The 6 best headlamps of 2021, for hiking, camping, or doing housework

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Headlamps offer a hands-free way of hiking or camping at night, and can also be used around the house.
  • The best headlamps should offer long battery life, fit comfortably, and have variable light modes.
  • Our top pick, BioLite’s Headlamp 330, is lightweight and comfortable, and has a sweat-wicking headband.

A headlamp is one of the most important pieces of anyone’s outdoor kit. Unlike an ordinary flashlight, which requires you to physically hold it in your hand, headlamps conveniently affix to your head to illuminate whatever’s in front of you. That could be a hiking trail, a dark campsite, or even under the hood of a car – no matter its use case, that convenience can’t be understated.

But not all headlamps are created equal. Some are designed specifically for, say, trail running, built to be lightweight on a runner’s head, while others are more robust, intended to pump out hundreds of lumens for several hours. And there are plenty more that are just useful enough to get the job done, which are perfect for stashing in a camp tote or in your car’s glove box.

As an avid camper for much of my life, I’ve long respected the value of a proper headlamp – it’s literally a night and day difference navigating a backcountry campsite in the pitch black as opposed to wearing a headlamp. But the same headlamp I use while backpacking differs from what I use while car camping, or what I grab to go biking or running. Needless to say, I’ve worn plenty of headlamps – some good, some awful, and many in between.

Just as my needs vary regarding the types of headlamps I need for the kinds of activities I enjoy, so, too, does the design and innovation native to what’s on the market. To find the best, I decided to field test a variety of headlamps from brands like BioLite and Ledlensder. Below are my six favorites, perfect for everything from camping and cycling to working around the house.

I’ve also included some tips on how to shop for a headlamp and what to keep in mind, as well as the testing methodology I used to narrow down which models ultimately made the cut.

Here are the best headlamps:

How we test headlamps

Best Headlamps (amazon; BioLite) 4x3

Each of the headlamps featured in this guide went through a number of tests to determine how well they compared across these four categories: Comfort, brightness, battery life, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which headlamps made this guide:

Comfort: Since you’ll be wearing a headlamp on your head for what could be upwards of an hour or more at a time, it’s vital that the one you choose is comfortable. To test for this, we looked at the materials used in the headbands, how it felt to wear the headlamp for an extended period of time, and if it remained comfortable while doing normal tasks like setting up camp or even just walking around. 

Brightness: The best headlamps should have a number of variable brightness settings and some even allow for custom control over the size of the beam. What makes brightness settings so important is that you don’t always want a headlamp that’s on full blast the entire time you need to use it. Having the ability to toggle between a range of settings is an important feature.

Battery life: A headlamp is no good if its battery only lasts a couple of hours. Sure, you could buy one that takes batteries but you don’t want to be lugging around a bag of batteries everywhere you go with it (this is especially true for backpackers). 

Value: The exact value of a headlamp is dependent on how you intend to use it, but at the very least you should look for one that does well in the three categories above. And while there are decent budget options available (we’ve included one in our guide), buying the cheapest headlamp you find isn’t something we recommend doing. Often, it’s best to spend a little more on a product designed to last. 

The best headlamp overall

biolitelamp

No headlamp I’ve tested has been near as comfortable as the BioLite HeadLamp 330. With a balanced, comfortable fit and a sweat-wicking headband, it’s our favorite headlamp for any outdoor activity. 

Pros: Durable, moisture-wicking headband, balanced with light and battery in front and back, respectively

Cons: Doesn’t take AAA or AA batteries as backup, the lithium-ion battery is not removable (you can’t get a spare battery to take with you and swap out, but a power pack would fix that), 330 lumens is bright, but could be brighter (still, it saves on battery)

Headlamps may seem like lightweight, unrestrictive tools (or toys) but having those extra few ounces bobbing up and down on your forehead for several hours at a time takes its tolls. Not only are some of the heavier and more powerful options a literal drag, but they’re also annoying, even if you don’t realize it. I didn’t.

With the BioLite HeadLamp 330, its 330 lumens of output is a good balance between what most of us need to be able to see in the dark and how long the battery life lasts, which is a respectable 40 hours on the low setting and around 3.5 hours on high. It also makes a good reading light and avoids reflecting off the pages of your book or magazine to blind you.

I took the HeadLamp 330 fishing at night, hiking to camp, hiking just to hike, and generally just stumbling about in the dark behind my father’s woodshop, which is, for all intents and purposes, a treacherous deathtrap of wood and metal scraps. Yes, dearest reader, I take my job, and your safety, extremely seriously. I’m glad to report that, throughout the testing process, there was not a single visit to the emergency room.

In all seriousness, the best thing about the HeadLamp 330 is how well balanced it is. With the light in front and the battery pack in the back, you don’t feel the strain of a light and a battery pack dragging your forehead down.

The most notable spec about this headlamp is that the light and battery are separate, which puts a lot less weight on your forehead, and the light itself. The whole kit, I might add, weighs only 69 grams, or less than 2.5 ounces.

One common problem we see a lot with headlamps is that the joint where the light meets the base loses its threads or just breaks altogether, especially when the batteries are in the same pivoting unit as the light. BioLite does away with any such worry.

Speaking of pivoting, the light pivots up and down between four positions, which is, in my opinion, just enough. There’s also a red light, which makes it a lot easier for your eyes to readjust after you flick it off.

The small on/off button (gray, left of center) can be a little hard to find at first, but you’ll learn to love it because you’ll find that you won’t accidentally activate the epileptic test strobe in your hiking partner’s face, and it’s actually positioned right where you want to be (at least, if you’re adjusting it with your right hand). — Owen Burke

The best budget headlamp

Vitchelo headlamp

The Vitchelo V800 Headlamp is affordable and reliable, ready to illuminate objects both near and far even in adverse conditions.

Pros: Durable and weather-resistant, affordable price, white and red strobe functions

Cons: Easily turns on by accident, no floodlight setting

The Vitchelo V800 headlamp punches well above its weight. For a light that costs only around sixteen bucks, it has attributes you’d expect from a unit valued at double that price, or more. It has three brightness settings for its white light and a strobe feature, which can be valuable during an emergency when you want to be spotted by responders or when you’re assisting with emergency response and need to stay in touch with your team. The headlamp also has a solid and flashing red light.

Thanks to an IPX6 waterproof rating, this headlamp should be impervious to damage from rainfall or even a quick drop in a puddle or stream — just don’t wear it while you scuba dive. And at its low output setting, the white light can shine for up to 120 hours with fresh batteries, so you’ll have ample time to work, search, travel, or conduct other activities.

One reason I would not recommend this for a backpacker or camper is that the buttons are easily pressed by gear tumbling in your bag. A headlamp shining in a pack all day might mean dead batteries when you need it at night. That’s not much an issue when the unit is stashed in a nightstand or in your emergency prep kit, though — just make sure it’s not on when you close the drawer or the bag and you should be good.

The best high-power headlamp

Ledlenser H7R Signature headlamp

The H7R Signature from Ledlenser delivers up to 1200 lumens, has seven light settings, including an SOS function, and can even be controlled with Bluetooth via a smartphone.

Pros: Seven different light settings, including an SOS distress signal that blinks in Morse code, offers up to 1200 lumens, rated IP67 against water and dust, has Bluetooth capability with a compatible smartphone for custom light settings

Cons: Expensive

Just about any Ledlenser headlamp could slot into one of the categories in this guide, but the H7R Signature gets the nod thanks to its incredible light output of up to 1200 lumens. Now, of course, you likely won’t need that much power all the time, but when you do, it’s incredibly handy to have it at your disposal. 

The H7R Signature impresses across the board, too, not just regarding its power. It comes with an easy-to-adjust head strap that stays comfortable, even after prolonged use (though, it may start to feel a little heavy due to a heavy-ish, rear-mounted battery). It’s clear Ledlenser took the time to properly balance it, as well, so even if that battery is a little heavy, it never feels awkward or like your head has to tilt too far to one side.

One of the best features of the H7R is its 7 different light modes, which include Power, Low Power, Boost, Blink, Position, SOS, and Strobe. The SOS function is particularly interesting, as it flashes a strobed distress signal that sends an SOS in Morse Code when activated. Many of the other light modes, like Position and Strobe, are also designed to alert people of your position.

The H7R features a rechargeable internal battery, so you won’t have to worry about lugging any batteries along with it, and it’s also rated IP67 against dust and water. Bluetooth capability also allows the headlamp to be controlled and customized via a compatible smartphone.

Perhaps its lone downside, however, is the fact it costs $175. Though this isn’t a dealbreaker, it is a lot to spend on a headlamp. The H7R is designed to last for several years (if not upwards of a decade), so the investment is a sound one, especially if you’ll be using it often.

The best rechargeable headlamp

BioLite_HeadLamp750_Front

The Headlamp 750 from BioLite is as good as rechargeable headlamps get, offering up to 750 lumens of output, a fit that stays comfortable for hours, and a Run Forever mode that lets it operate as you charge it on-the-go.

Pros: Comfortable headband, 8 different light modes that can all be individually dimmed, Run Forever mode lets you charge it while it operates, low profile design

Cons: Expensive

The BioLite name is synonymous with quality portable lighting and its new Headlamp 750 continues that tradition in an impressive way. Much like our best overall pick, the Headlamp 330, the 750 takes traditional headlamp tech and adds more to it than you ever thought you needed. 

Want to charge it while you’re using it on-the-go? The 750 can do it. How about 8 different light modes, each with the ability to dim? It has that, too. The 750’s strength is in its versatility, and it’s the kind of headlamp that you’d want to bring with you on weekend camping trips, multi-day backpacking treks, the occasional nighttime hike, or literally anything — it works as well for getting under the sink or working on your car, too. 

As mentioned, the 750 offers up to 8 different light modes to choose from: Red flood, white spot, white flood, spot and flood, white strobe, 30-second burst, rear red flood, and rear red strobe. Not only will you be able to have complete control over what the headlamp illuminates and how it illuminates it, but you’ll also be visible to whoever’s around you. 

Then there’s its Run Forever feature that allows you to plug in a portable power bank to keep the headlamp charged even while it’s running. Though the idea of lugging around a power bank only to have it hanging off the back of your head doesn’t sound comfortable, sticking it into a backpack or opting for a lightweight battery pack is recommended. 

It’s also extremely comfortable. BioLite’s 3D SlimFit construction means the headlamp’s components are built into the band itself, reducing what can unnecessarily snag (and making it incredibly low profile in the process). The power unit built into the back of the headlamp also distributes its weight evenly to avoid it bobbing up and down on your head — something many headlamps have a hard time actually doing but the 750 seemed to do it well during our tests.

At $100, it’s certainly not a cheap headlamp but if it holds up as well as it did during our time with it, you likely won’t be spending much more on a headlamp for quite some time. It’s highly durable, comfortable wear, and packed with useful features for just about any use case. 

The best headlamp for cycling

Hleane Rechargeable LED Zoomable Headlamp

Wearing the Hleane LED Zoomable Headlamp is like strapping a headlight to your head with its maximum brightness setting of 1800 lumens.

Pros: Amazingly bright light, great price point, long operating life

Cons: Only two output settings and it’s rather heavy

The top setting of the GRDE Zoomable headlamp is so bright you won’t even use it in many situations. But when you’re on a bike at night and contending for space with cars and trucks, or while you’re pedaling your way down a mountain trail, you’ll love the awesome output power of this lamp. The 1800-lumen beam fully illuminates the trail or road far ahead of you, and it’ll be almost impossible for an oncoming motorist to miss seeing you.

This headlamp is heavier than I’d recommend for use by a climber or distance trekker but for the cyclist or for use on a shorter hike where gear weight isn’t much of an issue, it’s a great choice.

Its beam can be focused and adjusted to best suit the conditions ahead of you, though the limited brightness settings — which are high or low — are a drawback. This is not the light to strap on as you hide out in a hunting blind hoping to stay unnoticed by attentive wildlife, for example.

The GRDE headlamp can be operated using regular batteries but is also plug-in rechargeable, and can be juiced back up using a wall’s AC outlet, a car plug adapter, or a USB cable. It is rated to last for up to 100,000 hours of operating life.

The best headlamp for home projects

COAST_FL75

The Coast FL75 Focusing headlamp can throw 405 lumens of brightness but best of all, you can use its focusing ring to narrow or widen the beam. 

Pros: Bright and crisp light quality, easy to change the shape of the beam, clips for securing band to hat or helmet, extremely long beam throw

Cons: Limited brightness settings, short battery life, no strobe option

I own and often use a Coast FL75 and it’s my first choice for any project around the house I work on after dark — like cleaning the grill in the evening, checking on my scarecrow sprinkle set up, or adding some extra air to the tires of my bike.

Like all Coast lights, this headlamp creates a remarkably clear, crisp white light that makes it easy to see what you’re doing. It’s a great choice for illuminating anything that’s close at hand, though most people will likely be more interested in its long-distance throw capacity.

If you need to see objects or terrain more than 400 feet in front of you in a total darkness scenario, the Coast FL75 headlamp is a good choice. In fact, its beam is rated to stretch out 459 feet at its top 405-lumen output. Even the lowest setting of this light is still bright, rated at 53 lumens.

Here’s the thing: That’s a drawback, not an asset. This light’s low setting is far too bright for many uses, such as viewing a map or reading at night when you want to preserve your night vision and avoid disturbing others (or attracting attention to yourself). The Coast FL75 only has three output settings and they could reasonably be called Pretty Bright, Really Bright, and Whoa OK That’s Super Bright.

