Whether you’re a first-time camper or a seasoned regular, there certain things that can make your camping life a lot better. A good coolbox for instance and a decent rug are two I always recommend. But camping gadgets can be a contentious subject – particularly amongst people who think that outdoor living should be technology-free.
I personally think a few gadgets can be very helpful – and they’re not all technology-based either. So, if you’re in the market for a few cool bits of camping based gadgetry, I’m here to help.
Everyone has their own must-haves, so as well as my own recommendations, I’ve been asking some other seasoned campers what they can’t live without – and what follows are the suggestions that came up most often.
I’ve only very recently been won-over to the world of solar powered gadget charging – my brother had one on our last family camping trip, and I decided to invest in one myself at Christmas. You need to spend a bit of money to get a decent one – mine was around £50, but the cheap knock-offs don’t seem to work that well. The Anker one we bought will charge two USB devices simultaneously and can juice-up a phone in just a few hours on a sunny day.
A more expensive option is the HUBi 10k (around £200) – here’s Shell from ‘Camping with Style‘ on hers:
“The HUBI 10k is hands down my number 1 piece of camping equipment, I simply wouldn’t be without it! It’s basically a portable solar panel and power hub and I’ve used mine year after year for the past 4 years, in fact I genuinely never camp without it. It provides not only power to charge all of my UBS devices but nifty little electric lights for the tent too. It’s not cheap, but it’s well worth the investment and means you never need to worry about your phone dying and means you also don’t need to faff around with battery-powered lanterns and torches.”
A decent axe
Assuming you are a keen campfire builder like me, you’ll want to invest in a decent axe to take away with you. Obviously I’m not recommending chopping down your own trees for firewood – most campsites frown on that, I’d imagine – the wood you buy at campsites can often be pretty massive. Having a good axe means you can shop those logs down to a more usable size, and can create your own kindling too.
A good solar/USB-powered lamp or two
If you’ve been reading my camping posts for a while, you’ll know I like to bang on about how you can never have enough lighting. But one thing I rarely mention is that most of our best lamps are either solar chargeable or USB-powered. Granted, you might need to carry a few USB power banks with you, but it’s a lot simpler than having to check your batteries every time you prep for camping, not to mention replacing them all every time you forget to turn the lamps off. Get a decent solar lamp and it’ll pay for itself in no time.
Multi-tools / Swiss Army Knife / Leatherman
When Astronaut Chris Hadfield travelled to Mir in 1995, he and his Space Shuttle crewmates used a swiss army knife to break into the space station. Which goes some way to telling you how it’s always good to have a multi-tool handy. I’ve not really got a preference on this front, but having a decent one on you can get you out of all sorts of scrapes and problems. The Leatherman Super Tool 200, for instance, comes with 18 different tools, including pliers, a mini saw, screwdrivers and the all-important bottle opener.
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A good camping stove or grill
There’s a HUGE spectrum of solutions when it comes to having some camping cooking equipment – from the basic travel BBQ, to a decent gas-powered stove and grill, right up to one of the “all-in-one” contraptions that looks like it was designed by NASA and will even charge your phone while cooking. Personally, we’ve got a fold-away BBQ for grilling and drunken-sausage-burning, and a two-ring camping gas stove – but I’m itching to try out one of the fancier ones.
The ultimate piece of camping wizardry is the inflatable tent – they’ve really taken off in the past few years (‘scuse the pun). Our traditional pole-based Hi-Gear tent is still going strong, more’s the pity, but as soon as it finally bites the dust I’ll be investing in an inflatable one. Without those pesky poles to put together, they reduce your erection time (*ahem*) quite significantly – maybe my wife and I will no longer have to start all our camping trips with an argument?!
Campfire cooking equipment
As well as a dedicated bit of kit like a stove, a lot of my camping friends have recommended taking along things like campfire pancake pans. My friend Morgan suggested a metal toasted sandwich maker. I’d never thought of this before, but have already added a toastie-maker to my Amazon wish list, and intend to revisit our pan collection too.
The main criteria seem to be that they’re made from good, tough metal so they don’t fall apart, and they have long handles so you don’t get too hot while using them! And don’t forget your marshmallow toasting forks, too – we have extendable ones!
What have I missed?
So those are my suggestions, but there are plenty of other great gadgets around that can enhance your camping trips. If I’ve missed your favourite, let me know in the comments below!