12 Camping Gear Essentials

12 Camping Gear Essentials

A Tent

The “What a Mellon” Original Explorer tent from FieldCandy is built to withstand the toughest conditions while looking super sweet. In addition to being 100 percent waterproof, UV fade resistant and roomier than most two person tents, the array of designs from FieldCandy will definitely set you apart from the greenery.
Fieldcandy.com; $538

A Sleeping Bag

The REI Travel Sack Sleeping Bag is a great no-frills choice for minimalist summer camping. The bag will continue to insulate even when wet and compresses easily for packing. It comes with an adjustable hood, a zippered chest pocket and doubles as a sleeping bag liner, for added warmth on winter expeditions.
Rei.com; $60

A Sleeping Pad

Some may say that a sleeping pad isn’t essential, but this multipurpose item is a must-have for us. A bit of protection from the rocks and dirt will save your back and your sleeping bag, added warmth is a huge bonus and you can use the mat for everything from resting mid-hike to padding the seat of your kayak. The ALPS Mountaineering Foam Mat 375 is lightweight, easy to pack and you can’t beat the price.
Rei.com; $14


There are hundreds of lantern options out there, but the best choice is a small, bright light that lasts for a while without a charge—bonus points if it can power your phone. The Arka USB Charger/ Lantern/ Flashlight is a tiny but powerful tool fit for all of the above. The compact flashlight slides up to instantly create a lantern with a ring for hanging. Brightness is adjustable up to 180 lumens and it will last for 6-8 hours on high and up to 100 hours on low. This rugged, water resistant charger/light can charge anything with a USB plug and is perfect for your next camping trip.
Industrialrev.com; $70

Stake Lights

No one likes tripping over tent stakes in the middle of the night and your fellow campers won’t be amused when the tent caves either. StakeLights give off up to 10 hours of steady light (or 24 hours on strobe mode) with one AAA battery. Made of durable aluminum, they are water resistant and feature and on/off switch on the lens.
Industrialrev.com; $6 for one, $20 for a 4-pack

Fire Starting Device

Whether you prefer matches, a lighter or something a little more old school, you’ll need something to light the campfire. Waterproof matches are a popular choice for the woods, and the Strikeforce Firestarter (pictured left) is a great choice as well. This heavy duty sparkbar comes with a compartment to store dry tinder and has received great reviews.
Backcountry.com; $20

Something to Cook On

Once you’ve got the campfire going, you’ll need to cook the food with something other than your bare hands. Grandpa’s FireGrill is a stainless steel adjustable and ultra-portable solution—all you need is a stick.
Industrialrev.com; $23
Another popular option is the over-fire rack. Not quite as portable, but even more useful, Over the Fire Grill will cook whatever you throw on top. When you’re not cooking, use it as a table or a drying rack, this particular model is cheap and received rave reviews.
Backcountry.com; $23

A Stove

For those who would rather not cook over a campfire, a portable stove is the best solution. The FireHole 200 is a portable propane stove that is both lightweight and effective. Weighing just over 13 lbs., this cooktop has a boiling time of three minutes.  Adjustable legs help keep the stove even on any terrain and two side windshields double as prep areas. Just don’t forget the pots and pans!
Primuscamping.com; $200

Utensils (A Mess Kit)

Convenient plates, cups and utensils are a camping must-have. The MealKit 2.0 has everything you need including a strainer, a cutting board and a harness to pack it all together. All materials are BPA-free and microwave and dishwasher safe.
Industrialrev.com; $28

A Knife

A quality blade is invaluable when it comes to camping. The type of knife you’ll want depends on where you’ll be camping and what you’ll be doing, but the Outrigger Knife is a small but durable blade that’s perfect for the outdoors.
Backcountry.com; $48

A First Aid Kit

It’s always a good idea to have one of these on hand, choose a small kit with the essentials. Massive kits will take up too much room and chances are if you run into trouble you’ll be heading back early anyway, so there’s no need for 8 lbs. of gauze or 37 band aids. The Adventure Medical Kit is a low-cost kit or you can make your own.
Backcountry.com; $18

Bug Spray and Sunblock

Two things you won’t ever want to be caught without: bug spray and sunscreen. Off Deep Woods is a good choice for campers and take a look at the best sunscreens here.