Camping Gear Buying Guide
by Staff Writer
Whenever you pack for a trip of any length, you may worry that you're going to forget something. Getting camping gear together can be more stressful than packing bags for other trips because many pieces of outdoor equipment are essential and difficult to replace. Let us help you calm those fears with our camping and outdoor checklist. Camping and exploring the outdoors are some of the best ways to spend your time. Because camping is so popular, you have many choices when shopping for outdoor camping gear. Allow us to help you sift through camping gear and choose the very best camping supplies and outdoor gear for your adventures.
Buying Camping Gear
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- The checklist
Before buying outdoor equipment and camping supplies, consider this basic camping equipment checklist. Of course, additional items will enhance your camping and outdoor experience, but these basics will get you started:
A great tent is a very important camping equipment purchase. Don't waste your money buying just any cheap tent. If you select a tent that isn't suitable, you'll end up regretting it and will probably spend more money to compensate than you would have buying the right tent the first time. The type of tent you buy depends greatly on where and when you camp and the number of campers you'll have.
Choosing the Right Tent
Weight and pack size: Car campers can feel confident purchasing any size or weight, including a family-sized tent for 10 to 12 campers. If you are backpacking, you need a lighter tent. Most three-season tents range from 4 to 9 pounds.
Style: Tents all have three basic components: poles, canopy and rain fly. How they are arranged depends on the style. Tent styles include single- and double-walled tents, A-frames, dome tents, hoops and tepees.
Season: Know when you plan to camp and consider the season. Convertible tents are for four-season use; summer tents aren't very versatile if the temperature drops; mountaineering tents are designed with extreme temperature changes in mind; and three-season tents, the most common, are for summer, spring and fall.
- Sleeping bags
Your sleeping bag is going to be a valuable piece of outdoor camping gear. You will need to choose between different types of insulators in sleeping bags, as well as sleeping bag designs. A down-filled sleeping bag will be a little more expensive but will last two to three times longer than synthetic-filled sleeping bags. Down sleeping bags are very soft and have a great warmth-to-weight ratio. Synthetic-filled sleeping bags are very convenient because they are machine washable and dryable. Synthetic sleeping bags are easily warm enough for summer camping. Certain sleeping-bag features will also add to the warmth and comfort of your camping experience. Hoods add tremendous warmth around your head, and draft collars prevent heat loss around the neck.
When selecting a backpack, decide which type you are in the market for. Do you need simple bags to carry snacks, special outdoor gear for backpacking or hydration packs for hiking? Backpackers should look for a large enough backpack to carry all of their outdoor camping equipment. Remember that the more outdoor gear you can fit into your backpack, the heavier it will be. Frames should be comfortable around your hip bones. Many backpacks will have a frame-sheet across the back. A good backpack should remain flexible and transfer weight effectively. A quality back panel will alleviate the discomfort associated with a sweaty back. Some panels have grooves for air flow, while others have reticulated foam.
- Camp cookware
As your camping checklist comes together, it is time to move on to other outdoor camping equipment. Many outdoor cooking options exist. Camp stoves, cast-iron cookware and accessories for fire cooking are all great choices. Sleek, modern camp stoves make preparing meals as simple as a backyard cookout. The features you'll want to look for when purchasing a camp cooking stove are entirely up to you. Push-button ignition, flame-control adjusters, self-cleaning fuel jets and advanced mixtures of fuel for ease-of-use in the backcountry are just a few of the features to look for. Since camp stoves are relatively new on the scene of camping cookware, you've probably heard everyone brag about the amazing hot dogs and marshmallows they've cooked over the fire. You've also heard about the delicious cobblers served right out of Dutch ovens. Cooking over a fire is simple, and the results can be very delicious. Basic supplies include roasting sticks, pots, pans and grilling plates. Solar ovens and Dutch ovens also make campfire cooking fun and easy.
- Camp gear
High-quality camping gear will bring comfort and convenience to your camping trip. Whether you drive out to remote locations and create a camping site or camp in designated camping areas, finding a place to sit in the warm glow of the campfire is an adventure in itself. Camping chairs make setting up a comfortable spot quick and easy. Many camp chairs include drink holders and arm rests so that you will have convenience even when you're "roughing it." Folding camp chairs are easy to store and pack in a car to bring along on your camping trips and outdoor activities. Camping chairs are also perfect for the beach. You can also bring along the warmth of a camping heater and the comfort of a camp cot. These pieces of camping gear will make sleeping in the great outdoors almost as comfortable as sleeping at home. Remember to pack a first-aid kit when you're preparing for a camping trip. Even small injuries need special care when you're spending time outdoors.
Cooking outdoors can be just as much fun as trying new recipes in your kitchen. An arsenal of camp cookbooks is perfect for whipping up gourmet meals outdoors. Just because you're camping doesn't mean that you can't eat well. If you're running around outdoors, you and your companions will definitely need the energy from a good camp meal.