Spending the night outside is fun. But doing it as comfortably and stylishly as possible is even better. For the outdoorsy person who still has their limits, car camping is a great way to get the best of both worlds. Unlike for a backpacking trip, with this type of adventure they can pull the equipment they need from the trunk of their car and set up their cooking, lounging, and sleeping spot just a few feet away. But they’ll still need some specialized camping gear for the excursion. Consider gifting any of these to someone who might enjoy getting far away from people this pandemic. Maybe they’ll even invite you along and boil the water for you for your morning coffee.
Sleeping well outside means keeping some space between you and the chilly ground, even when you’re in a tent. This self-inflating pad is a whopping 3 inches thick, and is stuffed with self-inflating foam, making it perfect for frigid weather. The pad also comes with new valves that allow for quick inflation and deflation, in case you’re in a rush. And if you need something even cushier, try the 4-inch-thick MondoKing pad.
A sleeping bag should provide at least two things: warmth and comfort. For a backpacking trip, you might be fine with a snug, slender mummy bag that’s light and warm—but on a more relaxed outing, it’s nice to have the option to sprawl out a bit. The Big Agnes bags shine in that department, with extra zippers on both sides to make them even wider (by 10 inches total) so you can sleep exactly the way you want.
Coffee is essential in the morning, and the faster you can brew it, the better. These Kujo coffee packets feature a clever design that allows you to attach it right to your mug, and then pour the hot water over the grinds. You don’t need an extra pour-over funnel, and when you’re done, you just toss the packet into the trash. This particular brew is a single-origin from Ethiopia, but the company has other options, too, like the five-pack “Basecamp Blend.”
Once you brew that coffee, you’ll need to drink it out of something insulated and warm. This 12-fluid-ounce vessel from Hydro Flask promises to keep your drinks toasty for hours. Plus, they come in pleasant colors, including “Pacific” and “Watermelon.”
Many backpackers and campers cook over gas with a gadget like a WhisperLite stove. But if you’re car camping, you can have a little more fun by making a cute, contained fire. The Solo Stove Lite Stove is a stainless steel contraption that pulls in air through the holes in its base to help the sticks and twigs inside combust. Add a Solo Stove Pot 900 on top to boil water or heat up soup, and you’ll be good to go all day.
“Spork” is a fun word. Snow Peak makes its version of the classic multi-purpose utensil out of titanium, so it’s light (0.04 pounds) and strong. Use it to stab at a piece of chicken or to spoon up some instant oatmeal in the morning. Spork!
When you’re camping, it’s nice to be able to slip in and out of your shoes at the edge of your tent. And if you’ve been out hiking all day, having a different pair of kicks to change into allows your feet to breathe. Merrell’s options for men and women ($108) are both lined with fuzzy faux shearling inside for coziness; plus they’re lace-less, so you don’t need to expend any extra effort when leaving your shelter.
Your feet are at the bottom of your body, so this item is at the bottom of this list—but a purchase like this shouldn’t be an afterthought. Stellar wool and synthetic socks are key for fending off the damp and chill of the outdoors, even if you’re car camping. And a good pair of non-cotton socks like Smartwool’s will also perform well in summer to wick away sweat and any other moisture.
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