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The 20 Best Camping Gear Essentials For The Money

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Although camping is considered a leisure activity, it is one that requires a great deal of planning and preparation. This is especially true if your idea of camping involves venturing deep into the wilderness and far from the amenity-filled campgrounds that exist just outside the edges of modern civilization. When you’re surrounded by nature without the right equipment, things can go south quickly. You’ll end up having a miserable time at best… and a dangerous time at worst. So to help you avoid these pitfalls on your next outdoor excursion, we’ve put together a list of the best camping gear essentials to buy.

Best Camping Gear Essentials

How We Pick Our Items

There are admittedly a lot of products made for camping and the outdoors, which makes it difficult for one to select the best without spending hours reading reviews and/or testing the items out for yourself. Luckily, we’ve spent years in this space, figuring out which products should be brought along on camping trips, simply because we love the outdoors and have used plenty of camping gear ourselves. The items in this guide may not be the best overall in their respective categories (for that, we have separate guides for most topics), but will provide you with the best options when it comes to camping, especially when factoring in function, features, price, and how much space they take up.

Thermacell MR300 Portable Mosquito Repeller

Thermacell MR300 Portable Mosquito Repeller
Why It Made The Cut
  • This mosquito repellant is DEET-free and spans a 15-foot range for 12 hours.

Best Insect Repellant: Without a doubt, bugs like mosquitoes are one of the biggest drags of spending time in the great outdoors. The blood-sucking insects can make life outside miserable, but finding a reliable way to keep them away without exposing yourself to harmful chemicals is tough. Enter this device, which eschews deadly DEET in favor of low-toxicity allethrin to create a 15-foot mosquito-free perimeter that lasts 12 hours per refill.

Range: 15ft
Battery Life: 12 hours

Gerber Compleat

Gerber Compleat
Why It Made The Cut
  • These durable & reusable camping utensils snap together and can convert into tongs.

Best Camping Utensils: One of the most satisfying aspects of camping is having a nice meal by the campfire with your fellow campers. And while the classic “sharpened stick” has its role for toasting up marshmallows and hotdogs, some meals require a bit more in the way of utensils. This punny set from Gerber will have you ready for any type of meal with a fork, spoon, spatula, and 4-function multi-tool. Plus, all pieces snap together to convert into a set of super handy tongs.

Dishwasher Safe?: Yes

Adventure Medical Sportsman Series Medical Kit

Why It Made The Cut
  • With 80 pieces of emergency gear, this lightweight med pack also comes with a wilderness medicine guide.

Best Camping First Aid Kit: A first aid kit is something you hope you’ll never have to use but will never regret bringing along. But not all first aid kits are created equal. This example from Adventure Medical is designed specifically for the challenges of outdoor ailments, with supplies to treat various types of animal attacks, field injuries, and more. The gear is divided up into injury-specific sections for ease of use in an emergency, and the included wilderness medicine guide provides instructions on how to treat more than 50 common outdoor afflictions.

Weight: 15.4oz
# of Pieces: 80

Hyperlite Stuff Sack Pillow

Hyperlite Stuff Pillow
Why It Made The Cut
  • Waterproof and lightweight, this Dyneema sack turns into a pillow once you stuff it with clothing.

Best Camping Pillow: It’s always good to look for gear with multiple functions when camping, as such products reduce the number of items you need to bring, allowing you to pack lighter. This stuff sack/pillow is one such piece of gear. By day, it functions as a waterproof stuff sack to protect your most sensitive gear from the elements with its tough Dyneema exterior. But turn it inside out and stuff it with clothing and you’ll be treated to a cozy Polartec fleece pillow for the nighttime.

Type: Stuff-sack
Material: Dyneema

Coleman LED Lantern

Why It Made The Cut
  • An old-school lantern is a great option for lighting up the campsite and this unit from Coleman is affordable and long-lasting.

Best Camping Lantern: Coleman’s been lighting the outdoors for Americans since 1900, so if anyone knows their way around a lantern, it’s them. This twin lantern from Coleman boasts four LED bulbs that never need to be replaced and offer up to 390 lumens of brightness. The batteries are good for 299 hours on low (6m beam) or 85 hours on high (10m beam), giving you more operational time than you’ll need, and the weather-resistant construction means it’s ready to take on wind and rain.

Output: 390 lumens
Battery Life: 85 to 299 hours
Max Beam Distance: 10m

Proof 72-Hour Merino Tee

Proof 72 Hour Tee
Why It Made The Cut
  • This t-shirt can last you at least 3 days without washing it. Plus it comes in nearly 20 different colors.

Best Camping Shirt: We’ve already hinted at the benefits of packing light while camping, and one of the best ways to cut back on your haul is by reducing the pieces of clothing you bring. And one of the best ways to do that is with Proof’s 72-Hour Merino Tee. The name is no misnomer — this shirt was designed to stand up to 72 hours of wear between washes. Thanks to merino wool’s natural thermoregulating and anti-odor properties, this can be your only shirt for an entire long weekend at camp — and no one will want to steer clear of you because of it.

