Here are 5 must-have items to make your camping or backpacking trip a little more comfortable and/or safe, courtesy of Kilimanjaro Gear expert Connor. He should know...he's spent hundreds of nights camping and many days backpacking!
Everybody has a few pieces of favorite gear. Some people have favorite tools, others have favorite dishes, still others have favorite clothes. For me, I have five favorite pieces of outdoor gear I have used time and time again. They never let me down and I never leave home for the backcountry without them.
1. Inflatable Pillow
In all my years of adventuring outdoors, this has been the best purchase I’ve ever made, hands down. For the first three years of camping and backpacking, I did without a pillow, resorting to balling up a jacket or using my backpack as a pillow. Both resulted in a restless night's sleep, as the jacket would flatten out and the backpack would create odd pressure points on my neck.
I finally gave in and purchased the 2.4 ounce Hyperlite camp pillow by Cocoon for only $30. I now refuse to camp without it as it allows me to have a much more restful sleep to be ready for the next day’s activities. Pick yours up at a REI near you or use the link here.
2. Goal Zero Solar Battery Pack
The Goal Zero Venture 30 pack is an amazing, waterproof, battery pack with a built in flashlight, USB cord, and battery level indicator. I take this pack with me everywhere I go to charge my phone and camera batteries.
The battery alone works perfectly for trips lasting 1-3 days. For longer trips I can bring the included solar panel to charge the battery during the day, to allow me to charge my devices overnight.
Not only is it fantastic for camping and backpacking; it also works well for traveling or power outages. I have taken it on every trip I have been on for the last 3 years. Pick one up here
3. The LumaVine
This is an amazing piece of gear. The LumaVine is lightweight, lasts long periods of time, quickly charges, and is versatile. This little lantern is a must-have for any camping or backpacking trip. No more fumbling with turning your headlamp into a lantern against a jug of water, or just putting up with no light.
I personally turn the lantern on its low setting and keep it in my tent at night so when I need to grab anything, light is already there and I don’t need to fumble with a headlamp (it makes for great night photography tent pictures as well). I also keep one in the trunk of my car attached to the inside of the hatchback so I have light while organizing gear for an early morning or late night climb. There are many possibilities with this little lantern and at 2 for $24.99, there’s no reason to not pick up a pair today. Click here for more info.
4. Down Slippers
Ahhh, nothing like arriving at your campsite and taking your boots off after a full day trekking in them. Wait, what do I put on now? Just wear socks? Flip flops? Barefoot? How about an incredibly comfy, warm pair of down slippers?
I picked a pair of these up two years ago and never leave the house without them. They are incredibly warm, have a durable underfoot to stay warm in the snow and comfortable on prickly ground.
I personally own the Baffin Base Camp Slippers which are compact, lightweight, and pack down small. You can pick up a pair for only $30 here.
5. Flint Stick
Last but not least, a piece of gear I never leave home without is a flint stick. There have been multiple times where I have been let down by wet matches and empty lighters and my reserve flint stick saves the day (or night I should say).
Flint sticks are lightweight, long lasting, virtually indestructible, and extremely cheap so there should be no reason not to own one. You also get some extra man (or woman) points for starting a fire with one of these. They can be difficult to use without practice, however, so definitely practice starting a fire with a flint stick before you REALLY need it. I have recently picked up the Survival Spark which has a built-in compass and whistle. At only $6.75, it’s too good of a deal to pass up. Find more info here.