If you only plan to use a headlamp as you work, during power outages, or as you survey the scene of an accident as a first responder, then you probably don’t have the need for a dim setting but you do have the need for bright, crisp light. This one certainly offers that.

And, if you want something a little beefier, consider the FL85, with 615 Lumens and a 183-meter beam.

How to shop for a headlamp

First and foremost, a headlamp has to be bright enough for the task at hand. But the type of beam a light creates is every bit as important as its sheer lumen output. While the tendency is often to check the lumen rating of a headlamp and treat that like the most important metric for judging a headlamp, the type of beam is a better deciding factor than the intensity of the light alone. For example:

  • A cyclist needs a powerful lamp that throws a beam dozens of yards ahead, letting him or her see plenty of the roadway or trail.
  • Mechanic benefit from a wider beam pattern that illuminates a broad swath of the area close at hand.
  • If you’re camping, consider a headlamp with variable light settings, a red light option, and one that offers long battery life (especially for backpackers). 

You also have to consider features such as strobe effects, a red light option, battery life, and weight. The way those and other secondary attributes assist you in your hobbies or work should help you choose the headlamp best fit for you from our guide. 

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15 of the best campsites in California, whether you want easy car camping or to hit backcountry trails

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Yosemite National Park
  • From the Sierra Nevada mountains to the beaches, California is loaded with stunning landscapes.
  • Pitching a tent at a unique campsite is one of the best ways to enjoy the state’s outdoor offerings.
  • We rounded up the best California campsites, whether you want easy car camping or backcountry fun.
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I’ve lived in northern California for the last eight years, and hands down, my favorite aspect of living here is access to outdoor recreation. From the Sierra Nevada mountains where I live to the deserts of Southern California to the coastal beaches along the Oregon border, California is loaded with stunning outdoor landscapes. And what’s the best way to immerse yourself in those unique destinations? By camping, of course.

There’s a lot of variety between the best campsites in California, but what they all have in common is that you won’t find sites like these anywhere else. And you don’t have to be a wilderness expert to find the perfect place to pitch your tent: many of California’s best campsites have amenities like hot showers, cell service and Wi-Fi, and even coffee shops and restaurants.

The list below covers some of the best public campsites in California bound to create happy campers, whether you want to car camp (drive right to your campsite) or backpack (carry everything on foot into a more remote campsite.) Remember that reservations may be required, and you may or may not be allowed to make campfires based on wildfire and drought conditions.

Browse all of the best campsites in California below, or jump to a specific area here:

Here are the best campsites in California, sorted by price from low to high.

Joshua Tree National Park Indian Cove Campground

Joshua Tree National Park Indian Cove Campground
Pitching a tent against dramatic rock formations at the Indian Cove campground.

Book the Joshua Tree National Park Indian Cove Campground

For an otherworldly, desert experience, camp in Joshua Tree National Park for a long weekend. The national park has several campgrounds, and while the Jumbo Rocks Campground is the closest to the park’s most popular hikes, I prefer pitching a tent against the dramatic rock formations at the Indian Cove campground.

Locations 75 to 95 are the primo spots. There’s no running water in any of Joshua Tree’s campgrounds, so bring in plenty before you park – you are in the desert, after all.

Reds Meadow Campground

Reds Meadow waterfall
From this campground, you can walk to the trailheads for Devil’s Postpile, rainbow falls, hot springs, and more.

View Reds Meadow Campground

Mammoth Lakes is an undoubtedly awesome city for summer fun, filled with epic hiking trails through the eastern sierra, breweries and distilleries, and the year-round Mammoth Mountain resort. If you can get to town early, try to snag a spot at Reds Meadow Campground, which doesn’t take reservations. But because it’s about 20 minutes outside of the city limits, it tends to not get as crowded as downtown campgrounds (though it still gets crowded.)

Red’s Meadow has a campground lake, a general store and cafe within walking distance, indoor bathrooms and showers, and best of all, access to amazing hikes. Campers can walk to the trailheads for Devil’s Postpile, rainbow falls, hot springs, and much more. 

Yosemite National Park Pines Campgrounds

Yosemite National Park Pines Campgrounds
Nothing will make you feel more in awe than standing under a 1,000-year-old sequoia or looking up at El Capitan.

Book the Yosemite National Park Pines Campgrounds

Yes, Yosemite gets crowded: but there’s a reason for that. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the U.S. and nothing will make you feel more in awe of our amazing planet than standing under a 1,000-year-old sequoia tree or straining your neck to look up at the rocky cliff of world-famous El Capitan. Yosemite has more than a dozen campgrounds, but the most convenient are the three campgrounds on the west end of the Yosemite Valley: North Pines Campground, Lower Pines Campground, and Upper Pines Campground (they’re all in the same area.)  Lower Pines sites probably have the best views, but they’re all winners. 

All sites have a picnic table and fire pit, plus potable water and clean restrooms, and hot showers. But the best part is the location: many sites have views of Half Dome, and you can walk to the Mist Trail and stops for the free Yosemite Valley shuttle, which stops at all the Yosemite Valley’s best sites and trailheads.

Lassen National Park Manzanita Lake Campground

Manzanita Lake Area in Lassen Volcanic National Park
Ditch the crowds at this lesser-visited campsite.

Book the Lassen National Park Manzanita Lake Campground

Love national parks but hate the crowds? Then head north to Lassen National Park, one of the country’s least-visited national parks. That makes it one of the best campgrounds in California if you want to snag a lakefront campground at the last minute.

While reservations are usually the best bet, the park’s Manzanita Lake Campground is walk-in only from early October to the park’s closing. Get there early (before 9 a.m.) to snag spot at the southern end of the campground for the best views of 10,463-foot-high Lassen Peak.

Prairie Creek State Redwoods State Park

Prairie Creek State Redwoods State Park
Some scenes from the “Jurassic Park” movies were filmed at this spot.

Book the Prairie Creek State Redwoods State Park

One of the coolest places to camp in California (both literally and figuratively) is Prairie Creek State Redwoods State Park. There are more than two dozen trails in the park, including the famous “Fern Canyon” trail, where scenes from the “Jurassic Park” movies were filmed. Through the park and its campsites are hundreds of coastal redwoods – the tallest trees on earth. 

I prefer sleeping in the shade and seclusion of the redwood trees at the park’s Elk Prairie Campground, but guests who prefer coastal views will like the sites built on the dunes at the park’s Gold Bluffs campground, which look out over a stunning stretch of Pacific coastline.

Limekiln State Park

Limekiln Creek and Redwood Grove, Big Sur, California
Choose from the Coast campground or the Redwood camp. They both have restrooms and hot showers.

Book the Limekiln State Park

Big Sur is one of the most stunning stretches of coastline in the United States, but the hotels in towns to the north like Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey get very, very busy. That’s why I usually recommend campers head south instead to Limekiln State Park.

Campers can pitch their tent in the Coast campground or the Redwood camp, each with running water, restrooms, and hot showers. It’s an easy drive north to the popular parks in Big Sur, and on your way home, you can swing by Esalen Hot Springs, where you can reserve a sunset soak in their oceanview hot springs.

Morro Bay State Park

Morro Bay State Park
Campers here have ocean views to the west and access to paddling, boating, and kayaking to the east.

Book the Morro Bay State Park

One of central California’s most recognizable features is Morro Rock, a monolith rising from the surf near the cool surfer town of San Luis Obispo. While most private campsites are on the inland side of Morro Bay, Morro Bay State Park is on the ocean side, giving campers ocean views to the west and access to paddling, boating, and kayaking on Morro Bay to the east.

Campgrounds have all the amenities you’d expect, but you can also walk to the Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History, Morro Rock Natural Preserve, and a waterfront cafe in case you get sick or roasting hot dogs.

San Elijo State Beach Campground

San Elijo State Beach Campground
Sleep perched on a bluff above the sand at this California beach campsite.

Book the San Elijo State Beach Campground

The campground at San Elijo State Beach Campground is beach camping at its finest. Campsites are perched on a bluff above the sand to make sure you have epic sunset views, but it’s just a few stairs to get down to the shoreline when it’s time to surf or go for a swim.

Encinitas is one of the coolest surf towns in California, and San Elijo Beach is squarely in the center of it all. Sites 1 through 39 are closest to the beach.

Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake
Big Bear is just a short drive from LA, making it easily accessible for city dwellers.

Book the Big Bear Lake

Big Bear is the closest mountain town to Los Angeles and camping in its hills is one of the best ways to beat the heat and relax in cooler climates for a long weekend. One of the best campsites in California is the Serrano Campground on the north shore of Big Bear Lake.

Wake up in the morning and grab a coffee from the marina store before swimming out to one of the lake’s boulder piles, perfect for cliff jumping.

Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay State Park
In terms of pure beauty, it’s tough to beat Lower Eagle Point at Lake Tahoe.

Book the Emerald Bay State Park

Lake Tahoe is just as gorgeous as any national park on the West Coast, and fortunately, there are more than a dozen campgrounds around the lake’s 72 miles of shoreline. But in terms of pure beauty, it’s hard to find a campground more epic than Lower Eagle Point.

Perched on a peninsula overlooking Emerald Bay, it’s ideal if your idea of the perfect day is lazing away the hours at a sandy alpine beach with turquoise-blue waters. And you’ll be near plenty of great restaurants and breweries in the town of South Lake Tahoe.

Pianetta Ranch & Winery Camp

Pianetta Ranch and Winery
You’ll be right in the middle of a working ranch and winery at this campsite.

Book the Pianetta Ranch & Winery Camp

You don’t have to be an avid hiker to love camping, as evidenced by Pianetta Ranch & Winery Camp. Tucked under a large oak tree are a few sites for tent camping, square in the middle of a working ranch and winery.

Guests can cruise around the more than 300 wineries in Paso Robles, then return to camp for an afternoon wine-tasting and campfire under the stars.

The Presidio

Rob Hill Campground at the Presidio
This is the only campsite in California that’s actually in San Francisco.

Book The Presidio

If you care more about gourmet cuisine, sightseeing, and sea lions than you breaking in your hiking boots, book the only campsite in California actually in San Francisco: the Rob Hill Campground at the Presidio. Once a military complex, the Presidio is now a sprawling park with nature walks, scenic overlooks, beaches, museums, and more.

Campers get a fire ring, indoor bathrooms, bike racks, and BBQ grills. Unfortunately, there are no showers, so plan to jump in the ocean at Baker’s Beach when you need to cool off. 

The best backcountry campsites in California

Sometimes, the best thing about camping isn’t camping itself – it’s getting to wake up in beautiful and remote destinations miles away from traffic, people, and the stress of civilization. 

These California campsites below aren’t accessible by car. Instead, you’ll need to hike your way in, carrying everything you need on your back, including your food, tent and sleeping bag, and water or water filter. You’ll need to have basic backcountry knowledge, some extra first-aid and emergency skills, and the fitness for hiking long distances with an additional 30 pounds on your back. Backcountry campsites have no amenities, no bathrooms, no potable water – if you didn’t carry it in, it isn’t there. 

But if you’re ready to head into the backcountry, these are three of the most exceptional California campsites tucked away in the mountains across the state:

Cathedral Lakes

Cathedral Lakes in Yosemite National Park
The high-altitude weather makes for a pleasant stay here even in the middle of July and August.

Book the Cathedral Lakes

Another campsite in Yosemite? You bet – Tuolumne (rhymes with “follow me”) Meadows is high above the Yosemite Valley on the park’s eastern side. Though it’s snow-covered and inaccessible in winter, it’s simply stunning in the summer, and the high-altitude weather makes it far more pleasant for hiking in the middle of July and August. If it’s your first backpacking trip, head to Cathedral Lakes, which is also part of the beautiful John Muir Trail.

You’ll be able to camp near the shore of the still, bright-blue lakes that perfectly reflect the nearby giant rock formations and mountain peaks. You can go to Lower or Upper Cathedral Lake; I recommend Upper for fewer crowds (though campsites at Lower Cathedral Lake are closer to the water.) It’s about a 3.5-mile trek to the upper lake and gains only around 1,000 feet, so it’s a good route for beginner backcountry campers.

Evolution Lake in Kings Canyon National Park

Evolution Lake in Kings Canyon National Park
This lush valley surrounded by towering Sierra peaks is a jaw-dropping place to sleep.

Book the Evolution Lake in Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park sits squarely in the middle of the Sierras, north of Sequoia National Park and south of Yosemite. The Evolution Valley is the most beautiful place to camp in the park, but it’s a trek – it’s nearly 16 miles from the nearest trailhead (the Florence Lake Trailhead.)

You’ll need to be very bear aware, and be sure to bring extra layers for the evening as forest fires are forbidden year-round. But if you put in the work to get there, you’ll find campsites along a lake in a verdant valley surrounded by towering Sierra peaks – an alpine paradise for sure. The trailhead is outside the park, so you’ll need a Sierra National Forest Backcountry Permit; it’ll be honored once you’ve hiked into the park boundary.

The Lost Coast

Little Black Sands Beach at King Range Lost Coast
You can camp anywhere along this coastal trail, making it a more secluded option.

