Whether referring to down sleeping bags or lightweight tents, there are certain things that are essential to a proper camping experience.
It’s the equipment that keeps you sheltered from the elements and safe from harm, or the gear you use to transport it all from the trail head to the spot where you intend to pitch your tent.
However, sometimes you can afford to tote a little more than just the bare necessities when you’re only backpacking for a mere night, or have the luxury of a vehicle close at hand.
Our picks for nonessential, camping essentials include everything from indestructible shoelaces and a lightweight French press to a sturdy speaker and a compact stove that allows you to charge your phone as you cook. They’re not vital, but they are welcome.
Rhino Laces ($30): Rhino laces are made to withstand the everyday rigors of the trail. Two wildland firefighters designed the unbreakable laces to withstand the elements you’re likely to encounter while at the office or in the woods, conveniently blending a melange of durable materials guaranteed to resist cutting, burning, sawing, or any other process that would destroy most shoelaces.
And if their patent-pending process ever fails, the company will replace them for free.
Grandpa’s FireGrill ($23): Collapsible cooking skewers and silverware have long been a camping mainstay, but Grandpa’s FireGrill allows you to omit the handle entirely.
The collapsible, stainless-steel grill attaches to any stick or branch via a simple wire mechanism, allowing you to cook everything from fish to stack without the fear of the food falling into the flame. Moreover, the grill features an adjustable height and functions as a gridiron when folded out and locked in place.
Black Diamond Ultra Carbon Trekking Poles ($170): Inexperienced hikers and backpackers occasionally view trekking poles as unnecessary, yet they’ve been proven to aid balance, increase blood circulation, and reduce the overall impact of hiking on your joints and muscles.
Black Diamond’s carbon fiber model is one of the lightest in existence, built for four seasons and easily collapsible to fit in your pack when you grow tired of the moisture-wicking strap.
Hydro Flask insulated growler ($55): While certainly not our recommendation for deep-woods excursion, the Hydro Flask insulated growler is the perfect solution for car camping with family and friends.
The sustainable, 64-ounce container is vacuum-insulated to ensure your favorite microbrew remains chilled for up to 24 hours with zero condensation. It’s even guaranteed to keep your coffee piping hot for up 12 hours without burning you or others in the process.
Gerber’s Gorge Folding Shovel ($23): Lined with a carbon steel blade and a collapsible shaft, the Gorge folding shovel provides ample functionality for your next campsite.
The ergonomic handle is constructed of glass-filled nylon and adorned with a rubberdized grip, letting you easily pierce the surface of the toughest dirt or shovel ashes from your firepit with little hassle. Plus, the handle folds back to reveal a textured head for hammering resistant tent stakes into the ground.
Snow Peak Titanium French Press ($56): Just because you’re in the woods doesn’t necessarily mean you forced to resort to Folgers — after all, no one truly wants to wake up with Folgers in their cup.
Fortunately, Japanese wilderness retailer Snow Peak’s French press lets you brew whatever alternative you prefer within a titanium pot that will neither rust or add unwanted bulk to your pack. Simply pour in the coffee grounds, let them sit before pressing down, and enjoy.
Helinox Cot One ($300): With an inflatable mattress, you’re prone to valve leaks and run the unfortunate risk of puncturing the exterior while in your sleep or traveling.
Thankfully, the lightweight Helinox Cot One allows you to comfortably rest above the ground in a matter of seconds, keeping you away from uneven ground. Furthermore, the folding camp cot is built of sturdy aluminum and can be assembled with a quick click of tension locks, with support to spare.
BioLite CampStove ($130): Weight is of the utmost concern when backpacking, so as expected, the opportunity to leave traditional petroleum fuels behind is hard to pass up.
However, the BioLite CampStove conveniently relies on twigs, sticks, pinecones, and other sustainable fuel sources to help cook your food and generate energy via a built-in thermoelectric generator. The equipped fan also improves combustion, while a USB port allows you charge your mobile electronics.
Gibbon Slacklines Classic Line X13 ($75): Modern slacklining has been around since a pair of college students popularized the sport more than three decades ago. It’s remains a popular activity among outdoor enthusiasts, with Gibbons becoming the go-to source for quality slacklines for amateurs and professionals alike.
The Classic Line X13 is the perfect model for beginners, lined with 2-inch webbing, loop swings, and a safety lock. Unfortunately, you’ll need your own trees.
Braven BRV-X ($200): Quality sound doesn’t have to come at the expense of portability. Braven’s BRV-X offers detailed sound within a rugged exterior that is both waterproof and shockproof given the use of high-impact plastics and rubber overmolding.
The sleek Bluetooth speaker also touts the ability to charge your mobile devices via a powerful 5200mAh power bank and offers 12 hours of battery life, ensuring the perfect tunes for the slopes or a sultry sunset.