Best Camping gear of 2023

   Whether you’re a first-time camper or a seasoned veteran, shopping for camping gear is no easy task. But once you’ve pitched your tent, laid out your sleeping bag and settled in by the campfire, the effort will be worth it. After more than a decade of research and testing, we’ve compiled the top camping essentials in one place so you can spend less time comparing and more time enjoying the great outdoors. Here are our top picks for the 2023 season. For a more detailed guide to each category, check out our camping gear review.

   Best camping tent :The North Face Wawona

  Best rooftop tent :Roofnest Condor XL

  Best Camping Mattress :Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D

  Best Camping Sleeping Bag :North Face Eco Trail Bed 20

  Best Camping Blanket :Rumpl Original Fluffy Blanket

  Best Camping Chair :REI Co-op Camp X

  Best Camp Stove: Eureka Lit Plus

  Best hard-side cooler :RTIC 52 Ultra-Light

  Best soft surface cooler :RTIC Flexible Packaging Cooler 30 cans

  Best Camping Light :BioLite AlpenGlow 500

  Best Headlamp :Petzl Actik Core

  Best Roof Cargo Box :Thule Sport XT L

  Best duffel bag: Patagonian Black Hole 55

 What we like: Open interior and spacious front room at an affordable price.

   What we don’t need: Time-consuming installation, partially covered with rain, grid doors prone to air leaks.

   Few items of equipment are more important to a successful camping trip than a quality camping tent, which is your primary refuge from the elements. The North Face’s Wawona 6, our top 2023 choice, boasts a spacious tunnel-style interior that can seat up to six people, a huge vestibule that doubles as a covered seating area, and a hybrid double-walled structure that is airy and less prone to condensation. Wawona comes in four – and six-seater types, but we like the six-seater, even for small families (great for lounging around in bad weather), and the 80-inch maximum height means most people don’t have to curl up inside. At $500 for the larger version, the TNF is excellent value for money, even better than some of REI Co-op’s camping tents, including Base Camp 6 for $549 and Wonderland 6 for $599.

   But as with most components of the gear, we have our gripes with Wawerner. First of all, it’s quite time consuming and cumbersome to set up. The vestibule, in particular, had to be propped up tightly to stay upright, and the distinctive pole structure took some time to tighten and secure. Second, rain flies don’t cover the lower part of the tent (not ideal when blowing rain), and full-mesh doors cause heat loss and airflow (for a more weather-friendly option, check out REI’s base Camp 6 mentioned above). But no tent is perfect, and Wawona’s breathable construction, spacious interior and front room, and reasonable price make it a standout on the market.

   What we like: Super spacious folding design, premium quality, quick setup.

   What we shouldn’t pay attention to: For solo travelers and most couples, this is too much.

   Roofnest The rooftop tent market has exploded recently, and Colorado-based company Roofnest has distinguished itself with a range of quality designs. While many companies (such as Thule) specialize in soft-shell tents, Roofnest offers three styles of hardshell tents that we prefer for their durability, ease of installation, and superior weather protection. Their Condor is an interesting hybrid, and our current favorite: Unlike most hard-shell products that can be set up simply by popping the top, the Condor uses a folding design that effectively doubles the footprint. The end result is a four-person sleeping area (bigger than a king-size bed) and all the features we love in a hard-shell design.

   Roofnest isn’t the snout hand of folding hardshell sofas – that’s iKamper and their skycamp – but their understanding of the concept offers similar quality at a better price. While $500 less than Skycamp 3.0, the Condor adds a few inches of headroom and takes up a slightly larger footprint (47.8 square feet). Feet vs. 44.3 square feet Ft.) And has a shorter footprint (easier to maneuver up and down). But if you’re traveling alone or as a couple, the king-size beds with these premium hybrid beds may feel too luxurious for you, and you can opt for pop-up or flip beds such as rooftop sparrow or Falcon beds. Shoppers on a true budget will want to check out soft-shell tents, and our favourite is the Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3($2,000). But when it comes to the best combination of durability, ease of installation, interior space and value, the Condor XL is our favorite rooftop tent of the year.

