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Published Dec 8, 2022 5:00 PM
Shopping for someone who loves the great outdoors can be tough if you don’t share that interest (aren’t all tents the same, you might find yourself asking). But don’t worry, we’re here for you no matter where they might roam. We’ve found the best accessories to give campers, from the essentials to more obscure outdoor gifts they might not have considered. This means you’ll find something for those in your life who plan on taking their first overnight trip, those who’ve fully embraced Van Life™, and anyone in between. Alongside the serious gifts for campers, we’ve included functional gifts for when the person you’re shopping for is just outdoors in the yard or temporarily “setting up camp” at an event like a tailgate.
Best tent: Mountain Hardwear Trango 3 Tent
For those wanting a tent that will protect them no matter the conditions, Mountain Hardware’s Trango 3 is a top choice. This bombproof tent features a double-wall design and a tent fly that connects to the poles and the tent’s body for ultimate stability in strong wind. It can sleep three people, though it is best suited to two people. There are two doors and vestibules for easy access and extra gear storage. It is a heavy tent, but it provides a lot of protection for camping in the most rugged locations.
Best mattress pad: Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Camping and Backpacking Sleeping Pad
Anyone not used to sleeping on the ground will appreciate a sleeping pad, which acts as a buffer to keep you a little more comfortable. This one from Therm-a-Rest can be folded up for easy storage, was designed to trap and radiate heat to help you stay warm, and weighs less than a pound. Campers can easily keep the mattress pad in a backpack to take it from site to site. The dimensions of Therm-a-Rest’s sleeping pad is 72L x 20W inches wide, so it should accommodate any sleeper. And that’s just one of the brand’s many solutions for insulating campers from aches and elements, whether someone is moving fast and light, taking a more leisurely approach to treks and travel, or just camping out of their car.
Best drinkware: Silipint Silicone Pint Glasses
Broken glass is annoying to deal with at best and dangerous at worst, which is why Silipint’s Silicon Pint Glasses are a wonderful gift. The shatterproof “glasses” are 100% food-grade silicone, so completely safe, available in some cool psychedelic colors, and a fun-meets-functional way to cut down on the amount of plastic campers might use on their trip. Plus, pint glasses are the perfect size for beer, water, and everything in between.
Best multitool: Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool
Once Leatherman’s Signal Camping Multitool gets into a camper’s go-bag it’ll never come out. This single tool can replace knives, screwdrivers, scissors, and pliers. Space is tight for campers—having more is gear better, but burdensome—so this pocket-friendly multitool is the perfect solution. It’ll come in handy when setting up a tent, cutting fishing line, and plenty of other potentially streaky situations. Whether looking for an everyday carry or more specialized set of save-the-day tools, Leatherman has numerous options.
Best bug repellent: Murphy’s Naturals Mosquito Repellent
If you’re buggin’ out because the bugs are out, just smear a stripe of this plant-based, DEET-free, non-greasy balm on the brim of your hat and you’ll see what the fuss is about because you’ll see the insects retreat. Anyone who has ever hiked through the gullies and gulches knows how easy it is to get swarmed by flying irritants. So if you want to concentrate on keeping two feet on the river crossings instead of swiping at the air, let this cocktail of castor, lemongrass, rosemary, cedarwood, and peppermint oils drape a protective veil around your head. It’s the perfect stocking stuffer, whether for someone in the back-country or the backyard. And, once settled at the campsite or on the patio, light up a candle and/or incense to expand the protective shield.
Best single-use tool: Slice Mini Box Cutter
Slice’s Mini Box Cutter is not only great at its namesake purpose (seriously, this may become the MVP of holiday gift opening), but the retractable mini knife will come in handy when opening food packaging or cutting fishing line. The Mini Box Cutter’s biggest strengths are its incredibly compact size and extremely sharp knife. It’s not as versatile as the Leatherman we recommended earlier, but any camper would be excited to see this in their stocking.
Best gear bag: RUX (70L)
The Rux is a collapsable, waterproof nylon bag that’ll allow campers to pack and carry their gear more efficiently. The Rux’s cube shape is easier to fit into a car than a duffel, and the included straps allow you to carry it like a backpack. When they’re done camping, the person you gift this to can wash the Rux with a hose, then flatten it for easy storage in a garage, closet, or under their bed.
Best mess kit: Hydro Flask Outdoor Kitchen Bowl
Hydro Flask’s Outdoor Kitchen Bowl is the perfect complement to the Silipint silicone pint glasses we recommended above, as it serves a similar purpose. This kit comes with three stainless steel bowls and lids that are both BPA- and toxin-free. Hydro Flask used the same insulating material found in its water bottles because of its insulating properties, so these bowls will keep your hot foods hot and cool foods cool for several hours. This is helpful for one-day camping trips, though the Outdoor Kitchen Bowl can keep shelf-stable food like granola fresh for several days.
