Sure, you’re going camping to get away from your everyday responsibilities, to take some time in a stripped-down environment to recharge. But being out in nature doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable.
Read on for a list of some of the cool camping gear we’ve found to make your time in the natural world even more enjoyable, and a little easier, too.
1. BioLite Charge 80 Power Bank
Let’s say you’re car camping, but need to tie up some loose ends at work online. Or let’s say you’re hiking in the backcountry and want to be sure your phone stays powered up.
In both cases, the BioLite Charge 80 Power Bank should be a part of your gear. Capable of charging a 13-inch laptop, or keeping multiple smaller devices operational, the BioLite Charge 80 is convenient even when you’re preparing for your trip, since it can be fully charged in just four hours.
At a time when being out in nature can also include a desire to remain connected to the wider world, the BioLite Charge 80 Power Bank is a piece of cool camping gear that is exactly what you’ll need to keep an array of electronic devices charged up and ready to use.
With two USB ports, the BioLite Charge 80 Power Pack is capable of charging a couple of cellphones, or a cellphone and a laptop or tablet computer, at the same time.
Overall, a single charge on the BioLite Charge 80 Power Pack is enough to charge a single cellphone five times. Or, it can charge a tablet computer twice, or deliver a single charge to a laptop.
And don’t worry, the BioLite Charge 80 is rugged enough to withstand being bounced around in a backpack or kayak without any loss in performance.
- Automatic shutoff helps maintain power
- Slim design is convenient for packing
- Long-lasting charging capability
- Power level may be inconsistent
- Charging can take some time
2. AIMTOM Portable Solar Charger
In an interesting bit of synergy, it’s now possible to power at least part of your outdoor adventure with, well, the outdoors. Portable solar chargers, able to keep cell phones, cameras, and other electronic equipment operating, are becoming an integral part of camping gear.
Even backpackers and kayakers can now take advantage of solar technology, and our choice for one of the coolest pieces of cool camping gear is the AIMTOM Portable Solar Charger.
Folding into a thin package measuring roughly six inches by 12 inches, and weighing just under three pounds, the AIMTOM Portable Solar Charger will fit easily and lightly into a backpack. It can also be loaded aboard a kayak, or even tossed into the car for a weekend, or longer, of car camping.
Equipped with both USB and DC outlets, the AIMTOM Portable Solar Charger can keep the current flowing into two devices at once. Plus, this charger is equipped with protective features that ensure your battery-powered equipment isn’t damaged in the process of getting and keeping a charge.
- Puts out power even in partial shade
- Solar panels durably constructed
- Very convenient to use
- USB charging capability may be slow
- Junction box could be better protected
- Wattage may be lower than some users want
3. Fireside Outdoor Pop-Up Fire Pit
One of the simple pleasures of spending time in the outdoors is gathering around a fire pit, swapping stories, and otherwise building lasting bonds with family and friends.
But let’s face it. Sometimes, the fire pits in campgrounds and other public facilities may be dirty or in disrepair. Or if you’re out in the wild, you might not want to disturb rocks or other materials simply to craft a fire pit.
That’s why the Fireside Outdoor Pop-Up Fire Pit has made our list of cool camping gear. It allows for an easy and clean way to engage in one of the best rituals of outdoor living.
The Fireside Outdoor Fire Pit offers plenty of room to establish a crackling fire, in a burn area measuring two feet by two feet. Additionally, its legs extend to 15 inches, keeping the fire well above the surrounding ground. It also includes a heat shield plate to keep the fire from damaging the ground underneath it.
You can use the Fireside Outdoor Fire Pit with confidence because it meets all U.S. Forest Service and federal Bureau of Land Management regulations for fire pans. And, the fire pit’s aluminum and stainless steel components will keep this piece of cool camping gear free of rust for years of use.
The Fireside Outdoor Fire Pit is also among the pieces of cool camping gear because it can burn a variety of materials, including charcoal and store-bought fire logs, as well as wood. Also, it is designed to vastly limit smoke, making gathering around it a pleasure for everyone regardless of wind direction.
