For those of us unfortunate enough to have a job working in some box cubicle in an office building in the concrete jungle of some major urban center, the only way that we can keep our sanity is through escaping every Friday evening for a rejuvenating time in the wild. Research continually shows how time spent in nature is refreshing and renewing for our minds, bodies, and spirits. The rat race of city life, though it does have some perks, is also draining and without a space for recharging our energies, its easy to quickly get caught up in the stress and anxiety of business as usual.
If you find that the weekend camping trip isn´t just a once a summer activity but rather a weekly necessity (or rather, weekend necessity), then you might want to consider investing in a few important pieces of camping gear that will only improve your experience of enjoying the Great Outdoors. While roasting bratwursts and marshmallows over an open fire and sleeping in a well-used sleeping bag in your old leaky tent certainly does have its nostalgic charm, it´s also nice to bring along some creature comforts to make your camping "recharge" trips more pleasant.
In this short article we will look at 10 of the most important pieces of camping gear you need to help turn those weekend getaways into magical experiences that will leave you eagerly awaiting your next chance to escape the rush of the city for the piece of the campfire.
Unless you are packing along a refrigerator, having a quality cooler is a must when it comes to camping. Whether you are packing along several pounds of meat for a grillout, want to conserve the catch from a fishing trip, or simply want to enjoy a cold beer after a long, hot day of hiking, having a great cooler is a great way to bring along some of the comfort foods into the wilderness during a camping trip.
The danger of opting for the cheap plastic cooler selling for $10 dollars at your local supermarket is that you will have to be making daily trips to the supermarket for ice bags to keep your beer cold and your steaks from going bad.
Pelican Coolers are definitely a little bit pricier than the styrophoam fishing coolers your grandpa used to bring with him when you went on fishing trips. However, the savings in purchasing ice alone will eventually pay for the cooler cost, especially if you go camping often. These high end coolers can keep ice from melting for several days. They come in several different volume sizes, and you can also choose from hard coolers (with thicker insulation) and lighter softer coolers which are best for hiking. For a complete rundown of the top cooler options on the market today, check out this great review by the outdoors blog Live Once Live Wild.
Spending a night under the stars is certainly a way to refresh yourself after a long week of work. If you are not used to sleeping on the hard ground, however, the thrill of camping is often dampened by the aches and pains that come the morning after. One easy way to avoid the unpleasant stiffness in your neck is by packing along some inflatable pillows. While inflatable pillows certainly won't compare to your thick goose feather pillow on your bed, they are huge improvement over using your extra (and sometimes stinky) extra pair of wool socks as a makeshift pillow. There are a number of different inflatable pillow options on the market, and all of them are essentially weightless meaning that you can easily carry them with you even on long backpacking trips. Your neck will thank you. TETON Sports Scout 3400
With so many different backpack options out there, It is not easy to make a recomendation. Ultimately, the best backpack for you will depend on how far you plan to hike and what you are carrying. If you are planning on spending the majority of your time resting around your campsite, then you might not need any backpack at all. If you´re planning a weeklong backpacking trip to the deep backwoods, you´ll most likely want a bigger bag.
The TETON Sports Scout 3400 gets our recommendation here because of its versatility as both a daypack and a good bag for a 2-3 day backpacking trip. The lightweight design of this pack is coupled with a several easy to access pockets and zippers that make it easy to pull out a quick snack or your topo map without having to empty your pack each time you need something.
Insulated Water Bottle
The days of lugging around your dad´s old army cantine are quickly coming to an end. Though there may be some nostalgic memories associated with this heavy, clumsy water jugs of old, they are probably the most uncomfortable and inefficient way to carry around water for your trip. Furthermore, there is nothing quite so anticlimatic as taking a long swig from your water bottle after a grueling 2,000 foot climb up a mountain peak only to find that your water is pretty close to boiling.
Insulated water bottles come in a number of different sizes, but the fact that they are insulated makes them a great way to keep your water fresh and cool for the long run. Alternatively, during a cold autumn day, you can carry with you a hot cup of coffee until the first break on the trail. The Polar Bottle combines great insulation, lightweight, and a zipstream cap that promises to help you avoid any leaks during a hard day on the trail.
