If camping is a great way to connect with a simpler way of living, why does it require so much stuff? Between coolers, tents, cots, clothes, and safety gear, the car is often completely full with just the essentials. What’s a gear junkie to do? We found eight essential pieces of gear that won’t take up a lot of space in your car, but they’ll bring you huge amounts of joy, safety, and comfort on your next camping trip.
YOUR CAMPSITE IS A PARTY
1. The checklist for features in a camping speaker is small, but difficult to find in one package. You want great sound, but it has to be compact, durable, and perform well outdoors. The Ultimate Ears Roll 2 is that speaker. This tiny little wireless Bluetooth speaker packs some seriously good sound, but that’s not why it’s perfect for the outdoors. First off it’s waterproof. Not kinda-sorta-it-can-get-a-little-wet waterproof, but completely-submerge-it-without-any-worries waterproof. The backside of the speaker has a bungee cord and clip attacked, meaning you can attach this little guy onto anything from your tent, to your snorkle, to your canoe paddle. And if you’re in still water, use the provided inflatible floatie to make a music raft that glides between you and your friends.
2. Camping photos can be tricky. Of course outdoor photos around a campfire can be beautiful, but you don’t want to risk dropping or damaging your cell phone, or especially your expensive camera equipment. This may just be the one remaining time when you want a point-and-shoot camera. Enter the LUMIX DMC-TS5 by Panasonic. It’s waterproof, dustproof, and freeze proof, with a durable shell that can stand to be dropped a couple of times. It’s Wi-Fi enabled, and can share your photo and video directly with your cell phone or tablet.
STAY WELL LIT
3. Ever arrived at your campsite and realized you forgot to check the batteries on your lantern? It should be fine, right? Those things don’t pull a lot of power, but for the rest of the trip you’re anxiously awaiting the moment that lantern starts to flicker and die. Say it with me: “Let go of the battery.” Luci by Mpowered is a 20 dollar solar powered lantern that lasts for 18 hours on a full charge and omits up to 65 lumens out of its 10 LEDs. It’s also portable and collapsible, making this a perfect campsite lantern.
4. Headlamps seem like a great idea, but in practice often let us down. They can be uncomfortable and don’t always cast the right amount of light to the place where you need it most. You won’t have these problems with the NAO PERFORMANCE headlamp. Designed for trail running, the three beam headlamp uses something they call “reactive lighting technology,” to sense the ambient light and adjust the brightness automatically delivering up to 700 lumens. Late getting back from your afternoon hike? NAO will light your way home.
KEEP YOURSELF SAFE
5. Clean water on the go is a must, but we hate the waste that comes with bottled water. Sure, you can fill a cooler with filtered water at home, but that takes up space and adds weight you don’t need to carry. That’s where the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System comes in. The whole thing consists of three pouches and a filter the size of a thumb, so it fits almost anywhere in your pack. Just fill a pouch from a water source, attach the filter to the top, and drink straight from the nozzle. You could pour it into a cup I guess, but c’mon. We’re camping.
6. The Eton Scorpion is a one of those devices you don’t know you need until you actual see it. At first glace it’s a solar charger, but it’s also a radio, Bluetooth speaker, flashlight, and a bottle opener. Even better for those days when you’re stuck in the rain with no charge left, it has a charging crank, so you can power up your devices in an emergency, and get a little work out in.
TURN YOUR CAR INTO A HOME
7. Cooking rustic meals over an open fire is one of the quintessential parts of a camping trip. But just because it’s a classic activity doesn’t mean we can’t improve it a bit. Skip the fire pit next time and pick up a BioLite CampStove 2. This wood burning stove uses fans to create a smokeless fire that’s so hot, it can boil water in minutes. It also has a battery pack on the side that runs the fans. Don’t worry about running out of juice, though, because it recharges using the heat from the fire. There’s also a USB port at the bottom which allows you to charge your phone or tablet, with or without a fire going.
8. Camping hygiene doesn’t have to mean rivers and a hundred pack of wet wipes. Road Shower mounts two water tanks directly to the rack on top of your car. You can choose from 4, 7, or 10 gallon tanks that provide you with hot or cold pressurized water. Hose off your gear and yourself right at your campsite, without taking up any space inside the car.