Editor’s note: We got the lowdown on car camping gear from the camping experts at Huckberry. Managing Editor Zach Pina
Let’s face it — we weren’t all cut out to be champions of the Appalachian Trail. Furthermore, a love for the wilderness shouldn’t have to mean stripping one’s existence to the bare essentials for a weekend in the woods. Translation? You’re not less of a man for bringing along the car on your next camping trip. You’re less of a man for forgetting to bring the essentials. Thankfully, since we’ve got ample space in the back of the SUV, I’m less worried about cutting weight, and more focused on practicality — pledging to bring some (but not all) of my favorite creature comforts for a relaxing weekend in the woods.
The Big Things
1. The Stove. Biolite Basecamp. All camp activity is always centered around one of three things: the tent, the food, and the fire. Make sure the latter is as efficient and capable as possible — because being overly dependent on a fire during a National Forest burn ban could lead to disappointment come dinnertime. I’m a huge fan of Biolite Basecamp — which will also handily use the stove’s kinetic energy to charge anything that’ll fit in its USB port. Kill two big camping birds with one seriously efficient stone.
2. The Tent. Nemo Equipment Wagontop. A month or so ago, I was wrestling with my two-person tent in a wet, bone-chilling windstorm. Across from my bike-in campsite was a larger group of folks who’d clearly driven all their essentials to the spot, quickly pitched their fortress as a team, and were now cooking dinner in its expansive, fully sheltered veranda. In that moment, I realized that there’s a time and a place for every type of camping, and in this particular instance, I’d chosen wrong. That’s why I recommend the Nemo Equipment Wagontop — a spacious, 69-square-foot shelter for four that pitches easily, and makes for the perfect forward operating
3. The Lounger. Kammok Roo. There are fewer things that feel more luxurious in the wilderness than an expertly positioned hammock. Even if you’re planning on tent-camping, keeping a Kammok Roo around the campsite will give you an extra option for lounging in the heat of the afternoon. Plus, it’ll make you the envy of whomever wanders through your campsite before dinner.
4. The Lighting. Tikka Headlamp. Campsite lighting is critical — and not just to keep you from finding your way to the latrine in the middle of the night. It can also really help set the mood, and make your campsite the coziest, most inviting spot in the woods. I have two favorite options: first, and probably most important, is the Tikka series of headlights from Petzl. Keep one perched on your forehead for easy, hands-free lighting, or hang it in your tent while you get cozy in the sleeping bag for warm, tent-filling light. Then there’s the Feuerhand Lantern — an ultra-classic steel lantern that delivers clean and warm lighting. Perch it on a picnic table or suspend it over your site and watch the #campvibes roll in.
5. The Pack. Topo Designs Klettersack. Even though you won’t be schlepping all your gear from trailhead to campsite, it still helps to have a versatile daypack for day hikes around your actual campsite. Keep this one relatively small — no larger than 20-25L, with just enough room for water, snacks, a camera, towel, and maybe a change of clothes as needed. I’d recommend the Klettersack, which will carry all this with ease, while maintaining an ultra-classic trail aesthetic.
The Little Things
6. The Warmth. Rumpl Paria Blanket. It’s hard to pin down the most used piece of summer camping gear between my fiancee and I, but the Rumpl Paria Blanket would definitely be a front-runner. Perfect for picnicking, stargazing, or just using instead of a sleeping bag for cowboy camping, keeping one or two of these in the car or daypack at all times is a must.
7. The Beverage Container. Falcon Enamel Mugs. Fill your mugs with coffee in the morning, then rinse ‘em in the river in time for whiskey and wine in the evening. Luckily this camp essential is sold in pairs so you can be sure to bring one for you and yours.
8. The Portable Tunes. Nudeaudio Super-M. Opinions may vary when it comes to sound pollution in the wilderness, but I think there are few soundtracks cooler than mixing your favorite bluegrass tunes with the babbling of the river and the lazy amble of the campfire smoke. The Super-M speaker is perfect for camping — rugged, exceptionally mobile, and capable of warm, robust sound without overpowering the neighbors.
The “I Can’t Believe I Didn’t Think of That First” Things
9. The Seats. Wood & Faulk Camp Stools. Forget camp chairs — these amazing leather and ash hardwood stools by Wood & Faulk count amongst one of the neatest options I’ve ever perched upon around the campfire.
10. The Emergency Light. Uco Stormproof Match Kit. Someone always forgets a lighter. But better than a lighter is a sturdy strike-on-canister of Uco’s stormproof matches, which will faithfully light, even after having been submerged in water for 15 seconds. Even if you always bring a lighter, keep this survival essential handy.