Book The Lost Coast

There aren’t too many places in the country where you can hike along the coast the whole time and still be in undeveloped wilderness. Fortunately, you’ll find that in northern California in an area appropriately called “The Lost Coast.” As you hike, the mist and fog from the ocean crash up against steep mountain peaks, creating an otherworldly (if sometimes damp) experience. You can camp anywhere along the trail, so consult the map to decide where you want to base yourself.

Spanish Flat and Shipman Creek are two of the most beautiful areas along the trail. If you start at the Black Sands Beach trailhead, you can easily do a quick overnight trip to camp near Shipman Creek.

FAQs

What should I pack on a camping trip?

A solid camping checklist is imperative for a good camping trip. It’s always best to overprepare since many campsites are remote and you can’t just run down to the local store to pick up items you forget.  Not to worry, start here for our essential camping packing list

And if you’re not quite ready to invest in buying all your own gear, consider renting camping gear from companies like Arrive Outdoors.

What should I look for in a campsite?

Always consider what kind of camping you want to do and who you’ll be camping with. If you’re going with kids, you may want a campsite full of amenities, whether that’s a pool or just hot showers. 

If you’re a more seasoned camper and want to explore more remote areas, consider booking dispersed camping sites. They’re available for free on most Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or United States Forest Service (USFS) land.

For those who want to bring their dog along, check out our tips for camping with dogs, plus the best pet-friendly campsites

Where can I find a last-minute camping reservation?

Due to increased demand, many campgrounds are booking up fast, especially for summer weekends. Try to book a campsite as far in advance as you can.

However, if you’re seeking last-minute reservations, consider alternative sites to book camping reservations that go beyond the usual federal campgrounds, such as Airbnb campsites or Tentrr, which connects private landowners with campers for more secluded stays.

More camping vacation ideas

best campsites in the us - Letchworth State Park
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The 5 best rooftop tents, for use at the campsite or in the backcountry

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Rooftop tents attach to the roof of a vehicle to give you an elevated and secure place to sleep while camping.
  • The best tents are easy to pitch, come with a foam mattress, and have enough space to sleep comfortably.
  • Our top pick, the Roofnest Falcon, is a low-profile and versatile tent that pitches in under a minute.

Rooftop tents originated as an alternative method for campers to sleep off the ground, with the earliest versions existing in places like Australia or Africa to protect them from predators. Although they’re still widely used like that, many of the models prevalent in the US are geared more towards comfort and ease of use – and they’ve ushered in an entirely new era of what it means to “rough it.”

These standard rooftop tents attach to a vehicle’s roof rack and crossbars that are placed either on top of an SUV or crossover, or over the bed of a truck. There’s no lack of variety but many of the tents function similarly in that they’re able to pitch in a matter of minutes, feature a wall-to-wall foam mattress, and come with an attachable ladder for entry.

A rooftop tent’s ability to improve both the comfort and efficiency of camping does come at a cost, however. Most tend to run anywhere from $1,000 and $4,000 (or more), which is significantly more expensive than a traditional ground tent. But as they continue to grow in popularity, it’s become easier to see why they’re worth the investment.

Before I used one myself, I was skeptical. I’ve camped for over 25 years and grew accustomed to sleeping on the ground in a normal tent. And although it may not be the most comfortable way to sleep, to me, that was camping. But once I finally spent a night in a rooftop tent, it was easy to see their utility – and I quickly changed my tune.

In the years since, I’ve camped in enough rooftop tents to have a good idea of what should (and shouldn’t) deserve a spot on top of your vehicle – and have compiled a list of my five favorites below. So, no matter if you want something casual for car camping or are looking to deck out an overlanding rig, I have you covered.

At the bottom of this guide, I’ve also included some insight into the testing methodology I used in deciding which to feature, the other tents I’m currently testing, and why every camper should consider a rooftop tent.

Here are the best rooftop tents:

The best rooftop tent overall

RoofnestFalcon

The Roofnest Falcon is a low-profile rooftop tent that’s incredibly easy to pitch, comes with a comfortable foam mattress, and is compatible with additional crossbars for hauling extra gear. 

Pros: Takes under a minute to fully pitch, comes with an included foam mattress, sits just 7 inches tall when packed down, ladder can be placed on either side of the tent for access

Cons: Expensive, might be cramped for two people plus gear

The Falcon from Roofnest does three things very well: It has an extremely low profile while packed down, it takes less than a minute for just one person to pitch, and its ability to be compatible with extra gear makes it highly versatile. Those three components alone slot it in as our top overall rooftop tent, but there’s plenty more to the Falcon that makes it even more impressive.

The tent comes with its own included mattress that I found to be comfortable no matter if I was sleeping by myself among an allotment of gear, or if someone else was sharing the tent with me. I will say that space is quite limited in the Falcon’s interior, so even having one other person sleeping in it makes for a bit of a cramped night of sleep. It’s no dealbreaker but the Falcon certainly isn’t the biggest rooftop tent I’ve tested. 

Where it makes up for that lack of space is with how easy it is to pitch and its ability to carry additional gear. The Falcon’s design allows for just one person to open the tent on their own, and it fully pitches in under a minute (once you get the hang of it). Packing it down does take a little longer (and a bit more effort) but you can say the same thing about any of the rooftop tents featured in this guide. 

Concerning its versatility, the Falcon allows for the attachment of an additional set of crossbars. This helps make up for the lost roof rack real estate the tent takes up and lets you attach extra gear on top of the tent itself. Since it sits just 7 inches tall when packed down, the extra gear won’t be much more of a drag as it typically would be on your normal rack.

The tent has two separate entrances and a component on either side for the included telescoping ladder to latch into. Its interior features a number of pockets for stashing things like a smartphone, headlamp, or car keys, and a rear window zips open to allow for increased airflow or for some nighttime star gazing. 

Rooftop tents are spendy and the Roofnest Falcon is no different. Though it costs north of $3,000, it’s well worth the investment for anyone who intends to use it often.

The best hybrid rooftop tent

tepui

The Tepui Hybox doubles as a spacious rooftop tent and a cargo box, so you can easily store your gear in it when you’re not sleeping in the tent.

Pros: Can function as a rooftop gear container, hard top design improves aerodynamics, patented zipper system makes it easy to switch between the tent or storage container

Cons: Expensive, space enough for just two people

One of the drawbacks to using a rooftop tent is sacrificing the cargo capability of a vehicle’s roof rack system. With Tepui’s Hybox, you’ll not only have access to a quality rooftop tent but also 23 cubic feet of storage space via its built-in cargo box.

With the Tepui Hybox’s cargo box function, you’ll no longer be stuffing gear inside your vehicle ceiling-high while prepping for a weekend spent camping. When it’s time to convert it back to a tent, an included canopy easily zips on to create a spacious and comfortable sleeping area. Its aerodynamic design also means your car won’t be guzzling gas. 

However, the catch is that it can only be used as one or the other. For instance, any gear that’s stored inside is essentially being stored in the sleeping area. This does open up more room in the interior of the vehicle but would require gear to be removed to create a proper sleeping area.

Switching between the cargo box and the tent requires zipping on the included canopy, releasing both of its latches, and then pitching the tent straight up. This can be done easily by just one person. An included telescoping ladder attaches to either side of the tent to allow campers to choose the best point of entry. Each door on the attached canopy also zips out to act as an entryway canopy. 

The tent features a 3-inch foam mattress with a removable cotton cover (which can be easily removed when storing gear), as well as a quilted upper to help with insulation and sound dampening. Its hardshell exterior is made of a thermoplastic polymer called ABS and an aluminum substructure. The shell is both aerodynamic and durable as it’s able to take a beating and helps improve fuel efficiency for longer trips.

The best rooftop tent for families

freespirit recreation

For families of three or more, Freespirit Recreation’s High Country rooftop tent is perfect for making sure everyone has enough space to comfortably rest. 

Pros: Sleeps up to five people, durable construction, large awning covers entryway, 360-degree windows

Cons: Heavy, expensive

Camping with a large family doesn’t have to be a cramped and uncomfortable experience. With Freespirit Recreation’s High Country rooftop tent, families of up to five people can rest assured each person will have more than enough space to snooze comfortably. When pitched, the tent measures 80 inches in length, 98 inches wide, and 49 inches tall, and can hold up to 750 pounds. 

The interior of the tent features a 2.5-inch high-density foam mattress and plenty of storage pockets and gear hangers to allow for easy organization. Its exterior is made of 600D Poly-Oxford body fabric, as well as a durable aluminum alloy frame.

Its heavy-duty construction also means that it can take an absolute beating and still perform as well on its 100th use as it did on the first day. 

Freespirit Recreation designed the tent to be aerodynamic when pitched, allowing it to function well in high winds or heavy rain. Windows on all four sides of the tent offer a full 360-degree view and provide for ventilation and help reduce condensation. When packed, its included cover has front and rear cinches to create a sturdy shape, though the lines can tend to flap loudly if not secured while driving. 

Its two biggest drawbacks are its price and weight. Its $2,495 price tag is a steep initial investment but one that’s worth it for big families that need all the space they can get. Although it’s heavy at 172 pounds, installing or removing the tent with two or three people makes the process significantly easier. 

The best rooftop tent for overlanding

Smittybilt

Rooftop tents were created by overlanders and Smittybilt’s 2883 Overland Tent is the perfect companion for anyone looking to get into the lifestyle. 

Pros: Spacious interior, included mosquito screens, completely covered entryway, sleeps up to four people

Cons: Bulky when packed up

Though nearly all rooftop tents are intended for overlanding use, few do as well as Smittybilt’s 2883 Overland Tent. With size enough to sleep up to four people, a durable ripstop exterior to protect against the elements, and a sturdy aluminum frame, it’s perfect for multi-day backcountry pursuits any time of year. 

With a durable ripstop exterior and aluminum alloy frame, it’s capable of holding up in all conditions. Its 770-pound capacity means it’s able to house up to four people, too. 

What separates Smittybilt’s Overland Tent from others on this list is its attention to the details needed by overlanders. It comes with an included mosquito screen, a completely covered entryway, a fully waterproof exterior without the need for a rain fly, and LED strip lighting on the inside. A 2.3-inch high-density mattress runs the entirety of its interior to provide comfortable sleeping or sitting space. 

One of the tent’s best features is its price. At just $1,499, it offers great value compared to other rooftop tents on the market cheapest and should be the top choice for anyone getting into overlandering. 

The best budget rooftop tent

FrontRunner

The Front Runner Rooftop Tent sits just 7.87 inches tall when packed down, and its low profile helps improve fuel efficiency, reduces wind resistance, and makes it easier to store. 

Pros: Low profile when packed, weighs less than 100 pounds, built-in roof ventilator reduces condensation

Cons: Requires separately sold Front Runner tent mount kit for use on Front Runner racks

One of the biggest drawbacks of any rooftop tent is how much it impacts a vehicle’s gas mileage. Even the most aerodynamic options are still heavy and can dramatically reduce the mpg of any car. The best option currently available that attempts to fix these problems is Front Runner’s Rooftop Tent

Featuring a low-profile design, Front Runner’s tent sits just 7.87 inches tall when packed down, making it the slimmest on the market. This helps reduce the amount of wind resistance taken on while driving and improves fuel efficiency. At just 93 pounds, it’s light enough for two people to install and its compact size allows it to stow easily in a garage.

Though the tent sleeps just two people, it does come with a 2.5-inch high-density mattress, windows on each side of the tent, and privacy shades for each door and window. A telescoping aluminum ladder comes standard with the tent and has treaded steps to make climbing up and down easier. 

The exterior is built of durable 400D Oxford tent fabric that’s breathable enough to offer the ventilation necessary to reduce condensation. Its aluminum base boosts the tent’s insulation to keep the interior cool on warmer days and warm when temperatures drop.

It also comes with a fly-sheet cover to increase the amount of shade or protect against rain getting inside any open windows. A roof ventilator adds airflow and is protected by a mosquito net to keep bugs out at night.

What else I’m testing

yakima sky rise 6

Yakima Skyrise

The Yakima Skyrise has been one of the most intriguing rooftop tents since its debut. Not only is it spacious, easy to pitch, and compatible with a wide range of vehicles (and isn’t only compatible with Yakima racks, thankfully) but it’s one of the most inexpensive I’ve seen. Sold typically at around $1,600, it’s a price that’s hard to beat.

Why use a rooftop tent?

Pitching and packing a ground tent is as much a test in patience as it is deciphering a puzzle. Newer ground tents do feature easy-pitch designs but compared to a rooftop tent, even the simplest setup could be considered challenging.

Rooftop tents often take just one person to pitch and can be fully set up in less than five minutes.

Once set up, they offer more than just a comfortable place to sleep. Its high perch creates a unique vantage point for taking in your surroundings, and some even have a window on the roof for nighttime stargazing. Since most have a built-in mattress, there’s no need to toss and turn in a sleeping bag either. Use sheets and a comforter, and you’ll feel like you never left home. 

Our testing methodology

Each of the rooftop tents in this guide went through a series of tests to see how well they compared across these four categories: Ease of use, versatility, comfort, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which rooftop tents were ultimately featured:

Ease of use: When judging how easy it is to use the rooftop tents tested for this guide, I looked at more than just how intuitive they were to pitch (which is often one of the most straightforward aspects of any rooftop tent). Ease of use also refers to the process of packing it back down, if there are any additional components to attach such as a rain fly or awning, and if the point(s) of entry make it easy to get in and out of the tent. 

