking far and away and pairs with your favorite portable cooking stove.
patagonia Men’s Quandary Shorts
A great pair of shorts can’t go overlooked when you’re spending all your time outside. patagonia knows this better than anyone, which is why the outdoor clothing brand has perfected the craft with its Quandary shorts. Lightweight and comfortable, these shorts are stretch-woven, made from 94% nylon (62% of which is recycled) and 6% spandex, and built with a gusseted crotch for a full range of motion when you’re hiking the trails. The fabric gives you 50+ UPF sun protection and has a durable water-repellent finish for total versatility.
Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 Lantern
When it comes to solar-powered solutions, few brands have a better product line than Goal Zero. The brand’s flagship Lighthouse 600 Lantern is arguably the best around, with an adjustable and multi-directional LED bulb so you can save battery life and don’t have to settle for some pre-fixed manufacturer setting. The light can be recharged via USB, hand-crank, or solar panel (sold separately), with a battery duration of up to 2 hours. The Lighthouse also serves as a phone charger when in a pinch.
MPOWERD Luci Explore
Functional and attractive, MPOWERD’s Luci Explore portable speaker doubles as a solar-powered lantern with 18 light options. Super lightweight and splash protected, this multi-colored device stays lit for up to 24 hours and serves as a portable charger as well. With an array of smart features, including phone app integration that allows you to use it as a programmable alarm clock or music player, the Luci Explore can be easily stowed in your travel bag for your next camping trip.
Proof 72-Hour Merino Tee
Let’s face it, we’re probably not washing a whole lot of clothes when we’re camping, and sometimes we need to pack light on longer trips. Proof’s 72-Hour Merino Tee is perfect for the excursions that require the bare minimum. Odor-resistant for up to three days of non-stop wear, this shirt is tested each year by members of the company who spend an entire weekend wearing nothing else (on top at least). Engineered with a combination of 16.5-micron merino wool and nylon, the 72-Hour Merino regulates temperature, wicks moisture, and looks fantastic, if we do say so ourselves.
Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent
A great tent rarely comes cheap. Although, the Coleman Sundome is a great tent whether you’re on a budget or not. Boasting a 10-minute setup time, this sleeper has room for up to four people easily, with a nearly-5-foot center height that you won’t feel packed in like sardines. Made from polyester, the tent’s WeatherTec system and patented welded floors help you keep dry throughout the night, while the large windows and ground vent offer amazing ventilation.
VSSL Essentials Ready Kit
VSSL is no stranger to amazing gear. The company’s latest line of Essentials kits has made being prepared outdoors even easier. To go along with the Fix Kit, the Catch & Cook Kit, and the Mini Utility Kit, the Ready Kit was designed to contain a collection of critical tools you might not realize you’d need when camping, such as a 5-foot rope, 8 feet of SurvivorCord, a compass, a razor blade, and a wire saw. For easier stowing, the cylindrical tube is under 4in long with a 2-inch diameter.
Kammok Roo Double Camping Hammock
A hammock is an underrated alternative to sleeping on the cold, hard (and frequently wet) ground. Kammok was launched back in 2010 when its founder fell through a ripped hammock. Now, the company offers sleepers with industry-leading strength and durability, such as the Roo Double, which sleeps two and has a remarkable 500-pound weight capacity. Made from a super-soft, water-resistant ripstop GravitasX fabric, the Roo line is now made from 100% recycled materials without missing a beat.
adidas Terrex AX4 Primegreen Hiking Shoes
There aren’t very many hiking shoes under $100 (good ones, at least), but adidas’ Terrex AX4 is one of the best regardless of the price range. An upgrade on the AX3, the AX4 combines the comfort of a trail runner with the durability of a hiking boot. Whether traversing through low streams or up a steep incline, you’ll have amazing traction thanks to the Continental rubber outsoles. These explorers are sustainable as well, made from high-performance Primegreen with uppers that are constructed using 50% recycled materials.
TETON Sports Celsius XXL Sleeping Bag
Ever since we were kids, there’s been something exciting about spending the night in a sleeping bag. One of the barest essentials when camping, a good sack is hard to find when trying to save money. However, TETON’s Sports Celsius XXL is the perfect budget sleeping bag for adults, with a 90-inch length and 39-inch width. Built with a mummy hood to keep your head off the ground, the Celsius is lined with brushed poly flannel to mimick the feeling of your very own bedding at home and comes equipped with an interior pocket to keep your phone and keys with you at all times.
Rumpl Original Puffy Blanket
Keep yourself warm by the fireside with the Rumpl Original Puffy Blanket, the perfect outdoor blanket for cool summer nights. Built with a Cape Clip for wrapping around your shoulders hands-free and corner loops for staking to the ground, this single-person blanket is made from 100% recycled 30D ripstop polyester fabric and insulated with hollow fiber synthetics for ultimate coziness. The Original Puffy is also finished with a 90/10 durable water repellant finish to ensure that you stay dry and your blanket stays stain-free.
The James Brand x Huckberry The Redstone Knife
This special edition of The James Brand’s Redstone knife is a co-branded effort with curated online retailer Huckberry. It’s easy to go overboard when choosing the right pocket knife for a camping trip, but The Redstone is just the right size and caliber whether you’re whittling or preparing food. TJB’s proprietary Slide-Lock design is perfect for security and easy one-hand use, and the Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel blade ensures it’s protected from rust and corrosion. This super durable folding knife is also incredibly lightweight and features a comfortable grip with a unique “island” design that’s made for easy handling.
Black Diamond Icon 700 Headlamp
Whether you’re going on a night hike or simply rummaging through your backpack or trunk, having your hands free is important. Black Diamond’s Icon 700 Headlamp is the company’s most powerful light, emitting 700 lumens and featuring an updated interface with easy lens mode selection and improved optics. Waterproof down to 1m, the Icon 700 has brightness memory when you turn it on, night-vision mode in three different colors, and an LED meter that lets you track the battery life.
The Best Solar-Powered Camping Gear Available
If you’re looking to become more self-sustainable on your next outdoor adventure, check out our guide to the best solar-powered camping gear essentials.