Camping gear to buy for your next trip Leave a comment


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For many families in the U.S., it’s time to hit the road for highly-anticipated summer excursions as more and more campsites, parks and nearby restaurants and gift shops open their doors for travelers again. But, just like beach towns, amusement parks and several other hot summer spots are packed to the brim with tourists and locals alike, making wait times for just about anything longer than you may expect. 

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National parks and campgrounds are no exception—Arches National Park in Utah is on its way to having its busiest year ever and Yellowstone National Park already saw a record number of visitors back in May. Before making your way to the great outdoors this summer, it’s best to come as prepared as possible with the right hiking and camping gear. That way, you can avoid any unnecessary pit stops and spend more time with your family sightseeing and creating new memories. 

1. An America the Beautiful parks pass to save on visiting parks throughout the year

If you’re planning on visiting just a few of America’s national parks, The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands pass is well worth the initial cost for access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the U.S. for one full year after purchase. The pass covers more than just the entrance fee—it waives standard amenity fees and day-use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle. Even more, there’s no limit to how often you can go to a certain park within that year, meaning you can spend several weekends during the summer in your nearest national park or other federal recreation sites.

To put this into perspective: Admission to the Grand Canyon is $30 per vehicle permit or $20 per individual entering by foot, shuttle bus or other Grand Canyon transportation service for seven days. This $80 annual pass will cover unlimited visits to the Grand Canyon as well as any other national park or federal recreation site—so if you’re planning on visiting more than one park, or planning on going back for more, this pass can save you time and money. This park pass is an exceptional value, even for infrequent park-goers. 

Get the America the Beautiful Annual Park Pass from the National Park Service for $80

2. A self-inflating sleep pad for a better night’s sleep

While a good sleeping bag can help you get a good night’s sleep while camping, it might not cut it for light sleepers or those who just need a little extra comfort at night. A self-inflating sleep pad or mattress that’s easy to stow in the car could be the secret to a restful sleep after an arduous hike.

Look out for a sleeping pad that features a thick, insulated foam that’ll keep you comfy and warm. Therm-a-rest’s Basecamp self-inflating foam pad does just that, promising to provide warmth throughout all seasons while providing a thick pad that’s kind on the back. As an extra plus, it also quickly inflates thanks to the large barrel valve.

Get the Therm-a-rest Basecamp Self-Inflating Foam Camping Pad at Amazon starting at $79.95

3. An Audible subscription for long car rides and waiting lines

The pandemic has drastically affected traffic patterns, and while some roads are lighter thanks to the shift toward remote work, many major interstates like I-95 have more traffic than previously seen. With more Americans back on the road for summer vacations and trips, it’s best to assume you may hit traffic. And even if you experience light roads, you may end up waiting in a long line just to enter the national park or camping ground.

Keep the whole family entertained along the way or while waiting in line with an audiobook. Audible has an extensive collection of best-selling books like “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Where the Crawdads Sing”. You can even try the audiobook subscription for free for 30 days.

Get a Free 30-Day Trial of Audible

4. An insulated water bottle for ice-cold water all day

From the car ride to the campground, it’s important to stay hydrated during your entire trip (despite the annoyance of frequent bathroom breaks). Out of all the water bottles our team has tested in our labs, we found the Yeti Rambler Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle is the best choice for outdoor use. It’s easy to grip, includes a wide mouth to drink out of or pour into pots or pans, and features double-wall insulation that will keep your water ice-cold virtually anywhere, whether it be in a hot car or during a hiking trip.

Get the Yeti 26-ounce Rambler Bottle with Chug Cap at Dick’s Sporting Goods for $39.99

5. A portable coffee maker for quick, quality coffee on-the-go

To save time and spend more of your morning in the great outdoors (rather than a local gas station or corner store), we recommend packing a portable solution to your morning coffee that can help you brew a good cup of joe. There are several options when it comes to portable coffee makers, from French presses and pour-over makers to Moka pots and AeroPresses.

Senior staff writer for kitchen & cooking Valerie Li Stack notes that the backcountry community raves about AeroPress. If you’re can’t live without your cold brew, the AeroPress Go Travel Coffee Kit can make cold brew in around 2 minutes, along with your classic hot cup of coffee in just one minute. 