Material: 16.5-micron merino wool and nylon blend
Color Options: 18

Prana Stretch Zion Pant

Prana Stretch Zion Pant
Why It Made The Cut
  • Super stretchy and water-repellant, these comfy pants will serve you well around the campsite, and even if you venture into the woods.

Best Camping Pants: While we sometimes wish we could wear shorts all the time, some situations — especially outdoors — call for pants. And for those situations, these are the pants we’re reaching for. Made from a super-stretchy nylon/spandex blend that’s also incredibly durable, the Zion Pants feature a gusseted crotch for a greater range of movement. They also boast a DWR finish that repels water, and roll-up snaps make cuffing these bad boys super easy when the need arises.

Fit: Relaxed
Shell Fabric: 97% nylon, 3% elastane

NEMO Helio Pressure Shower

Why It Made The Cut
  • Use the sun to heat up the water in this easy-to-use, high-pressure pump shower.

Best Camping Shower: What’s better than a shower while camping? Answer: nothing. Sure, having a shower at camp certainly takes away some of the “roughing it” aspect of the activity, but once you get under the water you won’t care about that anymore. This ingenious device holds 2.9 gallons of water and puts out 5 to 7 minutes of continuous water pressure from its 7-foot hose. And this isn’t your average camp shower; this is a real-deal, high-pressure stream that’s great for washing your hair, dog, dishes, or anything else that gets dirty.

Flow: Pump
Heating: Solar
Capacity: 2.9 gallons

REI Co-op Camp Bed Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad

Why It Made The Cut
  • Improve your sleeping situation with this quality sleeping pad from REI so that you can lie anywhere comfortably.

Best Sleeping Pad: Once thought of as a luxury, the sleeping pad is being thought of as a camping essential more and more as time goes on. And it’s easy to see why, as sleeping on a soft and supportive surface makes for a much more restful night than just plopping a sleeping bag on the lumpy ground. This pad from REI offers excellent ground insulation for those chilly nights, while its self-inflating design makes setup a breeze.

Dimensions: 72″ x 25″ x 2.5″
Insulation: Open-cell foam
Type: Self-inflating


Why It Made The Cut
  • This carbon steel blade from ESEE has the perfect-sized blade and is designed to take a beating.

Best Camping Knife: A knife is one of those tools where you won’t know how useful it is until you need it, and this knife is especially useful in the great outdoors. Created to be the perfect all-around tactical, survival, and bushcraft knife, the ESEE 4P has a 4.5-inch blade of 1095 carbon steel fixed to a Micarta handle. Put through the wringer countless times by professionals all around the world in situations much worse than any you’re likely to find yourself in, this knife is designed to take a beating and never let you down.

Blade Length: 4.5″
Blade Material: 1095 carbon steel
Weight: 8oz

Jetboil Flash Stove

Why It Made The Cut
  • Make chili or coffee with this travel stove that boils water in under 2 minutes.

Best Camping Cooker: While cooking at camp can be a fun experience, it can turn stressful if it becomes too time-consuming. After all, you don’t want to spend your entire trip cooking — you’re on vacation! That’s where Jetboil’s Flash Stove comes in. In case you couldn’t tell by the name, this compact stove will heat up your grub in a hurry. It features a match and lighter-free lighting system to get you started immediately, and its quick boiling cooking will have your food ready in under two minutes. What’s more, it doubles as an efficient French press-style coffee maker.

Weight: 13.1oz
Capacity: 10L
Power: 9,000BTU

Helinox Chair Zero Camp Chair

Why It Made The Cut
  • This lightweight camp chair can pack down to the size of a water bottle.

Best Camping Chair: There’s nothing worse than showing up at a campsite and realizing that you didn’t bring anything to sit on. Sitting on the ground gets old fast, and unless your campsite features a bunch of strategically placed rocks and stumps, that’s what you’re going to have to do. So it’s always smart to bring a few chairs, and these seats from camp chair experts Helinox are the bee’s knees. They’re super lightweight and pack down to the size of a water bottle.

Weight: 1.1lbs
Weight Capacity: 256lbs
Packed Dimensions: 3.9 x 3.9 x 13.8

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag

patagonia Black Hole Duffel
Why It Made The Cut
  • 900D of ripstop polyester keeps your 55L of gear protected inside this weather-resistant duffel.

Best Camping Duffel Bag: It’s tough to imagine a brand that’s more associated with outdoor adventuring than Patagonia, as the brand offers a ton of gear that’s built to survive whatever nature throws at it. And to haul all that gear, Patagonia has their iconic line of Black Hole bags. Available in various forms, our go-to is the duffel. It comes in several different sizes, boasts legendary durability, and is solidly weather- and abrasion-resistant.

Shell Material: 900D postconsumer recycled ripstop polyester
Capacity: 55L

mahabis Curve Canvas

mahabis curve canvas
Why It Made The Cut
  • Hang out around camp with these slippers that take some construction notes from hiking shoes.

