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The 15 Best Pieces Of Vintage-Style Camping Gear

Best Vintage Camping Gear 0 Hero

With our lives becoming markedly more technologically advanced over the last few decades, many of our hobbies, pursuits, and day-to-day activities have been fundamentally altered. And, while there’s been no shortage of high-tech outdoor gear released since the turn of the millennium alone, the fundamentals of camping and the majority of other mainstream outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, or fishing all remain thoroughly rooted in simplicity. As such, plenty of pieces of gear from yesteryear still lend themselves just as well to camping today as they did upon their release decades ago.

So, whether we’re talking contemporary items inspired by vintage offerings or tried and true essentials that have served as camping staples for years, retro-style camping gear offers a more minimalistic alternative to modern equipment, making it immensely conducive to the spartan living experience of roughing it. Having scoured outdoor stores and a near-endless array of product catalogs from manufacturers — both old and new — we’ve compiled this hand-picked selection of the best vintage camping gear that’s currently on the market.

Best Vintage Camping Gear

What To Consider When Buying Vintage Camping Gear

Buying retro-style camping isn’t all that different from purchasing normal modern-day equipment, however, there are a few select areas that are unique to vintage items. To help bring you up to speed on the segment as quickly as possible, we’ve pieced together this guide on what to look for when shopping for vintage camping gear.

Construction & Materials: One of the biggest differences separating modern pieces of camping gear from items of the vintage variety is the construction styles and materials that are employed. Not only typically lighter and more durable, but modern materials also boast supplementary properties such as being moisture-wicking, quick-drying antimicrobial, and multi-way stretch — all of which markedly increase a garment or bag’s overall performance and comfort.

Aesthetic Design: Recognizing the public’s admiration for all things nostalgia, a great many gear brands currently offer products that combine modern materials with vintage-inspired aesthetic designs, thereby allowing for what many consider to be the best of both worlds in terms of old-school looks and contemporary performance. There are also quite a few items that are essentially modern-day replicas of items from decades past that have been recreated using their original silhouette and present-day materials.

Technology: Whether it is Suunto’s cutting-edge smartwatches or Biolite’s smart camp grills, we won’t even begin to deny the fact that there’s some seriously impressive high-tech camping equipment out there, though by and large, the more low-tech offerings tend to be a better option as they don’t require batteries, are often impervious to the elements, and generally possess fewer components and parts that can break or fail.

History: The history of a particular product can actually be immensely informative. If a single item has remained in production for several decades going entirely unchanged, this would at the very least point to the fact that this is a tried and true product that doesn’t necessitate an update. This includes products like cast iron skillets, compasses, flannel sleeping bags, and so on.

When Not To Go Vintage: As previously stated, old-school gear lends itself pretty darn well to camping and other off-grid activities. However. there are a few vintage items that objectively fall well short of their contemporary counterparts due to advancements in technology. An obvious example would be a flashlight, as modern torches are tremendously more powerful and compact, and boast much more potent batteries.

Zippo Lighter

Zippo Brushed Chrome Vintage
Why It Made the Cut
  • Zippo’s flagship lighter is a classic any way you slice it and favorite that hasn’t change much in 90 years.

Best Vintage Lighter: First introduced in 1933, the Zippo lighter is a bonafide outdoor staple, utilized by hundreds of thousands of campers and EDC enthusiasts — so much so, in fact, that the company sold its 500,000,000th unit back in 2012. These lighters come available in a range of sizes and in an absolutely enormous array of colors, designs, and finishes, though you really can’t go wrong with the classic chrome model (seen here).

Fuel Type: Lighter Fluid
Resistances: Impact-Resistant, Windproof
Reusability: Refillable, Replaceable Wick & Flint, Lifetime Warranty

Dietz #80 Blizzard Oil Burning Lantern

Why It Made the Cut
  • Dietz’s old world-style lantern uses a literal wick and has a cool vintage aesthetic that reminds us of when we were young.

Best Vintage Lantern: For more than 180 years, Dietz has been producing old world-style camp lanterns that are basically the same today as they were upon their release more than a century ago. The brand’s #80 Billiard lantern offers a 12 candle-power output thanks to a replaceable 7/8” wick that allows for a whopping 26 hours of burn time using just 31oz of fuel.

Output: 12 candle-power
Weight: 2.25lbs
Height: 14.5″

Stanley Insulated Thermos

Why It Made the Cut
  • You may think Stanley’s vintage-style thermos is actually vintage, but this double-walled stainless steel vessel is made with modern tech.

Best Vintage Thermos: Founded in 1913, Stanley has long been one of our favorite outdoor gear brands, with a steadily growing catalog of modern items — such as its titanium construction drinkware — as well as vintage classics like the one-quart thermos seen here. Also offered in a two-quart size, this thermos features a rust-proof, double-walled 18/8 stainless steel construction that can keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for up to 32 hours and is backed by a lifetime warranty.

