The Best Camping Gear to Really Enjoy the Outdoors
As a hobbyist who spends over a month camping each year, I've had the opportunity to test a variety of camping gear and parse the best from the products better left at home. Here's the best of the best, as chosen by me and our team of expert camping writers.
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As an avid camper, I’ve learned a thing or two about the products that can turn your outdoor adventure from a bug-filled snoozefest to a weekend of nonstop fun or refreshing relaxation. Whether you’re a roughing-it-style tent camper like me or a glamping enthusiast, the following picks—each of which has been tested or handpicked by Reader’s Digest‘s expert shopping editors—should make anyone’s best camping gear list.
The best camping gear
- Best tent: MSR Habitude 6 Family & Group Camping Tent
- Best cooler: Rtic 45 Quart Hard Cooler
- Best mosquito repellent: Thermacell MR300 Portable Mosquito Repeller
- Best camping chair: Coleman Quad Camping Chair
- Best hammock: Eno DoubleNest Hammock
- Best camping shoes: Teva ReEmber
- Best mosquito bite treatment: Bug Bite Thing
- Best sleeping bag: Kelty Pack Cosmic 20 Sleeping Bag
- Best air mattress: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Sleeping Pad
- Best sleeping pad: REI Co-Op Trailmade Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
- Best camping blanket: Rumpl Puffy Blanket
- Best pillow: Coop Home Goods Adjustable Travel Pillow
- Best camping cot: Helinox Lite Camp Cot
Best camping tent
MSR Habitude 6 Family & Group Camping Tent
Whether you’re cozying in with the whole family or just prefer extra space, the MSR Habitude six-person tent is roomy enough to fit every preference. It’s our best tent for camping pick thanks to its waterproof coating, sturdy design, storage pockets and easy setup. And since it’s rated for three seasons, you can use it from early spring to deep into the fall—or even through the winter if weather conditions allow. That makes it among the best camping gear no matter the season.
- Sleeps up to six people
- Waterproof coating
- Battery-powered porch light
- Interior storage
- Easy setup
- Available on Backcountry, Amazon, Public Lands and SunnySports
- Minimal ventilation
Best camping cooler
Rtic 45 Quart Hard Cooler
I can personally attest to this Rtic cooler’s status as the best cooler for camping. I’ve owned it for two camping seasons, and in that time it’s exceeded all my expectations. Its rubber latch closures keep it secure and lock coolness inside. I can count on ice staying intact inside the cooler for up to 10 days, and unlike with my previous bargain cooler, I’ve never pulled a warm beverage out from the Rtic.
Though this is a fairly expensive cooler, in my opinion, it’s well worth the investment—and it’ll still cost you nearly $100 less than the comparable Yeti Tundra 45 Quart cooler.
- Three-inch foam insulated walls
- Secure rubber latches
- Tough rotomolded construction
- Bear-resistant design
- Rope handles for easy carrying
- Can hold ice for up to 10 days
- Multiple colors available
- Available on Amazon, Rtic and Walmart
- Heavy; may require two people to carry
- Pricier than other coolers on the market
Best camping mosquito repellent
Thermacell MR300 Portable Mosquito Repeller
Through even the muggiest camping seasons, the Thermacell MR300 portable mosquito repeller has never let me down. I’ve tested it on a variety of camping trips for the past three years and found it to dispel even thick clouds of mosquitoes in mere minutes. It’s easy to operate, virtually scent- and noiseless and its fuel lasts hours at a time.
I especially like the clip on its back, so I can attach it to my pocket or backpack and enjoy a bug-free hike for miles and miles.
- Begins working in a couple of minutes and reaches full power in 15 minutes
- Scent-free and practically soundless
- More convenient and comfortable than bug spray
- Lasts for up to 12 hours
- Great for hiking
- Available on Thermacell, Walmart and Amazon
- Pricier than bug spray
- Repellent mat and fuel source will need replacing over time
- You’ll still need a dedicated repellent for ticks, if in a tick-infested area
Best camping chair
Coleman Quad Camping Chair
I’ve used my Coleman Quad chair for three camping seasons now, and it’s not leaving my list of the best camping gear anytime soon. It’s the best camping chair for many reasons: It’s comfortable, offers plenty of built-in organization and, perhaps best of all, it includes a built-in four-can cooler right in the chair’s arm.