   What we love: A sublime combination of foam and air; Soft and durable fabric.

   What we don’t like: Expensive; Large packages are not good for those with limited storage or shipping space.

   It’s hard to overstate a good night’s sleep while camping – it often comes down to the quality of the mattress you’re camping on. But what makes one person more comfortable than another? There are a variety of structures to choose from, but we prefer the combination of the self-inflating design with a soft foam core. Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D has a firm grip on the formula, with 4.25-inch loft, vertical side walls that allow you to stretch to the very edge without risking falling off, soft yet durable fabrics, and an interior foam that is both supportive and plush. The latest MondoKing 3D comes with a dedicated inflation/bleed valve, making installation and removal quicker and easier.

   Our main complaint about MondoKing 3D is the sheer size of its package, which is more than two feet long and nearly a foot wide. For those with limited storage or smaller vehicles, bulky gear can add up quickly. You can simplify it a lot with designs like Nemo Roamer, which is almost halved in size; However, you pay $20 more for the Roamer’s extra compressibility, and it’s not as warm or chunky as the Therm-A-Rest (and surprisingly, it’s also heavier). Both bags may seem a bit pricey for occasional campers (Sea to Summit’s $80 Camp SI sleeping pad was our best budget option), but for those who get out a lot and don’t want to skit on sleep, MondoKing 3D is our favorite all-around design.

   What we like: Comfortable, warm, cost-effective.

   What we don’t know: Heavier and less compressible than mummy bags.

   Our top pick for the best camping sleeping bag of 2023 is the North Face’s Eco Path Bed 20, which ticks all the boxes for most recreational campers in a well-packaged, affordable package. A three-season-friendly temperature rating of 20 degrees will keep you comfortable to near freezing (adding a 10-degree buffer is recommended), the interior is impressively soft, the top has a woolly lining, and the spacious rectangular shape is comfortable and unrestricted. The bag also boasts a spacious 14-inch side zipper for drying things out on warm, warm nights, and an internal pocket for smaller items you want to take with you at night (like a headlamp or phone). The 20-degree EcoTrail Bed costs $129 (there is also a 35-degree version) and is a great value from our trusted brands.

   But there are some disadvantages to keep in mind with the design of the ecological track bed. While most campers will appreciate the roominess of a rectangular bag, it does reduce warmth because there is more air inside to keep warm. In other words, the mummy bag is a more efficient style, although the ecowalk bed does have a lace-up on the collar that helps seal in the heat. Second, synthetic insulation lacks quality loft, temperature-to-weight ratio and down packability. On the other hand, it costs a lot less and is designed to be more durable, to stand being thrown around (you don’t have to worry about feathers falling out) and to stand the odd damp. For most campers, a bag like the Eco Trail Bed, which is also available for two for $199 ($220 for the “long” size), is the perfect combination of function and value.

   Why you should see it: This iconic camping blanket is durable, comfortable and comes in a variety of fun patterns and color schemes.

   What we don’t like: Not as warm and easy to pack as a down blanket.

   What kind of camping blankets do we need? The first is warmth, durability and value. Our top pick, the Original Puffy from Rumpl, meets all three and more. Rumpl is a relatively new brand, but they helped define the modern camping blanket as we know it. Their flagship model, the Original Puffy, combines chunky three-season synthetic insulation with reasonably wear-resistant 30 denier housing and long-lasting waterproof (DWR) surfaces to release slight moisture. A large selection of patterns and color schemes add to the blanket’s appeal, and it has some eye-catching features such as a “shawl clip” to hold the blanket to the shoulder and corner loops to hold it in place in the wind.

