Finding high quality camping gear at all price points is my specialty. Although camping can be pricey, and the initial investment may seem like sticker shock, it is important to invest in good quality gear to ensure you are protected from the elements and have an enjoyable experience. I have crafted my list of Camping Favorite Things for 2020, that will appeal to the beginner and avid camper with big or small budgets. With an addition of any of these items, you can quickly begin to transition your setup from camping to glamping.
My family and friends consider the Nemo Wagontop 8 as more of a packable home, than a tent. Once set up, THIS THING IS HUGE. This fall, my son and I went camping for the month of October and the Nemo Wagontop 8 was a must. With the versatility of this tent, we were able to have the front half of the tent serve as a classroom and lounge area while the other half was our bedroom. I splurged and purchased the attaching garage, which we used as a bathroom.
Small: Teton 4 Person Tent
The Teton Sport Mountain Ultra 4 is the perfect tent, if you’re looking for something small that doesn’t take up much room. On a quick trip with good weather, I may take this Teton for my shelter, but this is my go-to tent for the kids. Periodically, I will take my son and his cousins camping and it is ideal for the little ones. This Teton is easy to set up, packs down small and will keep you protected from the elements.
The Patagonia bag is called a black hole for a very good reason. Not only is it water resistant, but it’s huge and when you think you can’t get anything else in it, you tighten the compression straps and make even more room. I use this bag to pack all my clothes, toiletries and other essentials, but can also come in handy for packing/storing camp bedding.
These packing cubes are great for any type of travel, but they came in extra handy during our month long camping trip in October. Using a set of packing cubes for myself and my son, helped keep our clothing organized and helped to keep track of our clean and dirty clothes.
The Jetboil Genesis BaseCamp System is the best camp stove system I’ve come across. This system is large and works really well when I camp with my family. The best thing about the stove is its ability to regulate heat. We’ve all used camp stoves that are either off or hell (no in between), but the Jetboil Genesis gives the flexibility to simmer spaghetti for the family or searing scallops for the chill adult dinner.
Small: Jetboil Flash Java Kit
Smaller cooking systems, like the Jetboil Flash Java Kit are a mainstay in my campsite up. This system is perfect when I take a solo trip. I can make coffee, boil water for oatmeal, reheat soup, or use it in combination with the pot support to fry or saute.
Big: BioLite FirePit
At one point, I did not like making campfires when I camped by myself, although I always enjoy the tranquility and warmth of a good fire. The BioLite FirePit was my savior. Since it has built-in ventilation and air jets, it makes building a campfire super simple and reduces all the dreaded campfire smoke. An added bonus to this FirePit is that it doubles as a grill.
Whether building a traditional fire or using the BioLite FirePit, the Corona Razor Tooth Folding Saw always comes in handy. I find this saw is the perfect size and strength and comes in handy when cutting small dead trees and branches into firewood. With a little supervision, my 8 year old even enjoys sawing wood.
6. Stay Warm
During the cooler months, I don’t leave home without my Big Buddy by Mr. Heater. Being in the south, it doesn’t get terribly cold, but even 60 degrees can be too cool to sleep in. The Big Buddy keeps me warm all through the night. The Big Buddy kept my son comfortable during his morning classes while participating in virtual school.
Small: Kelty Bestie Blanket
The Kelty Bestie Blanket has the perfect name because it is the ideal companion for every camper. It’s great as an added layer around the campfire or as an additional layer in your sleep system. I recently had to buy my son his own Bestie Blanket, so I wouldn’t have to share.
5. Cool Off
Although it’s currently winter, it’s never too early to prepare for summer. The Geek Aire fan is all you need to keep you cool in hot weather. The fan can last up to 20 hours on a full charge and only takes 3 hours to recharge the 12800 mAh battery. I love that it is easy to rotate and ultra quiet. It makes summer camping bearable and I can even charge my phone using the USB port on the rear.
Small: Hydro Flask Wide Mouth
Although the Hydro Flask Wide Mouth Water Bottle is insulated and can be used for both hot and cold, it is my go-to for keeping my water cold all day long. Whether I’m sitting around the campsite or on my daily walk, the Hydro Flask keeps me hydrated with ice cold water wherever I go.
Finding a comfortable sleeping pad can be a challenge. I would know, I’ve been through a few, but the ExPed Deep Sleep Mat makes for a restful night sleep. The lightweight (5 lbs), self-inflating, 3” thick pad has an amazingly high R-value of 8.5 which I love because it ensures that I am insulated from the ground. I also am a fan of the compact design that fits easily into its own stuff sack.
A good camping pillow is another tough one. At one point, I decided I would just take my favorite pillow from home because none of my camping pillows quite did the trick. Once I discovered the Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow, my search was over. This pillow is not only the most compact pillow I’ve purchased, but it is the most comfortable. It has a scalloped design to help it contour to my head and neck and a mini valve to adjust the firmness.
I feel like a short order cook when I am standing in front of my Blackstone Griddle. At 12,000 BTUs, this griddle will cook anything and the best part is the easy cleanup when you are all done. This griddle may seem like a lot to carry, but it’s well worth it, especially if you’re camping with a large group. The Blackstone brings an ease to camp cooking and there’s no limit to what you can cook on this.
Tacos are one of the easiest meals when cooking for a larger group and this taco rack allows you to have perfectly warm shells. Blackstone has a wide range of accessories for their grills making it easy to plan a camp menu.
Hammocks are a combination of an adult version of a swaddle and baby swing, rolled into one. “Hammock time” is the thing I look forward to most when it comes to camping. The ENO hammock is made of a high-strength, breathable fabric that is capable of holding 400lbs, so I feel extra secure when I’m in it. It comes with heavy weight carabiners and a self contained stuff sack. Unfortunately, you do have to purchase the straps separately. A good book, nice view, and a glass of wine in my hammock is all it takes for me to live my best life.
The GCI Outdoor Low-Ride Reclining Camping Chair is the camping chair I’ve owned the longest and is the most comfortable. It weighs in at about 8lbs and includes a carry bag that rolls up to fit into the pocket pillow. It never fails, whenever I’m around a group of people outdoors and I get up, someone always sits in my chair. This chair has three reclining angles and there is a small sac to store the chair bag that doubles as a pillow. I have had many great naps in this chair.
There is no way we would have been able to take a month long camping trip while virtual learning without the ALP Propane Generator. This is the winner of my 2020 Favorite’s List. It is easy to start, lightweight and best of all, it can also be used at home, in the event of a power outage. Previously, I’ve used solar power, but have found it to be tough to work with if I’m in an area that doesn’t have ample sunlight and the ALP Propane Generator saves you trouble of transporting gas with the traditional generators. With this generator you are able power any electronics for 3 hours with only a 1 lb propane tank and a whopping 60 hours using a 20lb tank.
The Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight is what you get when you mix a solar panel, flashlight and powerbank all together. By having the solar panel on the flashlight, it makes it easy to just sit out at the campsite during the day to charge, to ensure you have ample light (250 lumens) in the evening. It also can do half-bright modes to save on power. The battery has a respectable runtime of 7-48 hours, depending on the brightness and works great as a power bank to charge my personal devices.