When camping, it helps to keep all your essentials in one convenient spot—you’d be surprised how difficult it is to find items once they’ve dropped on the grassy or dirt-packed ground. This chair provides space for everything in my arsenal, from my Kindle to chapstick to a pack of cards and more.
And unlike other camping chairs, this one is a smart pick for beyond the campground, whether you’re settling in at the soccer sidelines or hosting a backyard barbecue.
- Four-can cooler attached
- Built-in storage
- Strong, durable frame
- Available on Amazon, Walmart, Target and Coleman
- Slightly bulky/heavy for carrying long distances
Best camping hammock
Eno DoubleNest Hammock
Whether you’re a true backpacker, a car camper just looking for extra relaxation or a daredevil looking to sleep overnight in your hammock, the Eno DoubleNest meets just about every need. It’s the best camping hammock for a few reasons: It’s made with tear-resistant, waterproof fabric, sets up easily, rolls up into a small compression sack and can fit up to two users at a time.
- Great for a wide variety of purposes
- Triple-stitched seams
- Included compression sack
- Fits up to two people
- Easy setup
- Available on Walmart, Backcountry, L.L.Bean and REI
- The straps are sold separately
Best camping shoes
Teva ReEmber Camping Shoes
I’ll be the first to admit—Teva ReEmbers aren’t for everyone. But they should be. In my Teva ReEmber review, I found them to be the perfect camping shoe. They’re comfortable, durable, multipurpose and easy to slip on and off. I’ve worn them on multiple camping trips so far, and they’ve earned their way into my must-pack list for good.
In addition to their comfort, I also found the shoes stood up to multiple types of water and weather during my test. And though the light color I chose shows dirt easily, the ReEmbers are machine-washable, so you can keep them looking good as new between camping trips.
- Slip-resistant textured sole
- Easy on/off
- Machine washable
- Made of recycled materials
- Available in many colors
- Available at Backcountry, Nordstrom, DSW, Zappos and REI
- Sizing can be inconsistent
Best camping mosquito bite treatment
Bug Bite Thing
If there’s one thing we love at Reader’s Digest, it’s discount camping gear—and the Bug Bite Thing is so cheap, it doesn’t even need a discount to be a great deal. The $10 device promises to stop itchy bug bites in their tracks thanks to its simple-but-effective suction method. Just press the Bug Bite Thing directly over the center of the mosquito bite, pull the grips and hold for 10-20 seconds.
In our Bug Bite Thing review, we found that the Shark Tank product truly does work. Not only does it relieve itching, but it’s chemical-free and reusable for hundreds—if not thousands—of applications. And since it’s so small and lightweight, I keep one in my hiking pack—where every ounce matters—in case of emergency mosquito attacks.
- Relieves itchiness
- Small and lightweight
- Works on mosquito, bee and wasp stings
- 88,000 Amazon ratings and a 4-star average
- Available on Amazon, Walmart and Target
- Only works after the bite; doesn’t prevent bites
Best camping sleeping bag
Kelty Pack Cosmic 20 Sleeping Bag
This affordable duck-down-filled sleeping bag is among the best sleeping bags for just about every camper. The Kelty Pack bag is rated at 15 to 30 degrees, meaning it’ll keep you toasty through a variety of seasons and temperatures. Thoughtful details like internal stash pockets, a no-snag zipper, ventilation and included stuff sack help it stand out from the other sleeping bags on the market.
- A great choice for most campers
- Clever details
- Included stuff sack
- Relatively affordable
- Available on Public Lands, Backcountry, Moosejaw and REI
- May be too heavy for backpackers
Best camping air mattress
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Sleeping Pad
It’s a common misconception that camping means fitful sleep that’s anything but restful. And roughing it doesn’t have to mean denying yourself creature comforts like a luxurious air mattress. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir sleeping pad tops our list of the best camping air mattresses for good reason: It’s comfortable, durable, lightweight and highly packable.