   Another issue to consider when shopping for a camping blanket is size. We appreciate Rumpl’s 75 “by 52” size, but you can opt for a larger design, such as Kammock’s Mountain Blanket (84 x 50 “), which costs about $40 more than Rumpl but is much warmer with its chunky wool construction. You can also choose a two-person blanket, such as the Therm-a-Rest Argo($110), which measures 72 by 78 inches. If you’re looking for a better warm to weight ratio, it’s worth considering a down insulated blanket, such as Rumpl Featherlite or Kelty Galactic – just keep in mind that down overall is not as hard-wearing as synthetic (you’ll want to keep it in your tent) and is much more expensive. Ultimately, we prefer versatile and affordable synthetic blankets such as the original Puffy.?

   What we like: a sturdy, well-rounded design at an affordable price.

   What we don’t like: Not everyone likes low seats and high backs.

   For many camping chair buyers, personal preferences matter — some prioritize comfort and comfort, while others prefer a lighter, more pack-friendly setup. Our first choice, REI Partner Camp X, achieves a good balance of these qualities at an affordable price. Its sturdy steel frame inspires confidence, while X-shaped webbing on the seat and back panel helps distribute weight evenly. Despite its sturdiness, the chair features a lot of mesh that allows it to breathe well in warm weather and quickly in dry weather. When you sit down, the cup holder and drop-down pocket on the armrest make it easy to store drinks or small items such as keys and phones. For $50, you’d be hard pressed to beat Camp X.

   Campers may find Camp X’s main drawback is its height: At just 10.5 inches off the ground, it’s lower than most traditional camping chairs, making sitting and standing painful for some. Other models, like the Alpine King Kong Chair and the Coleman Oversized four-person chair, are taller and larger, with a higher back. But they also become bulkier when folded up, and can become unruly when packing for travel (especially if you’re carrying multiple chairs). If you’re fairly lithe and don’t mind sitting close to the ground, the Camp X is a reasonably priced, well-made chair that will last a lot longer than cheaper alternatives.

   What we love: Large cooking area and all the features we look for in a quality design.

   What we don’t have: Not the cheapest or most powerful option.

   In 2023, camp cooks have a choice of high quality stoves. Our favorite is the Eureka Ignite Plus, which combines reliable output with good slow cooker control on a 23-inch-wide cooking surface that can accommodate larger POTS and pans. Two 10,000 btu burners are powerful enough for most campers, and fine tuning controls are essential for more complex meals. In addition, the Ignite’s side shield protects well against the breeze, the push-button ignition keeps your hands away from the flames of the big bang, and the locking lid and controllable 12-pound weight make for easy transport. The combination of these features, coupled with a reasonable price tag, propelling the Eureka Ignite plus ahead of the competition.

   However, the Eureka Ignite Plus is not the most affordable or streamlined camp stove on the market, nor is it the most powerful. Camp Chef’s Everest 2X doubles the power output per burner (20,000 btu per burner), which is a bit much for most people, but makes sense for those who go out a lot and enjoy cooking complex and varied dishes. On the other hand, infrequent campers who only camp a few times a year can save a lot of money with a budget design like Coleman’s Classic Propane($48), although you may see a considerable drop in flame control and overall quality. Finally, those who want an all-in-one purchase for backpacking and camping should check out MSR’s WindBurner stove combo system ($280), which is relatively light and portable, and comes with a 2.5-liter pot and 8-inch frying pan.

   What we like: Competitive ice retention and low weight, much cheaper than the competition.

   What we don’t: Sell only online; Slightly lower than the high-end designs of brands like Yeti.

   A quick look at the 2023 cooler market begs the question: How much does a camper really need to spend to get decent ice retention and capacity? For the ideal balance of quality and price, the RTIC 52 Ultra-Light fits the bill better than others. At 21 pounds, it’s lighter than most hard-sided coolers of the same size and quality, and costs less than almost all hard-sided coolers at $200. While most coolers in this size range have a capacity of 45 or 65 quarts, the RTIC offers 52 quarts of versatile storage, enough for two people for a long weekend while still easily fitting into the trunk of a car. It is also important to note that RTIC sells directly to consumers through their website (often at a discount), making RTIC quality surprisingly cheap.