- Holds four or five logs at a time
- Cools off quickly after use
- Burns wood very efficiently, leaving little ash to clean up
- Set-up may not be as easy as some users expect
- Heat shield attachment could be better
4. BioLite Campstove 2 Wood Burning Electricity Generating & USB Charging Camp Stove
Solving two issues of life in the outdoors with a single device is what has earned the BioLite Campstove 2 a place on our compilation of cool camping gear. Serving as both a camp stove and a USB charger for your electronic devices, the BioLite Campstove two brings valuable diversity to your camping gear.
The rationale for the BioLite Campstove 2 is as wondrous as it is simple, and makes it a cinch as a choice for a piece of cool camping gear. It should find a place with anyone who loves the outdoors, but still wants a touch of modern convenience.
The BioLite Campstove 2 takes fire and turns it into electricity, all in a package that weighs barely two pounds and packs into virtually the same space as a 32-ounce water bottle. It also eliminates the need for carrying fuel canisters, and it can burn readily available and easily collected materials such as twigs, sticks, and pinecones.
In terms of electrical charging—you can also use the BioLite Campstove 2 as a source of warmth—this piece of really cool camping gear gives you the option of charging your cellphone, tablet, or other device while you’re preparing a meal, or of storing the charge in a battery for later use.
- Great for kayaking
- Operates quietly
- Lighting is quick and easy
- Grilling surface is sharp metal
- Using may be too much work for some people
- Instructions for use may not be adequate
5. Garmin inReach Mini 2 Interactive SOS
It’s been great news for a while that technology has caught up with the need for people visiting the world of nature to stay in touch with, or be contacted by, people who are interested in their safety and well-being.
The Garmin inReach Mini 2 Interactive SOS is a piece of very cool camping gear that has made our list of recommendations on the strength of its technological advancement in terms of providing a measure of safety and confidence for people enjoying the outdoor world.
Offering both two-way communication and tracking capabilities, the Garmin inReach Mini 2 is a piece of cool camping gear because it also offers interactive emergency signaling (with a required subscription) to keep both users, their friends and loved ones, and emergency personnel updated with the latest information in the event of a backcountry emergency.
Just one of the great features of the Mini 2 is its TracBack® routing, which can lead you back to your starting point in the event you become lost or need to return there as the result of unexpected events.
Also available on the Mini 2 is the MapShare™ feature, with which you can share your position with other people at a separate location. Similarly, the Mini 2 sends your messages with the geographic coordinates of your location embedded in them, as another means for people to track you in the event of an emergency.
Battery life, obviously crucial when the Mini 2 is being used in an emergency situation, also inspires confidence in this Garmin device as a must-have piece of cool camping gear.
Depending on the time for which it is used, and the mode in which it is being used, the Mini 2 can be used for as long as 14 days without recharging when the sky is in full view, or as long as four days when dealing with moderate tree cover.
- Easy to learn how to operate
- Great battery life
- Map feature provides for easy tracking
- Fees for service are somewhat high
- Not as easy to use as other Garmin products
- Could use icon showing satellite signal strength
6. Scrubba Wash Bag MINI
When spending time in the outdoors, having clean clothes is both a matter of comfort and healthful hygiene. The Scrubba Wash Bag MINI is a great way of staying clean and comfortable in the outdoors, and it may also be helpful for hotel stays. That’s why it’s on our list of cool camping gear.
While it won’t handle large mounds of clothes, the Scrubba Wash Bag MINI is ideal for keeping socks, underwear, and T-shirts clean. It’s a piece of cool camping gear that you should seriously consider packing with you whenever you take a trip into nature or even just a business or pleasure trip where you’ll be staying in a hotel room.
The Scrubba Wash Bag MINI features a patented design creating a washboard in a bag for keeping a few items at a time clean and fresh, and ready for wearing. It weighs just a few ounces and folds into a pocket-sized package that, makes it a no-brainer piece of cool camping gear for your enjoyment of the outdoors.
Complete with instructions printed right on the bag, the Scrubba Wash Bag MINI can clean its small load of clothes in anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. And in between, it can serve as a dirty clothes bag, or as a dry bag to protect other pieces of gear.
