Memorial Day is just around the corner, which means only one thing: It's finally camping season.
When you're out on the trails, it's almost always best to keep your kit as simple (and as light) as possible. That said, there's plenty of gear out there that can help turn your next camping trip into a truly special memory. And if you're a newbie to the great outdoors — or you're trying to convince one to give camping a shot — these products can make roughing it just a little less rough.
Camping Cookware Mess Kit ($20)
Maybe it's just because you're always so hungry after all that hiking, swimming, canoeing or whatever else you've been up to all day, but there's nothing like a great camp meal. You don't want to be lugging your heavy everyday kitchen supplies to your campsite, though. Keep things light with a camp cooking kit like this one, which packs everything you need into a Russian nesting doll of pots, pans, and other goodies.
Petzl Tikka ($30)
If you're a city slicker used to seeing nothing past sunset but light pollution, getting out in the woods can be a night-sky revelation. But it can also be dangerously dark in the great outdoors, especially if there's no moonlight to help illuminate the way. They may look a little dorky, but a trusty headlamp like the Petzl Tikka can guide to to the summit (or just to the campsite bathroom) while keeping your hands free. Just remember to check the batteries before every outing — there's nothing worse than getting stuck with a dead light.
Buy now: Petzl Tikka, $30, Amazon
ENO DoubleNest Hammock ($70)
After a pre-dawn wakeup time for a grueling hike up a mountain or through the woods, there's nothing better than coming back to camp for a little afternoon shuteye. But after hours of basking in the hot summer son, the inside of your tent can sometimes feel like a car that's been sitting in the parking lot all day. Up your napping game with a camping hammock like the ENO DoubleNest. Paired with a good set of straps, you can set this bad boy up between a pair of nearby trees, hop in, and then it's nighty-night.
Buy now: ENO DoubleNest Hammock, $70, Amazon
REI Flex Lite Chair ($80)
Odds are good that your campsite won't have any built-in seating — and who wants to sit on the floor all day? Grab a few of these REI Flex Lite chairs, gather them around the campfire, and get the marshmallows and chocolate ready. As their name suggests, they're incredibly light, making them especially ideal for hike-in camping.
Buy now: Flex Lite Chair, $80, REI
BioLite CampStove 2 ($130)
For whipping up camp breakfasts for a hungry family, you'll probably want a full-blown camp stove, like this Coleman model. But you can supplement them with the BioLite CampStove 2, a portable wood-burning stove that can boil water or cook food. As a bonus, it captures some of the excess heat and converts it into electricity for charging up electronic devices. (Of course, it's great to be disconnected while you're in Mother Nature, but it's also wise to keep a phone handy in case of emergency).
Buy now: BioLite CampStove 2, $130, BioLite
TomTom Adventurer ($300)
If you're hiking or trail running as a means of staying fit and healthy, it's great to have something that can keep track of your progress. TomTom's new Adventurer is a health-tracking watch purpose-built for the outdoors, with a durable design, on-board music storage, long battery life and GPS connectivity (you can even pre-load trails to keep tabs on your location in case you can't find the next blaze.) Pairing it with TomTom's app offers all sorts of insights about your hikes, from a mapped route to altitude gains and drops.
Buy now: TomTom Adventurer, $300, Amazon