If you are a virgin camper, the whole thing might sound a little daunting. For the uninitiated, the thought of pocket knives, chemical toilets and baffling knots requiring the assistance of a boy scout, can be a bit scary.
And that’s all before you’ve even fought Custer’s Last Stand with a tent that hasn’t seen the light of day since 1978.
The last thing you need when you arrive in the pitch black and inevitable pouring rain, is to suddenly discover that you can’t erect the damned thing, or that your sleeping bag won’t open.
Which is why we have compiled a list of some of the essential bits of kit that you should never go camping without!
Just a hint though – this isn’t an exhaustive list!
Table of Contents
- SUNDOME 4 PERSON TENT (GREEN AND NAVY COLOR OPTIONS)
- ETEKCITY 2 PACK PORTABLE OUTDOOR LED CAMPING LANTERN WITH 6 AA BATTERIES (BLACK, COLLAPSIBLE)
- KIJARO DUAL LOCK FOLDING CHAIR (IRELAND GREEN)
- BLACK & DECKER PPRH5B PROFESSIONAL POWER STATION
- COLEMAN ROAD TRIP PROPANE PORTABLE GRILL LXE
- COLEMAN BRAZOS COOL WEATHER SLEEPING BAG
- CAMCO 41541 PORTABLE TOILET – 5.3 GALLON
SUNDOME 4 PERSON TENT (GREEN AND NAVY COLOR OPTIONS)
Dimensions: 4’ 9” x 9’ 2” x 7’1”
Pole type: 8.5mm Fiberglass
Number of poles: two
Colors: 2 – Green, Navy
Weight: 10.25 lbs.
Warranty: 1 year
Promotional Price: Check on Amazon
This is a nice starter tent, which should not scare off the less experienced camper. We were heartened to find that this was actually very easy to assemble and did not take any longer than the advertised ten minutes to slot together.
Further brownie points are awarded for its overall durability and waterproofing. Now let us make this clear, this is not a particularly heavy duty tent. You will not want to choose this model if you are camping in extremely cold or wet weather (Click here for extreme weather tents). This is not to say that it can’t withstand a bit of rain though. It can. In spades!
Plenty of reviewers have given testimony to the fact that this has kept them nice and dry in sudden downpours and even heavy winds. It is just that it is perhaps not the one to weather epic storms, time after time.
Because of its low price (for a four person tent that is of good quality) this is something of a steal.
Other features we appreciate are the rain fly, helping keep the rain off, as well as the sun. There are storage pockets and an e-port to help you bring light to your canvas home.
The flooring is welded at the seams, to really help make sure that the outside world stays outside and no rain, moisture or dew seeps in. This helps make the interior extra reliable in our view.
HOME AND DRIED
If there’s a bit of a breeze – or even a howling gale – this won’t flop or fly away, because the Insta-Clip pole attachments have been designed to be wind proof.
Any complaints? No, not really, but it is as well to know that the side windows, which help ventilation, don’t zip closed. This might be an issue for some and is the reason we recommend it for milder weather.
Space wise, this definitely does fit four people, snugly. For two adults, it is luxury, though.
At the center, the height is a generous 4’11”, which means, yes, you’ll have to bend a little, but not to ridiculous levels and hopefully avoid the ‘canvas Quasimodo’ stoop that afflicts so many campers.
Finally, this comes with a generous sized bag for carrying and has been designed with backpackers – not just motorists – in mind. Also, it is easy to take down, which is good news, because when the rain is coming down hard and all you want to do is hit the road, the last thing you want to be doing is battling an undefeatable erection!
Definitely recommended for a spring, summer or early fall vacation (as long as you’re not camping in the North Pole!)
ETEKCITY 2 PACK PORTABLE OUTDOOR LED CAMPING LANTERN WITH 6 AA BATTERIES (BLACK, COLLAPSIBLE)
Dimensions: 7.3″ x 3.5″
Battery: 3AA 1.5V
Warranty: 10 years
Promotional Price: Check on Amazon
Let there be light! In fact, let there be up to twelve hours of continuous light, because with this perfect pair of camping lamps, you’ll never have to fight the darkness again.
Far superior to a mere flashlight, these camping lanterns produce an ultra-bright, pure white glow with a 360 degree distribution. And if you should burn through more than one, there are a generous thirty included low energy LED bulbs. And it comes with six AA batteries, so you literally have everything that you need to get out and get going, straight from the box.
With foldaway handles, which can be affixed either sideways or vertically, this lantern can be stood on the ground, or carried, or indeed suspended with ease.
At a little over nine ounces each, these are not heavy to carry and can actually fold down when needed.
LIGHTING THE WAY
Customers who have bought these lanterns are not disappointed and tales of changing tires by the light that one of these things kicks out, are regularly cited. And that is just using one of the lanterns – probably you would be able to light up a stadium using the pair of them!