Versatility: Rooftop tents are versatile by design, allowing for people to use them at a campsite, in the backcountry, or really anywhere the vehicle it’s attached to can go. Versatilty also pertains to any added extras it comes with like multiple points of entry, awning attachments to create covered outdoor shelter, convertible windows for air flow (and star gazing), or attachment points for other gear. 

Comfort: One of the easiest ways to judge the comfort of a rooftop tent is to consider the kind of default mattress it comes with. Many feature something similar to a 2-inch foam mattress, though the exact kind may vary. Additional areas of comfort I judged were how spacious the interior of a rooftop tent was, whether it allowed for good ventilation and airflow, and how it held up across a variety of weather conditions (be it sun in the middle of summer, an unexpected spring downpour, or the frigid temps of winter). 

Value: Judging the value of a rooftop tent is more than just comparing price tags. Even the budget model in this guide is just north of $1,000, so choosing which tent to invest in is an important consideration. This means that a rooftopt tent’s true value is a combination of the three categories above, as well as how long it’s designed to last. 

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7 sleepaway camp packing list essentials you can get on Amazon

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A hand holding a Zap It Bug Zapper at a campfire with s'mores
  • It’s summer camp season.
  • If your kid is heading off to camp this summer, you’ll want to make sure they’re prepared with all the essentials.
  • We rounded up a packing list of products, some essential and some just plain fun, that you can get on Amazon in time for the first day.

Summer camp is right around the corner. If you or your child has put off packing until the last minute, you’re not alone. Camp is loads of fun. Packing, not so much. But, you can’t get to the summer camp fun without making sure your kid has everything they need for a great summer.

Related Article Module: Your ultimate guide to summer camping trips, including how to find a campsite and everything you need to bring

As former campers and camp counselors, we’ve packed many a camp suitcase. We know what kids will want in their trunks, from the classic options to some lesser-known but super practical purchases. We’re going to share all of those products with you. Plus, everything is available on Amazon Prime, so if you and your child are cramming packing into the last-minute, you’re in the clear. Keep reading to see our picks.

A misting fan

02Cool Deluxe Misting Fan on a white background

02Cool Deluxe Misting Fan, $13

A necessity for long days spent in the sun, this misting fan provides breezy air and a cool mist all in one. It’s easy to carry around all day for cooling relief.

A compact fan

Vornado 573 Small Flat Panel Air Circulator Fan on a white background

Vornado Small Flat Panel Air Circulator Fan, $35

No air conditioning, no problem with this high-speed fan. It’s small, but mighty and will provide plenty of cool air to get them through hot summer nights.

Check out our guide to the best fans.

A colorful laundry bag

2 Fiodrmy Tie Dye laundry bags on a white background

Fiodrmy Travel Laundry Bag, 2-pack, $13

A laundry bag will help make sure none of their clothes gets lost, or end up in a dirty pile under their bed. The rainbow tie-dye pattern seems totally camp-appropriate, but if that isn’t really their style, these bags come in a variety of colors and designs.

Check out our guide to the best laundry baskets and hampers.

A water bottle

A pink and a blue Contigo Water Bottle on a white background

Contigo Water Bottle, 2-pack, $18

Hydration is essential to keeping kids happy and healthy while they’re running around in the sun all day, every day. Since kids tend to lose things, we recommend sending them off with a pack of two water bottles just incase.

Check out our guide to the best water bottles.

A fly zapper

2 Zap It Bug Zappers in front of their box on a white background

Zap It! Mini Bug Zapper Racket, $30

This may not be essential, but your kid will definitely get some points when they show up with this gadget. Bugs are an inevitable part of overnight camp, but sometimes they just get to be too much. This is essentially a souped-up fly swatter that lets kids zap pests in just one swing.

Check out our guide to the best bug sprays and repellents.

A shower caddy

Attmu Mesh Shower Caddy filled with a bunch of bathroom essentials all on a white background

Attmu Mesh Shower Caddy, $11

Sharing a bathroom with multiple others means they can’t just leave all of their products in the shower. They may even be showering in an outdoor shower. Whatever the case, they’ll need a good shower caddy to tote essentials to showertime — this one is made of a quick-dry mesh so it won’t get moldly.

Check out our guide to the best shower caddys.

An autograph pillow

The Camp Autograph Pillowcase with a Rainbow image on a white background

Autograph Pillows Camp Pillowcase, $18-$20

Making memories that’ll last long past the summer is one of the best parts of camp. An autograph pillow makes for a fun activity and keepsake for young ones. This pillowcase comes with a black marker for signing — just stuff it with a pillow and pack it up!

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16 of the best glamping vacations in the US, from budget covered wagons to indulgent hotel-like tents

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best glamping destinations in the US

  • If you want to camp without actually sleeping on the ground, glamping offers an ideal compromise.
  • These US glamping destinations promise comfy beds, stunning views, and easy access to nature.
  • From luxury canvas tents to tree houses, we found glamping vacations to suit a range of budgets.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

With summer and warm weather here, many people are also itching to get outside.

Camping became an especially appealing option amidst the pandemic, but according to Kampgrounds of America, it’s a popular trend that will continue this summer. But let’s face it ⁠- camping isn’t for everyone. If backpacking with all your food, pitching a tent, and sleeping on the ground while fighting off bugs just doesn’t sound appealing, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an unplugged vacation while connecting with nature.

Glamping offers the ideal compromise since it infuses a strong dose of, you guessed it, glam factor into camping accommodations. Glamping enables guests to sleep in comfy beds while still enjoying a taste of the great outdoors. However, if more traditional camping does sound preferable, these are some of our favorite campsites across the US.

Glamping has grown in popularity with available accommodations now going far beyond a simple tent with an actual bed. Choose from singular accommodations like airstreams, vintage trailers, tree houses, star gazing domes, and more. Even the more traditional tent experiences often come with perks like air conditioning, stylish hotel-like decor, or roomy one- and two-bedroom options with private ensuite bathrooms.

You can browse all of the best glamping destinations or jump directly to glamping destinations based on the price here:

Here are the best glamping destinations in the US for 2021

Best Resorts sub banners Budget Friendly

These glamping options are a step well above pitching your own tent and rolling out a sleeping bag. But they’re still wallet-friendly options for your next outdoor escape, all coming in under $200 per night.

Capitol Reef Resort

Captial Reef Resort

Book Capitol Reef Resort

Found in Utah, this resort gets its name from Capitol Reef National Park, which is right on your doorstep. That means you’ll wake up to epic views of red rock mesas, and hiking trails are in abundance. 

Though the resort also has standard rooms and suites, more adventurous guests can opt to sleep in standalone cabins or covered wagons. The Conestoga Wagons can sleep up to six guests, with one King bed and two bunk beds. They are perched around a communal fire pit with red Adirondack chairs sprinkled throughout. Though it’s a short walk away, you’ll still have access to a private bathroom and the wagons are equipped with air conditioners.

Mendocino Grove

Mendocino Grove

Book Mendocino Grove

Nestled on 37 forested acres, Mendocino Grove breaks up its Safari-style tents into “neighborhoods” of eight to 10 tents spread across the property, for a communal but still intimate experience. Tents range from sleeping two to six guests, and feature heated beds with down comforters, lanterns, nightstands, and more. Guests can also hang out on private redwood decks furnished with leather butterfly-chairs and picnic tables. You won’t be totally cut off here since there are USB charging ports in each tent and Wi-Fi available on the property.

While you won’t have a private bathroom, the communal bathhouses offer a nice place to take a hot shower (inside or outside) and are stocked with high-end bath products. The camp is pet-friendly and there’s even a special dog washing station. Other shared amenities include a coffee station, firepits, hammocks, grills, and lawn games. 

COVID-19 cleaning procedures can be found here.

Asheville Glamping

best glamping us ashville glamping

Book Asheville Glamping

Sleep under the stars in a dome with Asheville Glamping. The plastic domes come in different sizes and offer different amenities, but for a roomier option, try Dome 4, also called the Star Gazing Dome. It includes a Queen-sized memory foam bed with a constellation identification book to watch for shooting stars. The dome also comes with a private outdoor hot tub.

Asheville Glamping also offers bell tents, safari tents, Airstreams, treehouses, and the Nest, an adults-only cabin perched in the trees and accessible only via two suspension bridges. 

COVID-19 policies and procedures can be found here.

Ithaca by Firelight Camps

Firelight Camps

Book Ithaca by Firelight Camps

Billowing canvas tents flanked by large, tilted logs that create an idyllic A-frame shape welcome guests at Fireflight Camps. Inside the tent flaps, you’ll find hardwood floors with colorful area rugs, one King or two Queen beds, battery-powered lanterns for soft lighting at night, and a writer’s desk and chair. A private porch furnished with rocking chairs completes the scene. For those who prefer an even higher level of comfort, four of the tents include electric heaters, fans, floor lamps, and outlets and are available for a slightly higher fee.

A locally-sourced continental breakfast is included in your stay and a shared lobby/lounge space also features a coffee and tea station. Other shared amenities include firepits, a bathhouse with hot showers and flushing toilets, outdoor lounge areas, and lawn games like bocce ball and corn hole. The camp is also dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your four-legged friends with you.  

COVID-19 cleaning procedures can be found here.

Shash Dine Eco-Retreat

Shash Dine' EcoRetreat

Book Shash Dine Eco-Retreat

Located on Navajo land close to the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon, it’s worth getting outside of your canvas tent to explore the deep history of the area. The family roots here can be traced back fifteen generations to the Long Walk, when Navajo hid in the canyons to escape being forcibly removed and marched from the land by the US Army. On walks throughout the area, eagle-eyed visitors can spot petroglyphs, arrowheads, and pottery shards.  

During warmer months, guests can sleep in bell tents decked out with plush bedding, candle lanterns, solar lights, snacks, and games. Or, you can opt to curl up in a restored covered sheepherders wagon. During the winter, there are also small cabins with wood-burning stoves to keep warm, as well as two hogans, traditional dome-shaped dwellings of the Navajo. Don’t miss visiting the on-site ranch, with sheep, goats, horses, cows, and more.

AutoCamp Cape Cod

best glamping us autocamp tripadvisor

Book AutoCamp Cape Cod

Take car camping to a whole new level on your next beach trip at this brand new spot that just opened in April. As the name implies, AutoCamp offers stylishly-outfitted Airstreams as accommodations. The luxurious airstreams pull out all the stops when it comes to amenities, from Queen-sized Tempur-Pedic mattresses with plush linens and flat-screen TVs, to spa-inspired private bathrooms and small kitchens. Each one includes a private deck with an outdoor dining area and a fire pit with a grill.

While AutoCamps are currently open at Yosemite and Russian River, you can get a head start on booking the soon-to-open Cape Cod location. The newest spot will offer luxury tents, as well as cabin-like X Suites that are fully ADA accessible. No matter which option you choose, the chic interiors, curated food and beverage offerings, complimentary coffee and tea, and weekly activities like yoga and beer tastings are sure to elevate your experience. 

COVID-19 cleaning procedures can be found here. 

Read our guide to the best hotels in Cape Cod 

The Trailer Pond

best glamping us trailer pond

Book The Trailer Pond

Make your next wine-fueled getaway in one of these cute, colorful vintage trailers. Ideal for a girls’ getaway or a bachelor or bachelorette party, these Tinker Tin trailers are found on 130-acres of organically farmed vineyards in Paso Robles, California. Book the trailers individually or reserve the entire area and all five trailers for a private group stay.

The funky trailers are from the 1950s and come in canary yellow, turquoise, hot pink, and lime green. Many feature original touches from flooring to countertops for an authentic vintage vibe. All come with just one double bed, so even a couple might find it a bit snug. However, booth-style dining tables and mini kitchens make for a fun stay.

In addition to taking in the scenic vineyard views and lounging by the pond with a glass of wine, for an additional fee you can book yoga, wine tasting tours, massages, or private tasting classes. 

Under Canvas Mount Rushmore

best glamping us under canvas mount rushmore

Book Under Canvas Mount Rushmore

Imagine waking up to the smell of Ponderosa pines and juniper in the Black Hills of South Dakota, after a night spent cozied up in sumptuous sheets, and pulling back your tent flap to stunning views of Mount Rushmore. You can do just that at one of Under Canvas’s newest locations.  

All of the Under Canvas tent options feature King-size beds, private bathrooms that include upscale bath amenities, private decks, and wood-burning stoves. Deluxe and Stargazer tents are ideal for couples, while the Suites sleep up to four people and are a great choice for families.

Additional camp amenities include complimentary activities, guided nature walks, and communal fire pits. Food costs are additional, but well worth the extra spend since offerings go far beyond the usual camp burritos. The menu features homemade seasonal fare using locally-sourced ingredients, like pan-roasted trout and mini pulled pork tacos.   

COVID-19 cleaning procedures can be found here.

Best Destinations Good Value banner

These destinations offer upscale perks and amenities, whether it’s stylish hotel-like interiors, air-conditioned tents, or a private hot tub to enjoy under the stars. Those little extras can make all the difference in a stay, making these accommodations an excellent value for the price.   

The Mohicans Treehouse

The Mohicans

Book The Mohicans Treehouse

If sleeping in a tree house is your dream, The Mohicans has nine unique options for you to choose from, including a little red barn tree house with stained glass windows and a two-tiered house perched on stilts. The property also has a few cabins and one airstream for those who prefer to stay below the treetops.