Size: 48oz
Cold Retention: 32 hours

Tru-Nord Zipper Pull Compass

Why It Made the Cut
  • Never get lost with this old school-inspired compass that can substitude a standard zipper pull.

Best Vintage Compass: Machined from solid brass, this Tru-Nord Compass replaces standard zipper pulls with a magnetic compass with a 1” thumb tang and a 5/8” split ring. Protected by a lifetime warranty, this compass boasts a cobalt steel magnet, a sealed watch-style case, and a face adorned in luminous glow paint. And, while this compass comes set to zero, it can be sent to its manufacturer for recalibration for different locales.

Case Material: Brass
Sealed: Yes
Diameter: 1.0”

ALPS OutdoorZ Redwood Flannel Sleeping Bag

ALPS OutdoorZ Redwood 25 Sleeping Bag
Why It Made the Cut
  • Flannel sleeping bags aren’t as common as they once were, but they should still be considered for their appealing warmth and visual aesthetic.

Best Vintage Sleeping Bag: A traditional flannel sleeping bag capable of delivering modern-day performance, ALPS OutdoorZ’s Redwood sleeping bag is rated to -25ºF thanks to the use of a two-layer offset construction and 8lbs of multi-hole staple-length micro-denier TechLoft Silver Insulation. Built around a durable cotton canvas shell, this sleeping bag also features #10 YKK zippers and a 100% Cotton Flannel liner.

Shell: Cotton canvas
Insulation: TechLoft Silver polyester
Weight: 13lbs
Temp Rating: -25ºF

Field Company Cast Iron Skillet

Why It Made the Cut
  • Field Company’s cast iron skillet is made in small batches and is a modern take on the classic version.

Best Vintage Skillet: Made in America in small batches, the Field Company’s Field cast iron skillet model is a minimalistic, modern-day take on the classic piece of camp cookware. Produced in five different models/sizes, these skillets are crafted from recycled iron that’s sourced from American vendors, using green sand castings, just like the heritage brands of the 1800s.

Diameter: 10.5″
Weight: 4.5lbs
Pre-Seasoned?: Yes

Filson Vintage Flannel Work Shirt

Filson Vintage Flannel Work Shirt
Why It Made the Cut
  • A favorite from Filson since 2015, this lumberjack-style flannel is a timeless classic made with the outdoor elements in mind.

Best Vintage Camp Shirt: Good for being worn as a traditional standalone button-up or as a fashion-forward overshirt, the Filson Vintage Flannel Work Shirt is a contemporary take on a lumberjack-style flannel that’s been a favorite from the premium outdoor brand since 2015. Given extra durability with its double-needle construction and flat felled seams, the shirt is made with 8.1-oz. cotton twill material and given a military-grade melamine button closure. This decidedly top-shelf flannel also comes in a myriad of plaid color options, as well as a solid dark navy blue option.

Material: 8.1 oz. 100% cotton twill
Fit: Relaxed

Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner

Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner

Best Vintage Knife: A timeless-looking outdoor fixed-blade knife made from a combination of top-shelf modern-day materials, Benchmade’s Saddle Mountain Skinner packs a 4.2” CPM-S30V drop point blade that’s rated at between 58-60 HRC and is mated to a set of stabilized wooden scales. Made in America, this fixed-blade knife weighs just 4.3oz and comes with a traditional leather sheath.

Blade Steel: CPM-S90V
Handle Material: Richlite & G10
Overall Length: 8.70”

Coleman 2-Burner Classic Liquid Fuel Stove

Coleman Guide Series Dual Fuel 2 Burner Stove
Why It Made the Cut
  • Another item that looks like it’s actually vintage, this camp stove from Coleman can be lit with actual gasoline from your car if your’e in a pinch.

Best Vintage Camp Stove: A long-running camp classic that’s remained in production for decades going almost entirely unchanged, Coleman’s 425C S Stove is a rugged and portable two-burner unit with a primary burner spitting out a cool 7,500BTS and a secondary burning putting out 6,500. Sold with a 2.5-pint fuel tank that accepts Coleman liquid camp fuel, this camp stove also features a Windblock shield system and Band-a-Blue burners that can accommodate pots or skillets up to 10” in diameter.

Fuel: Coleman liquid fuel or gasoline
Weight: 12lbs

Igloo Legacy 54 Qt Cooler

Igloo Legacy 54 Qt Cooler
Why It Made the Cut
  • It’s hard to resist the classic styling of this Legacy Cooler from Igloo, especially since its performance outweighs any gimmick that it may have had.

Best Vintage Cooler: One aspect of your outdoor excursion that can easily be vintage-fied is your cooler. Hard-sided coolers have changed a lot in the last 50+ years, in both tech and aesthetic, but recently there’s been a big swing to revert the latter back to how it looked back in the day. Igloo’s Legacy Cooler is the best retro option you’ll find, with rust-resistant stainless steel construction, 54qts of space (85 cans), and a handful of vintage-inspired colors. The outside features a built-in stainless steel bottle opener and swing-up handles with comfortable grips for easy carrying. There’s also a leak-resistant drain at the bottom so you don’t have to tip it over.

