There are no more exciting smells than those of camping. Smoke from the fire. A stand of pine trees. The smell of a foil dinner cooking on the coals, or the even fainter smell of a nicely toasted marshmallow.
Throughout the ages, camping has been the passion and past time of millions who are drawn to the outdoors. It’s difficult to put your finger on exactly what it is that makes it so soul-satisfying. Is it sleeping in a sleeping bag? Is it the challenge of improvising when things don’t work out? Is it being out of cell phone range? Is it the smells?
Although it might be difficult to put your finger on exactly what makes it so much fun, there’s no denying that it just makes your heart happy to be camping. The truth is, that for most of us it’s probably a combination of several things, but above everything else, the opportunity to just sit and observe the panorama of nature up close and personal. And if you can be enjoying it with a couple of friends or loved ones, so much the better.
Our Camping Gear Reviews
Our goal is to pass along the best gear recommendations and tips that we possibly can, to help you enjoy yourself. Here you’ll find great reviews and comparisons on all kinds of camping gear: tents, sleeping bags, cots, chairs, hammocks, air mattresses and more!
A tent is the universal symbol for “camping.” The two are inseparable, and have been for millennia. Dating back to the earliest reaches of recorded history, there are accounts of nomadic shepherds and hunter gatherers who used portable tents as they traversed throughout entire regions.
These days, there are so many styles of tents that it can be unnecessarily confusing. Stripping away all the fluff however, tents come in 2 main styles: dome tents and ridge tents. There are a handful of models that don’t quite fall into this dichotomy (tunnel tents, teepee tents, etc), but by and large, most tents out there could be classed as one of those two.
After that, things get a little more complicated. There are instant tents, inflatable tents, frame tents, geodesic domes and semi geodesic dome tents. Size-wise, tents can be sized to accommodate anywhere from 1-12 people.
If interested, we jotted down some of our all-time favorite tents.
Cots are perfect for people that love to be outdoors, but have a hard time getting comfortable sleeping on the ground. They come in all sizes and styles (and price points!).
When you’re looking at cots, the main thing to think about is: how portable do you need it to be? Some cots are extremely lightweight, and can breakdown small enough to be suitable for backpacking. Other cots just fold in half, and really are best suited for car camping.
There are a variety of other factors to consider when you’re looking at cots: size, price, material, frame, weight limit, and more. Check out our complete guide on camping cots here.
Cavemen would’ve killed for camping stoves. Think about it–portable fire. The ability to cook your food in just minutes is priceless, but something that many of us take for granted until we have a stove not work.
There are some great stoves on the market. Dating back to the 50’s and 60’s, propane camping stoves have been on the scene. While they are still extremely common, there are also several lightweight backpacking stoves that run on butane. These will usually feature 1 downsized burner, and work extremely quickly to heat up water and/or cook food.
Before making your decision on which stove to buy, think about how you will be using it, how lightweight it needs to be, and any other accessories or camping kitchen supplies you might need to go with it.
We wrote a quick guide on stoves (and included our favorites), that you can check out.
In addition to cots and sleeping pads, hammocks offer another great way to sleep in the outdoors. Due to the tensile strength of many fabrics available on the market today, it’s possible to get an extremely lightweight hammock, that can support a substantial amount of weight.
For many people, hammocks are actually a more comfortable way to sleep. People with sleep ailments (such as sleep apnea), or chronic injuries often find that hammock camping is much easier on them then trying to get comfortable on the cold, hard, ground.
Additionally, unlike cots, hammocks have the added benefit of breaking down to a package that doesn’t include any rigid parts. This lends a greater degree of flexibility in packing and carrying.
On the negative side however, because there is air surrounding you, hammock camping makes for a colder night. Your body’s heat is actually sucked away, leaving you colder than you were. Still, in warmer locales or during the summer, this isn’t usually a major concern.
Over the last couple of decades, hammock camping has developed quite an avid following. And as you might expect, plenty of “hammock vs. cot vs. sleeping pad” arguments happening in the forums.
If interested, check out the comparison we put together of the best camping hammocks.
While not an absolute necessity, a solid camping chair goes a long way to make your camping experience a comfortable and enjoyable one.
Camping chairs have the added benefit that they are extremely useful in many other situations. They work awesome at the beach, the park, on the back porch, tailgating, at kid’s soccer games, around a bonfire, sitting at parades, and more!
Unless you’re looking to go extremely lightweight, most camping chairs collapse vertically, and then can be easily slid into the carrying case. For max comfort, many camping chairs include armrests, high backs, and cupholders.
Complete guide on camping chairs here.
Like a camping chair, a camping air mattress is a bit of a luxury….. until it isn’t! Look, if you want to be hardcore and thumb your nose at it, go right ahead. But for some of us, an air mattress is the only way we can actually get a decent night’s rest in the outdoors.
When we were kids, it was easy to curl up on a patch of concrete and knock out for 12 hours. Now? Not so much. Age has a way of making it a little harder to get comfy. Injuries and chronic aches and pains take their toll over the years.
Or hey, maybe you’re even perfectly capable of sleeping on the ground, but just want to be a little more comfortable. We support it!
You can find camping air mattresses in all types and sizes. Self inflating, queen size (even king size if you want it!), different padding and support systems. An air mattress doesn’t always work in every circumstance, but we’re partial to them when it’s possible to bring em.
We actually made a study of it (scoring system and everything), and picked our absolute favorites here.
Vintage Camping Gear
If you’re like us, you can’t help but feel a little nostalgia when you see some old vintage camping gear. Memories of being a kid, out on an adventure with mom and dad, or grandma and grandpa.
We put together this little guide, as a nod to the rich and storied tradition that camping gear stems from. Throwback lanterns, tents, boots, and more.
If interested, check out our lineup of vintage camping gear here (p.s. some of this stuff is still being manufactured today!).