   The downside to RTIC’s direct-to-consumer model is that you can’t go to your local retailer in person to check out their coolers. The RTIC also falls slightly short on ice retention compared to more advanced designs such as the Yeti Tundra and Roadie, though it may not be as good as expected given its lower price (the same size Yeti Tundra 65 is $175 more). In addition, the Ultra-Light is slightly less durable than the Tundra and other high-end options. But in the end, the RTIC’s low weight, consistent performance and reasonable price made it our favorite hard-sided cooler of the year.

   What we love: A well-constructed, durable soft cooler at a great price.

   What we didn’t like: Hard to open, fairly basic feature set.

   Hard-sided coolers like the RTIC 52 Ultra-Light above are great for long camping trips, but soft-sided coolers also have some benefits for short trips such as day trips, tailgaters, or shopping for perishables at the grocery store or farmers market. That said, they’re usually cheaper, lighter, and easier to carry around. RTIC’s own flexible Pack Cooler of 30 cans fits the bill nicely, combining respectable insulation capabilities and functional features in an affordable 2 lb package. On the outside, you’ll get a noticeably thick and durable nylon shell that provides good construction, while the interior 2-inch closed-cell foam insulation is enough for a day adventure or a weekend road trip. One final benefit: the flexible pack cooler floats, making it an excellent choice for activities such as rafting and other water sports.

   Still, we have a few complaints about RTIC’s design. Like many soft coolers, they require considerable effort (two hands) to open, although the zipper is sturdy, highly leak-proof, and seals well in cold conditions. The layout of the refrigerator is also basic, with only one pocket in the front, which limits the utility of the refrigerator at picnics, when you’re carrying smaller, non-perishable items. If you’re willing to stretch the budget, YETI’s $350 Hopper M30 has a handy external attachment system that can secure their Rambler Bottle Sling or SideKick Dry Gear Case(sold separately). But in our opinion, these are relatively minor drawbacks that don’t detract from an impressively well-rounded and well-polished cooler.

   What we like: Bright lights, long battery life, beautiful appearance.

   What we don’t like: Expensive, a little clunky, and could be a little friendlier.

   You may be familiar with the BioLite brand because of their innovative line of wood-burning stoves, but they also make well-made camping lanterns, including our top pick, the AlpenGlow 500. What makes the AlpenGlow 500 unique? It has a maximum output of 500 lumens, enough to serve as the only light in the camp, while the integrated USB port extends its capabilities not only as a simple lantern, but also as a charger for a phone or tablet. The built-in circulation makes the AlpenGlow 500 easy to hang from your tent ceiling or tree branches, its sleek, modern styling is appealing, and multiple lighting patterns make it a fun campsite addition (you can choose warm white or cool white, as well as a colorful “fireworks” feature).

   Price, weight and volume are the drawbacks of the BioLite AlpenGlow 500. While other models can be folded or folded up for storage, the AlpenGlow won’t, and it’s fairly heavy and slightly more expensive than its competitors. Our dream camping lamp will also come with a solar panel to charge it (check out the LuminAID PackLite Max for solar-powered options), but the AlpenGlow still offers an impressive battery life of 200 hours on low and 5 hours on high. While we occasionally struggled to find the exact setting we wanted – riding in various modes required pressing buttons and shaking lanterns at the same time – it wasn’t a problem. Overall, we still prefer the AlpenGlow 500 for its combination of function, brightness and quality. If you’re looking for a more traditional fuel-powered lamp, check out the Coleman Power Lamp.

   Recommended reasons: Rechargeable and compatible with aaa; Light and light.

   What we don’t like: Expensive; It’s also worth a look at Black Diamond’s updated headlights.

