10 Camping Gadgets You Don’t Need (But Really, Really Want)
Well-chosen extras can take your camping trip from good to great. Here's a list of 10 of the best nonessential (but super-cool) camping toys.
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.
Portable Mosquito Repeller
The rechargeable Thermacell MR300 portable mosquito repeller ($25) replaces sticky bug sprays, smoky candles and open flames. It’s small and portable, and you can use it pretty much anywhere outside. Just make sure the fuel cartridge has enough juice. Insert a blue mosquito-repelling mat and enjoy a mosquito-free evening within your 15-foot zone of protection. Each recharge should give you 12 hours of relief.
Whoever thought you could bake cinnamon rolls out in the wild? The Deluxe Outdoor Oven from Camp Chef ($295) will reach temperatures up to 400 degrees F, and can hold at 350 F for up to seven hours on one lb. of propane.
The two inside racks each fit a 9-in. x 13-in. pan, perfect for slow-roasting some baby back ribs. With two burners on top, you can fry up the day’s catch, too. Two heavy-duty side handles help in transporting this 32-lb. beast. It’s more versatile than a portable camp grill or griddle.
No one likes waiting around for a fire to get hot. Skip the standard lighter fluid and impress your fellow campers with your fire-starting speed thanks to the Ultimate Firestarter from Vargo ($25). It looks like a simple metal straw. But telescope it out, administer a couple of huffs and puffs, and soon your kindling will roar hot enough to turn the most stubborn damp logs into searing-hot coals. It even includes a ferro rod and scraper in case you forget to bring a lighter.
Insanely Bright Flashlight
Nicknamed the Monster Flashlight, the MS18 has its own cooling system, including a heat-pipe radiator and fan, to prevent overheating. It will beam light up to 1,350 meters, or a little under a mile — fantastic for, say, illuminating your hike through a dark canyon. (More like the entire canyon.) For a slightly less expensive, more practical yet still high-powered option, try the Imalent DX80 ($380) with a still-impressive 32,000 lumens.
The Napier Backroadz Truck Tent ($240) upgrades your truck bed into a cozy portable home, with the added security of sleeping within three solid walls. The tent itself is plenty wide and will comfortably hold two adults on a queen-sized air mattress, along with some gear or a small dog. It takes about five minutes to assemble and packs down nicely into a rectangular-shaped bag for storage ease.
Fanny Pack With All the Pockets
Sure, all your outdoor gear fits into your hiking pack just fine, leading you to believe that you don’t need another bag. But here’s a lightweight, convenient reason to get in on the fanny pack trend: the Mountainsmith Tour Small ($75). It fits up to six liters worth of gear, dual water bottles, and anything you can clip onto or slide into the external compression strap, like hiking poles or your favorite disc golf set.
Fun fact: This pack helped stoke the original fanny pack craze in the 1980s. It comes with a lifetime warranty, too, so it should last you until the trend’s third wave.
Hammock Made for Sleep
Bridge hammocks are the newest category in the outdoor hang/sleep trend, allowing the hammocker to lower into a flat bed. This innovation leads to an unparalleled sleep that combines the comfort of a flat bed with the tranquility of a swaying hammock.
The ENO Skyloft Hammock ($130) is a category standout for its toggle feature that lets you to switch between “relax” mode and “sleep” mode. The former allows you to sit comfortably, perpendicular to the hammock. The latter drops the bed down, giving you a comfy surface perfect for laying flat to sleep.
Battery-Powered Tent Air Conditioner
With the portable, battery-powered Zero Breeze Mark 2 ($1,399), the season’s heat is no longer an excuse to keep you from camping in the great outdoors. This portable air conditioner drops ambient temps up to 30 degrees in 10 minutes. Each battery lasts three to five hours, and the Plus Extra system (sold separately) lets you connect two batteries, ensuring your tent stays temperature-controlled for most of the night.
Retracting Fishing Rod
Have you ever stumbled upon a pristine body of water and wished you’d brought a fishing pole? It won’t happen again with the Tenkara USA Sato ($250), which retracts down to less than 23 in. and telescopes to more than 12 ft. — perfect to tuck into a hiking pack or even strap to a bike. With three zoom lengths, this rod is versatile for streams, rivers and lakes. Thanks to the collapsible/expandable design, you’ll go from hiking to fishing in seconds.
Deluxe Fish Cleaning Kit
Don’t let your distance from the kitchen take away from your artistic culinary skills. The Fish Fillet Kit from Victorinox ($178) lets you bring your inner chef into the outdoors and includes every tool you’ll need to clean fish, minus the cutting board. The kit includes four knives (paring, boning, fillet and slaughter), as well as a handheld knife sharpener, plus a heavy-duty poly roll bag to neatly contain it all. A little overkill for a day trip in the woods, but who said this list would be practical?
All prices and links were current as of publication.