Camping Gear and Equipment

How Do I Choose The Right Camping Gear And Equipment?

There is such a great variety of outdoor gear available; it can be a challenge to determine exactly what you need and what you don’t need. Each product category, from backpacks to tents, offers a big selection of models and features. It can sometimes become confusing and difficult to choose what the best item is for your needs.

Your tent is the most unusual piece of equipment of your camping trip. The tent is your home away from home. Campers have several choices in selecting a tent or shelter that will satisfy a variety of needs. Tents are offered in cabins, domes & other geometric shapes that provide many storage and comfort options. You should choose a tent that meets your outdoor recreation needs for protection, size, comfort, weight, & features. By picking carefully, you are laying a strong foundation for years of enjoyable camping experiences.

How Do I Select The Perfect Tent For Camping?

Different tents are made for various conditions. They range from mesh-wall designs for warm weather camping to huge-duty 4-season tents for braving the extremes of winter. The most popular tents are the 3-season tents that are suited to mild spring, summer and fall weather. They are made from light materials and can handle rain and moderate wind, but they may not be able to resist strong winds or snow loading. For camping in temperate weather, you might want a mesh-wall model to let heat escape and breezes to flow through.

If you plan to camp mostly in mild weather but there is a possibility you will do some cold-weather camping sometime, you should invest in a 3-4 season convertible tent. They usually convert from 3-season to 4-season is by zipping in a ceiling panel. The tens are usually have reinforced floors and sturdier designs to withstand occasional snow loading and strong winds. But they are not built to handle blizzard conditions.

For mountaineers and cold-weather campers, a convertible tent is not enough. These adventurers will want a 4-season expedition tent designed to keep out the snow, wind & cold. Because they are built with heavier materials, these tents weight a bit more than the 3 and 3-4-season models. The best 4-season tents have features like a double vestibule, bathtub floor, additional tie-downs, & good ventilation. A bathtub floor is a waterproof floor that partially extends up the sidewall. Vestibules are sizes of the doors. They keep out the elements when the tent is entered and are used to store gear. Supplementary tie-downs allow for more guidelines and increased stability.

For most purposes, a 3-season A-frame, dome, or hoop tent will suffice. A-frames are easy to pitch and have an efficient floor plan, but offer little headroom and sometimes are cheaply constructed. Dome and hoop tents offer extra headroom than A-frames. Hoop tents are the lightest of the three, but not as rugged. For families, tents are available in a plenty of configurations that accommodate 4, 5, 6 or even more campers. Many of these tents have dividers that break the tent into separate rooms.

For general use, you will want a double-wall tent. These have an external, waterproof wall that keeps out the moisture & collects condensation underneath. The layer of air between the walls makes for a heated, more breathable tent with little condensation on the inside of the internal wall. Single-wall tents are not desirable for general use, as they are much more expensive and harder to keep warm and dry.

How Do I Choose A Backpack For Camping?

Choosing a backpack isn’t a decision to take lightly. An overly small backpack won’t be able to handle all the gear you need; an ill-fitting backpack can cause extreme discomfort after just a few minutes. It is important to select a pack that is comfortable, and that has the capacity and features you need.

Backpacks are categorized by the length of the trip the pack is good for a day, a weekend, or week or more. This is determined by the pack’s capacity, measured in cubic inches. A daypack can be anywhere from 750 cubic inches for a day of hiking to 3,000 cubic inches for a backwoods overnight. A weekend pack measures 1,500 cubic inches to 4,000 cubic inches or more. You should consider all of the gear you will need for your trip before you buy a pack so that you don’t end up choosing one that is too small.

Most backpacks have some frame, either external or internal. The primary purpose of the structure is to allow the weight to be distributed, making the pack easier and more comfortable to carry.

External frame packs are better for heavier loads. They keep the pack away from the back, minimizing chafing and allowing ventilation. More weight is transferred to the hips. They are better for the organization because they have more compartments, and you can lash gear to the frame. But this will expose the gear to weather and sharp objects. An external frame can also impede arm movement and snag on branches. External frame backpacks aren’t suited to uneven terrain, which can make the pack swing.

Internal frame backpacks mold to the back and keep the weight closer to the body, allowing for better balance, especially on uneven terrain. They won’t snag on branches and allow uninhibited arm movement. They also offer more adjustments. There is one large compartment, so items requiring quick access must be packed toward the top. Because more weight is on the back, internal frame packs tend to make the wearer bend forward. They are also more expensive than external frame packs.

Which Sleeping Bag Is Best For Camping?

Sleeping bags may look alike from the outside, but underneath those colorful shells are a wide range of materials providing varying levels of warmth and performance.

Most sleeping bags are provided temperature ratings by their manufacturers. The temperature rating signifies the lowest temperature that the bag provides a comfortable sleeping temperature.

The big question when buying a sleeping bag is whether to choose down or synthetic fill. Down has the essential warmth-to-weight ratio of any fill and is the most compressible. Down is expensive and it loses its insulating qualities when wet.

Synthetics are less expensive than down, and they insulate even when wet. The highest quality synthetic fibers have a compressibility and warmth-to-weight ratio that approaches that of down fill.

Most bags are lined with nylon, polyester or taffeta. Some have a brushed or fleece lining, that may feel better against the skin when you first crawl in the bag but tend to trap heat and feel too warm against the skin. Silk linings are supple and breathable, but very expensive and prone to tearing, which is difficult to repair. Low-end bags often have cotton or flannel linings, which are breathable, light and easy to clean, but will trap moisture.

What Other Camping Gear And Equipment Will I Need?

There are two main types of stoves, canister and liquid gas. Canister stoves use not-refillable canisters, and liquid gas stoves use refillable tanks. A few other stoves utilize wood or fuel pellets.

Canister stoves are further broken down into two main types: those that use propane and those that use butane. Propane burns cleanly & efficiently and produces a hot, steady flame. It also works well at high altitude & temperatures well below freezing. Most propane stoves are too heavy for backpacking.

Butane stoves produce a steady flame & work well at high altitudes. They are good for camping trips short enough that you won’t have to pack multiple canisters.

The type of camping you will be doing & the number of people in the group will largely determine what type of cookware you should get. For distance backpacking, weight & space is at a premium.

A small, lightweight pot, a plate, a cup & a spoon will be adequate if you are camping alone. For trips where weight is less of a concern, consider packing a full set of cookware and utensils. A basic personal mess kit can be bought for under $10. They are comprised of a plastic cup that fits inside a small pot with lid, all of which is sandwiched between a pan & a plate or bowl. The handle of the pan swivels in to serve as a clasp to hold the kit together. More extensive cook sets include multiple plates & cups, several pots within each other and a kettle for boiling water and brewing coffee.

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