Recommended camping gear

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

 1. Tent

Coleman Popup tent

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 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. Check Canadian Tire, which is where I got mine – they go on sale sometimes.

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.

Keep in mind, that 2-people tent will fit only 1 person with gear. So if you’re a couple, opt for a 3-person tent.

NOTE: They are somewhat tricky to put back together, so make sure to practice a few times to really nail the process to avoid disappointment. I remember watching a couple struggling to do it at Joffre Lakes 2 summers ago, so I came by to help them.

If you’re a backpacker, you will want a smaller tent. MSR Hubba Bubba is a great option: light, durable and easy to put together. But it costs $500. Luckily, there are Chinese copies by NatureHike, which is what I’ve been using for the last 5 years.

Here is the one that I have: NatureHike CloudUp 2. Half the price of the MSR tents. Even cheaper if you buy from AliExpress (free UPS shipping).

The rain fly is removable, so you can sleep under the starry sky, while still being protected from the mosquitoes. Alternatively, you can use just the rain fly for a more “open-concept” tent.

Mine is the one on the right. It has seen a lot of abuse and been with me for many many kilometers.

2. Sleeping mat.

thick sleping 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.

You can get a conventional inflatable mattress from a store like Walmart, but they do not last long. They’re also quite bulky and take a long time to inflate (RIP if you forget or break the air pump). For $10-20 more you can get a much smaller decent inflatable mattress that would be a much durable solution, and will not require an air pump. It takes 20-30 human lung blows (or a little more if you’re a heavy smoker 😃).

If you can justify spending CAD$50 on a quality sleep, get an inflatable pad, it is truly incredible. There is a lot of different brands on Amazon, they’re all about the same. They pack light, and will work great for backpacking too.


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).

BBQ grill

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 that great because they are difficult to efficiently pack. Go for the rectangular ones instead, if you can find one.

Go to Walmart if you want to save on them. Costco should have some too.

4. Goretex socks


Gore-Tex socks will work with any type of shoes and will always keep your feet warm and dry.

Gore-Tex is an amazing material; but it is pretty expensive. MEC carries Gore-Tex socks for $65 + tax. Trust me when I say, when you’re in the wild, nothing beats having dry and warm feet. Temperature drops at night, unexpected rain and mud, puddles – all these things have a high potential to gradually decrease your enjoyment of camping.

I have these exact socks, and they have saved me more than just a few times. They are quite versatile: I also use them for snowboarding and for off-road motorcycle riding. They will make any shoe waterproof.

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.  

5. Hiking boots.

Men's Hanagal Outdoor Hiking Boots with Waterproof Membrane

Hiking boots are not detrimental, but are certainly helpful. Especially if you use Gore-Tex socks, cheap waterproof shoes like these or these are fine.

My $50 pair from Amazon has lasted me 6 years, now I use hiking Timberlands that my girlfriend got for me for Christmas, they’re somewhat price, but you get what you pay for (or in this case, what my girlfriend has paid for 😂)

6. Sawyer water filter

This is BY FAR the best portable water filtration system out there. I’ve used mine for many years, multiple times, on several multi-day trips. It has never given me up. It is extremely easy to use.

There are a few ways to use it:

  • Screw it on top of any bottle (not overly tight, just tight enough – or it will break the seal and will leak).
  • Use it with the collapsible water bag that’s provided – fill the bag from any freshwater lake/river/stream and drink from the filter directly
  • Connect the filter inline with your hydration pack. The water line of the hydration pack will need to be cut for that – example below:
Example of the inline filter placement

NOTE: This filter, just as the most sub-$200 consumer water filters, will not work with saltwater.

7. Spork (spoon + knife+fork hybrid) – saves space!

Camping knife utensil 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.