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Outdoor Gear Essentials

11 minutes

Putting The Great Into Outdoors

So, the budget won’t stretch to three weeks sunning yourself in the Caribbean this year?  What are the alternatives?  The basic holiday, and a budget option, that has been enjoyed by the more adventurous holiday maker for many years is the annual family camping trip

Ideally the main ingredient in a successful outdoor experience is excellent weather, but even if it is wet if you are prepared it can be fun. There are however, a range of camping essentials and outdoor gear that can help to make that downsized trip a truly enjoyable one.

When we talk about outdoor gear essentials, we refer to the core equipment and tools necessary for a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience. These essentials are the backbone of any outdoor adventure, providing comfort, safety, and convenience in the wilderness. So, here are our list of outdoor gear essentials.

Tents and Shelter

Tents play a vital role in outdoor activities, offering shelter and protection from the elements. There are various types of tents available, each designed for specific outdoor activities such as camping, backpacking, or mountaineering.

Choosing the right tent is essential to ensure comfort and safety during your outdoor excursions. A quality tent provides protection against rain, wind, and insects, creating a secure and cozy space for resting and sleeping in the wilderness. Investing in a durable and well-designed tent is key to a successful outdoor adventure.

Tent alternatives?

Now you’d think this is stating the obvious but a tent is normally a useful bit of kit to have to hand if you plan to go camping.  The news just in is that it’s not essential.  Camp sites offer a whole range of rental options from basic two person tents to palatial yurts, wooden tents and camping barns. 

For those looking for the budget, flexible option, a tent of your own is ideal, but for families the alternative arrangements can be a great idea.  If you’re looking to purchase your own canvas home away from home, the budget ranges are usually designed for short trips, while for multi-centre holidays (more than one site) then invest in a good quality one.  Ideally, a tent with a porch type arrangement is perfectly suited to our excitable climate.

2-Person Tent Recommendation

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 is a top-rated 2-man tent known for its lightweight design, durability, and spacious interior. It features a high-volume hub design that maximizes strength and increases living space without adding extra weight. The tent is easy to set up, offers excellent ventilation, and has two doors for convenient access.

Features and Benefits

  • Lightweight and packable for backpacking trips
  • High-volume design provides ample headroom and living space
  • Two doors for easy entry and exit
  • Excellent ventilation with mesh panels
  • Durable materials and construction for long-lasting use

4-Person Tent Recommendation

REI Co-op Kingdom 4 Tent

The REI Co-op Kingdom 4 Tent is a highly-rated 4-man tent known for its spacious interior, weather resistance, and versatility. It features a durable construction, multiple doors and vestibules for easy access and storage, and a removable divider for customizable sleeping arrangements.

Features and Benefits

  • Spacious interior with room divider for privacy
  • Weather-resistant design with a rainfly and bathtub floor
  • Multiple doors and vestibules for easy access and gear storage
  • Easy to set up and take down
  • Well-ventilated for comfort in various conditions

6-Person Tent Recommendation

Coleman WeatherMaster 6-Person Tent

The Coleman WeatherMaster 6-Person Tent is a popular choice for family camping trips due to its spacious design, weatherproof features, and durability. It offers a screened room for bug-free lounging, a hinged door for easy entry, and a WeatherTec system to keep you dry in inclement weather.

Features and Benefits

  • Spacious interior with room for up to 6 people
  • Screened room for bug-free relaxation
  • Weatherproof design with welded floors and inverted seams
  • Easy access with a hinged door
  • Durable construction for long-term use

8-Person Tent Recommendation

CORE 9 Person Extended Dome Tent

The CORE 9 Person Extended Dome Tent is a highly-rated tent known for its spacious interior, easy setup, and weather-resistant features. Even though it says it is a 9 person tent, it is also perfect for 8. It offers a large living area with room dividers for privacy, adjustable ground vents for ventilation, and a durable construction that can withstand various weather conditions.

Features and Benefits

  • Spacious interior with room dividers for privacy
  • Easy setup with color-coded poles
  • Weather-resistant design with adjustable ground vents
  • Electrical cord access port
  • Durable materials for long-lasting performance

Sleeping arrangements

There are a number of different options when it comes to bed time.  The traditional approach was a sleeping mat and a sleeping bag.  While the latter remains ideal, the former is deeply uncomfortable (if normally cheap). 

For longer trips a blow up mattress is the best alternative. Lightweight and easily stored they are perfect for those experiencing their first taste of the great outdoors.  Sleeping mats and rolls are, however, far easier to manage for serious hikers, who need lightweight as the key ingredient for their outdoor gear.  After a day of hard walking across wild landscapes even a slim-line sleeping roll should prove no bar to a very deep sleep.

Sleeping Bags: Types and Temperature Ratings

When it comes to sleeping bags, there are three main types to consider:

  • Mummy Bags: These are snug-fitting bags that taper towards the feet, minimizing air space to be heated and reducing weight. They are ideal for cold weather camping.
  • Rectangular Bags: These bags offer more room to move around but may not be as efficient in retaining heat as mummy bags. They are suitable for warmer weather camping.
  • Quilt Bags: These are essentially blankets with straps to secure them to a sleeping pad. They offer versatility and can be used in various temperatures.

Temperature ratings on sleeping bags indicate the lowest temperature at which a bag will keep the average sleeper warm. It’s essential to consider the temperature rating based on the expected weather conditions during your camping trip. For example, a bag with a 0°F rating is suitable for cold weather camping, while a bag with a 30°F rating is better for milder conditions.