All of the treehouses have cozy beds, full bathrooms with toilets and showers, heating, and air conditioning. Some also have outdoor showers you can take advantage of during the warmer months. Most also have small porch areas for enjoying the fresh air. Guests can fill their days ziplining on a canopy tour, canoeing, hiking, swimming, or water skiing.

COVID-19 cleaning procedures can be found here.

Terramor Outdoor Resort

Terramore Outdoor Resort

Book Terramor Outdoor Resort

Found on Mount Desert Island, guests at Terramor have easy access to the stunning beauty of coastal Maine and Acadia National Park. Choose from five different types of luxury tents that can sleep two to five guests. 

Alder tents are ideal for families, with Queen beds and three Twin beds, though they are on the more rustic side with no in-tent washrooms (guests use a communal bathroom right nearby instead). Meanwhile, for those who want more glam and less camp, Birch Tents feature top-of-the-line linens, King beds, private porches, connected private bathrooms, and outdoor furniture around a private firepit. 

The on-site Lodge offers a restaurant with seasonally-inspired meals, a bar, and an outdoor grilling experience. Guests can spend their days mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, or strolling through the shops of Bar Harbor.  

COVID-19 cleaning procedures can be found here.

Fireside Resort

Fireside Resort

Book Fireside Resort

For those who want a stay that’s a step up even from a luxury tent, Fireside Resort is entirely made up of charming tiny cabins. The decked-out interiors include kitchenettes, sumptuous beds, oversized windows, leather sofas, flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi, and large private decks. Some cabins also include firepits and hot tubs.

With the majestic Teton wilderness as your backdrop, wake up to glorious mountain views before heading out to enjoy hiking, skiing, white-water rafting, snowmobiling, and more. In the summer months, you can also enjoy special events from Old West Days to marathons.  

COVID-19 cleaning procedures can be found here.

Eastwind Hotel & Bar

best glamping us eastwind

Book Eastwind Hotel & Bar 

While this peaceful spot tucked in the Catskills is a standard hotel with regular rooms, they also offer a glamping option. Lushna cabins are based on Scandinavian notions, embracing the popular idea of hygge with simple but cozy aesthetics. Snuggle up in a small A-frame cabin and take in the mountain scenery without ever leaving the Queen-sized beds pushed right up against the scenery, outfitted with luxurious Frette linens and Faribault wool blankets.

The cabins are small at just 220 square feet, but they do come with private bathrooms and nearby circular wooden saunas. Barbeque kits are provided upon request to complete the camping experience. If you get tired of hanging out in your A-frame, wander over to High Spirit, the hotel’s chic cocktail lounge, for a smoky ginger Mezcal Paloma and light bites.   

COVID-19 cleaning procedures can be found here.

Read our full review of Eastwind’s Lushna Cabin Suites here

Collective Governors Island

best glamping us collective governors island tripadvisor

Book Collective Governors Island

When you think of camping or glamping, overlooking skyscrapers probably isn’t what comes to mind. But at this Governors Island luxury camping retreat, the iconic New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty are both backdrops. A short private water taxi ride from downtown Manhattan or Brooklyn drops guests off at a pastoral haven. 

Journey Tents feature Queen or Twin-sized beds with 1,000 thread-count linens, down comforters, and designer blankets. There’s air conditioning in every tent so muggy New York nights won’t prevent you from getting a great night’s sleep. While the standard Journey Tents come with shared bathrooms, you can upgrade to a Summit Tent for a private en-suite bathroom, along with an exclusive minibar curated by The Goods Mart. 

In the morning, wake up to a complimentary in-tent continental breakfast before opting to tackle the many activities offered from a harbor tour to lawn games to a massage. You can also explore the island by renting bikes at an additional fee.       

COVID-19 cleaning procedures can be found here.

Best Resorts sub banners Luxury

These camps put the glam in glamping. You’ll feel more like you’re at a five-star hotel than out in the backwoods. While they come with a hefty price tag, no detail is overlooked, from large tents with sumptuous bedding to unrivaled activities and cuisine, ensuring a splurge-worthy vacation. Plus, both spots include all meals, drinks, and many of the offered activities included in the nightly price.   

Little Raccoon Key Glamping

Little Racoon Key Glamping

Book Little Racoon Key Glamping

If glamping on your own private island sounds like your idea of paradise, then Little Raccoon Key Glamping is for you. Part of Georgia’s picturesque Golden Isles, this glamping destination is found on a reef island teeming with wildlife both on land and underwater just off the shore. In fact, you may even be lucky enough to spot pods of dolphins on the boat trip from Jekyll Island to the glampsite island. 

The accommodations are luxury canvas tents that are weather-proof and feature all you need to be plenty comfortable, including memory foam mattresses and luxe linens, a wood-burning stove, dishes and pans for meals, as well as board games and books. An outdoor shower, gas grill, hammocks, and Adirondack chairs make relaxing in the outdoors easy.   

Dunton Hot Springs

best glamping us dunton river camp

Book Dunton Hot Springs

Dunton Hot Springs is an adventure haven located just across the mountain from Telluride. This outdoor getaway offers an array of exciting outdoor adventures, wellness-focused activities, fine dining, and unique events. In the summer, enjoy a scenic horseback ride, try fly fishing on an exclusive nine-mile stretch of the West Fork of the Dolores, or head out on hiking or mountain biking trails that range from easy to heart pounding. Dunton can also provide expert guides to help you summit nearby 14,000-foot peaks or take guests rock climbing.

Choose between traditional indoor cabins or glamping tents at the Dunton River Camp, located four miles down the road from the main property. The eight opulent tents offer modern amenities in the midst of nature, complete with en-suite bathrooms with six-foot soaking tubs. Each tent comes with two complimentary mountain bikes for exploring the grounds and trails.

COVID-19 cleaning procedures can be found here.

The Resort at Paws Up

best glamping us paws up

Book The Resort at Paws Up

Nowhere does glamping quite like the famed Resort at Paws Up, as evidenced by the fact that a stay here includes a camping butler. The 37,000-acre ranch features untamed Montana wilderness steeped in Lewis & Clark history, situated along 10 miles of the idyllic Blackfoot River. There are more than 100 miles of designated hiking, mountain biking, horse, and ATV trails. 

There are 28 cabin homes open year-round, and 36 glamping tents open seasonally in warmer months. Each cabin or tent is individually decorated in Western-chic style with furnishings and artwork hand-curated by the owners. The tents are no ordinary, snug stay. Many feature one or two bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms, and clawfoot soaking tubs. Guests choose their camp based on their tastes, opting for river views, cliffside stays, or more secluded areas. 

COVID-19 cleaning procedures can be found here.

What is glamping vs camping?

Glamping is elevated camping. Rather than pitch your own tent at a campsite, glampsites have accommodations already set up with beds as opposed to sleeping bags. Many glamping destinations also have upscale amenities from pools and saunas to on-site restaurants. Others are basic canvas tents with beds where you’ll still need to bring all your own toiletries and food.

How much does it cost to go glamping?

Glamping costs range considerably depending on the resort and the time of year. Summer sees prices soar, but keep in mind that many glampsites are only open seasonally during the warmer months. Budget options often start around $100 to $150 per night, but often will be extremely bare bones with little to no amenities.

For those seeking serious luxury, hotel-like tents with ensuite bathrooms and all-inclusive dining are available. However, they can cost $1,000 or more per night.

Do glamping tents have bathrooms?

It depends on the accommodation. Budget options typically won’t have attached bathrooms, but many sites have communal bathrooms and showers available for use. Higher-end options and cabins will generally have ensuite bathrooms. 

More outdoor vacation ideas

Arches National Park
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The 17 camper van accessories I swear by after rigging my own van and spending thousands of miles on the road

  • For van lifers, having the right accessories is key to being comfortable on the road.
  • This includes sleeping on a comfortable mattress and having a reliable way to prepare food, among many others.
  • After rigging my own van and driving across the country, I’ve put together my definitive list of essentials.

I daydreamed about owning a camper van for years, to the point where I’d approach strangers in parking lots who had nice vans and spark conversations to hear about their trips. I burned countless hours on Pinterest viewing custom DIY van setups that made me self-conscious about my apartment.

I was no stranger to life on the road, having done quite a bit of car camping as a young adult in a Toyota hatchback and frequently driving from the Pacific Northwest to Los Angeles. When I became a parent in 2018, I finally pulled the trigger on purchasing a camper van as an easy way to take family trips on the weekends.

My original vision was to buy a luxurious 4X4 Mercedes Sprinter but I instead downgraded to a Ford Transit Connect, mainly due to the logistics of size and a need to street park in Brooklyn, NY.

Two years later, my partner, daughter, dog, and I have logged thousands of miles in our van. It’s not the glamourous, Pinterest-worthy van I hoped to own, but it’s unassuming and smartly organized. It’s comfortable for the whole family to sleep in, cost-effective, and reliable. In other words, it’s exactly what we need.

After countless days and nights spent on the road, I’ve gotten the necessary accessories and customizations down to a science. Sure there are still glamorous extras on my wishlist, but when it comes to starting out, just getting the basics right is the key.

If you’re thinking about jumping into van life, my biggest piece of advice when it comes to outfitting a van is that you don’t need the high price tag vehicle with every amenity already personalized into it. You can start small, simple, and inexpensive and have all you need to hit the road and be self-sufficient.

You can also opt to rent a van if you only plan on doing a couple of trips or if you want to try out the lifestyle before committing to buying. Even with a rental, you may want to bring a few extra accessories to make your trip as comfortable as possible.

And while it’s easy to get caught up in bigger accessories like mattresses and roof racks, don’t underestimate the power of little items like gear ties, bungee cords, tarps, batteries, drinking water, and trash bags. These always come in handy and often when you least expect it. Things will inevitably go wrong on the road, so the more prepared you are for the small or large fixes, the better.

Here are 17 of the best accessories for outfitting a camper van:

A comfy mattress

Keetsa Plus

The Keetsa Plus is supportive without being too bulky, making it a great choice for a van mattress. 

The most important part of van camping and road tripping is your sleep setup. The bed deserves the most attention. 

Depending on the size and model of your van, it may not be an option to put in a proper mattress like you have at home. But if it’s possible, even at a twin size, it’s worth it. The Keetsa Plus is a high-quality mattress that’s exceptionally comfortable without being too big and bulky to comfortably fit in a van. 

With some nice sheets and pillows, your van sleep just might be better than in your usual bed.

See more of the best mattresses here

An organization system

Decked Storage System

A good organization and storage solution like the Decked Drawer System will inform how you live in your van and what you’re able to bring on a road trip. 

A quick google search will reveal endless ideas for DIY storage designs by experienced van owners, but simple drawers provide the best storage in my opinion because they allow for easy access without having to unpack your van.

The Decked Drawer System is not only highly durable but designed for the year and model of your van. It’s an easy way to get a more custom storage option that will be the best use of space.

A durable cooler

Yeti Tundra 35

A YETI cooler is your van’s alternative to a refrigerator, allowing you to store fresh food on the road for multiple days. 

Most entry-level vans don’t have fridges. Without one, it’s mandatory to invest in a quality cooler to store perishables for multiple days. YETI products can be considered a little pricey, but I’ve found they are well worth the investment. 

The Tundra 35 Hard Cooler holds enough food for a family and the 20x15x16-inch dimensions make it easy to find a logical place in a van.

See more of the best coolers here

A solid roof rack

Thule TracRac Van

The Thule TracRac system is designed to mount a range of outdoor toys and equipment on top of your van.

The main point of van camping is to get into the outdoors and experience nature. For that, it’s always helpful to bring some extra toys. Whether you have bikes, kayaks, or surfboards, you’ll be surprised at what you can bring with you that doesn’t need to fit inside the van. 

Thule TracRac roof racks are easy to install and modular for adding specialty components designed for your activity of choice.

See the best bike roof racks here

A low-water shower system

Nemo Helio pressure shower

The Nemo Helio is a portable shower that allows you to rinse off anywhere you park and use minimal water.

Having the ability to shower will extend the amount of time you’re able to stay on the road comfortably. The Nemo Helio Pressure Shower compacts to take up minimal space in the van. It can be set up quickly and you can enjoy a proper shower without using a lot of water. Trust me, road-tripping across a long distance is much more enjoyable when you’re clean.

See the best portable camp showers here

A hand-held vacuum

Dyson V7 Trigger Lifestyle

The Dyson V7 takes up almost no space and will keep your van cleaner than you found it. 

A vacuum is an easy item to overlook, but vans get dirty. No matter where you drive, you get in and out of your vehicle so many times and are constantly tracking in dust, sand, and dirt. 

Having a chargeable, handheld vacuum like the Dyson V7 Trigger allows you to keep your space clean and comfortable, and will keep you out of the truck stop car wash hubs.

See more of the best vacuums here

A safe portable heater

Webasto Air Heater

Installing a Webasto air heater to run off your van’s fuel source will allow you to van camp year-round. 

Depending on the climate and time of year where you’re headed, heat may be an issue. If your van’s not insulated and you’re in a cold region, heating can be tricky. 

A reliable heating option is an air heater that runs off your van’s fuel source. A Webasto Air Top heater can quickly heat the inside of a van and you don’t have to leave it running all night. It also avoids the less safe alternative of using an electric or butane heater inside the cab while you sleep. However, it’s best to have a Webasto professionally installed before you use it. 

Note that this item is sold through a third-party seller on Amazon. You can also find a local place to buy this heater and have it installed through the Webasto website.