- Makes daily clothes washing possible
- Also a handy accessory for hotel stays
- Can also be used as a dry sack
- Don’t use with extremely hot water
- Instructions printed at top of bag may not be visible during use
- Should have scrubbing surfaces on both sides
7. Zesty Glow-In-The-Dark Parachute Rope Cord
If you’ve not heard of it before, the idea of glow-in-the-dark rope seems like a no-brainer for camping gear. Its uses are obvious in keeping campers aware of tent guy lines, clothes-drying lines, or any other rope assemblies in a campsite.
And that’s why the Zesty Glow-In-The-Dark has got our recommendation as a piece of cool camping gear.
Available in a variety of colors, including blue, green, red, and purple, the Zesty glow-in-the-dark cord gets its glow from exposure to direct sunlight. But it’s more than just a novelty around the campsite. As a parachute-style cord, this Zesty product is capable of supporting considerable weight.
- Glow lasts for hours
- Glowing activated by brief time in sunlight
- Rope is high-quality
- May not be as luminescent as some users expect
- Rope ends may fray easily
- Washing may affect level of glowing
8. Platypus 4-Liter GravityWorks Water Filter System
One of the basic needs for any camping, hiking, kayaking, or other outdoor adventure that goes beyond the limits of a canteen filled with water or a reliable fresh water source is a water filtration system.
There are a number of personal filtration systems on the market, but the Platypus 4-Liter GravityWorks system, a gravity-fed arrangement, is a piece of cool camping gear that can meet campsite needs for water beyond the strictly personal.
The GravityWorks filter system removes particles, bacteria, and other dangers, down to 0.2 microns in size, in a process of less than three minutes. All you have to do is put the unfiltered water in one four-liter bag designated for dirty water and hang it above the 4-liter bag for clean water so it passes through the filter.
Cleaning the GravityWorks system is similarly easy, requiring only that the clean water reservoir be placed above the dirty water reservoir to “backflush” and clean the filter on this item of undeniably cool camping gear.
The microfilter included with the GravityWorks system will filter up to 1,500 liters of water before needing replacement.
- Eliminates pumping to filter water
- Works in minutes
- Light in weight
- May be complicated for some users
- Multiple pieces can be a hassle
- Filters are expensive
9. REI Co-op Magma Trail Quilt 30
An emerging popular alternative to the traditional sleeping bag is the more versatile trail quilt. Among the quilts included in this trend is REI’s Magma Trail Quilt 30, which is among our choices for cool camping gear.
Designed for use with a sleeping pad, the trail quilt, when secured to your pad, is the equivalent of a mummy bag. But, with the trail quilt as part of your cool camping gear, you can adjust the warmth of your sleep as conditions change. You’ll also experience the warmth of a trapezoidal foot box in the goose-down-filled Magma Trail Quilt 30.
Also, in addition to the stuff sack included with your trail quilt, you’ll also get a mesh sack for storing this piece of cool camping gear at home in a breathable environment.
- Puffs up quickly from compressed storage
- Good weight- and space-saver for backpacking
- Comfortable for larger users
- Footbox stitching needs improvement
- Staff sack is too small
- Could use more down filling
10. Clostnature Ultralight 1-Person Tent
Sometimes, those who enjoy spending time in the woods and wilderness want to have a solitary experience. Doing so demands a real sense of economy in what that kind of camper brings into the woods, and the Clostnature Ultralight 1-Person Tent is among the cool camping gear.
Weighing just a little more than 4 pounds, the Clostnature Ultralight 1-Person Tent folds into a packed size of just 15 inches and 5 inches wide and thick. Out of that package comes a tent measuring 7 feet long and approximately three feet wide, and three feet high, with plenty of room for a solo sleeper.
Additionally, the Clostnature one-person tent includes an exterior vestibule under which gear can be stored, adding to its appeal as a piece of cool camping gear. And it’s easy for one person to set up the Clostnature tent, with just a couple of aluminum poles and a set of ropes and stakes.
- Strong seams and smoothly operating zippers
- Vestibule allows for protected gear storage
- Remains sturdy in windy conditions
- Pole and grommet sizes may not match up
- Set-up instructions are inadequate
- Over-engineering adds unnecessary weight
Wrapping up the Coolest Camping Gear of the Year
We hope this list of cool camping gear has started you thinking about the different kinds of gear that can make your next venture into the outdoors more pleasant and fun. For more on gear and other aspects of camping, check out our Gear Section.