Best cooking utensil kit: Opinel Nomad Camping Kitchen Utensil Kit
Founded in 1890 in the French Alps, Opinel makes iconic folding knives and other compact kitchen tools. As much a part of French cultural heritage as a well-stocked camping kit, Opinel tools pair sustainably managed wood handles with anti-corrosive stainless steel blades. The result is purpose-built, made-to-last camping, foraging, boating, backpacking, and kitchen accessories. This set includes a No. 12 serrated folding knife (4.72-inch blade), No. 10 folding corkscrew knife (3.94-inch blade), a No. 6 pocket peeler, beechwood cutting board, and microfiber cleaning cloth/travel pouch. With this selection a camper can make quick work of meal prep, then everything cleans up quick and packs tight, ready as you wander from site to sights. And, once you’re sitting down to eat, Opinel also offers a No. 8 Picnic+ kit with the signature wood handle and interchangeable stainless steel inserts, including fork and spoon.
Best coffee tool: OXO BREW Venture Shatter-Resistant-Travel French Press
Going into the great outdoors shouldn’t mean giving up coffee. OXO’s Brew is an 8-cup French Press whose plastic outer material won’t break if it gets roughed up in a bag. If you’re shopping for someone who doesn’t feel like themselves before a cup of coffee in the morning, no gift will make them happier. While we’re currently recommending gifts for campers, this kitchen tool is equally helpful at home or when traveling in general.
Best camping table: GCI Outdoor Compact Camp Table
Space is a premium commodity for campers, so GCI’s Outdoor Compact Camp Table is a thoughtful gift. The well-constructed table gives the camper a sturdy, 25-inch surface to prepare food—anything from fresh fish to s’more supplies. It’s even large enough to double as a small dining table once dinner is ready. The fact that this table is collapsable means campers can keep it tucked away when they’re not on a trip.
Best cooler: YETI Tundra 35 Cooler
YETI’s coolers have earned a stellar reputation due to their extreme “bear-proof” durability and ability to keep food cold for several hours (if not days) thanks to their insulation and heavy-duty rubber locks. We recommend the YETI for keeping your drinks cold during a multi-day camping trip or for preserving perishables during the initiatial period of a camping trip. YETI says this cooler’s 35L capacity can hold 20 cans with a 2:1 ice-to-beverage ratio. Like the RUX, the box-like shape of YETI’s cooler makes it easy to transport, and its side handles make it surprisingly comfortable to carry.
Best insulated bottle: Welly Traveler 28oz
There are a lot of insulated bottles out there, but we haven’t found one that’s better than Welly’s Traveler. This large-capacity bottle is triple-insulated and made from BPA-free and eco-friendly materials, including natural bamboo. Its stainless-steel construction allows it to trap heat or, alternatively, prevent heat from seeping in to keep beverages cold. Welly offers its bottles in several sizes, but we like the 28oz version because it’s big enough to last campers for a day-long hike.
Best power station: Anker 521 Portable Power Station
Yes, the point of camping is to unplug from the “real world,” but it’s still important to have a power source just in case. Anker’s 521 is a heavy-duty but highly portable power station with three USB ports, a pair of AC outlets, and a car socket. It can be used to charge phones, laptops, or small appliances, and the light bar makes it easy to use at night. This is one of those better-safe-than-sorry gifts that campers will begrudgingly take on a trip but find useful once they’re there. The 521’s LCD screen is especially helpful as it’ll help them ration how much power they use during multi-day trips. And the longer someone will be off the grid, especially if they’re a van-lifer, the larger a capacity of power station, or even a solar generator, should be considered.
Best fire pit: Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0
If you’re shopping for someone who’s into glamping and/or extremely concerned about the very real issue of wildfires, Solo Stove’s Bonfire 2.0 is the fire pit we recommend. It was designed to be “smokeless,” meaning a continuous flow of air, and an intelligently placed ash pan, prevent tons of smoke from billowing out of it constantly. There’ll still be some smoke but not enough to make your eyes water, which means campers can sit closer to it (but not too close) to enjoy its warmth. Solo Stove addressed our one complaint with the original Bonfire by making this model’s ash tray easily removable, which makes cleanup a breeze.
Best fire starter: Pull Start Fire Matchfree Pull String Firestarter
Starting a campfire can be difficult, especially if the trip happens right after a rainstorm. Campers who have Pull Start’s Fire Starter will be prepared, though. All you have to do is set the logs up, then pull a single string. Kindling and firewood will ignite within the half hour that the starters stay lit, so the person you gift them to will be all set for dinner, s’mores, or a night around the campfire or fire pit. Pull Start is confident that its starter will even work with wet logs. The company offers fire starters in many multipacks, but this three-log box is the perfect choice for gifting.
