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Camping has a very special power: RECONNECTING PEOPLE WITH NATURE. And this is even more true when nature gets harsher as your survival instinct kicks in and you have to rely on your knowledge and gear, and what nature can offer you. Believe us, that`s the best part! In any case you want to have the most suitable gear for your camping adventure, right? Then keep reading =)
TENT – Like every home worthy of respect your outdoors roof needs to protect you – from weather, temperature changes, animals… Take into consideration all factors coming into play during your trip like climate, capacity, terrain… when choosing the right tent for you:
- Tent Size – If you plan to tent on a multi-day hike, then go for extremely small and light; if it's for long-stay family camping trip in equipped campsites, then consider a spacious tent with more compartments.
- Tent Specifications – Think where, when and how you'll use your tent - Three-season tents are great all year-round in mild climates but not great in harsh Winter conditions. The bigger the rainfly, the more waterproof your tent will remain and the bigger the vestibules will be for gear storage (hence more room for movement in the tent). For Summer trips mesh windows will keep air circulating on hot days. Two doors are preferable to one single entrance and multiple storage pockets always come handy.
Our choice: Big Agnes
SLEEPING BAG – Like with tents, a good sleeping bag can provide protection and a good night’s sleep. Consider all main sleeping bag’s features such as temperature range, shape (mummy, rectangular, barrel) and fill (down vs synthetic):
- Shape - Mummy is usually for colder conditions (its hood and close-fitting shape helps heat retention) while rectangular allows more roominess if you're ready to compromise on reduced insulation and bulkier size; barrel shape sits in the middle, offering more foot room and moderate insulation.
- Material fill - A down fill has a fantastic weight-to-warmth ratio: it can be super light and incredibly warm. It's also very durable and compressible, perfect for backpacking and longer hikes. Don't get your down sleeping bag wet though as it will lose all its insulating properties – protect it and buy a good waterproof stuff sack. Synthetic fill keeps you warm even when wet, dries quicker and is much less expensive – unfortunately synthetic fibers are not as compressible and light as down and can be quite bulky. Not very durable as well if the fill is made of short stable fibers vs long continuous filaments.
Our choice: Kathmandu
SLEEPING PAD – Don't underestimate the importance of sleeping comfortable, especially if you’re very active during the day. Get a sleeping pad which fits your size and needs – think of the destinations and activities involved in your trip and choose your pad on the basis of its weight, cushioning and temperature range. Out of the 3 main types of sleeping pad (air, self-inflating, and closed-cell foam), air pads are particularly good for hiking trips because they are lighter, compact and warm – you might struggle with their high price though. Self inflating are also a good option, just less compact than air pads. The cheapest option out there with no danger of being punctured or ripped are the foam pads – they are quite bulky though so most people carry them outside their backpack. If hiking, look for a pad with integrated pillow baffle so you don't have to carry an extra item.
Our choice: Klymit - Quite an innovative concept in sleeping mats combining light weight and compact design with great comfort and insulation. Through body mapping research Klymit eliminates unnecessary material to reduce weight and size. Its holes or “loft pockets” allow your sleeping bag to retain its loft better, hence its insulation, as it won't be squashed between your body and the mat. The design is also very comfortable and great for side sleepers.
SLEEPING BAG LINER – This will provide you with few precious extra degrees of warmth and help keep your sleeping bag cleaner. Choose one which fits your sleeping bag size and shape and your desired warmth which is mostly dictated by the bag material (remember cotton doesn’t add warmth to your bag, it works well in hostels or backpacking accommodation to add a protection layer between you and your bed). Fleece is warm but bulky so better opt for synthetics (like microfiber or thermolite) products which are lighter and warmer. Silk is less warm but even more lightweight and compact, plus it dries fast.
Our choice: Cocoon – a micro-fiber liner, lightweight and compact which dries extremely fast and can add up to 5°F to the temperature rating of your sleeping bag.
LIGHT IT UP - A Torch/Flashlight is essential (head torch are preferred as they leave your hands free) – check all features (size, lumens or light output, distance reached, run time, adjustable strap and angle, battery powered or rechargeable) and choose the best for you. Our choice: Kathmandu
To light up your tent or cooking space buy a Camping Lantern. Battery powered are usually bulky and heavy so you better opt for a Solar powered inflatable lantern like this one: Luci (make sure it’s completely charged before leaving).
If you feel you can do without, then you can use a transparent bottle with your torch to amplify its light – it works!
- Equipped campsites usually come with equipped kitchens (with stoves, microwaves, ovens, freezers/fridges, cooking utensils) and with a supermarket nearby. Make sure to ask before leaving home because some campsite will ask for an additional fee to “rent” a cooking set. All you need to bring along is food - a great idea is to prepare all ingredients at home to make meal preparation easier and quicker (for example chop and pre-cook veggies).
- Camping in the wilderness needs much more planning. If weight is not an issue, then you can pack even some additional food – start with non-perishable ingredients such as canned items and any staple (sugar, spices, olive oil, coffee, tea, sauce, jam….), then move to perishable ones (vegetables, fruits, meat…). You want to make sure you can keep the latest refrigerated in your chilli bin/ esky/ cooler (use ice packs, freeze your food beforehand, and keep colder food at the bottom).
- Hiking camping trips get trickier: you really want to be as light as possible! Dehydrated food is the way to go for multi-day hiking. Also stock up on single serving packs (sauces/sugar/jams/salt and pepper etc) filling small reusable containers. Lightweight cooking gear is also essential – bring only the necessary and multi-use utensils – this is our selection:
Plates / Cutting boards / Cutlery / Cups all in one – Light My Fire
Camping Stove – Stryker
- Water filtration – Our choice fell on a Sip Water Filter (Life Straw) – a light-weight filtration solution to sip water directly from a water source. Eliminates bacteria and protozoa but not viruses. (really important is to check your trip destination for more info on potential water contaminations).
- Water purification - For completely purified water go for water purification tablets/drops, the easiest and lightest to carry (keep in mind it takes 30 mins to neutralize Giardia and up to 4 hrs to eliminate Cryptosporidium), or ultraviolet sterilizers, the fastest system - it only takes 90 seconds to purify water. However you need a prefilter for murky water and extra batteries.