When sitting around a campfire or simply enjoying your morning coffee next to the river where you camped the night before, a quality set of camping chairs is a must. The problem with most camping chairs, however, is that they are large, heavy, and clumsy to get around. Often times, a couple of camping chairs will weigh more and take up more space than the rest of the stuff in your bag.
A great option for lightweight chairs is offered by the company WolfWise. The UltraLight FoldingCamp Chairs by WolfWise are made from high grade aluminum alloy. Furthermore, these great chairs are easy to set up and come with leg caps that will stop your chair from sinking into the wet sand or muddy soil around the campsite.
The 30 Day Lantern
One of the sometimes frustrating aspects of camping is the lack of light around the tent. After a long day of hiking, you might get back to camp with not enough sun in the horizon to get an adequate dinner cooking over the fire. Instead of setting for yet another peanut butter and jelly sandwich, if you had a quality lantern, you´d easily have enough light to cook up a gourmet dinner.
The 30 Day Lantern offered by eGear is a quality, battery powered lantern. With this product you can say so long to those messy and unpredictably dangerous kerosene lanterns of old. You won´t have to shell out big bucks for batteries every day or two either. Powered by three 1.4 watt LED lightbulbs, the 30 day lantern gives off some serious light while also lasting up to a month before needing a new battery.
Let´s imagine that you are planning a quick weekend getaway to your nearest state park. The weather forecast predicts 80 degree weather with not a cloud in sight; perfect weather to sleep outside under the stars. However, the memory of almost stepping on a rattle snake during a recent hiking trip to the same area dampens your enthusiasm for sleeping on the bare ground.
Camping hammocks are a great option that will keep you safely elevated off of the ground while still allowing you to enjoy a night underneath the open skies. There are options that offer water proof fabric which might be best for moments when rain is a possiblity. Otherwise, any cotton based camping hammock will allow you to stay warm during the cooler nights and fresh during those late afternoon snoozes.
Part of the beauty of camping is getting away from the world of screen and technologies that have come to dominate our industrial lives. While its always a good idea to leave the laptop and TV at home while camping, there are a few tech devices that can help make your camping trip more memorable. From cellphones for picture taking to GPS instruments to help you plot your backpacking trip, these devices need to be charged. A simple solar charger is a great way to make sure that your camera will have full charge for that fantastic shot of the moose wading through the pond and that your GPS won´t die leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere. One of the best solar charges for camping trips is made by FKANT. This device works well with smart phones, GPS devices, GoPro Cameras, tablets, and much more. It is a pretty tough device and water resistant meaning that you won´t have to worry about ruining it every time a rain storm comes up or you drop your bag during a rest on the trail.
Solar Camp Shower
This little piece of beauty might be stretching it a bit too far when it comes to comforts and conveniences when in the back woods. Indulging in a warm shower seems like it should be a home thing and not a luxury to be had in the middle of the wilderness. Nonetheless, we have decided to include this solar camp shower on our list because of the fact that it relies on nothing more than the sun´s energy, and is less than a pound.
With five gallons of storage capacity, all you have to do is fill up your shower "sack" in the morning, hang it in a place where it will receive direct sun, and enjoy a refreshing warm shower after a long day out exploring the wild. For an extra fourteen ounces in your backpack, this is a luxury worth indulging in.
Camping Cookware Mess Kit
Nothing is worse than having to wait for a meal to cook after an exhausing day of exploring the Great Outdoors. For campers who choose to go light on the pots and pans and bring along only one small frying pan for all their cooking, making a meal can easily turn into a several hour ordeal.
The Camping Cookware Mess Kit offered by Mallo Me allows you to essentially carry a small kitchen with you in your bag. The 10 piece kit packs down into one small bundle making it easy to carry and store. Furthermore, since it is made from non-toxic anodized aluminum, it is one of the most lightweight kits on the market. With this kit you can easily prepare a five course meal quickly, even if you´re cooking over a fire and a camp stove.
The Mixture of Nature and Comfort
Spending time in Nature is good for the body, mind, and soul. You don´t, however, have to live the life of a hermit in order to enjoy the benefits of camping and spending time in the natural world. These ten quality camping items will allow you to bring along some of the creature comforts that add a touch of luxury to any camping experience. From hot showers in the wilderness to a full kitchen set for preparing deluxe five course meals, with these pieces of camping gear, you might think that there´s never a reason to leave the campground ever again.