If you’re a roadtripper who likes to camp along the way, you probably know what a difference good camping gear can make. Whether you’re on the hunt for some cool new gear or just like to keep up with the latest trends, here’s what two experienced campers (David Brown of the America Outdoors Association and Joe Jackson, the Gear Guy for OutsideOnline.com) said are their favorite new types of outdoor gear.
Thanks to innovations in fabrics, padding and waterproof coatings, “sleeping bags are warmer, more comfortable and lighter than ever,” Brown says. Typically, the weight of your gear isn’t as much of a factor when car camping, since you’re not carrying it around on your back, he notes, so you can focus more on comfort.he notes, so you can focus more on comfort. For that, Outside Magazine recommends sleeping bags with built-in memory foam.
A good sleeping pad, which goes under your sleeping bag, may also help you get a comfortable night’s rest. Brown’s preference is a self-inflating pad made of open-cell foam because it takes up little space when deflated and can provide insulation from the cold ground.
Unlike older camping showers that hang overhead and depend on gravity for water flow, portable pressurized showers either rest on the ground or attach to a vehicle’s roof rack and, as the name suggests, provide a more pressurized shower via a hose and spray nozzle. Some will hold as much as 5 gallons of water and can be pressurized using a bicycle pump or a built-in foot pump, according to TheOutdoorLand.com. The air created with the pump pushes through the hose and nozzle to provide the improved water flow.
Jackson has used a 5-gallon, solar-heated roof-rack version. “The water heated up while we were driving to our destination,” he says. “There was plenty of water for three or four showers.”
Lanterns can be ideal for illuminating your campsite or for bedtime reading inside your tent. Many LED options are not only energy efficient, says Energy.gov, but also lightweight and compact for travel. You may be able to find LED lamps that range in brightness from less than 100 lumens to more than 400 lumens, Jackson says. New versions may come with features such as rechargeable batteries, USB ports and red lights for night vision.
Some lanterns are even Bluetooth-enabled so you can control them with a smartphone — no cell service required, Jackson says. “That’s a great feature when you hear a critter you’d like to frighten off and your lantern happens to be on the other side of the camp.”
Now get out there and start camping like a pro!