Camping can offer an amazing way to immerse yourself fully in the beauty of the natural world and can typically be a much more affordable vacation option than staying in hotels. But whether you're wild-camping solo in the hills and forests, or you're heading to a proper, managed campsite with your family, there are some key pieces of equipment you need to consider to make your experience that bit more comfortable.
Here are the items I've found to be great for short camping trips. If you're heading into the wilderness, make sure you're wearing aand taking all steps to ensure your safety. It should go without saying, but wherever you camp, make sure you're following any local regulations, that you only make campfires in safe areas and that all litter is properly disposed of. Leave no trace.
I've never been a fan of solid or stainless steel water bottles as even when empty they still add weight and take up space. Vapur's flexible bottle has been something of a revolution for me though, as its paper-thin walls fold down to almost nothing when empty, slotting comfortably in a backpack side pocket until you find a source for refilling.
When full, it holds up to 1 liter (35 ounces) of liquid, and despite its thin design, it's foldable, freezable and even dishwasher safe. The built-in carabiner clip makes it super easy to attach to the outside of your bag so a refreshing drink is never far away.
The Helix lamp's packable design allows it to squash down to something that will comfortably sit in the palm of your hand, making it an easy option to chuck in your backpack for a camping mission. When expanded, it's able to put out a powerful glow that's great for hanging up and illuminating the inside of your tent.
It's water resistant and rechargeable over micro-USB. Its battery offers up to 6 hours of usage on max brightness or up to 110 hours on low power mode. It can also put out a red light, which uses even less energy, offering up to 200 hours of use.
MSR has become a respected name in the camping industry for a reason; its products are well thought-out and built for a rough-and-tumble life. After many adventures with my Windburner stove, it never fails to perform. It connects via an external pipe to standard screw-fit camping fuel canisters, but that pipe means the stove itself can be positioned more easily for stable cooking.
It's powerful enough for quick boiling water for coffee but is fully adjustable for longer, lower simmers too. While it works with any pan, it's designed with MSR's own Windburner cookware in mind, which has ridges that fit around the stove, offering more stability while also minimizing heat loss through wind. Its feet fold in for easier packing making it great for backpacking, but it's just as at home on family campsites, frying up the morning's bacon.
This two-person tent is extremely light, with a total packed weight of only 3 pounds, 6 ounces. That makes it great for backpackers among you who plan on strapping your tent to your back to hike to your location rather than simply pull it from the trunk of your car. It's easy to set up too, with color-coded poles and simple clip mechanisms that allowed me to put it up on location without any fuss at all.
It's roomy inside, with plenty of space for two, with additional room for luggage underneath the outer sheet. Better yet, it's made from recycled materials, including a 100% recycled outer fabric, so you can sleep easier knowing you're not harming the environment while sleeping in it.
The Moonlite chair's lightweight frame and almost pocketable pack size gave me concerns about its ability to support me on a camping trip -- after all, I'm 6 foot 2 inches and, ahem, slightly overweight. But this was no issue; despite its diminutive size, it coped with my bulk without any cause for concern (it actually supports weights up to 300 pounds), and I found it to be surprisingly comfortable as a campfire chair.
Its aluminum frame comes apart for easier storage, and its innovative ball-and-socket construction system makes it quick and easy to put together and take down. The mesh that forms the seat conforms to your body shape for a more supportive experience, and it's made from 100% recycled materials too.
When I took the Tensor pad out of its packing bag, I was concerned. Surely, this paper-thin material wasn't going to provide much in the way of comfort? But I needn't have worried. It inflates to 3 inches thick, providing a comfortable and supportive surface that worked well for both side and back sleeping. It's insulated too, helping keep the cold ground from sapping away your body warmth through the night.
Its tiny pack-down size makes it another great option for wild camping or backpacking adventures as it fits so easily into your pack among your other gear but doesn't require you to sacrifice comfort on arrival.
With its 55-liter capacity, LowePro's PhotoSport backpack is capacious enough to cram in all of your camping essentials, while its adjustable back system and thick, padded straps make it comfortable to wear even when fully loaded. And while this pack can be used as a regular trekking backpack, it also comes with zipable camera inserts to make it safe to carry a camera and lens into the wilderness with you.
There are external mounting points for tripods, pockets for hydration bladders, and a handy storage section at the bottom of the bag for sleeping pads, sleeping bags or jackets. It's a great option to consider if you're particularly keen on photography and hoping to snap some beautiful images of the natural landscape you're camping in.
Leatherman's multitools have adorned the belts of workers and adventurers for years, but the Signal has some tools that make it particularly suited for camping and other wilderness trips. Its ferro rod is used for lighting stoves or starting fires, its strengthened base acts as a hammer for driving in tent pegs, its long saw blade is great for collecting firewood while its safety whistle is a smart addition for those of you journeying into more tricky areas.
You'll also find tools like a razor-sharp blade (with sharpening tool), pliers with wire-cutting teeth and that all-important bottle opener. It's as robust and well-built as the rest of Leatherman's products and has a handy clip on the back so it can always be within arm's reach.