The Best Camping Gear Buying Guide
Camping is a fun way to get away from the hustle of your normal life to go unwind in the wilderness with your family or friends. It’s also a cheaper way of having fun on a long weekend with a group, free of expensive hotel rooms or restaurant meals.
To make the camping experience cozy for everyone, however, you will need to have the right camping gear. If you don’t have the best outdoor gear, it will feel like one long weekend or some kind of punishment.
While you cannot bring your home with you into the wild, you should try to make the camping trip as comfortable as possible. You will achieve this by having the best camping gear on the market for your camping trip.
If you have not been camping before, it might be especially hard to know where to start when looking for camping gear. There are so many categories of gear and tons of options available within each one.
In this article, I break it all down and tell you what to look for to get the best camping gear.
Factors to consider for buying the best camping gear
When shopping for camping gear, you may not know where to begin or what to look for in the camping items you’re considering. The following factors should guide you into making the right choice.
As I have already stated, you can’t match your home’s comfort in the wild, but you should pick camping gear that makes your trip as comfortable as possible. This means getting camping gear that will help camping feel like home.
When you buy sleeping camping gear, for instance, make sure you get everything you need for a comfortable night’s sleep. This includes comfy camping pillows, sleeping bags, and mats. If you can get an air mattress, that would make it even better.
Get camping clothes and shoes that are suitable for camping. If you plan to take short hikes during your camping trip, remember to pack the best-hiking gadgets, shoes, and clothes appropriate for hiking like moisture-wicking clothes. Warm sleeping clothes will also go a long way to ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
When you buy a tent, get one that allows you to be as comfortable as you can in the wild. A tent with a bug screen, for instance, will allow you to enjoy the view of the wild at night without being bothered by the bugs.
You want to make sure whatever you are bringing on the road with you takes as little space as possible. You need to have a lot of essential items, and if just a few items take up all the space, then you won’t have enough.
The best camping gadgets are compact and can fit into the smallest of spaces, leaving enough room for you to pack everything you need. If you are shopping for a camping pillow, for instance, make sure it is lightweight and compact. You can also get one with a packing sack, which helps compress the pillow into a small space. Alternatively, you can get an inflatable pillow, which deflates into an even smaller size.
The size of your party
The number of people in your group is another thing you have to keep in mind when buying camping gear. This will make sure you get everything right. If you are a family of four, for instance, you might want to buy a tent that can accommodate the whole family.
For a roomy tent that will house everyone comfortably without being crammed together, you might consider getting a tent with a larger indicated capacity. This is because manufacturers indicate the tent’s capacity by fitting sleeping bags into the tent. The number of sleeping bags that fit is the indicated capacity.
If you have large adults in your group, then this space might be a little too small for a comfortable night’s sleep. You have to remember that everyone will need space for their camping gear. To solve this problem, order a size or two up when you are buying a group tent. Buy an 8-person tent if you are a group of six, for instance. This way, the tent is roomy enough for everyone.
The number of people you will be camping with will also determine the kind of kitchen camping gear you get. You want to get pots big enough to make food for everyone. The same thing goes for a camping cooler. Get one that will carry drinks for everyone.
The needs of your group
The needs of the people on your camping trip should be another thing that determines the kind of camping gear you will buy. You want to make sure that everyone’s needs in the group are catered to.
If you have teenagers in the group, they might need some privacy. This means you have to think of the sleeping arrangement a bit differently. You can get separate tents, or you can get a large tent with partitions. Others may need special medication. It’s important to figure out these needs ahead of time, because you can’t easily make up for it after the fact.
It’s important to account for the weather when buying camping gear. Some camping tents will not stand heavy rain without leaking. Ideally, camping is most fun in dry weather like you typically get during summer.
If you are the kind of camping enthusiast that will camp all year round, then you will need to buy all-weather camping gear. Some tents are rated all-weather camping, which means you will be okay even when it’s raining or snowing.
During the summer heat, ice in the ice coolers may melt faster than when it’s colder, and this means it may not last very long during a summer trip. A cooler that is rated five days, for instance, may only last you for only four days.
