Camping offers a means of escaping the stress of civilization, allowing you to decompress with the help of nature. That doesn’t mean you have to leave all the comforts of home behind, though. Camping gadgets make communing with the wild a little more civilized.
Some camping gadgets allow you to keep your cell phone charged, while other devices provide stopgaps in the case of a backwoods emergency. Other helpful gizmos include straws that make even the nastiest creek water drinkable, emergency radios that keep you connected to the outside world, and bracelets that provide you with the basic necessities for survival.
If you’ve heard the call of the wild and are planning on heading into the woods, do some research to find camping products that are not only helpful, but also of high quality. Investing in well-made products will help ensure that your sojourn into the woods goes well and your gadgets won’t let you down when you need them most. Take a moment to review some of the best camping gadgets you can put in those extra pockets of your backpack.
- BEST OVERALL: LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Atomic Bear Paracord Bracelet (2 Pack)
- BEST CAMPING LANTERN: Vont 4 Pack LED Camping Lantern, LED Lantern
- BEST CAMPING STOVE: BioLite Campstove 2
- BEST PORTABLE SHOWER: Sportneer Solar Shower Bag, 20L/5 Gallon
- BEST EMERGENCY RADIO: FosPower Emergency Solar Hand Crank Portable Radio
- BEST MOSQUITO REPELLER: Thermacell MR3 Portable Mosquito Repeller
- BEST HEATED JACKET: DEWBU Heated Jacket with 7.4V Battery Pack
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Camping Gadgets
When shopping for camping gear to accompany you on your adventure, it’s important to consider such factors as the type of camping you’ll be doing, the length of your trip, the environment you’ll be camping in, and the risks you’ll be facing.
There are two types of camping to consider when purchasing gear: car camping and backwoods camping. Car camping involves a campground that is accessible to personal motor vehicles. Though you’ll be camping in a tent, your car is just a few steps away, making it easy to bail out should the weather change or an emergency arise. With car camping, weight and size aren’t much of an issue when choosing the gear you want to take with you.
Backcountry camping involves strapping on a backpack, tent, food, sleeping bag, and other essentials and hoofing it into the woods on a trail. Given that you’re carrying gear potentially miles into the wilderness over rugged terrain, the size and weight of your gear are major concerns. While taking a 12-pound double-burner camp stove or a couple of gallons of water with you for car camping may be just fine, hauling that weight into the backwoods is impractical.
This means that compact, lightweight gear is crucial for backwoods camping. With your car miles away at the trailhead, it’s vital to have emergency gear with you when backwoods camping. This includes everything from emergency food and water to survival kits.
Flashlights, stoves, and other devices need to get their power from somewhere. Options include gas, electric, and solar.
- Gas: Gas is ideal for camp stoves that need to deliver enough power to boil water. Even small camp stoves pack 10,000 BTUs of power from a small butane/propane canister. You will need to carry a supply of gas in with you. Though these canisters are relatively small and lightweight, their heft can add up over longer journeys.
- Electric: Lanterns, flashlights, portable charging packs, and emergency radios use electric power in the form of batteries. Battery technology has come a long way over the years. Today’s lithium batteries can provide more power and last as much as ten times longer than your standard alkaline battery. A powerful 25,000 mAh lithium-ion battery pack, for example, has enough juice to charge a smartphone four times. Batteries are relatively small and light, making them easy to carry with you.
- Solar: Some radios, chargers, and even camping showers use the sun as a power source. While the sun offers a limitless energy source, keep in mind that solar power only works when the sun is out. Your solar-powered gadgets won’t be of much use on cloudy days, under tree cover, or at night. Solar power is also much slower to provide energy than fuel or batteries, therefore it is primarily used as an emergency backup.
Access to Amenities
Camping means making some sacrifices, as you won’t have access to many of the amenities you may take for granted at home. While many car campgrounds have restrooms, potable water, and showers, backwoods camping depends entirely on what you bring with you, with the only amenities being those that you haul along. With that in mind, consider what you can’t do without when gearing up for your camping trip.
Length of Trip
The length of your camping trip will dictate what kind of gadgets you need to take with you. A more extended trip means you’ll need more batteries for flashlights or gas cartridges to power a camp stove. Determine how long your power sources will last and how many spares you’ll need to carry you through to your return to civilization.
A longer trip may also demand additional gear. For example, while a couple of days in the woods without bathing may be okay, you may crave a shower if you’re spending a week or more in the backwoods. This may make toting a lightweight solar shower with you a good idea.
Consider what you’ll be facing when you go camping. Higher elevations and colder seasons bring lower temperatures that require cold-weather gear such as heated jackets, wood-burning stoves, and firestarters. During warmer months, you may need gadgets to protect you from the sun, treat water, or ward off bloodthirsty bugs.
Safety and Risk Factors
Safety is always important when going camping. While car camping may be a low-risk activity given the accessibility of your car, backpacking inherently carries much more risk. An injury or extreme weather can leave you stranded in the backwoods with limited access to help. It’s also easier to get lost when backwoods camping. With this in mind, consider gadgets that fulfill basic needs, including devices that can filter water for drinking, devices that allow you to signal others for help, and wood-burning stoves that can keep you warm.
Our Top Picks
The list below includes some of the more innovative and useful camping gear you can add to your pack as you head out onto the trail.
This aptly named straw can be a real lifesaver when backwoods camping far from civilization and potable water. The LifeStraw can filter a staggering 1,000 gallons of contaminated water without the use of harmful chemicals such as chlorine and iodine. It uses tiny 0.2-micron filters that trap dangerous bacteria and parasites as the water is drawn through the straw, making the water safe to drink.
