Let’s face it. Camping. Is. Awesome. I am sure most of you will agree, especially if you are here, and reading this article! There are two main types of campers, though, and most usually fit somewhere in between the extremes. One type of camper is the super rough-it type. They like to go out with just the basics, perhaps just with a backpack, some water, a blanket and a knife, and brave the elements. Others like to go with full-on gadgetry, taking their movies and all the comforts of home they can cram into their trip, while simultaneously sleeping outdoors. We tend to be somewhere in the middle, and we know that there are many ways which you can upgrade your camping experience!
The Biggest First
We now live in a world of electricity. For nearly all of us, electronic devices are an integral part of our lives. But, it’s kind of hard to find a plugin in the wilderness, especially if you are traveling somewhere by foot. In comes one of our favorite power banks ever. For those of you that don’t use one, a power bank is basically an external battery that can charge all your devices. The SOS20k, though, takes that to a whole new level. This battery has 20,000mAh of storage power, which is enough to charge your phone about 7 times.
Cool right? It gets better, as this bad boy can be charged by solar power as well. It’s waterproof and dustproof to IP67 standards, has silica gel armor which makes it shockproof, has 4-in-1 led lights that act as a flashlight, strobe and SOS light, and has a 50Kn steel carabiner to hold it to your pack. Simply put, it’s rugged, and it’s awesome. All your charging needs, even for an extended wilderness stay, can be met with this device. It’s also cool that it started from the frustrations of a bunch of hardcore hikers and campers, who thought up the idea, kickstarted it, and now have it available for the rest of us. Check it out here.
Can’t Live Without the Music
For some, this one is debatable, but for others, music is a must. It’s a bummer listening to music from your tinny device speakers, and most of the external speakers out there just don’t cut the mustard when taking that high tech outdoors. The second product (and that completes the list) that Roamproof puts out is a crazily awesome sounding Bluetooth speaker, the Macroboom. It has the same specs for water, dust and shock as the SOS20k, with 15 hours of battery life. You can also wirelessly daisy chain two of them together for stereo sound. It also can charge any device you throw at it, though not as long as the power bank. Oh, yeah, it’s solar charging as well.
Get Rid of the Grime
Taking a shower in the wilderness either takes packing a solar shower, which can take up a lot of room in your pack, or literally jumping in a stream or lake. If you are on the move and want to cut down on your pack weight, or just don’t want the hassle of setting up the solar shower and waiting (or you are camping with a group and privacy is an issue), then check out HyperGo Wipes.
They are basically shower wipes on the go. Marketed for athletes, we found they are absolutely awesome at wiping down when in the woods, and one wipe feels like you have literally taken a shower. On a weeklong trip, we didn’t feel the ick at all. Suffice to say, they can be a lifesaver. Also, they are unscented, hypoallergenic, and biodegradable. Easy fire starters as well, once they dry out.
The Most Useful
Everyone knows that you need to take a knife when camping. Good for innumerable things, the knife should be the best tool you take. There is, however, a better option, which is a multi-tool. We all know about the knives that have toothpicks and tweezers and can also be used to file your nails. A good multi-tool, though, can replace pretty much an entire toolbox in one package. We absolutely dig the SOG PowerAssist S66, which has more tools on it than you can shake a stick at. Read the manual that comes with it to find out just all what it can do. It will surprise you.
The Gourmet in Us
Venturing out for the day to take an awesome hike is nice, but coming back to camp and making a hot meal is something to look forward to. There are some great ways to cook in camp that are light as well. The BioLite Campstove is amazing. It’s a camp stove that uses the thermal energy from the fire to charge any USB device. It can boil 1 quart of water in less than 5 minutes, and is about 2 pounds in weight. Add the campstove grill to it, which is also less than 2 pounds, and you have yourself a gourmet cooking space.
Take it one step further and add the BioLite Flexlight to it, which can plug into the Campstove itself, and you now have a lighted cooking area, including having enough light to eat by afterwards. It’s a pretty cool setup and is small enough to pack in your backpack. Check out their website at here, there is a whole bunch of useful and neat camping equipment there.
Take It Easy
Not much is better than swinging in a hammock. There is a new trend in camping, which ditches the tent, and is hammock only, and we like it! Most people don’t know, though, that not all hammocks are made equal. While there are many brands out there, one that we like is the Blackbird XLC, by Warbonnet Outdoors. It fits people up to seven feet in height, has an option for rain covers, winter cover, single or double-layered fabric, multiple types of suspension, and is generally the most comfortable thing you will ever lie in outside of your bed. It is truly a tent replacement, and depending on how you kit it out, packs up very small and is very light. It will hold up to two hundred and fifty pounds for all you bodybuilders out there, so not to worry.
Coffee, Coffee, Coffee
So, admittedly, one of the hardest things for many people when going camping is giving up that morning cup of joe. Not anymore. Not when some genius came up with a portable (and perfect!) coffee maker. The Hario V60 is dead simple, yet brews up a fantastic cup of coffee. Just take a tin of freshly ground beans with you, and either the ceramic or the metal V60. Put it on top of your cup, add filter, coffee, and hot water, and you will be amazed at just how good of a cup of coffee you can have sitting next to a campfire. It has won all sorts of awards, and has a rabid following among campers. FYI, you can make a little coffee kit out of a regular round tin, keeping the grounds in the bottom, a collapsible cup on top of them, then the filters and the v60. It fits very nicely together, and seals up when hiking. If you don’t have the space in your pack, punch a hole in the side of the lid and top of the coffee can, and thread them together on a keyring. You can then clip it to the outside of your pack with a carabiner. Trust us, it works.
Get Out There
As you can see, camping has come a long way since canvas tents and wood pole frame backpacks. Space age materials, super useful gadgets and human ingenuity have teamed up to make the camping experience easier and, at the same time, even more satisfying.
These are just some of our favorite camping accessories—give us a shout and let us know what cool things you have found to take with you!