You should keep in mind that the weather can be a bit unpredictable. It’s good to prepare for any kind of weather, and this is why the top camping tents are all weather rated. Look for features such as inverted seams when buying a tent to be on the safe side.
Weight and portability
Camping gear should be easily portable. This will save you a lot of effort when you need to haul the gear from the car to the camping site.
The best camping equipment will be easy to move around. This is why some come with wheels, to make it easy for you to just drag items to the camping site and back to the car when it’s time to leave. Some of the common equipment you can get on wheels are camping coolers and grills.
Car camping essentials may not need to be so light but when you are backpacking, every ounce of the luggage on your back is a huge deal. This is why you need to get lightweight camping gear. Everything needs to be compact and lightweight.
Top camping gear is pretty expensive. That’s why you should pay attention to the material used and the equipment’s construction. If you want to get camping gear that lasts, check out what the material it’s made from and make sure it’s one that will serve your camping needs best.
Most tents made of polyurethane, for instance, tend to be short-lived and do not fare well in extreme weather. If you are planning to camp in summer in friendly camping weather, they should be good for that, but in hostile weather conditions, they may not be so good. They tend to flake off.
Invest in quality material camping gear if you want it to last long.
Some outdoor survival gear can perform different functions at once. These are better than when you have a different tool for every camping task. If you have a hatchet, for instance, you can use that to hammer down tent poles and stakes and use it to split wood. In this case, you will not need to bring a mallet with you on the trip. A penknife can be used to prepare vegetables too, and in this case, you won’t need to carry a kitchen knife.
How many days at a time do you plan on camping?
This factor will also play a huge role in the camping gear you buy. You will need to have enough supplies to last you and your group the entire time you are out camping.
When you are on the move instead of at a campsite, it makes more sense to bring a portable fridge like this one or any other for food preservation. You can use the car battery to keep the fridge running and have a constant supply of fresh food.
This is better and will serve you longer than a camping cooler will. It’s also more reliable.
Design and construction
Design is mostly a consideration for tents, as some designs are easier to set up than others. Other designs will be more suitable for tall people than others.
In some tents, you might not be able to stand inside without slouching, and this can be tiring and a bit limiting. In other tents, a person as tall as 6 ft 5 inches may comfortably walk around without slouching, which is better for any tall people in your party. Keep these considerations in mind when buying a tent.
You should look at the cost of the camping gear too, and make sure that everything is within your budget range. With that said, don’t compromise on quality just to get lower prices. Sometimes cheap is expensive. This doesn’t mean you can’t get something quality at a cheap price. All I mean is that you should make sure that the item you are getting at whatever cost will best serve your needs and last for a long time.
Some camping gear items like tents, camping pillows, sleeping bags, camping coolers, and others come with a warranty. The longer the warranty period, the safer it is buying the item. Manufacturers who have longer warranties for their products will mostly have high-quality products. Should something go wrong, you know you will get the help you need.
Be careful to check the fine print on warranty agreements and make sure you can easily get help should you need it.
How to get the best camping gear
The best camping dishes and cookware
You will need a simple kitchenware set for camping, cooking, and serving food. Look for something compact and lightweight for your camping trip. Avoid getting nonstick pots and pans. They are not best suited for outdoors.
Get one iron cast skillet for preparing meats and two stainless steel pots. Buy a plate and a cup per person too. Enamel cups and plates are very versatile when it comes to the great outdoors.
Best camping pillow
Most people do not remember to pack a camping pillow when they go camping. If you don’t want to wake up with a stiff neck, though, I recommend you get yourself one.
Look for something lightweight. A pillow that comes with a packing sack is best for camping. Not only because it is compact, but the packing sack keeps the camping pillow from getting dust and debris.
As I already mentioned, the best camping tent should be all weather rated. It’s good to be prepared for every kind of situation when you are out in the wild. Make sure you get a quality tent with enough room for everybody and their camping gear.
If you are backpacking, remember that a light tent is essential. You don’t want a tent that will be too heavy on your back. It should collapse down to a small size too.
Best camping cooler
When you are shopping for a camping cooler, all the factors above should guide you but the most important one is the capacity. This will determine whether it’s enough to preserve everyone’s food and drinks during the camping trip.
