camping Gear

Mountains, Forests, and Coastlines

From camping in Kings Canyon to backpacking the Trans-Catalina Trail and even glamping in Sonoma, we’ve tested all types of camping gear in California for the past 10 years.

We know the best way to test a piece of gear is to simply get outside and take it with us on the trip. So, we do plenty of in-the-wild tests but also controlled tests at home when comparing products side-by-side to have a consistent setting. After months of testing, we rate and score each product based on various metrics we deem the most important to that type of gear.

Use this page to find your next piece of camping gear, no matter where your camping adventures take you! If you’re new to camping or just want a top-level look at our recommended gear and tips, the below articles are for you.

A jeep driving down a road through a forest, with a snowy peak in the distance.
A woman i a green puffy coat with pink hair places the metal rim on a Solo Stove as bright orange flames roar inside.
An orange and white dome tent set up on a rocky beach in front of the ocean.

Search Our Site…

Our Go-To Camping Packing List

If you’re just looking for a quick list of our must-have tents and gear, these are the products we use the most when we go camping and backpacking.


An orange and white tent with a lantern inside glows in the dark on a rocky beach with the ocean in the background.
  1. Families & Beginner Camper Tent: The Core 9-Person Instant Cabin Tent has tons of space, only a 2-minute setup, and a room divider.
  2. Affordable Small Tent: The Coleman Sundome tent fits 2-3 people, features Weather-Tec waterproofing, costs under $100, and is easy to set up.
  3. Backpacking Tent: The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2, weighs 3 lbs. 2 oz, fits 1-2 people, and comes from a high-quality brand.
  4. Glamping & Winter Camping: The spacious Whiteduck 13′ Avalon Canvas Bell Tent is made of breathable, waterproof canvas, and has a stove jack.
  5. Picnics & Events: The Eureka Northern Breeze Aluminum Frame Screen House has a waterproof roof, awning, and floor and a 7ft 8in peak height.


Looking out from inside of a tent, in the foreground are sleeping pads, a backpacking pack, and trekking poles, with more gear in the midground, and a rocky landscape in the background.
  1. Camping ChairThe Alps Mountaineering King Kong Chair has a sturdy steel frame, max capacity of 800lb, and two cupholders.
  2. Hammock: ENO DoubleNest Hammocks are portable, easy to use, have a max capacity of 400 lbs, and some in fun colors.
  3. Cot: The REI Co-op Kingdom Cot 3 easily unfolds instead of requiring assembly, is padded, and has sturdy legs.
  4. Sleeping Bag: The Nemo Forte 20 Endless Sleeping Bag has a mummy-esque shape designed for side sleepers, is lightweight, and has extra ventilation.
  5. Lantern: Black Diamond Moji R+ Lanterns are lightweight and last up to 70 hours between charges.
  6. Sleeping Pad: Sleepingo’s Pad offers two inches of cushion and insulation and packs down to the size of a water bottle.

Camping Tents

Camping Cookware

Camping Sleep

Camping Accessories

Camping Seats

Camping Tips

Camping FAQs


When you go camping, you should pack a tent and tarp or footprint for under the tent, a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad or cot, a pillow, and extra layers of clothing for when the temperature drops at night. 

Bring food, water, eating utensils, and cooking supplies. Always carry a first aid kit, any prescriptions or daily medicines, and a fully charged flashlight or lantern other than your phone. 

You’ll also need all of your basic toiletries for brushing your teeth, cleaning your face, and caring for yourself (remember your contact case and saline solution!).


Most tents nowadays come with a footprint or waterproof bathtub bottom that protects from moisture rising up through the floor of the tent. 

While you don’t have to use a tarp or footprint underneath your tent, it will protect the bottom of your tent from rocks or twigs, while adding a layer of insulation.

Tarps are also handy in case you need to hang them up for extra shelter in the rain or sun.


You will be significantly warmer on a sleeping pad than on the ground because sleeping pads offer insulation. Cold-weather campers even stack two sleeping pads below them for extra warmth.

If you’re using a cot, consider putting a sleeping pad on top of it for additional comfort and warmth.


Move all of your gear under cover and keep yourself as dry as possible. Once you’re wet, it’s hard to dry off and warm up in the rain. 

To prepare ahead of time, pack a rain poncho, rain jacket, and extra tarp, and waterproof your tent.


When deciding if your child is old enough to go camping, consider whether or not you can meet their needs while camping and if they’re mature enough. 

Many parents are comfortable taking their child camping at about four years old. It’s good to sleep in the same tent as your young child and bring camping games.

Don’t take your child camping if it’s too cold or they have to hike too far. If they’re not having fun, neither will you.


When you go camping with kids, take all of your typical camping gear, plus wet wipes and paper towels for sticky fingers, dirty faces, and accidents. Pack plenty of extra clothes (especially socks), toys, flashlights, and comfort items.

Using an instant tent or pop-up tent also makes setting up camp easier when you’re trying to juggle tired tots, making dinner, and putting up your tent.


Some people cook hot meals while camping, like hot dogs or hamburgers, baked beans, shishkabobs, eggs, yogurt, and pancakes. 

Backpackers usually eat cold or premade meals that only require hot water, like PB&J sandwiches, oatmeal, beef jerky, and freeze-dried backpacking meals. 

What you eat while camping depends on the amount of time and effort you want to put into cooking outdoors. 

Backpackers are specifically limited by the weight that they can carry, the space in their pack, and food spoilage.


To plan a camping trip, search keywords like “Best Camping Near San Diego” or “Lake Tahoe Camping Guide.” We have tons of California camping guides to help you get started.

Most campgrounds allow or require reservations. If you’re camping somewhere that doesn’t allow site reservations, have a backup plan in case there aren’t any sites available upon arrival (is there a nearby hotel or other campground?).

Invite friends and family. Make a packing list and talk about who’s bringing what. 

Plan to arrive at your destination and set up camp before dark. Be flexible, and remember that camping is about enjoying the outdoors.

Our Camping Experts

Mimi McFadden
Founder & Editor-In-Chief

Mimi McFadden Headshot

Mimi sometimes watches Survivor and thinks, “I could do that.” But really, she knows that she needs to bring her tent, sleeping bag, and more. Because she’s so high maintenance, she’s been able to test out more than just a bag of rice and machete.

Mimi’s camped all over, most recently on Catalina Island for a five-day backpacking trip and in Sonoma for a girls’ glamping weekend, and is excited to go camping in Yosemite later this year.

Suneel Jain
Partnerships & Management

Suneel Jain author headshot

Suneel’s philosophy is to stay in hotels if possible, but sometimes that just doesn’t work out. So he’ll go camping and be made fun of for bringing board games and hardcover books and too many avocados, but that’s okay because someone has to do the dirty work.

Jodelle Marx
Editor & Content Manager

Jodelle Marx author headshot

Jodelle’s always been the friend who supplies extra sleeping bags and geeks out about a new camping lantern or tent. She grew up camping with her parents and has the fastest tent setup record of all her friends.

Jodelle’s a car camper and backpacker who loves testing new camping gear to see if it can keep up with her wild ways.