   Is it just us, or dealing with AAA batteries feels like something that should be a thing of the past? Thankfully, many headlamp manufacturers are rolling out usb rechargeable models. Petzl, long known for their headlamp innovations, has produced our favorite designs in Actik Core. With 600 lumens (maximum output), long battery life and consistent brightness throughout the burn time (some headlights tend to go off), the Actik Core is a top performer. Our favorite features are the versatility of the Petzl, including a rechargeable core battery pack and AAA battery, which is a good backup option for working long hours in the wild (you can also charge the core with solar panels or a portable power bank). Combined with a weight of less than 3.1oz and an easy-to-use interface, the Actik Core stands out as an extremely competitive and versatile option.

   Some of the biggest headlight news for 2022 is Black Diamond’s updated lineup, from the 500 lumen rechargeable Storm 500-R($75) to the 300 lumen Astro($20), which also includes Spot and Cosmo models. These headlights perform very well (especially compared to BD’s past versions), and the standard models (without the “R”) feature dual-fuel technology, which means that like the petzl, they can be powered by battery packs from AAAs and Black Diamond (purchased separately for $20). If you are looking for an economical head lamp, can finish the work of camp chores, and can be used as emergency lights, Astro is our first choice, its waterproof level for IPX4, with senior Actik windproof as the Core.

   What we like: The best combination of quality, functionality, and ease of use.

   What we don’t have: Relatively expensive, nothing in small size.

   Within the roof box category, there is a wide range of options in terms of price, size and construction quality. Our top pick is the Thule Motion XT, which combines high-end features and finish, comes in four sizes, can accommodate skis of varying lengths, and is very well priced, with a quality level of $900. Of the top boxes we tested, it was the easiest to install and operate (it should fit most vehicles and crossbar sets), and we particularly liked the latches and locks, which operate as two separate mechanisms (perfect for service life) and offer a high degree of safety. The icing on the cake is Thule’s excellent wind resistance: the nose design is smooth, with a particularly sturdy base that has plenty of overlap and resists cracking. All that said, Motion XT is a powerful all-around performer, whether you’re a longtime road traveler or a weekend warrior.

   One of the first things to consider when choosing a rooftop cargo box is size, especially if you’re carrying skis, coolers, or other large items. While it’s tempting to opt for a more budget-conscious model than the Motion XT, we think this is a category where quality really matters. If you’re using your cargo case all the time, it’s worth shelling out a few hundred extra dollars for sturdy construction, long-lasting and secure handles and locking gear, and a stand that runs smoothly. For example, you can choose Thule’s Pulse($600), but the combination of handle and lock puts more strain on the lock, leading to problems with broken keys. Finally, the Thule Motion XT offers top-class quality at an affordable price, and it’s also worth considering Yakima’s SkyBox 16 Carbonite, which will save you about $180.

   Why: Durable, comfortable like a backpack, with a large main opening.

   Not recommended: A little expensive; Some people may prefer structure.

   You can pack for a camping trip in a variety of ways — a backpack, a Rubbermaid, or a suitcase will do. But our favorite camping gear is in duffel bags, thanks to their durability, ease of access, and multiple carrying options. Patagonia’s Black Hole collection is our favorite: these duffels certainly get the “cool” spot, but that’s not all the 55-liter versions that make it into our top spot. What really shines is the black hole’s rugged construction (900D rip-proof nylon), hygroscopic DWR finish, and superior build quality. What makes the Patagonia unique is its portability comfort and features, including wide U-shaped openings and backpack straps, which we found to be more comfortable and practical than most backpacks. In addition, starting in 2022, all Black Hole Espadrilles are made of 100 percent recycled materials. While patient customers can wait in line, it’s no surprise that these luggage cloths often run out of stock.

   One of our little gripes is that black holes don’t have much structure – only the bottom is shallow cushioned – something to keep in mind when packing fragile items, or if you need to live out of your duffel bag for a long time. It’s also the most expensive, especially a duffel bag without wheels (which you don’t need or want in most camping scenarios). But in terms of durability, comfort and reliability, we think the black hole is worth it, and it’s worth a try with places like the North Face Base Camp, the Black Diamond Stonehauler and the Mountain Hardwear Expedition. In terms of size, we found coarse cloth in the 55-90 litre range to be by far the most practical range of uses.