A rechargeable light

LE Camp Lantern Lifestyle

Lighting Ever rechargeable LED lights can be used for all your after-dark activities — both inside and outside of your van.

Good lighting is essential for the hours spent in the van cooking, reading, and organizing after dark and when you’re not driving. LE camp lighting is easy on the eyes, energy-efficient, and compatible with your smartphone. 

The LED Camp Lantern is a great unit to have because you can use it inside the van or take it with you outdoors. And the Portable Nightlight can be set up in the van and easily operated via Bluetooth. 

See more of the best lanterns here

An audio unit

Pioneer AVIC W8400NEX Lifestyle

When you spend days on end behind the steering wheel, the Pioneer AVIC audio unit will solve all your sound and navigation concerns. 

If your van is older and doesn’t already have a modern navigation and audio unit, you definitely want to add one. Traveling by van involves a lot of hours behind the wheel and some easy listening will make the time far more enjoyable. 

Whether your preference is music, podcasts, audiobooks, or local radio, you need decent sound. For me, Apple Car Play is a must, so you can easily flip from map navigation to whatever you’re listening to and receive notifications. The Pioneer AVIC-W8400NEX does it all and can be installed in almost any van.

A quality stove

Jetboil Genesis Basecamp System Camp Stove

The Genesis Basecamp Stove by Jetboil provides the fastest way to cook a quality camp meal anywhere you park.

The Genesis Basecamp Stove has been a game-changer on my trips. This portable camp stove is easy to use and can cook your food extremely fast. It’s compact and easy to keep stored in a van, where you can also take it with you on day hikes or mini-adventures.

I’ve even pulled over at highway road stops countless times to quickly make lunch and coffee out of the rear door of the van with this stove.

See more of the best camping stoves here

A versatile cooking set

Snow Peak Cook Set

Design and quality are the selling points for this Snow Peak cook set that allows you to expand your camping culinary skills.

When it comes to camp cooking, having a van is a big step up from tent camping. You can widen your range of cookware items and set up stations to cook inside and outside of the van, depending on where you’re parked. But size, weight, and durability are still important. 

This cook set from Snow Peak is well-designed, of great quality, and compact enough to easily store in your van. The set includes two stacking pots and frypans with foldable handles — enough to tackle almost any type of meal.

See more of the best camping cookware here

An outdoor grill

Weber Q 1200 Gas Grill Lifestyle

The Weber Q1200 Gas Grill is a compact accessory that will up your meal standards for outdoor cooking.

If you want to get serious about your camp meals and up your game, add a grill to your van inventory. The Weber Q1200 Gas Grill is small and functions with 14-oz gas canisters. It will grill your food to perfection in minutes and is a breeze to clean up after.

Bug repellent

Thermacell Portable Mosquito Repeller

Nobody wants their van full of bugs, so use a Thermacell Portable Mosquito Repeller to clear your entire campground. 

Bugs are a reality almost anywhere you camp. A van may shield you a bit better than a tent, but mosquitos and other small pests can still be an issue. The Thermacell Portable Mosquito Repeller covers a 15-foot radius and has no scent or spray. 

Leave it on the ground under your van at night and you’ll be bug-free.

See the best bug sprays here

A water-resistant duffel bag

Patagonia Drifter Duffle Lifestyle

A Patagonia Stormfront Duffel Bag is a great option for packing gear on outdoor adventures or storing wet items in your van.

It’s almost a guarantee that van camping involves getting wet. Whether coming in from the beach with wet gear or getting caught out in the rain on a hike, you’ll want a designated area to stuff wet items (or dirty laundry) that’s out of the way. 

Patagonia Stormfront duffel bags work for both efficient storage and daily use if you’re packing gear up in the outdoors. The material is durable and heavily water-resistant, providing the right protection when you need it.

An electrical outlet

Eilte Inverter

Easily turn your van’s electrical source into wall outlets and USB ports with a Wagan inverter.

Adding power and electricity outlets to your van can seem complicated, but having a good inverter is a simple solution to the power access you need while van camping. 

The Wagan Elite 700W Pro inverter is a small and sleek unit that converts your van’s 12V power into 120V wall outlets and USB ports, allowing you to keep all your devices charged.

Foldable camp chairs

REI Co op Flexlite Air Chair Lifestyle

After spending hours sitting in your van, sometimes you just want to sit outside. REI Flexlite Air Chairs are an easy answer.

After hours or days logging miles in a van, you need to spend time outside your van when you reach your destination. This can be as basic as setting up a chair five feet away from your van in a campsite.

REI Flexlite Air Chairs compact into a small volume for easy storage and can be set up in seconds wherever you park.  

See more of the best camping chairs here

A first aid kit

Pelican First Aid Lifestyle

First aid is important, so gather all the materials you need and organize them efficiently in a Pelican 1500EMS Protector Case.

Safety first, right? Having a good first-aid kit in your van is critical. The Pelican 1500EMS Protector Case is durable and weatherproof so it will keep all your emergency supplies safe under almost any conditions. 

You can also customize the medical supplies you want to keep accessible and store the case in your van without concern of it being squished or damaged.

See more of the best first aid kits here

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The 5 best backpacking stoves that are lightweight, fuel-efficient, and powerful enough to cook food fast

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Backpacking stoves are vital for preparing hot meals and coffee, no matter how far in the backcountry you are.
  • The best are fuel-efficient, lightweight enough to fit in your backpack, and reliable in inclement weather.
  • Our top pick, MSR’s WindBurner, is fast, powerful, and efficient, and weighs less than 3 ounces.

There are few things as refreshing as enjoying a hot meal at your campsite following a long day of hiking. Energy bars and trail mix do well to curb hunger during the day but when it’s time to relax for the night, you’ll want something a bit more substantial. That’s where a reliable camp stove opens up the options for meals, snacks, and hot beverages, making your time in the backcountry much more enjoyable.

I spend much of the year, regardless of season, either out on a multi-day backpacking trip or planning my next one – and I’ve learned that prioritizing how and what I’ll eat is always a vital consideration. This means making sure I’m able to start each morning with a cup of instant coffee and a few bites of rehydrated scrambled eggs so that I’m replenished enough and able to take on however many grueling miles lay ahead.

Refueling at night is just as important, too. A satisfying evening meal goes a long way to making my legs feel less tired and my body less sore, despite having hauled a 30-pound pack for several hours prior. Satisfying those meal needs always comes down to the type of backpacking stove I bring along. Even on shorter trips, it always finds its way into my pack – it’s that important.

Over the years, I’ve tested an array of camp stoves, both good and bad. What I’ve found is that I keep coming back to the same two brands: MSR and JetBoil. As you’ll notice by which stoves ultimately made the following guide, those two brands have the backpacking camp stove market almost entirely covered – and recommending another model just for the sake of doing so isn’t worth it. These are the best for a reason.

At the bottom of this guide, you’ll find some tips on how to shop for a backpacking stove and what else to consider, as well as the testing methodology I used.

Here are the best backpacking stoves:

The best backpacking stove overall

msr pocketrocket deluxe

Ounce counters will love the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe, which delivers outstanding performance in a tiny package. If you want to travel fast and light, this is the stove you need. 

 

MSR’s original PocketRocket is an iconic piece of gear in the outdoor industry, setting new standards for lightweight performance from a backpacking stove. But the new Deluxe model takes things to a new level by adding a push-button starter and a regulator for improved control in cold environments. 

The PocketRocket Deluxe tips the scales at a mere 2.9 ounces, making it one of the more svelte stoves on the market. It also measures just 3.3 inches in length, which is considerably smaller than almost any other model. Despite the small size, it still manages to perform well, boiling water at a rapid clip and offering solid fuel efficiency, too. It even has an integrated simmer control and a solid level of wind resistance, which aren’t common in similar stoves.

With this new generation of PocketRocket, MSR included an onboard igniter, eliminating the need to carry matches or a lighter. The igniter can be a source of frustration at times, though, as it’s not always 100 percent reliable. 

It’s worth pointing out that this stove isn’t a full cooking system, meaning you’ll need to bring a pot to prepare your meal (and possibly to eat from). Those additional items take up space and add weight to your pack, potentially negating any shaved ounces from using the PocketRocket in the first place. Additionally, the stove’s pot supports aren’t very large and can create some instability when used on uneven ground. 

Still, this little stove punches well above its weight class, delivering outstanding all-around performance in a tiny form factor. That alone makes it easy to recommend as the best ultralight backpacking stove available today.

The best budget backpacking stove

BRS

The BRS 3000-T Ultralight stove is a budget-conscious backpacker’s dream. Not only does it weigh next to nothing but it offers solid performance at a rock-bottom price, making it a great choice for those who’d rather spend their hard-earned money on other gear instead. 

Pros: Very inexpensive and lightweight compared to other models

Cons: Not very durable and average performance in all but the best of outdoor conditions 

Budget-friendly backpacking stoves aren’t particularly common in the outdoor industry but occasionally a model comes along that manages to offer solid performance at a great price. Such is the case with the BRS 3000-T Ultralight, a stove that’s compact, lightweight, and easy on the wallet. 

You won’t find a lot in the way of frills on this stove, though. It doesn’t have a built-in starter, nor does it include simmer control or a regulator to help maintain performance in cold or windy conditions. The BRS 3000-T is the very definition of a basic backpacking stove, with just the bare minimum of features. 

With that said, it does weigh less than an ounce and boils a liter of water in roughly three minutes. It also comes with a set of built-in pot holders that do a reasonably good job of maintaining balance even on rough terrain. Best of all, the BRS 3000-T costs just $17, making it an absolute bargain. 

Of course, at that price, this stove does come with a few caveats. It’s recommended that backpackers handle it with care as it isn’t the most durable. The stove can also perform poorly in windy conditions and its small burner head delivers only average performance. 

The best fuel-efficient backpacking stove

msr windburner stove

You’ll always want to consider weight, size, efficiency, and ease of use when shopping for a backpacking stove and none deliver on those as well as the MSR WindBurner, the best stove currently available. 

Pros: Compact, fast, and efficient, the MSR WindBurner is an all-in-one system that backpackers will love

Cons: No built-in igniter and not as lightweight as some other models

MSR’s made excellent backpacking stoves for decades and one of the mainstays in its line-up is the WindBurner Personal Stove System. What makes this particular stove stand out is that it’s an all-in-one option that gives users everything they need in one package. That includes the stove itself, a 1-liter insulated cook pot, a stabilizer, straining lid, and a plastic bowl. The only added extra you’d need is a canister of fuel and you’re set.

Unlike other all-in-one systems, the WindBurner offers a few extras that make it easier to use. For instance, its simmer-control system allows users to dial in exactly how much heat they want to apply to the pot. This also provides a measure of control over fuel consumption. 

The WindBurner truly shines with its versatility and efficiency. Very few backpacking stoves are as good in cold and windy conditions, and most use more fuel when preparing a meal. In fact, the WindBurner often gets twice as many uses out of a single fuel canister as its competition. That performance remains surprisingly consistent, too, even when used in a variety of environments or altitudes. 

Weighing in at 15.2 ounces, the WindBurner isn’t the lightest stove on this list but it is compact enough to comfortably carry inside a backpack, along with each of the add-ons which store inside one another. The entire package is easy to clean and can be set up or taken apart quickly. It also has the ability to boil a liter of water in just four and a half minutes, which is quite fast for a model of this size. 

The best backpacking stove for beginners

jetboil flash

The JetBoil Flash offers excellent all-around performance and great features that make it especially beginner-friendly. Compact and convenient, this is a stove first-time backpackers can quickly learn to operate and continue to use for many years. 

Pros: Fast and relatively efficient, the JetBoil Flash is extremely easy to operate, making it a great choice for beginners

Cons: No simmer control means the stove lacks subtle options when cooking a meal and its loss of efficiency in windy conditions is noticeable

Inexperienced backpackers looking for a great first backpacking stove should look no further than the JetBoil Flash. Like the MSR WindBurner, this model is an all-in-one solution that not only provides a stove but also a cooking pot wrapped in a protective outer shell. That’s essentially all you need to prepare the dehydrated backpacking meals that have become increasingly popular in recent years. 

The Flash’s ease of use is one of its biggest strengths. Simply fill up the pot with water and you’re ready to go. The entire system connects seamlessly to a gas canister, allowing the Flash to bring liquids to a boil in about three and a half minutes. That means you won’t have to wait long to get a warm meal or a hot beverage.

With its built-in heat exchanger, the Flash remains efficient, even in shifting weather conditions and colder temperatures. While not as fuel-efficient as the WindBurner, it still does a decent job of getting as much performance out of a single canister as possible.

At 13.1 ounces, the JetBoil Flash falls into the middle ground concerning size and weight. Smaller stoves, such as the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe, are more compact and less bulky but don’t include pots to prepare a meal, making the weight difference much closer than it seems. The Flash’s modular design only enhances its reputation as an easy-to-use option, too. 

The best travel backpacking stove

msr whisperlite universal

The MSR WhisperLite Universal is easy to travel with and uses liquid fuel rather than traditional gas canisters, making it the best backpacking stove for those going abroad.

