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Camping gadgets are devices or tools designed to make camping more convenient, comfortable, and enjoyable. They can range from simple tools such as a camp seat and water filtration system to more complex items like camp kitchens and satellite communicators. These gadgets can be used for a variety of camping activities, such as cooking, safety, and entertainment. Many of these products are designed to be lightweight, compact, and durable, making them easy to pack and transport. But no matter the gadget, it should serve you a purpose in the woods. Here are the best camping gadgets you need for this summer.
How We Made Our Picks
Choosing the best camping gadgets was a slightly daunting task. After all, a quick internet search will show that there is a never-ending list of gadgets and gear, all of which claim they will improve the camping experience. I researched items from well-established companies and personally tested them in order to reach my conclusions. I evaluated products using the following criteria:
I chose camping gadgets that were durable and reliable. These items will last through many seasons. Camping exposes our gear to rain, UV radiation, dirt, and more. I recommended gadgets that will survive in harsh conditions.
Part of the camping experience is leaving behind all the “stuff” you don’t need. Each gadget recommended fills an important and unique niche without being extra weight. These are all items that have improved my camping trips.
Best Camping Gadgets: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Way to Clean Water: MSR AutoFlow XL 10-Liter Backcountry Gravity Water Filter
- Purpose: Water purification
- Weight: 16.2 oz
- Size: 7 x 11 x 3 inches
- Materials: Plastic, hollow fiber filter
- Large volume filter
- Easy to use
- No pumping or mechanical parts required
The MSR AutoFlow XL Gravity Filter is easy to use and does a good job of filtering large amounts of water. To use this purifier, simply fill the 10-liter bag with water from a creek, river, or lake. Then hang the bag on a tree, tent, or vehicle or set it down on its protected bottom. Water will automatically drain through a silicon straw and then through the hollow fiber filter. Position a clean water bottle or vessel below the filter and watch the clean water exit. This filter removes bacteria, protozoa, and small particles. With gravity doing the work, the MSR AutoFlow XL has a filtration rate of 1.75 liters per minute.
Since it filters so much water and is a little bulky, this gadget might be a little overkill for solo backpackers or ultralight hikers. If you want something smaller, take a look at my suggestions for the best water purifiers. However, this device is perfect for base campers, families, or groups who need large amounts of water filtered at once.
Best Way to Shower: Decathlon Pressure Solar Camping Shower and Shower Tent
- Purpose: Hygiene
- Weight: 1.9 lbs
- Size: 8.7 x 15.4 x 4.7 inches
- Materials: Plastic
- No batteries or electricity needed
Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you need to be dirty. Decathlon’s pressure solar shower is compact and easy to use. Not only was the shower handy for personal hygiene, but also great for spraying down muddy gear, pets, and boats. What’s better is that you don’t need to bring a bucket for the water or use batteries like in similar products. Simply fill the soft bag with water and let it heat up in the sun. There is a temperature gauge to monitor its progress. Once warm, lift and push the hand pump 25 to 30 times. Pressurized water comes out when you squeeze the nozzle. For privacy, attach the shower head via the velcro straps in the Quechua 2 Second Pop Up Shower Tent.
Best Solar and Best Backup Power: Anker Solar Generator 767 with Panels
- Purpose: Solar power and battery
- Weight: 67 lbs
- Size: 20.67 x 9.84 x 15.55 inches
- Materials: Lithium-ion battery
- Impressive energy capability
- Easy to use
The Anker Solar Generator 767 is a literal powerhouse. This amazing tool provides battery power to run and charge electronics, power your RV, or run appliances at your campsite. The 767 is the largest capacity battery in Anker’s PowerHouse line of power stations. With a 2048 Wh capacity and 2000 W output, this innovative camping gadget can run 99 percent of your appliances, including refrigerators, microwaves, and power tools. Without recharging, a camper could power a portable fridge, charge a drone, charge four phones, and run an LED light together for three days.
This is the perfect gadget for van lifers, car campers, overlanders, and those camping for a week or more. Customers can purchase the PowerHouse battery alone or with solar panels, and if you want even more energy storage, a battery expansion pack is also available.
The generator is compact and user-friendly but heavy (64 lbs). Fortunately, it comes with a retractable handle and wheel for rolling. In addition, this generator is pricey—making it most useful for those who regularly need backup power or those like me who are going to have it double as a camping gadget and backup power for essentials in my home.
Most Innovative: Zoleo Satellite Communicator
- Purpose: Out-of-service-range communication, weather updates, location tracking, and SOS
- Weight: 5.3 oz
- Size: 3.58 x 2.6 x 1.06 inches
- Materials: Lithium-ion battery, plastic/rubber casing
The Zoleo satellite communicator is a small box that connects via Bluetooth to your phone to provide the ability to text, email, and contact emergency services in the backcountry. This offers peace of mind when camping out of cell range, traveling cross country, and backpacking off the grid. The app allows you to send emails and text messages even when you are out of cell phone service by using the data iridium satellite network.
The number of allowed characters in a message is limited. As a result, this isn’t a great business tool for long emails or images, but it’s perfect for quick check-ins. My biggest concern prior to testing this device was what to do if my cell phone died. Without a screen, I worried that the device would be useless if my phone ran out of battery. While it’s true the app is needed to send long messages, I was still able to send prewritten check-in messages, my location, and access the SOS button/services without my phone.
The device itself is more affordable upfront than many of its direct competitors, but users should know that it needs a monthly subscription service to work.