At just 2 ounces, it’s much lighter than iodine tablets and water purifying kits. You don’t even need a container. Simply stick the straw into the water and drink directly from the source. This straw requires no power source and has no expiration date. It comes in a sealed bag for easy transport.
Paracord bracelets aren’t new. They’ve been around for a long time and are a handy way to carry an emergency cord. But an emergency cord is only going to get you so far. Atomic Bear has integrated a whole host of life-saving gear into its version of this survival bracelet, including a flint and steel fire starter, a compass for navigation, a whistle for signaling rescue teams, an emergency knife, and 12 feet of paracord.
This bracelet comes in a two-pack with one black bracelet and one orange and black bracelet. Both bracelets are adjustable to fit a variety of wrist sizes.
Whether cooking under the stars or making a nocturnal nature call, visibility is crucial when camping. This powerful lantern will light up your entire campsite with 30 LEDs that broadcast light in all directions.
The lantern’s design makes it convenient to carry. It collapses into a small canister that fits easily into a side pouch, while its aircraft-grade aluminum construction adds durability. This tough lantern will survive drops of up to 10 feet or even being submerged in water. With a weight of just 10 ounces, it’s an excellent companion for weekend backpacking trips. It uses three AA batteries that provide up to 90 hours of run time. These lanterns come in packs of four.
Bring your own mini power plant with you on your next camping trip with this camp stove and wood-burning electricity generator. This camp stove generates 3 watts of electricity as it burns twigs and kindling lying around your campsite. It then stores this energy in a 2,600 mAh battery, which you can use to charge smartphones, LED lights, and other electronics with USB charging cables.
While it’s burning, it can also cook, allowing you to boil 1 liter of water in about 4.5 minutes. As it burns, an LED display lets you know the stove’s fire strength and electricity output. Aluminum legs keep it steady while a stand holds a pot for cooking. Internal fans circulate hot air for more efficient cooking. This innovative stove weighs about 2 pounds, making it an excellent option for backwoods camping.
Just because you’re going camping doesn’t mean you need to forego personal hygiene. This lightweight portable shower from Sportneer will keep you from offending your campmates. You don’t have to endure a cold shower either, as this bag will heat water to a toasty 113 degrees when exposed to about three hours of sunlight.
A temperature gauge on the bag lets you know how hot the water is, and an on/off switch on the showerhead prevents water loss between showers. With a capacity of 5 gallons, this bag provides enough shower capacity for the whole family. It features durable PVC construction that resists tears and stains and a convenient front pocket for shower accessories like a bottle of environmentally friendly shampoo. This shower bag weighs just over a pound when empty and fits in a convenient carrying bag.
In case of an emergency, it’s nice to have an emergency radio and power source that doesn’t rely on you having a full set of batteries or fuel for power. In addition to functioning off three AAA batteries, this radio will also work off two alternative power sources, including a solar panel and a hand crank. Both sources can create enough power to run the radio, lights, and its built-in SOS alarm on their own.
The 7-band radio can receive emergency weather information and news broadcasts. It also includes a 2,000 mAh power bank that can provide power for smartphones and tablets. Lighting features include a flashlight and reading lamp. This rugged radio is also water-resistant. It weighs about 11 ounces, making it a good option for backwoods camping.
Nothing ruins a camping trip like hungry mosquitos. But rather than slathering on oily DEET-based repellent, ward off those bloodsuckers with this portable mosquito repeller from Thermacell.
The MR3 mosquito repeller uses a fuel cell to heat a small pad that distributes bug repellent into the air, creating an odorless, invisible 15-foot bubble of protection from mosquitoes for up to 12 hours.
Weighing just half a pound, this device can easily slip into a backpack pocket to carry with you, making it ideal for car camping or backwoods trips. The MR3 comes with three pads and one fuel cell.
Stay warm during those chilly nights at the campground with this heated jacket from Dewbu. It features three carbon fiber heating zones located on the left and right sides of the chest and the mid-back. Three color-coded buttons allow you to adjust the temperature of the heat zones from low to high. A 7.4-volt rechargeable battery supplies up to 10 hours of heat.
In addition to its heating capabilities, this jacket has a water- and wind-resistant outer shell and is machine washable. It features multiple pockets on the front, back, and arms and a hat that folds into the jacket when not in use. This coat comes in a variety of colors and styles. Sizes run small, so make sure to check the sizing chart.
FAQs About Your New Camping Gadgets
If you’re wondering what gear is a must-have for your camping trip or how to keep your devices powered for the entire adventure, read on for answers.
Q. What are 10 essentials for camping?
Although there are many amenities that you can go without when camping, there are some things you shouldn’t leave at home:
- A compass, map, or GPS device
- Emergency food rations
- Emergency water treatment
- A dry change of clothes
- A first-aid kit
- Matches, a lighter, or firestarter
- A flashlight, lantern, or headlamp
- A multi-tool knife
- Insect repellent
Q. What is the best camping stove?
With its ability to cook your meals while simultaneously charging your smart devices, this technologically advanced camping stove from BioLite is one of the best you can buy.
Q. How do you get power when camping?
Power is essential to operate flashlights, smart devices, stoves, and other gadgets. Although you may be off the grid when camping, there are power sources you can take with you, including fuel, batteries, and solar power. Fuel canisters are the best way for running a camp stove, while batteries offer power for flashlights, lanterns, and headlamps. Solar cells allow you to harness energy from an unlimited source on clear days.