Pros: Fast and efficient, compatible with multiple types of fuel which adds versatility and makes it great for international travel

Cons: A bit on the heavy side and requires regular maintenance in order to achieve optimal performance

Another mainstay in the MSR line-up, the WhisperLite Universal is without a doubt the best option for backpackers traveling outside the U.S. This stove comes with its own canister which can be filled with a variety of fuels, including white gas, kerosene, or even unleaded gasoline. It even uses standard isobutane-propane canisters when available, allowing this stove to go anywhere you’re able to find a viable fuel source. 

Compact and easy to carry, the WhisperLite Universal heats up quickly and gets nearly two hours of burn time from a single canister of white gas. Its overall efficiency varies depending on the fuel but it typically boils a liter of water in under four minutes. The stove is also easy to use, supports large pots for feeding groups of campers, and is surprisingly quiet for a liquid gas model.

The downside of using this type of stove is that it requires routine maintenance to keep it performing optimally. This maintenance isn’t particularly difficult but can be daunting and intimidating to newcomers. Additionally, at 14.9 ounces in weight, it’s a little heavier compared to other options. 

MSR ships the WhisperLite with a fuel pump, heat reflector, and a windscreen to help improve performance in windy conditions. It also comes with a few small parts to aid in the maintenance process. Unfortunately, a fuel bottle is not included, which adds an extra expense for international travelers, as well as a few additional ounces. 

How to shop for a backpacking stove

Shopping for a backpacking stove is different than what you’d look for while car camping, where size and weight don’t matter as much. When you’re carrying your entire allotment of gear inside a backpack, it’s vital to go small and lightweight.

It’s also important to find a stove that’s highly fuel-efficient in order to reduce the number of gas canisters you’ll need. 

But those aren’t the only features to consider. You’ll also want to take into account the number of people the stove supports, the kind of fuel it uses, and how durable it is. As with all outdoor gear, your stove should be extremely reliable and easy to use — there’s nothing like arriving at your campsite after sunset, exhausted and hungry, only to find your stove won’t start. 

What else to consider

It’s also important to think about when and where you’ll be using your camp stove. If you go backpacking in cold and windy conditions, you’ll want a stove that quickly boils water without using excess fuel. The same holds true when hiking at higher altitudes, where thinner air has a dramatic impact on efficiency. 

If this sounds too complex or overwhelming, fret not. There are plenty of reliable backpacking stoves to choose from, many of which are lightweight, compact, and fast. In fact, we’ve field-tested a crop of stoves currently available and came away impressed. There are now options available for just about every type of backpacker with any kind of budget. 

How we test backpacking stoves

Each stove featured in this guide went through a series of on-trail tests to see how well it held up across these four categories: Portability, weight, dependability, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which backpacking stoves ultimately made this guide:

Weight: For literally anything backpacking-related, weight is perhaps the most important consideration. Even if you’re not an ultralight backpacker, counting down to the ounce is common practice, and your camp stove is no different. During each test, we loaded a backpack with roughly 20 pounds of gear (sleeping bag, clothing, food, headlamps, etc.) and would spend one to two days with the stove in our backpack, and at least one day with it in someone else’s. This helped us judge just how much of a difference those ounces truly made.

Portability: Though weight may first come to mind when assessing how portable a camp stove is, we also judged how well the stove packed down, whether into itself or as pieces that were easily packable. A highly portable backpacking stove shouldn’t take up much valuable room in your pack, and also shouldn’t be so many separate pieces that you feel like you’re assembling a jigsaw puzzle each day. 

Dependability: Setting up camp after a grueling day on the trail can turn sour very quickly if the stove you’re about to rely on for sustenance doesn’t work (and this is doubly true when the weather starts to turn wet, cold, and windy). We’ve tested these stoves in hot weather often but also made sure to put them through their paces when the wind and rain picked up. For these, we had to resort to doing so in our backyard, though time spent on trail this winter will allow for further testing.

Value: The value of a backpacking camp stove isn’t just how much it costs but more so a combination of the three categories before it, as well as its final sticker price. You want something that’s dependable and often that means spending a little more for something you can rely on (as opposed to spending less, more often on an inferior stove). 

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5 lesser-known places to look for last-minute campsites this summer

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last minute campsites

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Last year, after hitting another dead end on Recreation.gov, I was just about to give up on my dream of a last-minute, weekend camping trip to Washington’s Central Cascades. Every campsite was either already booked up for every summer weekend, was located too far, or didn’t provide enough amenities to satisfy my camping troupe.

As my desired weekend inched closer, I dug around to find alternative booking sites for camping and my search paid off. Not only did I discover several new places to look for campsites beyond the usual state and federal campgrounds, but I was also able to snag an incredible campsite for my trip via Airbnb.

Though my campsite was more expensive than many of the best campsites found on federal campgrounds, booking with an alternative site also came with some handy perks, including being able to see reviews and the ability to reschedule or cancel my trip, which isn’t usually possible at federal campgrounds.

If you’re eyeing a weekend camping trip this summer it’s important to know that there are many options to consider besides federal sites, including completely private campsites.

Here are the best places for finding a last-minute campsite

Airbnb

Lesser-known places to book campsites Airbnb Sweden

Book Airbnb campsites

Pros: It’s familiar and if you’ve built up a high rating as an Airbnb guest, you might be more inclined to stay on the platform.

Cons: It’s not commonly known as a place to list campsites, so it may not offer a good representation of all the private campgrounds in the area. Additionally, service, cleaning, and occupancy taxes may be applied to the total bill.

The world’s largest vacation rental site is filled with people who are more than happy to let you pitch a tent in their backyard, as well as small independent campgrounds that promote listings on the site, too.

All you have to do is plug in your desired location and filter for campsites specifically. You can still find plenty of the unique experiences that Airbnb is famous for, like camping on a farm in Maine or in a riverside meadow in California.

Although you won’t be able to find a private campsite inside a national or state park, you can still find campsites close to the entrance like this well-stocked campground just 7 miles from Utah’s Zion National Park or this beautiful forest-adjacent field just 10 minutes Washington’s Olympia National Park.

Hipcamp

Hipcamp camping RV- Lesser-known places to book campsites

Book Hipcamp campsites

Pros: Campsite listings are incredibly thorough and they don’t stop at just listing amenities. You can also filter by available activities like swimming and climbing or terrain features like hot springs, waterfalls, and caves. Unlike Airbnb, reviewers are able to upload photographs with their reviews which helps create a realistic picture of what to expect.

Cons: You will have to pay a non-refundable 8% to 18% service fee with every listing.

A site that is touted as the “Airbnb of Camping,” Hipcamp lists hundreds of campsites, RV sites, and glamping tents on its streamlined platform. Built with campers in mind, you can filter specifically for your camping needs from running water to ADA accessibility to equestrian access.

You’ll also be able to find many listings near popular national parks like this plateau plot near the Grand Canyon, or this site at the largest campground overlooking the sweeping views of Shenandoah National Park. Hipcamp is also a great resource for less traditional camping alternatives and you can rent everything from open-air treehouses to shipping containers.

The Dyrt

camping outdoor tent - Lesser-known places to book campsites

Book The Dyrt campsites

Pros: Along with campsites, you can also find information about nearby hikes and other things to do, which can help you thoroughly plan your whole trip.

Cons: You can’t book directly on this website, but you will be able to check availability for state and national parks.

Like Trip Advisor, but specifically for the outdoors, The Dyrt is an incredible resource for planning a camping or hiking trip. It’s full of detailed information, reviews, and user-uploaded photographs that can help provide a realistic expectation of what you find before you head out into the great outdoors.

Although you can’t book campsites directly on the website, you can still use the website to find thoroughly-reviewed cabins and campsites in state and national parks, as well as private campsites. Every campsite listing includes a link where you can book directly, whether it be on recreation.gov, KOA, or an independent campground. 

Glamping Hub

Catskills glamping tent - Lesser-known places to book campsites

Book Glamping Hub campsites

Pros: Glamping Hub’s specialty is in unique accommodations, so if your travel tastes align with the eccentric, this is a great place to find hidden gems.

Cons: Prices for some of the most upscale and decked-out glamping sites will be much more similar to a hotel stay than a traditional campsite.

If you’re not quite ready to rough it at a traditional campsite, there’s always glamping. Glamping Hub has listings all over the world with over 15,000 glamorous camping sites in the US alone.

This booking site is chock-full of unique accommodations from cabins and tiny houses to train cabooses and geodesic domes and there’s no need to pack a sleeping bag. Granted, you’re not going to convince everyone that a weekend in a cabin with running water and Wi-Fi is still camping, but with a little digging, you can still find off-the-grid locations, like this romantic tent on Washington’s Whidbey Island, and hosts that offer traditional camping with a twist like this hanging tent playground in California.

Tentrr

Tentrr tent camping - Lesser-known places to book campsites

Book Tentrr campsites

Pros: Booking a campsite on private property offers seclusion and the opportunity to enjoy landscapes not accessible at any other time. Tentrr also sells its own glamping tents, so many listings will have both a backcountry and signature option.

Cons: At the time of writing, the majority of listings are concentrated on the east coast, particularly in New York. Also, the platform does not allow you to click through to a user profile to see other posts by reviewers.

A site that is exclusive to listings from private landowners, and even includes property in state parks, Tentrr features listings in 41 states and Puerto Rico. You can filter by the website’s “signature” or “backcountry” campsites depending on whether or not you want to bring your own camping equipment or shack up in a glamping tent.

The model of this site offers unique camping opportunities like this abandoned zoo in the Catskills or this quiet forest just five miles away from the Oregon Coast.

Tentrr also lets you purchase extras for your trip right when you book your reservation. These extras are offered by the hosts and vary based on the site. They could be anything from a prepaid firewood bundle and a cooking set to a tour of the on-site apiary or a needle felting workshop.

Read our full Tentrr review here

Additional campground resources

KOA and ReserveAmerica are two good resources to keep in mind where you can easily search a large number of campgrounds quickly for availability. However, many of the campsites listed are the same as those you’ll find on Recreation.gov and other popular aggregator sites — which means they may not help you out when it comes to finding under-the-radar spots to book in a pinch.

Experienced campers can also look to pitch a tent on public lands away from developed recreation facilities on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas.

More outdoors vacation ideas

A glamping yurt in Florida
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The 5 best first aid kits of 2021 to keep at home or take with you on the go

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The best first aid kits should have items like bandages, wraps, antibiotic ointment, and pain relievers.
  • It’s smart to routinely check your first aid kit to be sure nothing is expired, low on stock, or needs updating.
  • Our top pick, the First Aid Only First Aid Kit, is compact, carefully curated with essentials, and costs under $25.

As a frequent camper and hiker, I know that having a first aid kit isn’t only a good idea, it’s a necessity. When you’re a three-day hike from the nearest hospital, you’d better be able to count on your own supplies in the event of injury or illness – so long as those supplies cover the basics.

When buying your own kit, it should have at least some assortment of the following: Bandages, antiseptic wipes, medical tape, anti-itch cream, burn relief gels, gauze, and antibiotic ointment, among others. It’s also important to choose a first aid kit that best suits the people and the situations in which they’ll be used. If you need just a small first aid kit for your home, there’s no need to splurge on a larger, disaster preparedness-style kit.

It’s also smart to opt for pre-packed kits whenever possible, especially if you’re relatively new to buying first aid kits, or aren’t entirely sure what all it should have. Piecing together your own is an option but should only be done by those that are experienced, or who have someone experienced helping them.

To help you find the best pre-packaged first aid kits available, I tested a number of options designed for a variety of use cases. No matter if you’re on a budget or just want a small kit for your home office, I have you covered. I’ve also included some insight into how to shop for a first aid kit at the end of this guide.

Here are the best first aid kits:

The best overall

first aid only

The First Aid Only All-Purpose First Aid Kit comes with all the basic medical supplies you need for quick diagnostics and the treatments of many ailments. 

Pros: Compact but comprehensive, great low price, well organized

Cons: Limited shelf life, included tape is not as adhesive as it could be

The First Aid Only All-Purpose First Aid Kit packs 299 doctor-recommended supplies into a soft-sided case measuring just 9.25 by 7.5 inches on its sides and about three inches deep. It’s about the size of a hardcover book but within this kit, you will find the tools needed to assess and treat everything from a scraped finger and heavily bleeding gash to a mild headache or high fever.

This kit comes with comprehensive wound cleaning and closure supplies, including multiple butterfly strips, gauze rolls and pads, and several types of bandages, not to mention the various alcohol, antiseptic, and antibiotic wipes and ointments. It’s the perfect triage kit for a variety of common injuries.

The kit also comes with an array of supplies invaluable to the person administering first aid, such as sterile vinyl gloves, a single-use thermometer, tweezers, and nickel-plated scissors. For all that, it still costs less than a nice meal — and certainly less than a trip to the ER.

The plastic partition pockets keep everything well-sorted and easy to find in a snap, so you won’t be fumbling for the right gear when time is of the essence, either. 

WebMD suggests you should replace your first aid kit once a year and replace any missing or expired items. At its affordable cost, you could replace the entire kit once a year without breaking the bank, maintaining a nice peace of mind in your home or workplace.

The best budget

coleman first aid

The Coleman All Purpose Mini First Aid Kit costs less than a fancy cup of coffee but it helps treat all sorts of minor scrapes, scratches, bug bites, and more.

Pros: Very affordable, lightweight and compact, perfect for travel

Cons: Not at all comprehensive

If you need to treat a compound fracture, you’re probably going to need a more advanced medical kit than this option from Coleman. More often than not, the damage we endure is often along the lines of minor cuts and scrapes, burns and bites, and the occasional puncture wound. For those everyday injuries, the Coleman All Purpose Mini First Aid Kit is the ideal choice.

