Gadgets make cushy comfort and tasty meals are the rule rather than exception in modern campgrounds.
All camping is fun, but having the right gadgets can turn an ordinary camping trip into remarkable days and nights outdoors. Humans have been using, creating, buying or bartering for camp gadgets since that first wooly bear rug was rolled out as a sleeping pad many moons ago. Today, many enthusiastic campers actually make trips to campgrounds and backcountry campsites to test, try and enjoy their latest camping toys. Life offers more than a tent and sleeping bag next to a glowing fire for those wanting a great time outdoors, so gear up with camping gadgets to spike your fun level. Old style camping (roughing it) has become a thing of the past. Gadgets mean cushy comfort, tasty meals and more of life's pleasures by your glowing campfire.
Ok, the first thing you have to decide is whether you'll hike with a backpack or drive to your camping destination. You'll have to reduce your gadget load should you be backpacking into a remote area because you'll need to shave ounces-and pounds-from your load. Don't be discouraged, however, because there are many gadgets in the following guide that backpackers will find worth the weight and space required to take the item into the backcountry.
Backpackers, Gear Up!
When you shoulder a pack to go camping, it's obvious that there are only so many pockets and inside pack space available for storing gear. Backpacks also offer only so many places to lash on extras, so gadgets are often limited by those constraints. You'll have to weigh the trouble to pack, and the additional weight to carry, the item versus the additional luxury that item will provide in camp. You should also think about your back and shoulders -- they do have limits.
Coffee aficionados will appreciate a cup of joe from one of the many modern camp coffeemakers available. This one fits over the eye of a standard 2- or 3-burner Coleman gas stove.
Among the top gadgets for backcountry camping is a coffee press. While cowboy coffee has some merits and is the stuff -- or liquid -- of legends, the gritty grounds turn many campers away from the cup. A press will work to separate the liquids and the grounds. Your options include a coffee press that fits inside a Nalgene bottle and a press kit. One of the best press kits -- complete with a see-through pitcher -- is offered by Starbucks, which can be found inside some Bass Pro Shop locations. The durable and easy to use kit retails for less than $20 and weighs less than one pound. You simply add the coffee to hot water, wait a few minutes, press, pour and enjoy.
Backcountry also means being away from reliable water sources. Yes, you must pump and filter any water used for drinking, dish washing, etc. There have been many changes in water filter designs and options in recent years. Look at Katadyn and MSR products, and remember to decide whether the product will supply water for only yourself or a group. There's a lot of difference between personal water filtering systems and the pumps that produce gallons of clean water.
Camping stoves that fit in a pack and weigh mere ounces have been around as long as gallon cans of Coleman gas. Today there are stoves that power with white gas, butane, propane and other fuels. The lightweight, compact models generally have folding legs, detachable fuel sources, and adjustments so you can simmer or go into full blown boiling mode. It's a good idea to test any new backpacking stove at home before a trip so you can learn the full operating details. Any stove you carry into the backcountry should be stowed in a padded storage bag so the stove is protected as you backpack.
Other backcountry gear to consider is a hiking staff, first aid kit, and a lightweight binocular. If you plan to have a fire, a folding saw is a must. Another option is a compass. These were widely used before GPS units were invented and are fun to use. One other great gear item to pack is a multi-tool. Pocket knives have met their match! If things go wrong, multi-tools are great survival tools, and can be used to make many in-camp repairs. Finally, no campsite is complete without a flashlight. You'll find numerous models and many small units with large light output. Look at the ones designed for hunters and you'll discover basic lights that are small, lightweight and bright.
Remember that space and weight are the big concerns when you shoulder a backpack, so select gadgets with care.
No need to forgo showers when roughing it these days.
Car Campers, Load Up!
If you want to camp in grand scale luxury, then start loading the car or truck. During this sour economic period, more folks are skipping resorts and motels and rediscovering camping. You'll discover so many new gadgets for vehicle-based camping trips that you'll plan more trips to try after you buy. Some of these gadgets are so nice that they can find double-duty in the backyard for cookouts and campfires.
At the top of the list is camp furniture. Sitting at an uncomfortable concrete picnic table is so yesteryear. Today you'll be overwhelmed as you explore your outdoor cushy furniture options. Many comfortable chairs, tables and complete benches with large table tops are available. No more sitting on dirty logs or kneeling by the fire. Hint: If you are going camping to relax, consider a recliner. Remember to buy chairs for the kids, too. There are several models to select from, and most fold for easy storage and transporting.
Just as backpackers can have great coffee, car campers can most definitely have great coffee in grand style. With a Coleman Camping Coffeemaker you'll forget that you've left home. The 10-cup unit looks just like the one you use at home and fits over the eye of a standard 2- or 3-burner Coleman gas stove. You can also opt for a stainless French press if you want less coffee. Should you also want to "rough it," opt for one of the Bass Pro stainless steel percolators. They range in sizes from 12- to 28-cup capacity and provide hours of entertainment when the coffee perks.
While the standard dark green, box-design Coleman gas stoves are still available, you will never see stoves the same when you explore what's available now. Entire cook units with griddles and warming spots, along with Roadtrip grills, will make cooking at any campsite a pure pleasure. You can also select from several oven models that will bake biscuits, breads, pastries and other luxuries. No more reason to cook over a smoky fire, and, yes, you can even bake s'mores. Meal preparation will also be easier with a cordless electric blender that will make any campsite come to life. One model from Coleman is rechargeable and powerful enough to chop ice. Plus there's less reason to head for home with such luxury gadgets ready to serve at the campsite. Camping, cooking and gadgets seems like the best of all worlds combined.
Lanterns have come a long way in recent years; shoppers will find many options from which to choose.
No campsite ever seems complete without a cooler. The available choices and features are nearly endless. The return of the time-tested Steel-Belted Cooler has been noted by many campers. The good news is that these units have latch-closed lids that help keep items cool for longer periods. No, the metal coolers are not approved as bear-proof containers, so if you're going to areas where bears are known to raid campsites, a bear-proof Yeti cooler might be in order. Some camping areas and campgrounds, like any in the Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, now require approved bear-proof food storage containers, or other areas provide permanent units. Know before you go.
Campers headed for the campgrounds will also find many new lanterns with more options than campsite choices here. Gas burning lanterns, battery powered illumination, and LED units are available. You can also find lanterns with radios built-in and lanterns with remote on-off controls. Lighting up the night can also be accomplished with the standard gas fired lantern, but you'll have to select from several colors and whether you'll need a 1- or 2-globe model.
The best news is that when you want to un-invite pestering bugs and mosquitoes from your campsite, you'll find that the same Thermocell used for hunting will also work around the campsite. If you want to be more upscale, however, consider the new Thermocell lantern. It will look great among your new camp furniture, grill and other camp gadgets. The most difficult choice you'll face will now be where to go camping.
Of course, no camping trip is complete without firestarters, cookware, eating utensils and other gadgets. So much has changed in the camping gadget category in recent years to help make all campsites more comfortable and inviting. Roughing-it is ancient history thanks to gadgets. Gear up and go camping!
Shop all Camping Gear.