Best Camping Gear
Best Survival Kit/Tools
Best Sleeping Bag
Best Sleeping Pad
Best Cooking Set
There’s an infinite number of gadgets you can buy for camping trips, from water purifiers to propane stoves. But if you’re looking for the most essential gear, the list can be boiled down to a tent, mattress, sleeping bag or pad, cookware, and a survival kit.
We evaluated our favorite camping gear based on factors like price, usefulness, durability, weight, and more.
Your guide to choosing the best camping gear
The equipment you bring to camp depends on a variety of factors, including the climate of your destination, your party size, and your personal preferences. A family of five camping in the summer is going to pack much differently than a single camper in the fall. That said, there are a few staples that you’ll need time and time again.
Camping gear is something you don’t want to skimp on — a hole in your tent or a too-thin sleeping bag can derail an entire trip. It’s best to choose quality-made gear that you don’t have to worry about handling delicately and that will last you for years to come.
You could individually assemble a hodgepodge of items that will help you out in a pinch, or you could buy a survival kit. Survival kits typically include a first aid kit, plus a bunch of essential toiletries and tools, like sunscreen, bug spray, a flashlight, a pocket knife, scissors, a compass, a whistle, rope, and more.
Look for a kit that’s both comprehensive and compact. You probably won’t need most of the supplies on your typical camping trip, but you’ll thank yourself when you really do need something from your kit.
Unless you plan to sleep in the open air, a tent is probably the most critical piece of camping gear. It protects you from bugs, weather, and everything else you don’t want messing with you while you sleep.
Tents come in a variety of sizes and materials. If you’re planning on backpacking, a lightweight tent is key. If you’ll have your car nearby, you might get a heavier tent that’s larger and has more comfort features. Unless you’re camping in the winter, a three-season tent will work. If you are camping in the winter, you’ll need a 4-season tent, which is made from more insulated fabric.
Like tents, sleeping bags come in many varieties to suit different temperatures and body sizes. They are also grouped by seasons, so the sleeping back you need depends on where you’re going. If you consider the weather comfortable to hot, a summer sleeping bag is what you need. If you’re looking for something more versatile that will work for cooler nights, a three-season bag is the way to go.
Backpackers typically use mummy bags, which are lightweight but don’t have much room for movement. If you’re not concerned about the sleeping bag’s weight, a roomier bag will likely be more comfortable.
Sleeping pads are like mattress toppers, giving you a plush layer of support between you and the ground. Not only can they save you from aches and pains, but they also keep you warm. The thickness, length, width, and insulation rating (r-value) are up to you.
The importance of cookware is often overlooked because most people don’t think they’ll be doing much cooking on a camping trip. But even if you’re keeping it simple, some basic cookware can open up a world of possibilities.
Aluminum sets that are collapsible and easy to store as one piece are great, especially for those who like to pack light. If you’re a backpacker who really needs to pack light, look for pieces that serve two functions: sporks, a shallow pot that can also function as a pan, etc.
Whatever you’re planning to cook, be sure your cookware can withstand the type of heat you plan to use. Stainless steel and aluminum are both durable and relatively lightweight, making them great camping companions. Teflon pots and pans may make cleanup easier as they are typically nonstick, but it doesn’t hold up well to very high temperatures that you may get over a flame.
Best Survival Kit/Tools
This survival kit was uniquely customized by U.S. military veterans to deliver the most essential, potentially life-saving equipment within a compact backpack. This set holds some of the most popular survival essentials, including a first aid kit, military knife, saber card, tactical pen, fire starter, and paracord bracelet.
The EMT bag containing the kit is made of 1000D nylon, which is water-resistant and durable. And we love the fact that it’s a backpack, making it easy to transport. There’s also room inside to add your own equipment, just in case there’s anything this 128-piece kit doesn’t have (but seriously, it’s got everything).
Most importantly If you’re looking for peace of mind on your next adventure, this set is perfect for giving you the comfort that you’ll be prepared for emergencies.
If you’re intimidated by the idea of setting up or sleeping in a tent, fear not. This tent from Coleman can be assembled in just ten minutes. It’s also weatherproof, with welded corners and inverted seams to keep the rain out and the inside toasty warm. The rainfly provides even more protection from cold and rain.
And even when the weather’s warmer, this three-season tent will still be comfortable. If you’re looking to let some cool nighttime air inside, you can unzip the mesh windows and ground vent for some extra ventilation.
The interior is large enough for one queen-sized air mattress, making it a great option for two people. The storage pockets are great for keeping earrings, phones, and anything else organized, too.
After a day of hiking, a good night’s sleep is essential. Even if you’re not into “glamping,” your back will thank you for this memory foam mattress pad. It’s nearly three inches thick, but it’s easy to roll up into a compact size and carry in the travel bag that’s included.
While memory foam doesn’t sound like the most durable of materials, the outer cover of this mattress pad is waterproof and machine washable, so you don’t have to worry about keeping it pristine. The bottom is non-slip, which is nice for sloped environments — If you’ve ever slept on an air mattress and ended up smashed in the corner of your tent, you understand.
Best Sleeping Bag
This three-season nylon sleeping bag is (probably) the only sleeping bag you’ll ever need. It’s made from an outer polyester layer and filled with cotton, making it the perfect blend of breathable and warm. So whether you’re taking it on a summer trip to a lake or a fall expedition in the mountains, you’ll sleep easy.
It’s also water-resistant and washable, so you don’t have to worry about mildew or moisture. One unique feature is the foot vent, which chronically hot sleepers will love. When you’re done, it rolls up into a small compression sack, which makes transportation and storage easy.
Another perk that will let you rest a bit easier: If you’re not 100% satisfied, you’ll get your money back.
Best Sleeping Pad
This sleeping pad is both lightweight and compact, making it perfect for any kind of wilderness getaway, from backpacking to family camping. It’s two inches thick and over six feet long when rolled out, but compresses down to the size of a water bottle and weighs less than one pound.
It’s built to last you, too. It’s made of waterproof, ripstop nylon, so you don’t have to worry about treating it delicately, even on rough terrains. But if you do notice some wear over time, you’re free to cash in on the lifetime warranty and get a replacement for free. In fact, if you’re unhappy with the sleeping pad for any reason, you can call Sleeping and get a full refund.
Best Cooking Set
This bundle of equipment is the Swiss army knife of cookware. It’s got 10 pieces, including a nonstick pot and pan, a folding stainless steel spork, two bowls, a wooden spoon spatula, and a cleaning sponge. It’s the perfect set for a single camper because it collapses into a small bundle, which you can store in the nylon drawstring pouch that comes with it.
The pots and pans are made of the highest quality, non-toxic, anodized aluminum, so you can quickly and efficiently cook a variety of meals, like pasta, eggs, rice, and more. When you’re done, you can use the sponge and some water to clean the cookware, and return it to its bundle.