Our Favorite Summer Camp Gear for All Ages
These nine essentials make camp life easier, all under $100
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For a lot of kids where I grew up, the month of July was synonymous with summer camp. Spending a few weeks away was a right of passage, and parents looked forward to a little peace and quiet almost as much as the kids relished the opportunity to free from the folks.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be a kid to go to summer camp. Really, any vacation spent outdoors counts. Here’s some of our favorite gear for campers of all ages.
Grayl Geopress Purifier Water Bottle ($90)
A water bottle with a built-in filter is a must. Instead of worrying about a safe water source or lugging in bottled water, use Grayl’s Geopress Purifier, and rest easy knowing it removes over 99 percent of viruses, bacteria, and protozoan cysts. It works just as well for backpacking as it does for international travel, since it’s a filter and bottle in one, cutting down on unnecessary gear. Bonus: it will filter 24 ounces of water in just eight seconds, so you don’t have to waste time pumping or waiting on a gravity-fed system.
HydraPak Stash 750-Millileter Water Bottle ($20)
If you don’t need a filtered water bottle, the Stash 750 is a fantastic option. At 2.9 ounces, it weighs about half a normal hard-sided canteen, and it collapses down to a quarter of its size when empty, so it’s easy to pack in any bag.
Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs ($9)
I’m a light sleeper, and I’ve tried a lot of different ear plugs over the years. These are comfortable and the best bang for the buck I’ve found. They’re also an absolutely essential part of my kit, because nothing is worse than a snoring tentmate.
Moleskin Classic Notebook ($16)
Call me old-fashioned, but I think journaling with a pen and paper is the best way to document your summer-camp experiences. Moleskin’s classic notebook is a classic because it’s reasonably priced and high quality—it’s not going to fall apart on you if it gets beat up in your bag.
Mystery Ranch In and Out Backpack ($79)
A good daypack is essential. Weighing just one pound, Mystery Ranch’s 19-liter In and Out is the perfect combination of light and burly, thanks to its 100-denier Cordura fabric and minimalist design. It’s not too basic to be effective, though, featuring a reservoir for a hydration bladder, a water-bottle pocket, two external pockets, and tool-carry loops for trekking poles or ice axes. The whole thing also stuffs into one of the front pockets, which makes it easy to toss in your bag when you aren’t using it.
Eagle Creek Expanse Hauler Bag ($82)
This is one of my favorite pieces of luggage because of its versatility. The Expanse Hauler is a 50-liter duffel bag that converts to a backpack and has enough grab handles to let you carry it a bunch of different ways. It features Eagle Creek’s Bi-Tech Armor Lite fabric, to help protect high-abrasion areas, and it weighs only two pounds, so it won’t bog you down. I also love how big the opening is, letting you access everything in your bag quickly. Bonus: it’s currently on sale.
Nomad Battery Cable ($50)
This battery cable combines your phone’s charging cord and a small, portable battery, so you have less to pack. The battery will charge your phone first and then recharge itself when you have it plugged into an outlet. The best part? It’s built to military standards, with braided ballistic-nylon construction, so it won’t break or fray like those cheap cords you usually buy.
Matador FlatPak Travel Toiletry Bottles (Three for $35)
FlatPak toiletry bottles are made from welded Cordura with a proprietary coating, and the company says they are five times lighter and 3.5 times more compact than your run-of-the-mill silicone travel bottles. They’re also burlier and pack better than the cheap ones, thanks to their flat design.
Otto DesignWorks Cinch Lock (From $50)
The Cinch Lock was designed to secure bikes, but it’s become a favorite camp accessory because of its versatility. You can lock up your bike or piece of luggage, and because it’s so compact and only weighs between 145 and 260 grams (depending on the length you go with), it’s easy to pack. It also works better than most cable locks on the market. Trust us.