Best for Car: Yakima EXO OpenRange Deluxe
- Purpose: Camp kitchen and storage
- Weight: 67 lbs
- Size: 31 x 18 x 18 inches
- Materials: Plastic box with metal side table and bamboo table
- Space Saving – can transport outside the vehicle
- Mounts to Yakima ExoSystem only
The Yakima Exo OpenRange Deluxe Camp Kitchen is the best camping gadget for your car. This rugged and well-thought-out box attaches to Yakima’s ExoSystem hitch base. It allows campers to transport their camp kitchen outside the vehicle, which means more space inside for all your gear.
The system includes a storage box, a bamboo wooden side table, a metal side table, and a 2-burner propane stove. In addition, it has a removable sink and cutting board. This makes for a fully functional camp kitchen that attaches to the rear of your vehicle. If you don’t want it to hang off your car, a freestanding leg kit is sold separately. The system is fantastic, but it comes at a price. This kit is a must-have for campers who are already utilizing the EcoSystem hitch base and are streamlining their camp system for full efficiency. If the Yakima Exo OpenRange Deluxe is out of your price range, there are many budget friendly camp kitchens available. However, unlike the OpenRange Deluxe, these budget options need to be stored in your vehicle and are likely not as durable.
Best for Men: Kelty Low Loveseat Camping Chair
- Purpose: Camp seat
- Weight: 15.2 lbs
- Size: 37 x 13 x 9 inches
- Materials: Steel frame and 600D polyester quilted seat
- Carrying case
- Roomy cup holder
This roomy camping couch has two wide seats that are soft and durable. The adjustable armrests come with large insulated cup holders that are big enough to hold a 1 L Nalgene water bottle as well as a slot for your phone. The seat material is durable 600D polyester in a quilted pattern that makes it soft and warm. It is a bit heavy, and the chair is low and reclined, but Kelty sells a taller version as well.
Best for Women: Therm-a-rest Z Seat
- Purpose: Insulative seating pad
- Weight: 2 oz
- Size: 2.5 x 2.5 x 13 inches when folded and 13 x 16 inches open
- Materials: Closed cell foam
- No inflation necessary/Easy to use
- Not as comfortable as a camp chair
The Therm-a-Rest Z seat is a popular gadget for backpacking enthusiasts due to its lightweight and foldable design. Hikers can pull the seat out for a snack break, stay clear of dirt and mud, and stay comfortable while doing so. In addition to its lightweight design, the Z seat is surprisingly rugged. This cushion is perfect when sitting on a picnic bench or substituting for an uncomfortable folding chair. The Z seat has an R-value of 2, so it will protect you from the cold or heat when placed on the ground.
Best for Beach: MacSports XL Heavy Duty Collapsible Outdoor Folding Wagon
- Purpose: Wagon
- Weight: 21.25 lbs
- Size: 31 x 20 x 37 inches
- Materials: Alloy steel frame, 600D denier fabric
- Large weight capacity
- All terrain
This helpful wagon can handle a load of up to 300 pounds and still navigate through sand. This version comes with a cargo net to keep everything in place as well as two water bottle holders on the exterior. The wheels swivel to easily push, pull, and turn. The handle locks in and out of place with a button and extends to allow adults to easily pull the wagon without it clipping their ankles. I use this to transport my cooler, chair, and beach bag without any issues. The 600D poly fabric is durable and easy to wash. For parents, this wagon can also transport little kids when they need a break from walking.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Camping Gadgets
Before buying a new camping gadget, there are a few things to consider to ensure you get a product that will fit your needs.
Decide the purpose and function of the gadget and how it will be used. Do you need it? What problem does it solve? For example, if heading into the backcountry, it’s important to have a water filter to protect against water contaminants.
Size and Weight
Usually, space in a vehicle, tent, or RV is limited. Consider how much space the gadget takes up. This is especially important for backpacking.
Quality and Price
Camping gadgets come in a wide range of quality and price. If you are a frequent camper, it is likely worth it to pay extra for the quality gear. If you only camp once or twice a year, budget gear will likely do the job.
Many gadgets sync with systems you might already have. While I loved the Zoleo satellite communicator for its easy-to-use app and interface, if you already have a Garmin watch, you might want to consider the Garmin messenger for your communicator. Similarly, the Yakima OpenRange Deluxe is compatible with the Yakima hitch system.
Q: How do I make my campsite fun?
Camping gadgets can help make your campsite fun and comfortable. For example, grab your Therm-a-Rest Z seat and play some cards, circle around the fire in a cozy Kelty Loveseat, or head down to the beach with beach toys in the convenient MacSports wagon. If you’re looking for some great camping games and entertainment, check out our picks for summer camping gear.
Q: How can I make my camping more relaxing?
Camping becomes more relaxing when you bring some of the comforts of home. If you have the room, pack some items that will provide comfort and entertainment. For example, the Anker PowerHouse 767 can power a blender for a morning smoothie, run a stereo, and power a heater and lighting system. Similarly, you’ll be more relaxed after a warm shower with your Decathlon Pressure Solar Shower.
Q: What should I not bring on a camping trip?
Everyone has their own list of things to bring and not to bring on a camping trip. However, there are a few items that would probably be best left at home.
Perfumes and potent smells: Perfumes, smelly soaps, and foods can attract unwanted wildlife. Keep the smelly things away from camp to keep you and your tent-mates safe from wildlife encounters.
Valuables: It’s usually best to leave valuables like expensive electronics, jewelry, and clothing at home. They can be damaged outdoors or, in some cases, attract thieves.
Glass and/or breakable items: Leave things at home that are fragile in an outdoor environment. Choose camp dishes that are plastic over glass or ceramics.
The Best Camping Gadgets: Final Thoughts
Choosing a few good gadgets will make your camping experience comfortable, convenient, and fun. Whether it’s a comfy chair to cozy up by the fire, a satellite communicator to tell your loved ones you’re safe and sound, or a backup battery to power a mini fridge—the best camping gadgets will improve your outdoor experience.
Why Trust Us
For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.