Best light: Klymit Everglow LED Light Tube
Klymit’s Everglow Light Tube is a flexible, rechargeable light source that’s easy to hang around a tree branch or keep in the inside of a tent thanks to its magnetic attachment. It gives off 270 lumins of light—enough to see where you’re going when headed to the bathroom or searching for supplies in a pack after night, and can be easily carried around in a backpack. Nobody wants to fish around for batteries or carry a bulky lantern, while they’re on a camping trip, which makes the Everglow Light Tube a wonderful gift.
Best car accessory: Rightline Gear Moki Car Door Step
File this under “practical gifts campers didn’t know they needed but really do.” This door step can be installed onto any of a car’s door latches, and makes it easy to grab items from bags attached to the top of your car. We were surprised that it could accomidate both of our feet during testing. This will come in handy for when camping or going on ski trips when equipment is typically tucked away in a bag on the roof. This gift will save your friends and family from standing on their tippy toes, or precariously perching themselves on the inside of their car door.
Best water tank: GoSpout 2 Gallon Portable Water Tank
GoSpout 2 Gallon Portable Water Tank is a camper’s dream gift. Pumping the tank’s handle creates pressure, which can be used to wash cars, dirty hands and feet, dishes, a tent, or any other camping essential. The tank is surprisingly small given its capacity, and its sprayer can be switched between different modes with just a twist of its outer rim. You could even use the GoSpout 2 as a shower in a pinch. This is a tool any seasoned camper will find incredibly useful every time they go out.
Best filtered water bottle: LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle
We mentioned the importance of clean drinking water earlier, and LifeStraw has campers covered when they run out. The “straw” is attached to a filter that removes microplastics, chlorine, organic chemical matter, sand, dirt, and up to 99.999% of both bacteria and parasites from drinking water, making it safe to consume. Campers should still do their research to check on the water quality of the streams or rivers they’re drinking from. Still, campers who like to stay well hydrated while hiking will really appreciate having one of these in their pack.
Best flashlights: Hoxida Magnetic Rechargeable Flashlight
Flashlights have been a camping staple for time immemorial, but rechargeable ones are new to the scene. If you know a camper who’s been using the same flashlight for 30 years, do them a favor and make this upgrade for them. Hoxida’s flashlights last up to 20 hours per charge, create 10,000 lumins of light, and have seven modes. The strobe and red light modes are particularly helpful if they’re lost and need assistance. Additionally, these flashlights are IPX6 certified, which means they’re dustproof and can be fully submerged underwater without being damaged. This is an extremely practical gift, but an absolute essential for campers.
Best accessories kit: VSSL Camp Supplies Kit
What if all the accessories a camper really needed were collected in a compact, easy-to-pack container? VSSL considered that question and came up with the Camp Supplies kit, a perfect stocking stuffer that contains a 9.3-inch tube that holds 70 pieces of gear. Insider you’ll find matches, hooks, band-aids, clothespins, antiseptic wipes, a raze, wire saw, mini sewing kit, gear twists, a four hour beeswax candle, and much more. All of this gear is kept in small, individually labeled sealed containers. Any camper will be able to appreciate having all of these tools on-hand at a moment’s notice without having to root around a bag to find them.
Best in-case-of-emergencies device: Garmin inReach Messenger Satellite Communicator
Give a camper peace of mind in their pocket with the Garmin InReach Messenger, which lets you two-way text without cell coverage. You can use the 4-ounce personal safety device itself, or you can send messages from your phone using the Garmin messenger app. You can even use it as a Wi-Fi hotspot and battery bank to charge your phone. And, with 28 days of battery life, you can travel confident that home is only a phone call away even if hiking far from cell towers. It’s pricier, but making it back safe is priceless.
Best for the 5-star camp cook: GOSUN Chillest Electric Cooler
At over $500, GOGSUN’s Chillest Electric Cooler is an extremely generous gift for campers, and the most technically impressive recommendation we’re making. The 45L cooler has a compressor, which allows it to actually refrigerate and freeze foods instead of maintaining their temperature through insulation. Its large capacity and 10-hour battery life make it the ideal cooler for carrying a day’s worth of perishable food (even ice cream!). If you’re shopping for a camper who likes to go off the grid for days at a time, consider pairing this cooler with GoSun’s Power 500, a high-capacity solar generator that will extend its life even further. This is a luxe gift, but the ultimate choice for serious campers.