Get outside and enjoy the final few weeks of warm weather with these must haves.
With the hottest days of summer behind us (hopefully) we've reached one of the best times of year to camp. But what to bring? Well, the best part about car camping is there's plenty of space to pack some comforts of home—though don't go overboard and bring the La-Z-Boy. Then again, you don't want to forget the essentials either. To point you in the right direction, we recently spent a few days in the wilds of Colorado testing gear. Read on to see our top nine picks.
Setting up camp can be hard work—especially at elevation—so having a comfortable seat is a must. Our choice while on location was the classic, lightweight, foldable . With tents pitched at close to 13,500ft, the camp stool offered the perfect place to catch our breath and curb dizzy spells. Plus, it's extremely portable, making running from smoke while seated around the campfire quick and easy.
At the top of every list for campers arriving on four wheels has to be a sturdy cooler. And few names ring more true in the world of coolers than Coleman. We went with the retro styled in classic green. The metal case increases durability and offers an easy to clean surface for everything from playing cards to cleaning a fish.
Fishing and camping go hand in hand. There's no doubt about it. While bait fishing may increase your luck of securing dinner, learning to properly cast a fly rod comes with bragging rights that extend far beyond mealtime. Pacific Northwest-based Redington has a range of portable setups that are perfect for camping. We tested both the starter kit and more performance-focused kit, and both passed with flying colors (we even ). And please remember, when referencing fly fishing, it's a rod, not a pole.
Between $220 and $300 from
Again, Coleman is a trusted name in the camp stove space. Sure BioLite and brands of the like offer significantly less cumbersome options, but need we remind you the best part of car camping is the fact that you don't have to pack light? The aptly named did the trick for us. Don't forget to wedge some rocks under the feet to ensure a level cooking surface.
Though an American outback staple, few cast iron foundries still exist in the U.S. Lodge is one brand still making their stateside, and has been since 1896, which is reason enough to trust their products. The 10.25" is as universal a kitchen tool as can be. Pro tip: Use soap only if needed during , and remember to dry immediately after washing and rub with natural oils to encourage proper seasoning.
As the only barrier between you and the elements when camping, the tent should be carefully considered—meaning well-designed, easy to set up and break down, and big enough to house some gear, too. MSR's is designed for backpacking, but perfect for automotive camping as well—it's simply lighter and better designed. Though technically a three person tent, we recommend sticking to two residents, a duffle bag or two. No one wants to put on cold jeans and dew-covered boots in the morning.
Finding a balanced temperature at night can be the difference between a night of tossing and turning and a restful eight hours. A sleeping bag rated to 30 degrees sounds great (and it is in the fall and winter) but will cause nothing but issues when camping in warm weather. Try a bag like Marmot's —designed for summer, though a bit of down insulation extends its reach into late spring and early fall too. Plus the Down Defender offers a bit of protection from wet environments, leaving you free to sleep under the stars without worrying about morning dew ruining your down bag. A quality, will surely help too.
Sit too close to the campfire and you'll melt the soles of your shoes. Sit too far away and you won't reap any of the warmth. And with most of the West engulfed in wildfires this summer, many areas have implemented burn bans. A simple, wool blanket is a fine alternative. Woolrich has been making heirloom quality wool blankets in Pennsylvania since 1830, and their is as warm as it is handsome.
As we move into fall the sun will be setting earlier each day, meaning you may find yourself in the dark well before bed time. A simple solution is a lantern. Forget the kerosene lamps your parents may have used, and pick up a USB chargeable option like Goal Zero's At just over one pound, this compact light delivers plenty of power (250 lumens), can charge your phone with a standard USB cord, and even has a built in hand crank and emergency light for unfavorable situations.
* This article is part of The Code, an editorial partnership between Road & Track and .