Listen carefully and you hear the frantic shout of “hey, remember me?” If you’ve been an indoors person for the past two years due to a certain pandemic, now is the perfect time to gather your friends and family and head into the hills, woods or driving deserts for a summer camping holiday. If you need to stock up first, you’re in luck: we’ve found great deals on some of our most popular WIRED-tested camping gear.
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Despite what people say, discomfort doesn’t have to be part of camping. Check out our Best Tents, Best Camping Stoves and Hiking 101 guides for more recommendations for an unforgettable summer.
The Outward Padded Lawn Chair is my favorite lawn/camping chair on the market right now. Thanks to its generous padding, it’s more comfortable than any I’ve sat in recently. It’s also sturdy, has backpack straps so you can carry it hands-free, and weighs in at a not-too-bad 8 pounds and 4 ounces while holding up to 250 pounds. It lacks a cup holder, but that’s my only complaint.
I’ve relaxed in a SingleNest several times this summer and you can’t get a better hammock for the money. Build quality is impressive, and while it only weighs a pound, it will last up to 400 pounds. It also makes a great hammock for the backyard if you have a few trees handy.
Recommended in my guide to home emergency kits, the Divide+ Push solves a major problem with rarely used electronics: alkaline batteries (the most common type you’re likely to have in your home) tend to corrode when not in use. With this Coleman, you only have to rotate a section to break the connection between the batteries and the contact terminals before storing it for the winter and no more leaking batteries! It’s very bright at 50 lumens and can run for 330 hours on three D-cell batteries, although there’s a high-power mode at 425 lumens that runs for 30 hours.
I often recommend REI’s house brand to campers and hikers. It combines impressive specifications and above-average quality with low prices. If you’re not willing to pay more than twice as much for a premium tent, the Half Dome does everything you’d expect it to. It weighs a respectable but not super light 5 pounds, but has two doors so no one has to climb over their tent mates to get in and out.
This is our most popular lightweight family tent. The mostly mesh design is good for ventilation on hot summer days, and the dual vestibules provide storage for boots and other gear. We recommend you seal the tent, which is not difficult.
Campground fire pit availability can be patchy, confusing, inconsistent, or downright impossible. And as original as it can be, uses a plain old campfire made from stacked wood a lot of wooden. Consider upgrading to a stainless steel fireplace like the Solo Stove Yukon (7/10, WIRED recommends). It introduces air so the fire burns more efficiently, which means fewer barrels are required to collect deadwood. This range is also available direct from Solo Stove, and smaller versions are available for sale here.
For camp tasks when you have your hands full, like pitching a tent at night, it’s easier to pull on a headlamp than try to juggle a lantern or flashlight. The Spot 350’s three AAA batteries last up to 200 hours on the lowest light setting and is waterproof to IPX8. They can emit up to 350 lumens if you also need a powerful burst of light.
The Instinct Solar (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is a backcountry watch that can help you find your way back to your campsite (hooray, GPS!). It has the usual Garmin features like altimeter and barometer – and the best part? It can charge itself using the power of the sun, helping to extend its lifespan between trips to the charger.
We love the LifeStraw filter, a tubular straw that lets you drink clean water from rivers and lakes without fear. We haven’t tried the company’s bottled version yet. It performs the same function but lets you carry the water around (also with a built-in carabiner and straw).
You can find this jacket in our hiking guide 101. Puffy jackets like this make great mid-layers and can get very warm. They’re a good option if you’re camping in cooler areas (or if you just want to snag it for the winter now).