When it comes to camping, we don’t screw around.
When there are 4 grown men in the car, or when I am moto-camping, the cargo space becomes a scarce resource. To avoid having to throw the portliest friend out (they may come handy if you run out of provisions), you need to select gear that is light and space-efficient.
I have gone through a number of sleeping mats, chairs, tried a few different camping stoves and portable BBQ grills. Some have proven to be money-worthy, some – not so much.
In this post I will disclose the intelligence collected over the times spent “in the wild”.
Best Affordable Camping Equipment from SimpleVancouver
Choosing the right tent is an essential part of going camping. Do you camp mostly during the warmer months? If so, you don’t need an fancy and expensive tent, and as long as it has a water-resistant cover (3,000+ mm), which most of them do, you should be fine.
Currently, I have a Coleman Company Popup Tent, which is awesome. When assembled, it is a circle with a diameter of approx. 35 inches (88 cm), and about an inch thick.
I like it mainly because I do not have to spend a lot of time to set it up. You just take it out of the carrying bag, take off the rubber band that holds it together, and throw the tent in front of you. This tent opens up on its own, so all you have to do is to secure it to the ground using the metallic pins.
2. Sleeping mat.
If you are not picky, a simple yoga mat would do. However, if you are not staying at a designated campground, chances are that the surface you are sleeping on is uneven. Sometimes there are rocks on the ground; so unless you are using vodka blanket, a yoga mat will not do the trick.
There are two options: getting a thicker pad ($15-20), or getting a self-inflating mattress ($50-60).
You can get a conventional inflatable mattress from a store like Walmart, but they do not last long. For $10-20 more you can get a much smaller self-inflating mattress that would be a much durable solution, and will not require an air pump.
I have a thicker pad that I bought at AliExpress for USD$15 with free shipping, which is very comfortable to sleep on; and it does not take too much space.
If you can justify spending CAD$47 on a quality sleep, ALPS Mountaineering Lightweight Self-Inflating Air Pad is what some of my friends use, and it is truly incredible.
I am contemplating getting one of these myself.
3. BBQ grill.
In our group, going camping and not cooking meat is completely unacceptable. We are committed carnivores, and we love our steaks (for my tips on getting proper grass-fed meat read this post).
Unfortunately, most of the time our summer is quite dry, and unconfined fire pits are not allowed (you can get in serious trouble for not following this); so a portable grill becomes a necessity.
I like my meat with minimum chemicals, so we have a charcoal grill.
IMO shape of the grill is the most important part: the round ones are not good because they take too much space, and they are difficult to efficiently pack. Go for the rectangular ones instead.
This Folding Charcoal BBQ Grill is highly portable and is only $35.00. When disassembled, the dimensions are only 17.3” x 13.4” x 2.2” inches (44 x 34 x 6 cm), which is approximately the size of a closed 17.3″ laptop.
4. Waterproof socks.
Gore-tex is an amazing material; but it is pretty expensive. MEC carries Gore-Tex socks for $65 + tax, so if you don’t mind spending this much on socks, or are not willing to wait, get them, they get a lot of positive reviews.
I have bought these ones for USD$33.00 off AliExpress. I do not know how they compare to the Gore-Tex ones, but they work for me, and I like them.
5. Hiking boots.
Hiking boots are not detrimental, but are certainly helpful. Until recently I used my street shoes that are not waterproof and have little grip (they are STREET shoes, after all).
Now I own a pair of Men’s Hanagal Outdoor Hiking Boots with Waterproof Membrane that I got at Amazon.ca for $59.50 + tax and free shipping.
Why have both the waterproof socks and the waterproof boots? Because nothing is 100% waterproof, and some water will get through sooner or later. The socks offer a second layer of protection in that case; and they can be used with any boots that you have.
6. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter.
LifeStraw is a portable water filter that requires no batteries. It filters out a minimum of 99.99999% of waterborne bacteria (>LOG 6 reduction); a minimum of 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites (>LOG 3 reduction) and reduces water turbidity by filtering particles of approximately 0.2 microns.
LifeStraw is the second most sold product in Sports & Outdoors section on Amazon.ca, and I can see why.
7. Camper’s Knife, Fork and Spoon set
Since you need the knife and fork / spoon anyway, it makes sense to have them in one utensil, so you can lose them all at the same time. There are a lot of high-priced ones, but in reality the basic one for under $10 should do just fine.
Summer is upon us! If you need trip ideas, check out the 25 Hidden Hot Springs in BC.