Outer Construction: Stainless steel
Volume: 54 quarts

Council Tool 2lb Wood Craft Pack Axe

Council Tool 2lb Wood Craft Pack Axe
Why It Made the Cut
  • Chop up some firewood with this traditional pack axe, which sports a super resilient steel head and an ergonomic handle.

Best Vintage Pack Axe: If you’re going to be chopping up any firewood or doing any trailblazing on your next camping trip, you’ll definitely need a pack axe. Council Tool’s Wood Craft model exudes vintage charm while offering fantastic performance. For starters, this 24” pack axe sports a tempered 5160 steel head with an HRC rating in the mid-50s that’s incredibly resistant to chipping and does a superb job of retaining its edge. The steel head is mated to an ergonomic hickory wood handle that complements the shape of your wrist and is curved just right to enhance comfort and reduct injury.

Head: 5160 steel
Handle: Hickory wood
Length: 24″

Danner Mountain Pass

Danner Mountain Pass
Why It Made the Cut
  • Danner’s Mountain Pass boots don’t just look great but perform exceptionally well on the trail.

Best Vintage Hiking Boots: With their unmistakably retro-inspired appearance and use of ultra-top-shelf materials, Danner’s Mountain Pass is unequivocally one of the finest pairs of vintage-style boots currently on the market. Not only do these boots look amazing but they offer actual performance to back them up. Made at the heritage brand’s Portland factory, these premium hiking boots feature full-grain horween leather uppers using Danner’s legendary stitchdown construction, Dri-Lex lining, and a Vibram Kletterlift Thin outsole for weight reduction and durability for everyday use.

Weight: 2.88lbs
Waterproof: Yes
Outsole: Vibram Kletterlift Thin

Jacob Bromwell Model One Flask

Jacob Bromwell Model One Flask
Why It Made the Cut
  • Jacob Bromwell has been making the same copper flask for over 200 years with only some slight modern updates.

Best Vintage Flask: Few things say “vintage camping” like an old flask. Indiana-based Jacob Bromwell made its first flask back in 1819 and has been making it pretty much the same way ever since. Finished with reflective SuperPolish, the canister is made from 22-gauge solid copper and treated on the inside with lead-free tin to house your whiskey of choice. While each purchase comes with a period-correct wooden topper, which looks great on display, the Model One flask also includes a modern air-tight cork topper to keep the liquid inside. If you’re looking for the best heirloom-quality flask, this one simply can’t be beat.

Material: 22-gauge solid copper
Capacity: 9oz

Bradley Mountain The Biographer Backpack

Bradley Mountain The Biographer Backpack
Why It Made the Cut
  • This roll-top backpack from Bradley Mountain is as beautiful as it is functional, with a 16-inch laptop sleeve and super sturdy construction.

Best Vintage Backpack: Offering 15 to 20 liters of storage space, Bradley Mountain’s The Biographer is a top-shelf roll-top backpack that’s perfectly fitting in the great outdoors but can serve you well on a day-to-day basis too. Built to last you for years, and then some, the bag is constructed from double-layer 18oz waxed duck canvas for the shell which is accented with 9oz USA harness leather, solid brass and copper hardware, and an antiquated brass zipper. Made in the USA, this vintage-style backpack also features a 16” laptop pocket, wool padded straps, and an exterior pocket for stashing your most accessible items.

Primary Construction: 18oz Waxed Duck Canvas
Volume: 15 – 20 Liters

Springbar Classic Jack Watertight Cotton Canvas Tent

Springbar Classic Jack Watertight Cotton Canvas Tent
Why It Made the Cut
  • This super durable, classic-styled tent from Springbar is spacious in its own right and has extra add-on options to keep you warm in harsh weather.

Best Vintage Tent: Offering pioneer-style shelter, this robust canvas tent from Springbar doesn’t just look like the one you grew up using on family camping trips but is durable enough to survive for years to come. Made from double-fill boat-shrunk army duck cotton canvas, the tent will be spacious for two adults but can house up to six. Sold separately are accessories from the brand to help you stay warm and toasty no matter how nasty the elements get. These include the Winnerwell Stove, a fireproof mat, and everything else needed for setups. If you are interested in this item, we’d urge you to act fast as Springbar routinely sells out of all of its stock rather quickly.

Capacity: 2 to 8 people
Weight: 64.5lbs
Max Standing Height: 6.5ft

The Best Hiking Boots to Buy

Best Hiking Boots 0 Hero
Photo: Aether Dolomite

You shouldn’t go camping without quality footwear. For the top picks around, check out our guide to the best hiking boots available.