Let’s face it: buying outdoor gear can get really expensive, which makes upgrading your camping and backpacking equipment a real challenge. Brands like The North Face, Patagonia, and Columbia make excellent products of course, but they also put a substantial premium on their gear too. But if you don’t mind using gear made by smaller, lesser-known companies, there are some outstanding bargains to be had, allowing you to save plenty of dough while still heading out into the backcountry without sacrificing performance.
With that in mind, here are our picks for the best inexpensive camping gear products that are worth your time.
Your backpack just might be the most important piece of gear you take with you when going camping. After all, it not only has to be comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, it has to carry all of your other gear too. The Teton Sports Scout 3400 provides 55-liters of carrying capacity, comes with a fully-adjustable back panel, and has a well padded hipbelt and shoulder straps. It also features a built-in rain cover to keep all of your gear dry during unexpected storms and has plenty of extra pockets and pouches to help you stay organized. It even has a separate compartment just for holding your sleeping bag and external gear loops for storing trekking poles, ice axes, and other tools.
OuterEQ Camping Hammock ($20)
Hammock camping is all the rage right now as more and more backpackers discover the joys of sleeping above the cold, damp ground rather than on it. Typically a good hammock will set you back $70 or more, but the Camping Hammock from OuterEQ is priced nicely at just $20. Made from lightweight parachute nylon – the same that is used in far more expensive brands – this hammock is durable, comfortable, and easy to set up, making it a viable alternative to the more well-known options.
For those who would still prefer to use a tent as their camp shelter it tough to beat the Coleman Sundome. It not only sleeps two comfortably, but it also comes with a rain fly and features a welded floor and inverted seams to help keep moisture at bay. Large windows provide plenty of ventilation and there is even enough room inside to store your backpacks and extra gear. Set-up reportedly takes less than 10 minutes and when broken down it stores in an included stuff sack for easy transport. All for less than $30.
A good sleeping bag needs to be lightweight, comfortable, and cozy or you’ll find it tough to get a good night’s sleep in the backcountry. The Active Era E200 checks all of those boxes and does so at an affordable price. It weighs just over 2 pounds, compresses down to a small footprint for carrying in your backpack, and is ideal for summer camping. That said, the company says the bag is actually rated for use in temperatures as cold as 25 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a suitable option for spring and fall outings too.
The other key component to getting a good nights sleep while camping is a comfortable sleeping pad. Thin and lightweight, these pads serve as a buffer between the you and the cold, hard ground. They also act as a lightweight mattress too. This model from a company called OutdoorsmanLab is not only self-inflating, but comes with a built-in pillow too. Made from 210T diamond ripstop fabrics, it also resists punctures and is durable enough to take just about anywhere.
Inspired by Andrew Skurka’s homemade cat food can stove, the Alocs Alcohol Burner Stove takes everything we like about the original and improves on it nicely. This version weighs in at just 4.6 ounces but thanks to its stainless steel and copper construction, it remains highly durable. It also comes equipped with a folding handle and a fire extinguishing lid that makes it easy to handle, even while hot. Fast, efficient, and cheap; what more could you ask for from your camp stove?
This lightweight, yet durable, camp cookware set will help you take your backcountry culinary skills to the next level. The kit includes two pots and two pans made from non-toxic, easy to clean, anodized aluminum. Perfect for cooking meals for one to two people, the set comes with lids, folding handles, and a mesh storage bag. Best of all, each of the pieces are built to nest inside one another for easy transport and storage.
You won’t have to worry about finding fresh drinking water thanks to this handy little filtration system. The filter itself weighs just 2 ounces and yet it can produce up to 100,000 gallons of clean water before it needs to be replaced. The device claims to remove 99.99999% of all bacteria, including salmonella, cholera, and E.coli, as well as 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium, from your water supply. The system is easy to use and completely compatible with most water bottles and hydration reservoirs.
With its bright, 165-lumen LED light, 30-hour burn time, and included rechargeable batteries, this headlamp is the perfect choice for campers and backpackers. It tips the scales at just 2.4 ounces, and is small, comfortable, and versatile enough to be used on the trail or around the campsite. It housing tilts up to 60 degrees to find just the right angle for the bright beam and it is even resistant to water, cold, and accidental drops.
Headlamps are great for finding your way in the dark, but not everyone wants to wear them around the campsite. That’s where a lantern can come in handy, providing a brighter light that can illuminate the entire space. The LE camp lantern has four brightness settings, can put out as much as 1000 lumens of light, and is equipped with a hook to hang it from a tree or the roof of your tent. Powered by three D batteries (not included), the lantern is also water resistant and features a flashing mode to signal for help in an emergency.
Jakemy Multitool ($14)
Made from durable stainless steel and packing nine different tools – including a pliers, a screwdriver, and a knife blade – the Jakemy Multitool is a handy item to have around the house or the campsite. Not only does it come with a bottle opener, can opener, and a folding saw, it has a fish scaler, nail filer, and a ruler too. In other words, it is an entire tool kit that fits in your pocket.
Coleman Quad Camp Chair ($28)
Just because you’re roughing it in the backcountry doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a few luxuries. Sitting around a campfire in a comfortable chair is the perfect way to end the day, and with Coleman’s Quad Chair you won’t have to shell out a lot of cash in order to relax in style. This chair comes with a cushioned seat and back, mesh cup holders, and a side pocket for storing small items like a smartphone or headlamp. It even includes a built-in four-can cooler to keep your favorite beverages cold. And when you’re ready to head home, the entire chair folds up and slides into an included storage bag.
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