Is it durable? Well they are ‘military grade’ and should be able to withstand the odd tumble and bump, the type of which is inevitable during a camping trip.
The manufacturer is so convinced that these will stay the distance that they are willing to put a ten year guarantee on them – we think they have good reason to have faith in their product.
Once you have got this lamp, your only real concern is going to be making sure that there are enough batteries to keep it going during your camping trip. However, these do last, at least, the twelve hours that they are advertised as doing. It’s possible the light may dim a little towards the lifespan of the battery, but since these are like carrying a small sun around, that is no great problem.
It’s not just camping trips these come recommended for, we would suggest that they are essential fare for any emergency kit, especially to keep in the car boot. You should not leave home without one! In fact, you should have one at home in case of power outages!
Need more to light your way? Check out our round up of best flashlights.
KIJARO DUAL LOCK FOLDING CHAIR (IRELAND GREEN)
Dimensions: 26” L X 35.5” W X 37” H
Materials: 600X300D RIPSTOP POLYESTER
Product Weight: 9.5 OUNCES
Supported Weight: 300 POUNDS
Warranty: 1 year
If you’ve ever been camping without one of these, then you’re never going to make that mistake again. Sitting on the floor over any extended period is decidedly not fun and will start to get uncomfortable pretty quickly!
Fortunately, you don’t have to rough it anymore because the world of folding chairs has upped its game a lot and now not only can you sit in comfort, but you can pack away quickly and carry easily with this Kijaro folding chair.
We particularly like the fact that you do not need to go through the rigmarole of trying to get this into its carry case just in order to shift it a few feet.
The dual lock system means that it can be locked in both the open and the closed positions. This means you can sit on it without fear of being sucked into some sort of vortex that seems to exist under – ahem – some camping chairs and, as we mentioned, you can carry this in ‘locked’ mode so you will not look as if you are dancing some kind of can-can with it, when all you want to do is whip it into the car boot.
This is not exactly heavy at a little over half a pound in weight, but it does weigh in slightly over some other models. This is because this one is actually very sturdy and can comfortably support weights of up to 300 pounds – which is more than ample for most people.
The giants among us can rest easy, literally, as people over six foot in height have attested to the fact that this is both comfortable and accommodating in the all-important leg room capacity.
With a mesh backing, this will keep you cool on a hot day and minimize the dreaded ‘camping chair clam’ that can build up over long usage in humid conditions.
Featuring two drinks holders, you should have plenty of space for all the refreshments or gadgets that you wish to contain in it.
Finally, the comfort test – is this nice and easy on your backside or a royal pain in the ass?
Happily, we think it is the former. This is a camping chair that you won’t want to get out of once you’re sitting in it, but crucially, you will be able to get out of it, without requiring the help of a crane!
BLACK & DECKER PPRH5B PROFESSIONAL POWER STATION
Dimensions: 15.2 X 6 X 13 INCHES
Features: USB port, Compressor, LED light
Peak Amps: 1000
Weight: 20 pounds
Battery: 12V, 17 AMP-HR SEALED LEAD ACID
Warranty: One year
You will love this portable charging unit so much you won’t want to leave home without it! In fact, you may well want to keep it about the house for power outages.
Camping no longer has to mean being away from home comforts and civilization – unless you want it to of course! This way you can take all your devices, power up your laptop, mend a puncture and keep your tires air pressure in tip top condition and a whole lot more.
If you prefer your cooking on electric, rather than camping gas, then this is capable of supporting a stove too.
Just make sure you keep this fully in charge – it requires approximately forty hours charging time – and that it still is in charge before you set off on your trip. Batteries of this type need regular maintenance – there’s no point in charging it once every year and expecting it still to work, in other words.
What we like about this is its versatility. You can jump a small car with this unit, easily. It also has an air compressor, so changing and pumping a tire is completely doable. It is also available to pump up all your inflatable camping beds and other such items like dinghies, rafts and fun stations.
The LED light on the unit means if you should need to take to the road, on a dark night, you should be able to see what you are doing quite easily.
All this and it is under a hundred dollars! For the money, we think this can do it all pretty much and do it decently.
On top of this, it is not as big and cumbersome as it could be. The footprint is relatively small and it should fit neatly into a car boot with no problems.
Well worth the price tag.
COLEMAN ROAD TRIP PROPANE PORTABLE GRILL LXE
Cooking Dimensions: 47” X 19” X 34”
Ignition: Instastart no matches!
Set Up: Easy, less than 15s
Weight: 44 Pounds
Warranty: 3 years
Naturally whilst on your camping adventure your thoughts will turn to food and a camping trip is not a camping trip without a camp fire or stove. The longer your trip is, the more you will want the comforts of hot food and all that a decent grill and stove can offer you.