Sleeping Pads: Insulation and Comfort

Sleeping pads play a crucial role in providing insulation from the cold ground and enhancing comfort for a good night’s sleep. There are two main types of sleeping pads based on insulation:

  • Air Pads: These pads are lightweight and packable, inflated with air to provide cushioning and insulation. They are suitable for backpacking and camping in moderate conditions.
  • Self-Inflating Pads: These pads have a foam core that expands when the valve is opened, providing both comfort and insulation. They are more durable and offer better insulation in colder conditions.

When choosing a sleeping pad, consider the following factors for comfort:

  • Thickness: Thicker pads offer more cushioning but may be bulkier to pack.
  • R-Value: This rating indicates the pad’s insulation level. Higher R-values are suitable for colder conditions.
  • Size and Weight: Choose a pad that fits your tent and sleeping bag and is lightweight for easy transport.

By selecting the right sleeping bag type and temperature rating, along with a suitable sleeping pad for insulation and comfort, you can ensure a restful night’s sleep during your camping adventures.

Extreme Cold Weather Sleeping Gear Recommendations

Sleeping Bag: The North Face Inferno -20 Sleeping Bag

The North Face Inferno -20 Sleeping Bag is specifically designed for extreme cold weather conditions with a temperature rating of -20°F. It features high-quality down insulation that provides exceptional warmth and comfort in freezing temperatures. The mummy shape of the sleeping bag helps retain body heat efficiently, preventing cold spots and ensuring a cozy night’s sleep even in the harshest environments.

Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad

Reason for Recommendation: The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad is an excellent choice for cold weather camping due to its high R-value of 6.9, indicating superior insulation properties. The pad is designed to minimize heat loss to the ground, keeping you warm throughout the night. Despite its impressive insulation, the pad remains lightweight and compact, making it ideal for backpacking in cold conditions without adding extra bulk to your gear.

Moderate Weather Sleeping Gear Recommendations

Sleeping Bag: REI Co-op Siesta 30 Sleeping Bag

The REI Co-op Siesta 30 Sleeping Bag is recommended for moderate weather camping due to its temperature rating of 30°F. Unlike traditional mummy bags, this sleeping bag features a rectangular shape that offers more room to move and can be fully unzipped to use as a blanket on hot nights. The versatility and comfort of the Siesta 30 make it a great choice for mid season adventures.

Sleeping Pad: NEMO Tensor Ultralight Sleeping Pad

The NEMO Tensor Ultralight Sleeping Pad is an ideal option for moderate weather camping thanks to its lightweight design and moderate R-value of 3.5, providing sufficient insulation for milder nights. The pad offers a balance between comfort and weight, making it perfect for backpackers looking to minimize pack size and weight while still enjoying a good night’s sleep. The Tensor Ultralight is durable, easy to inflate, and offers excellent support for a restful night outdoors.

Hot Weather Sleeping Gear Recommendations

Traditional sleeping bags are typically designed for colder temperatures and are not necessary for warm weather camping conditions up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In such warm conditions, it is more suitable to use a lightweight camping quilt or simply a light blanket for sleeping.

For a sleeping paf, the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad is suitable for hot weather camping. It is a lightweight and durable closed-cell foam pad that provides insulation from the ground and is suitable for summer or warm weather camping trips. The R-value of the Z Lite Sol is around 2.6, which is suitable for warmer conditions. It folds accordion-style for easy packing and is lightweight for backpacking trips.

Catering Department

Outsourcing to the nearest food outlet will probably be the preferred option, but if that’s not a feasible choice every night then a good quality camping stove will be an essential.  These should be used in line with the manufacturer’s instructions at all times; normally these instructions include simple things like ‘not inside the tent’. 

Canister stoves are recommended for their convenience, ease of use, and compact design, making them ideal for backpacking and camping trips where weight and space are crucial factors. They are quick to set up, require minimal maintenance, and offer precise flame control for cooking.

Liquid fuel stoves are recommended for their reliability in various weather conditions and high altitudes. They can burn a range of fuels, providing flexibility and performance in challenging environments where fuel availability may be limited. Liquid fuel stoves are also known for their durability and ability to maintain consistent heat output.

If the outdoor life is your passion then a seriously good option is the frontier stove; these are small wood/solid fuel stoves, complete with chimney, on which you can cook, heat water and generally pretend you’re experiencing the life on the frontier, far from civilisation and surrounded by wild beasties and natives.  In reality there’ll be a toilet block not far off and the natives will be friendly, but this type of stove really adds a whole new dimension to the experience.

Cooking Stove Recommendations

Jetboil Flash Cooking System

The Jetboil Flash is known for its rapid boiling time, efficiency, and compact design. It includes a built-in push-button igniter and a flux ring that enhances fuel efficiency. Ideal for solo backpackers or small groups due to its lightweight and all-in-one design, making it easy to use and efficient for boiling water quickly.

MSR PocketRocket 2

The MSR PocketRocket 2 is a popular choice for its reliability, durability, and simplicity. It offers excellent simmer control and compatibility with various pot sizes. Versatile for different cooking styles, from boiling water to simmering, and suitable for backpackers looking for a reliable and lightweight stove.

Primus Omnilite Ti

The Primus Omnilite Ti is a versatile and durable stove that can burn multiple fuel types, including white gas, gasoline, diesel, and kerosene. It is known for its performance in extreme conditions. Perfect for adventurers exploring remote areas with limited fuel options, offering reliability and efficiency in challenging environments.

MSR WhisperLite Universal

The MSR WhisperLite Universal is a hybrid stove that can run on canister fuel or liquid fuel, providing flexibility for different trip scenarios. It offers excellent stability and simmer control. Suitable for backpackers and campers who value versatility and the option to switch between fuel types based on availability and conditions.

Conclusion – it’s all about the right outdoor gear!

Whatever your experience or your plans, having the right outdoor gear for your camping trip will make all the difference, especially in our difficult climate.  The right size tent, a good stove and appropriate bedding can turn a good holiday into a great one.

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