It is also important to note that a camping cooler is a luxury that only car camping can accommodate. If you are backpacking, you cannot haul a camping cooler with you on the trip.
Not surprisingly, a backpack is essential when you are backpacking. When you are car camping, you may not need a backpack at all. But if you are planning on short hikes from your campsite, you will need one to carry hiking essentials you will need on your hike like food, a phone water bottle, and so on.
For this, any simple backpack will do. If you are a backpacker, you will need a backpack large enough for your luggage. The frames should be padded and comfortable, and the weight should be distributed evenly on your back.
Best camping clothes
The best camping clothes will depend on the season and the weather you are camping in. If you are camping in summer, you may not need as many warm clothes. If you think it is going to rain during the trip, you might need a waterproof jacket to keep dry.
You can never be too sure of the future weather, so it’s advisable to prepare for any kind of weather. In addition, evenings can be a bit colder than you anticipated, especially in higher altitudes, so you might need to pack warm clothes.
Remember to carry comfortable sleeping clothes too, and keep them dry.
Other camping accessories
These are some of the best camping accessories you can collect for your camping gear. Some of these are not totally necessary, while others are very important to bring with you.
A portable battery
When you go camping, you might still want to stay connected to the world or catch up on work. If you do, the perfect way to do so is to keep your phone and laptop charged.
Most campsites may not have a power source, though, so the only way to keep your devices charged is by bringing your power source. A portable power station like this one can be a lifesaver.
USB chargeable fans
If you are going to camp in a hot campsite, you might need something to cool your tent down at night. You can bring these portable fans with you, and they will give you a cool comfortable night in the wild.
If you are going camping during the wet season, a pair of water shoes are necessary. This will help you avoid getting nasty blisters on your feet. The same thing goes if you are going to be crossing streams during your short hikes. Wearing wet hiking boots can make your feet blistered, and you also risk fungal infections on your feet.
Camp table and chairs
It’s not necessary to bring a camping table with you on the camping trip, but you will need a surface for food preparation. A camping table helps a lot. Look for a compact table in the market that packs small, and you will be good to go.
As for the chairs, no camping is fun enough without a bonfire and the fun conversations around it, this is why you need to bring camping chairs with you. Just like the camping table, you can get chairs that pack small on the market and get as few or as many as you will need on your trip.
Water filtering system
Sometimes you might go to a campsite with no drinkable water. A water-filtering gadget will come in handy in such a situation. Find out beforehand whether water is available on the camping site you are going to. If not, bring some or bring a water filtering system. You can get a small water filtering gadget on the market.
Bugs can make it hard to enjoy your camping trip, especially the ones that bite. If you do not want to keep yourself zipped up in your tent the entire trip, then remember to carry a bug repellant or some bug spray with you. This way, you can keep the bugs at bay and keep having a great time.
Most of the campsites have a shower. If the one you are going to does not have one, however, a shower bag will come in handy for you. You can readily find one at outdoor stores or online.
Frequently asked questions on camping gear
What’s the alternative way of cooking if you don’t have a camping stove?
You may not have a camping stove, or you might have forgotten one, but that does not mean you have to stay hungry. Campfires are a great way to cook food too. You can set up stones on which you place a pot and continue to prepare a meal.
What do I do if it rains while I’m camping?
The ideal thing to do would be to avoid camping in the rain. Of course, the weather can be a bit unpredictable at times. This is why you need to prepare for all situations. When buying a tent, invest in an all-weather tent. A good all-weather tent will keep you safe from the rain and avoid getting damaged in the process.
My tent has a hole – how can I fix it?
If your tent tears, you can use a piece of duct tape to cover up the hole. Just make sure to pack a roll or two!
Camping is a fun group activity when you have the best camping items. Without the right camping gear, however, it could be a very uncomfortable experience, especially for beginners. You also need to ensure that you pack everything before you leave. To do this, write a checklist beforehand and make sure you bring every item you might need.
Get yourself some camping gear and start enjoying the serenity that comes with being out in nature. Once you get the hang of it, nothing else is quite the same.
Finally, remember you can’t predict the weather, so make sure you prepare for any kind of weather, as well as day and night conditions. I hope you have fun on your camping trip!