Get AeroPress Go Travel Coffee Kit at REI for $31.95

6. A spacious backpack that saves you from back pain

When it comes to long hikes or walking out to the perfect camping spot, make it a priority to find a backpack that’s comfortable to wear for hours. While you could bring a tote or a regular shoulder bag, you’d be better off evenly distributing the weight onto your back to avoid any back pain.

With over 700 glowing 5-star reviews, the North Face Borealis Backpack is a great choice for casual hiking and camping. The mesh back panel adds comfort and breathability and several pockets and sleeves for smart storage. For something more rugged, the North Face Terra Backpack is made for “off-the-map comfort” with a lift system that doesn’t add extra weight to your pack.

Get the Borealis 18 Backpack at The North Face for $99

Get the Terra 55 Backpack at The North Face for $169

7. An ultra-insulated, bear-proof cooler to keep your goods cold and safe

A cooler is an absolute must, no matter if you’re staying at a campground or going for a half-day hike. (Who doesn’t want to come back to the car to ice-cold drinks and snacks?) Keep meats, produce, drinks and other perishable products at a safe temperature with a cooler that means business.

At Reviewed, we love the Yeti brand for its insulated water bottles and beyond. The Yeti Tundra 35 Cooler is another phenomenal Yeti product that features its serious insulation power. The chest cooler features a three-inch-thick insulated wall for maximum protection to your refrigerated items. The cooler—along with Yeti’s other hard-sided coolers—was tested by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC), a U.S. Forest Service Department of Agriculture Committee, and met all qualifications necessary to be officially approved for use on land where grizzlies are present. Some parks—like Yellowstone—even require food storage to be in IGBC-certified coolers, so this is an investment worth making.

Get Yeti Tundra 35 Cooler at Lowe’s for $249.98

8. A car mount to follow directions with less distraction

Navigating to your destination via your smartphone can be ultra-useful—but it can be just as distracting. Looking down at the phone in your lap or hand is dangerous (and illegal in some states) while driving, which is why you should consider installing a car mount. You can easily follow directions with hands-free navigation that’ll help you keep your focus on the road. This one from iOttie is a great choice because its compatible with several different smartphone brands and stays put on your window thanks to the strong suction.

Get the iOttie Easy One Touch at Amazon for $24.94

9. A car charger for the road trip there (and back)

While phone use might not be a top priority in the mountains or at a national park, there’s no harm in keeping it charged up to snap some gorgeous photos. Plus, if the car ride is a long one, or you happen to get stuck in traffic, you’ll want a fully charged phone to keep you entertained with games, podcasts, music and more. The Anker PowerDrive III Duo is the best car charger we tested with two USB-C ports and ultra-fast charging technology, powering up a smartphone to 99% in just an hour and 17 minutes. 

Get the Anker PowerDrive III Duo at Amazon for $37.99

10. A rain jacket for when the weather doesn’t cooperate

Don’t let a little rain put a damper on your hiking plans—as long as the park or rangers deem it safe to hike or camp in the weather, take advantage of the day and come prepared to ward off the water (plus, you may be able to beat some crowds this way).

No matter if you’re an infrequent camper or veteran of the trails, investing in a waterproof and weatherproof jacket is a very good idea, as Mother Nature can be unpredictable. REI’s Co-op Rainier Rain jackets are totally waterproof with two and a half layers of material that also keep wind gusts from giving you the chills. Reviewers on REI swear by this jacket, citing that it performs well against rain and wind, all while feeling lightweight for the summertime.  

Get the REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket for Men at REI for $89.95

Get the REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket for Women at REI starting at $44.83

11. A bottle of bug spray to stay safe from bites

You can’t escape bugs in the great outdoors—but you can do your best in preventing bites, especially in areas where tick-borne and mosquito-borne illnesses may be prevalent. Before you start your hike or enter the campgrounds, apply an insect repellent and reapply in accordance with the bottle’s directions. The Repel Sportsmen Formula Pump Spray Insect Repellent keeps mosquitoes, ticks and other biting bugs off your skin.

Before you leave for your trip, you can also treat your clothing with a permethrin spray. This strong repellent meant only for clothing and shoes provides an extra boost of defense from mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illnesses. 

Get the Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Pump-Spray Insect Repellent at REI for $7.95

Get the Sawyer Permethrin Pump Spray at Walmart starting at $9.97

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.





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