And unlike other camping air mattresses, this one is easy to inflate and actually reflects body heat, so it’ll insulate you from the cold ground on chilly nights. We also like that this pad is available in multiple configurations, so you can choose the one that works for your family best.
- Available in multiple configurations
- Protects against middle-of-the-night deflations
- Reflects body heat
- Includes pump sack, repair kit and carrying bag
- Available on Amazon, Backcountry and Moosejaw
- Doesn’t include a pump
Best camping sleeping pad
REI Co-Op Trailmade Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
“The REI Co-Op Trailmade Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad is the sleeping pad I used for car camping across the U.S.,” writes Amanda Capritto in our roundup of the best camping sleeping pads. “For three months, I slept on this pad in the back of my car and on several tent camping trips…I had no problems sleeping comfortably on it.”
In addition to being comfortable, Amanda also finds it versatile across a variety of weather conditions, easy to inflate and deflate and simple to clean.
- Comfortable across a variety of temperatures
- Available in four lengths
- Double-valve inflation and deflation system
- Includes a stuff sack and compression sack
- Easy inflation
- Made with recycled polyester
- Stains easily
- Inflation valve may need to be cleaned occasionally
Best camping blanket
Rumpl Puffy Blanket
At first glance, the Rumpl Puffy Blanket’s $125 price tag seems hefty. It’s a blanket, after all! But according to Reader’s Digest Deputy Editor Reina Galhea in our piece about the Rumpl Blanket, it’s well worth the price. “I won’t reach for any other blanket when I’m venturing into nature,” she says.
There are many features that set the Rumpl apart from your run-of-the-mill blanket. For one, its water-repellent shell not only keeps it protected from spills and rain but crumbs and dirt simply roll right off when you shake it out. And its clever corner loops allow you to stake the blanket down on windy days. Plus, the fun colors and patterns make the Rumpl one of the best gifts for campers they’ll actually use, season after season.
- Water-resistant, easy-to-clean material
- Corner loops
- Large size
- Comfortable in temperatures above 45 degrees
- 100-night trial period
- Includes a carrying pouch
- Washing machine-safe
- Available in unique patterns and colors
- Available on Rumpl, Amazon, REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods
Best camping pillow
Coop Home Goods Adjustable Travel Pillow
After sleeping on my Coop pillow for years at home, I discovered the brand makes a pint-sized version that’s designed for traveling, specifically camping. The Coop adjustable travel pillow is my pick for the best camping pillow because it’s just as comfortable as the one you’d use at home, but with a few thoughtful additions—so no compromising a quality night’s sleep necessary.
The included compressive sack makes the pillow highly portable (and protects it from getting dirty when you’re traveling with it) and the waterproof nylon pillowcase is cooling on hot nights. Best of all, just like the full-sized Coop, you can add or remove foam to customize your perfect level of cushion. Bye-bye, sleepless nights on the road!
- Exceedingly comfortable
- Adjustable foam
- Included compressive sack
- Small, travel-friendly size
- Waterproof pillowcase
- 100-day money-back guarantee
- Available on Amazon, Walmart, Coop Home Goods and Target
- Likely too bulky for backpackers
- Some may not like the slippery nylon pillowcase (but you can also buy a version that comes without the pillowcase)
Best camping cot
Helinox Lite Camp Cot
You may not even miss your bed at home when sleeping on the Helinox Lite camp cot. That’s thanks to features like a comfortable—and durable—polyester ripstop fabric that will keep you warm in cool weather. You can expect polyester to last longer than cotton, too, so you can use the camping cot on backwoods trips for years to come. The lightweight aluminum poles offer support for up to 265 pounds, and the packable design and storage sack make it easy to travel with and store between seasons.
- Comfortable polyester fabric
- Lightweight frame
- Included storage sack
- Can support up to 265 pounds
- Tension lock handles keep the cot secure
- Available on Backcountry, Helinox, Amazon and REI
- Assembly may be difficult for first-time users
- Low-to-the-ground design can be uncomfortable for those with joint issues
How we found the best camping gear
As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.
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