My 5 Must-Have Camping Gear Items

I was catching up the other day with a friend who I hadn’t seen since April and we got to talking about our summers. He asked me what my favorite trip was and I had a hard time choosing. For some reason it feels like I haven’t gone anywhere, which is frankly not true at all. I’ve gone around the globe.

From the Dalles to Sweden to the San Juans to Montana, summer of 2017 has been one for the record books for me. I slept outside more than I have other summers, did more multi-night camping trips, and pushed myself further.

 Rolling into our dream spot on the Deschutes River in May

Rolling into our dream spot on the Deschutes River in May

All of this camping gave me a great opportunity to get really really familiar with a few pieces of gear that are now in my pack every time I go camping.

There are some pieces of gear that rotate depending on whom I’m going with, the weather, and how I’m getting there. These include my stove, sleeping system, and tent. If it’s super nice out with no rain in the forecast, I might forego a tent and sleep on a ground cloth. If I’m with my boyfriend, we’ll take the bigger tent and big stove. If it’s going to be cold and I’m going solo, I’ll take the insulated pad, warmer sleeping bag, and tiny stove. All sorts of variables going into picking these things.

But there are a few specific pieces of essential gear that absolutely must come with me EVERY SINGLE TIME. This is regardless of weather, destination, or company:

1.       Fozzils Folding bowl/cutting board combination

This bowl/cutting board combo is exactly what it sounds like. Folds up into a bowl, lays flat for a cutting board. I *think* it comes in a 2 pack, which is perfect for prepping on one, and then eating in the other. For any weight weinies reading this, each bowl is 1.4oz (40grams), so pretty damn light for a cutting board & bowl!

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2.       GSI Drip coffee maker

This is another folding contraption, and while there are fancier ones out there, this GSI Collapsible coffee maker does the job perfectly. Collapses super small, never retains odors/colors/stains, easy to use with a variety of filter sizes when I inevitably forget one and have to borrow from somebody.

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3.       Black Diamond Headlamp

Just like the coffee maker, there are fancier versions of this out there, but I arbitrarily picked the $20 headlamp a few years ago at REI and have been happy with it ever since. The battery lasts forever, it’s easy to operate, dims when I want it to, goes to red light for reading/not blinding people. Overall, just a functional headlamp.

4.       Paradox baselayer

Underwear are particular for every person. Wool underwear are like underwear, just longer, and more people see them, at least if you go camping with me. So, take this recommendation with a grain of salt. I absolutely LOVE my Paradox baselayer from Paradox that I got at Costco four years ago. They’ve got a few holes in them from embers around the fire and have been on countless trips. But goddamn do I love them. Perfectly soft (even from the first wear) and just the right weight that they’re great as a single layer on warm nights, or as a base layer on cold nights.

5.       Ditty bags (Waterproof and non. I have both.)

The secret to enjoying camping is staying organized. Knowing where my snacks are when I get hungry, socks are when my feet are cold, and Tylenol is to beat the hangover before it starts is the magic that keeps me coming back. Staying organized also makes packing and unpacking a breeze. The only way I’m able to do this is with ditty bags. I use these for everything – food, clothes, underwear, toiletries, bike tools. Everything.

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So what are your go-to pieces of gear? (Also, sorry for the ads/affiliate links. I’m trying it out- let me know any feedback. Also, you should buy from a local shop and not Amazon, but if your'e gonna buy from them anyway, use these links and I'll get a very very very tiny %.)