Best Camping Slippers: This just in: slippers don’t have to look dorky. mahabis’ classic Curve has the look of a stylish canvas sneaker but the comfort of your favorite slippers. They feature a temperature-regulating wool lining, a Staywax-finished canvas outer that fends off water, and a grippy, shock-absorbing rubber outsole. They’re the perfect shoe for lounging around the campsite, and will even work in a pinch if you need to make a quick trip into town for supplies.

Uppers Material: 100% cotton canvas with wax finish
Outsole Material: Pura-Latex rubber

Fiskars X27

Fiskars X27
Why It Made The Cut
  • With the best size-to-weight ratio in the game, this wood splitter is perfect for restocking your campfire.

Best Camping Ax: Camping knives are all well and good but when it comes time to gather some wood for the campfire, you’ll want something that’s capable of getting the job done. Fiskars’ X27 blade is simply the best ax when it comes to minimizing the size of any logs you find in the woods. Due to its size-to-weight ratio, it’s able to split wood in single strikes time and time again, and it has an impact-absorption chamber to eat up a big portion of the blow. At 36″, it won’t be the most compact option around but it’s slim enough and essential enough that it shouldn’t matter.

Blade Material: Hardened forged steel
Handle: FiberComp
Weight: 5.85lbs
Length: 36″

Rumpl NanoLoft Puffy Blanket

Rumpl NanoLoft Puffy Blanket
Why It Made The Cut
  • Opt for this cozy blanket at nighttime, which has synthetic down fibers and can be worn hands-free.

Best Camping Blanket: Rumpl is one of the top names in the insulated blankets game, and their Puffy line is the stuff of legend. For the NanoLoft variant, the brand goes eco-friendly by swapping out the feathers for their proprietary NanoLoft insulation. Made from 100% post-consumer recycled material, NanoLoft is comprised of tiny circular clusters of fiber that mimic the properties of down clusters. These clusters trap warmth inside pockets of air, preserving heat no matter how cold it gets outside.

Shell: 30D ripstop polyester
Insulation: NanoLoft recycled synthetic fibers
Dimensions: 75″ x 52″ (1 person)

BioLite FirePit+

Why It Made The Cut
  • Use sticks to kindle this smokeless fire pit, which can double as a camp grill for making dinner.

Best Camping Fire Pit: Starting a campfire is pretty much the most essential skill that every camper must learn, but let’s face it: sometimes you just don’t want to bother with the hassle of it all. And for those times, there’s this technological wonder. BioLite’s ingenious portable fire pit boasts an automatic wood-fired flame that’s powered by 51 air jets injecting oxygen in key locations. It throws off almost no smoke, meaning there’s not a bad seat in the house, and you can even transform it into a charcoal grill for a little hibachi action.

Type: Wood/charcoal
Weight: 19.8lbs
Smokeless: Yes
Grill Option: Yes

The North Face The One Bag

The North Face The One Bag
Why It Made The Cut
  • This 700-fill down sleeping bag is three in one to support different temperature thresholds.

Best Sleeping Bag: A sleeping bag is one of the most indispensable pieces of camping gear there is, and the difference between a good one and a bad one is highly noticeable. If you ask us, you’re better off opting for a great one, and that’s what we have here from The North Face. Confidently referred to as “The One,” this standout bag is built to keep you cozy in a wide variety of temperatures as it combines the benefits of a 40°, 20°, and 5° sleeping bag in one thanks to zip-on insulation.

Shell: 20D recycled nylon taffeta
Insulation: 700-fill recycled down
Weight: 3.81lbs

YETI Tundra Haul

YETI Tundra Haul
Why It Made The Cut
  • Keep your food and drinks cold for hours with this rotomolded cooler from one of the best in the game.

Best Camping Cooler: For such a young brand, YETI has firmly established themselves as makers of some of the toughest and most well-built outdoor gear in the industry. But it’s still the brand’s coolers that set them apart more than anything else. The Tundra Haul is a wheeled version of the brand’s most-acclaimed cooler, and it makes maneuvering to and around your campsite a breeze. Plus, you’re still getting the outstanding insulation and rock-solid build quality that YETI is known for.

Outer Construction: Rotomolded plastic
Ice Retention: 48 hours
Volume: 53 quarts

Hilleberg Januu

Hilleberg Jannu Tent
Why It Made The Cut
  • Lightweight and ready for 4 seasons, this stable 2-person tent from Hilleberg is worth the money.

Best Camping Tent: If there’s one piece of gear you picture when you think of camping, it’s probably a tent. A tent is one of, if not the biggest purchase you’ll make for your camping trip, so you’ll want to make sure you invest in the right one. Swedish tentmaker Hilleberg definitely gives you your money’s worth, like in this classic two-person tent. The Jannu is designed for mountaineering, so it’s extremely lightweight and boasts a four-season build and super-stable construction that will hold up to any weather. In other words, it will easily handle even the worst camping trip you can muster.

Size: 2-person
Weight: 7lbs
Floor Space: 34.4sq.ft

The Best Hiking Gear Essentials

Best Hiking Gear 01 Hero

If you plan on doing some hiking on your next trip, make sure you check out our guide to the best hiking gear essentials to enhance your outdoor experience.