Sometimes, you just need to leave the city, get outside, breathe some fresh air, and spend a little time roughing it. Experts have rated camping as a relatively safe activity (a 3 on a scale of 10) to take part in right now. But even though it’s a good way to get out and enjoy a simpler version of life, sorting out the right gear can be complicated. That’s why I compiled a list of my field-tested favorite tents and essential camping gear for beginners—or anyone looking to upgrade their setup.
Kelty Late Start 2
The Kelty Late Start tent makes it almost too easy to have a cozy shelter—with pre-bent poles, snap-on clips, and color-coded components so you can set up the tent in five minutes or less (after you’ve done it a time or two). The Late Start is also surprisingly affordable, given its quality construction and durability. Plus, the tent comes in three sizes—one person, two people, and four people—to fit your needs.
Kelty Wireless 6
Another great (and affordable) tent from Kelty is the Wireless 6, which can hold up to six people comfortably. The Wireless 6 features two entry points and vestibules where you can store gear safely. Plus, it has corner pockets (to stash your phone, a light, toiletries, or speakers) and interior clips so you can hang string lights for ~vibes~ or any wet gear that you need to dry out. All of this together creates a smart and convenient design that’s extremely packable, thanks to the tent’s easy-to-carry duffel bag case.
The North Face Wawona 4
With its domed design and screened-in doors and windows, this tent from the outdoor expedition experts at the North Face feels a little more like a home than a shelter. It’s tall enough to stand up at full height—making changing clothes or hanging out during inclement weather much more comfortable. Plus, it’s easy to set up and take down, has a large sunshade vestibule in the front, and comes with a duffel bag for easy transport.
The North Face Eco Trail 3
The Eco Trail 3 tent takes being one with Mother Nature more seriously than synthetic, less-sustainable tents, thanks to its 100% recycled polyester construction. TNF ensured that no detail was neglected in this three-person tent: It features a spacious design, two doors (so you don’t have to crawl over anyone when you get out of the tent), a waterproof rain fly, and interior pockets for stowing small necessities.
Mountain Hardwear Lamina Eco AF Sleeping Bag
If you tend to get cold sleeping outside, a slimmer “mummy”-shaped sleeping bag is the perfect, ultra-cozy antidote. This sleeping bag has a body-hugging design and a hood you can pull over your head, and it’s rated for temperatures down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Oh, and it’s exceptionally sustainable, since it’s not dyed to reduce the water footprint and it was made with a recycled shell, lining, insulation, and trims.
The North Face Aleutian 55° F/13° C
If you’re looking for something lightweight and packable for summer hikes and campouts, this bag will keep you cozy—while preventing overheating. The affordable Aleutian weighs in at just a little over 1 pound, packs up tight, and is remarkably durable. Plus, its synthetic filling is made of recycled fibers.
Big Agnes Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad
I used to not camp with a sleeping pad. I would just lay my sleeping bag down on my tent floor and make it work. That was a very stupid mistake that I have not made since purchasing my Big Agnes sleeping pad. This pad is lightweight, comes in a variety of lengths and widths, inflates and deflates quickly, and makes sleeping outside feel like you’re not sleeping outside.
Yeti Tundra 45
No, you don’t have to try and survive on freeze-dried meals and bars when you go camping. In fact, you should eat whatever your heart desires—and enjoy the chance to dine al fresco. This all-star cooler from Yeti has held many a carton of eggs, tub of hummus, bunch of salad greens, and premade spicy margarita for me—and I couldn’t imagine a car camping trip without it. Thanks to two inches of PermaFrost Insulation built into the extra-thick walls, this cooler can keep ice frozen for several summer days. Trust me.
Primus Kuchoma Grill
Cooking while camping should be as easy as possible, and the Primus Kuchoma Grill makes it both simple and stylish. With a slim Scandinavian profile and lightweight design, the Kuchoma is more portable than the competition—but it boasts just as much cooking power and efficiency, thanks to the domed hood and high propane output.
Stanley Even-Heat Adventure Camp Pro Cook Set
Built with a Russian nesting doll-like design, this 11-piece cookware set reminds me just how inefficient the rest of my kitchenware is every time I use it. It includes everything you need to cook whatever you fancy in the backcountry, including stockpot, frying pan, saucepan, collapsible cutting board, and a spatula. Plus, the stainless steel lends a sharp look while also ensuring that your meal heats and cooks evenly.
Kelty Low Loveseat
The Kelty Loveseat is the single piece of camping gear that I get the most consistent compliments on. It’s cute, functional, cozy, and so spacious. Being able to stretch out on it with a book like I’m on a couch or sidle up to my partner while sitting next to the campfire is an absolute treat. And it’s very packable to boot. The padded, roll-up carry bag that it comes with can double as a foot mat. Genius.
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