Coleman are the doyennes of camping equipment and make a number of highly effective grills for camping.
We chose this one because at $119 at the time of writing, the price won’t break the bank.
This is not a tiny thing, by any means, but it is portable and it does fit onto wheels for easy and fast transportation.
Our testers also express relief to find that you can go from out of the box – as in, out of the box brand new – to up and grilling in a matter of twenty minutes or much less. Also it collapses down nicely and should be the perfect companion to your road trip.
It also has side tables which slide out when needed. We like this feature which makes it an easy place to store food when it’s done.
COOKING WITH GAS
But what does the food taste like on the Coleman Road Trip Grill? By all accounts, it is good, in fact, some of the best. Depending on your appetite there should be enough for three or four in one batch at any one time.
Grill, griddle, cook whatever you will, but if you like smoky charred grills and your burgers with flavor, then look no further.
The food that you can produce on this grill is so good that a lot of people simply purchase it for using at home – sometimes as their main grill – but also for barbeques and garden parties outside. Once you have used it, you probably will too.
Clean up time is not too long, although there is advice to tackle the fat on the grill before it hardens on cold – this is probably wise advice for all types of grill.
This is a propane gas grill, which gets good and hot – so take care please when using it. The cooking area is a generous 285 square inches, so there should be room to maneuver. Connecting the gas is not a problem and it shouldn’t cost the earth in gas refills either. Stove grates are available to purchase additionally.
COLEMAN BRAZOS COOL WEATHER SLEEPING BAG
Colors: Dark Blue
Size: 33” x 75”
Suggested Temperatures: 20F-40F
Features: Machine washable, light weight (5.4 pounds), 5yr warranty
Naturally, a decent sleeping bag is going to be the number one thing that you absolutely have to have on your list of camping essentials and this bag from camping giant Coleman should be all you need.
Because sometimes, getting to sleep at night in a strange place, on a hard floor, with terrifying insects can be a challenge to say the least. And some sleeping bags don’t exactly help either. The last thing you need is your zipper getting stuck, or having to launch yourself into some sort of combat situation with a sleeping bag that either won’t close or worse still, won’t open! Especially if you are inside at the time!
Well, you won’t have to worry about coming stuck, or unstuck with this – the No Snag patented system will ensure you don’t get the zipper caught, meaning it’s one less thing to worry about and you can simply curl up for the night and enjoy some quality zeds.
This ticks all the boxes you might need of it. It is suitable for the taller person, accommodating sizes up to 5’11” although people over six feet have said they can manage to squeeze in. The inside is nice and snug and will keep you warm in temperatures as low as 20F.
What we really like about this sleeping bag is that you can bunk up with a friend and zip two together for extra comfort.
Then, when you’re done with it, it rolls down a treat for easy storage and packing away.
And if you’re at home, or have the luxury of a camp bed and maybe don’t need to be all zipped in, then it can unzip fully to make a nice, light but snug duvet.
With five years guarantee, the manufacturers sound pretty happy with the night’s sleep that they believe you’re going to get…We can’t do anything about the terrifying insects (other than recommending you Repel 100 Insect Repellent) or your camp mats snoring though!
CAMCO 41541 PORTABLE TOILET – 5.3 GALLON
Features: Flushable, 5.3 Gallons capacity, light weight
Dimensions: 16.7″ x 16.25″ x 14.4″
Promotional Price: Check on Amazon
Well, here’s a delicate issue. We know that not everyone needs a portable toilet. Perhaps the campsite that you are going to has a perfectly decent toilet block and you won’t need this.
But if you’re going off the grid or maybe have a long trip ahead getting there and you don’t feel like performing your ablutions al fresco, then there is hope in sight.
Camco are a company that know their toilets and this nifty little number is small, but sturdy and most crucially won’t let you down when you need it.
ANY PORT IN A STORM?
Happy customers have praised this for not spilling or leaking, even when catastrophe seemed imminent. And it would seem that this polyethylene toilet can certainly weather a few storms, to put it delicately.
With a capacity of 5.3 gallons (this model) we feel this is adequate for daily emptying and should take your load with ease. The heavier amongst us can sigh with relief too, as you can be sitting pretty on this thing up to 330 pounds in weight. This should be adequate in most cases.
The tank detaches easily for emptying without any unnecessary fuss and if you are worried about odors – don’t be. This is no more likely to be a problem than any other unit and many people are far happier using their Camco portable toilet than they are using public washroom facilities.
This flushes properly using fresh water, not just chemicals and is reasonably comfortable to use, from the business end of things.
If your last encounter with a camping toilet was some time ago and it put you off them for life, we would urge you to give the Camco model a try because portable sanitation has come a long way since the bad old days.
Portable, light, reliable, this won’t let you down in your hour of need.