It costs so little that there’s really no excuse not to buy one, and given the diminutive size of this kit, you can (and should) bring one along whenever your travels might lead you away from ready access to medical treatment.

Into a charming little tin, Coleman packed several antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, sting relief wipes, and a total of sixteen bandages in five different size and shape varieties. There’s also a razor blade for cutting away clothing or trimming medical tape, as well as a pair of safety pins.

The best portable

VSSL

VSSL’s First Aid is the perfect portable kit that’s great for camping, backpacking, or even just keeping around in your car or office, and includes 15 unique items all stored in a waterproof, aluminum container.

Pros: Compact and highly portable, has 15 unique pieces and 46 total items, comes in an aluminum carrying tube that’s waterproof

Cons: Not a comprehensive enough kit for large groups

Ingenuity and convenience are the main calling cards of VSSL’s first aid kit called, aptly, First Aid. Featuring 15 different items (and 46 total essentials) in an aluminum, waterproof carrying case, the First Aid is a highly useful and portable kit that can go just about anywhere. It’s perfect for the campground and the backcountry but also functions well at the job site or in the office. 

As the photo above shows, the First Aid is a tube-shaped kit that has everything packed neatly inside. Contents include a flashlight, compass, variety of bandages, adventure tape, and Steri-Strips, to name a few. It also has some antiseptic towelettes, medical face masks, and antibiotic cream. 

The entire contents of the kit store into a sleeve that conveniently folds up to slide inside the tube. The sleeve itself features hooks on either side so that it can be hung up for easy access, too. 

At just 14 ounces in weight, the First Aid weighs less than a pound and can be easily stashed in a backpack, glove box of a car, or in a desk. As mentioned, the entire thing is waterproof, so you can rest assured nothing will get ruined if it gets submerged in water or you’re trying to use it in the pouring rain. 

I’ve had my own First Aid (and replaced it a few times) for the last several years, and never leave home on a camping or backpacking trip without it. It’s highly convenient, has enough first aid supplies to adequately support one to two people, and is useful in more ways than just administering first aid. — Rick Stella, fitness and health editor

The best for the office

be smart first aid

The Be Smart Get Prepared 250 Piece First Aid Kit is OSHA and ANSI compliant and covers the first aid needs of up to 50 people, making it perfect for the office.

Pros: Great choice for the workplace, comes with a selection of medicines, hard plastic shell protects components

Cons: Case is bulky and not water-resistant, latch is prone to failure

The Be Smart Get Prepared Kit is a large, comprehensive first aid kit designed to meet the needs of several dozen people. It’s a great choice for businesses, retail locations, schools, churches, and even for the home, though it’s not a good choice for travel due to its bulky hard case.

The case helps keep the components organized and protected but it’s not watertight or resistant to moisture or temperature fluctuations which can affect some of the components. Because of this, it should be stored in a temperate indoor environment.

The Be Smart Get Prepared 250 Piece First Aid Kit has all the wound care components you would expect, from alcohol prep pads and antiseptic towelettes to multiple bandages in varied sizes.

What sets this kit apart from the others in terms of suitability for use in the office or at a school are the medicines it comes with. You’d likely already have access to many of these medicines at home — like pain and anti-inflammatory tablets and antacids — but it’s not always a given at work, school, or at other such locations.

It also includes cold packs, another handy feature for use when ice might not be nearby.

The best for disaster prep

Lightning X first aid kit

If you’re cut off from emergency services following a natural disaster or in times of civil unrest, you’ll be glad you have the Lightning X First Responder First Aid Kit.

Pros: Comprehensive supplies, features advanced medical gear, comes with backpack

Cons: Pricier than other options, many components not needed for basic first aid

If you foresee a time where there won’t be anyone on the other end of a 9-1-1 call, or you just like to be prepared for anything, the Lightning X First Responder First Aid Kit is the way to go. This kit certainly borders on overkill for most households but it’s likely the last kit you’d ever need to buy (not counting the items that merit periodic replacement, like alcohol wipes).

Anyone in need of first aid or preparing to administer it will appreciate the many bandages, the rolls and pads of gauze, the antiseptic wipes, the ointments, the tapes, and more. Anyone with actual medical training will also like the included stethoscope, sphygmomanometer, airway kit, and other more advanced medical tools. In the right hands, this kit is essentially a mobile trauma center while also having all your basic and intermediate first aid needs covered.

This comprehensive first aid kit comes loaded in a lightweight, ergonomic backpack with padded straps and reflective stripes, allowing it to be easily taken on the go — it’s even comfortable to carry and highly visible. While it’s a great choice for a well-prepared home, this kit was designed for emergency response professionals to use in the field.

How to shop for a first aid kit

A reliable first aid kit isn’t exactly a mobile trauma center but it does provide the basic supplies you need to mitigate the ill effects of an accident, injury, or sudden illness. Remember, it’s first aid, not final, comprehensive aid.

When choosing a first aid kit, you need to think about who might depend on it (in terms of the sheer number of people and the age and disposition of the user), where it will be stored and/or carried, and in what situations the likely users might endure an injury or illness.

Any first aid kit worth considering should have supplies capable of treating minor cuts, punctures, burns, and other such common injuries. Beyond that, the suitability of a given kit depends on careful consideration of factors ranging from weight to packaging to redundancy of the supplies included.

Check out our guide to the best emergency kits

emergency preparedness supply kit shutterstock_222250729

The best emergency kits

An emergency kit is something you should have around, in case an unexpected dangerous event happens. You can make your own, or purchase a pre-assembled kit that has everything you may need. We’ve rounded up the best emergency kits you can find pre-assembled.

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I used Arrive Outdoors to rent all the camping gear I needed for a weekend trip – here’s how it works and why I’ll gladly use the service again

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arrive outdoors review
  • Arrive Outdoors partners with top brands to rent outdoor, camping, and ski gear.
  • The company offers everything from one-off items like tents to full collections and sets of gear.
  • Prices start from $1 per day, but range depending on season, number of rental days, and popularity.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Over the last year, there’s been a steep rise in the popularity of camping and other outdoor pursuits that make it easier to practice social distancing.

In fact, according to KOA’s North American Camping Report, 46% of leisure travelers have spent significantly more time outdoors since the start of the pandemic. Even those who typically prefer a more luxurious hotel-style stay have been keen to take up camping, and it’s a trend that’s likely to continue this summer too.

For those who don’t typically do much hiking or camping, investing in new equipment to get started can be expensive. While many campgrounds are quite cheap to book, tents, sleeping bags, camp stoves, hiking boots, and other essentials are not. And for city dwellers who lack roomy sheds, basements, or even closet space, there’s also the question of where to store everything.

Enter Arrive Outdoors, a company that rents camping, outdoor, and ski/snowboard equipment. Customers choose the items they want, the number of days they want to use them, and get them shipped right to their front door. After a fun weekend hiking and curling up by the campfire, just pack it all back up and ship it back.

What is Arrive Outdoors?

Arrive Outdoors is a company that partners with top brands to rent out camping and outdoor equipment. You can rent everything from tents and sleeping bags to ski pants and snowshoes and can choose a window of days to rent the gear. When finished, all gear is easily returned so there’s no need to own or store all your own equipment.

The gear is sent directly to your door via FedEx and comes with return shipping labels to send it back once you’re done. You can rent both equipment and clothes, though most of the equipment is for camping (you can’t rent actual skis, for example).

You can rent one-off items you may be missing, such as just a tent, just hiking boots, or just ski goggles, or you can rent entire sets the company curates. Sets range from camping sets for one, two, or four people to ski clothing sets for men, women, and even kids.

For those who only camp, hike, ski, or snowboard occasionally, want to try gear out before committing to buying it, or just want to save on storage space, Arrive Outdoors is an excellent option.

Arrive Outdoors review - Gear arriving

How much does Arrive Outdoors cost?

Rentals are priced per day so the total cost depends on how long you plan to use it. The prices also fluctuate quite a bit depending on the time of year and how many other people are looking to rent at the same time.

Small items like trekking poles or even hiking boots go for as little as $1 to $5 per day, depending on the season, while a two-person tent typically runs roughly $12 per day. Full sets like ski clothes for men (including everything from base layers to the ski jacket and gloves) costs closer to $80 per day.

If you’re willing to enter your email into the Arrive Outdoors database, you can also receive 10% off your first rental of $99 or more.

Where does Arrive Outdoors deliver?

Arrive Outdoors delivers anywhere in the contiguous United States via FedEx. Delivery is extremely easy and comes right to your door. You can even choose to get your equipment delivered to your home, a hotel, an Airbnb, or to one of over 10,000 FedEx or FedEx affiliate locations.

Arrive Outdoors COVID-19 policies

Arrive Outdoors has new policies in place specifically for COVID-19 that include:

  • Gear and apparel are thoroughly cleaned and treated with CDC-recommended cleaning solutions​;
  • All apparel goes through a​ commercial launder system and gets treated with laundry additives to fight viruses​ and bacteria;
  • All staff who handle gear or shipments are ​required to use disposable gloves at all times and use sanitizer ​frequently and between stations;
  • All ​product surfaces are cleaned with CDC-recommended disinfectants​.

My review of Arrive Outdoors

Arrive Outdoors review - inside Tent View

I’m no newbie to camping and typically have my camping packing list set. However, storing camping gear in my small Brooklyn apartment presents quite a challenge, and since I don’t camp as often as I used to, many of my bigger essentials like tents, sleeping pads, and coolers are currently stowed with my parents in New Mexico.

Because of that, I decided to try out Arrive Outdoor’s Camping Set for Two for my fiance and me (which was comped for review purposes). I also wanted to experience what it would be like if I had no equipment of my own and needed to rely exclusively on Arrive Outdoor’s supply.

The Camping Set prices fluctuate quite a bit. Though they start as low as $23 per day, the kit typically runs closer to $55 per day in the fall season. However, I went over an August weekend when camping was at peak popularity and the set ran $83 per night. For an entire weekend trip, I was looking at $166, plus a shipping charge of $20.

While that may seem pricey to rent gear and sleep on the ground, the set comes loaded with just about everything you need. This includes a high-quality Marmot tent, two Nemo sleeping bags, two Therma-a-Rest luxury sleeping pads, two headlamps, a lantern outfit with charging ports, a small YETI cooler, a camp stove and cooking pots, and two foldable camp chairs. If I bought everything included on the list, it’d run more than $1,600, which suddenly makes the $160 price tag much more reasonable.

The reservation process was also very easy and Arrive Outdoors allows you to reserve for free – it only charges your card once the gear actually ships. I also liked that it gave me options when choosing the sleeping bag for how warm I wanted it to be.

The gear arrived in two large boxes right on time and directly to my door. Everything was neatly packed and there was a note on the top outlining the brand’s new cleaning policy. This definitely helped put my mind at ease about renting gear in the COVID era and true to its word, all the equipment was spotless.

arrive outdoors review - lantern setup

The gear was also in excellent shape. I found no rips or tears in the tent or sleeping bags, and no missing tent poles or required components. I’d still recommend looking everything over and even pitching the tent once before embarking on an extended trip. There’s nothing worse than arriving at an isolated location miles away from home before realizing your tent zipper doesn’t work or your headlamp is broken.

Our campsite was a short, two-hour drive away and we arrived just before dusk on a Friday afternoon. Because it wasn’t my usual tent, I did end up having to pull up a short Youtube video to check how the poles were supposed to connect after some initial confusion. Despite that, I still felt that the equipment was extremely user-friendly, and setting up the tent a second time would’ve taken mere minutes after I’d gotten the hang of it.

All the extra equipment worked flawlessly and nearly everything we needed was included. However, there were a few key items missing that those who have never camped before could easily overlook. I’d recommend bringing some sort of pillow (inflatable or otherwise), a sturdy tarp in case of severe weather, and fire starters, at a bare minimum.

Overall, the equipment made for a comfortable and easy campsite. I particularly liked that the tent was actually a three-person tent, making it a bit roomier for both my fiance and me. The lantern that doubled as a charging port was especially handy and I’m even considering buying the same one now to add to my regular camping kit. We even took the camp chairs down to the beach and it made for an easy way to relax and enjoy the sunset view.

Arrive Outdoors View

When we got back, we made sure everything was packed back up, put it all back into the boxes with the pre-printed return shipping labels affixed, and dropped it off at a nearby FedEx. Do note that the boxes are big and heavy and if you don’t have a car, it can be a serious pain to get them to a drop-off location. I ended up needing to use a dolly just to wheel them to the drop-off.

The bottom line

My overall experience with Arrive Outdoors was an excellent one and I definitely plan to use it again this summer for my outdoor and camping gear needs. The company is very useful for those who are new to outdoor pursuits, want to try out equipment before buying, or who live in smaller spaces and don’t have the storage space for gear like tents or snowshoes.

The prices are especially reasonable for one-off items such as renting a single tent, a set of trekking poles, or a pair of gloves. However, the full sets make activities like camping and skiing more accessible for those who aren’t quite ready to invest in the gear required to get started – and it still offers great value when compared to the full retail prices of what’s included.

If you do plan to hike, ski, or camp often, it’s worth it to invest in your own equipment since rental prices add up over time, but for the occasional outing, Arrive Outdoors is a smart and worthy option.

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