Finding the best gifts for campers in 2020 might seem hard at first — after all, camping fanatics have much of the gear they need for their weekend outdoor adventures. That’s not game over, though: Campers have a tendency to wear out their camping gear, which means your best camping gift can be a replacement upgrade. In addition, most campers appreciate cool camping gadgets.
Camping Gifts for 2020 and Beyond
We take pride in our gift guide for campers and camping enthusiasts because we not only recommend a particular can’t-go-wrong camping gift, we also tell you why our choices are cool gifts for campers.
Meanwhile, what about experienced campers? Finding gifts for campers who have everything is easier than you think: Sometimes a camper already has a piece of camping gear . . . but they could actually use an upgrade.
Here’s just one example: We have a buddy who now has three kids. Suddenly when you do the family math, including the dog, their old 4-person tent just isn’t big enough. Boom, there’s your opening for a great camping gift. A 6-person or even 8-person tent would make a great camping gift idea for this guy and his family. If a tent is on your gift list, be sure to check out our guide to the best camping tents.
Tips for Choosing Camping Gifts
There are other clues you can look for to find gifts for campers. Has your camper complained about sleeping arrangements? Has an air mattress failed? Could they use a luxury or ultralight replacement? How about a camping cot?
If your camper uses an RV or a camp trailer, consider how you can improve their camping experience outside of the RV — hammocks are pretty fantastic, as are pop-up sun shades with mesh walls that keep the bees and mosquitos out.
Everyone we know has used a cheap and uncomfortable camp chair — and we’ve broken more than our fair share. For a camping gift that can’t be broken, try the YETI Hondo Base Camp Chair. A good camp chair is always a welcome upgrade . . . just beware that kids and guests will go for the new chair every time, too — especially if it’s the super comfy NEMO Stargaze Recliner Luxury Chair.
Meanwhile, what are our favorite camping gifts for 2020 and beyond? Which are the best camping gadget gifts? The best camping stocking stuffers? Unique camping gifts for campers who have everything?
There are many reasons why the BioLite SunLight Solar Lantern makes a great camping gift, starting with the fact that it works supremely well. It puts out a soft-yet-bright light that you can prop up or hang pretty much anywhere. We use it outside at camp as well as hang it up inside our tents. It’s just excellent. Plus, the price is right, and for the build quality, the price-to-value ratio is outstanding. You can charge it at home or in your vehicle via a USB charger — just like your smartphone — or you can set it up to collect rays from the sun during the day. The solar charger even includes a peep sight that lets you orient the BioLite SunLight Solar Lantern for maximum solar charging efficiency. And here’s a hint: Buy an extra one for yourself. They’re that good.
The Fireside Outdoor Pop-Up Pit is an ultralight elevated fire pan. We know, it seems odd at first, but after using it in a dispersed camping site with no good fire ring already available, we’re big fans. As many campers know, sometimes existing fire rings and pits are situated in really bad places on campsites. The Fireside Outdoor Pop-Up Pit lets you start a fire on the beach, on a river bank, and even on public lands that require leave-no-trace fire pans. It packs down small and quickly and easily sets up to create a 24″ x 24″ fire area. The stainless steel mesh is so tight that ash doesn’t fall through — but air helps feed the fire from below, resulting in fast-lighting fires and cleaner burning with less smoke. And the elevated height? It works surprisingly well. With the grill accessory, you can even cook on it. Read our full Pop-Up Pit review to learn more. Available at Amazon or from Fireside Outdoor directly — with free shipping.
Best camping gift for campers who have everything.
If you give your camping enthusiast a hammock, they’re going to put it use. Who doesn’t like hammocks? We’ve never met anyone who doesn’t. They’re astoundingly comfortable, and the Eno DoubleNest Hammock is big and strong enough for two. Your camper can take a nap, read a book, or just chill. If you sit sideways instead of lay lengthwise, you turn the hammock into an ultra comfortable lounge chair. And kids? That might be your camper’s biggest problem: Shooing the kids away so an adult can use the hammock. But wait, there’s more: What if you only have two trees in your campsite but want to hang two hammocks? Try the Eagles Nest Outfitters ENO Fuse Tandem Hammock System. Of course, if your camper camps in areas without trees, what do you do? Nab the awesome ENO Nomad Hammock Stand — you can set it up anywhere, even on a sandy beach. The hammocks and stands are sold separately, so buy accordingly. Because pretty much everyone likes a hammock, hammocks are always one of our top camping gifts. Oh, one more thing: Starting this year, ENO has committed to planting two trees for every hammock sold. Nice.
While white light can attract a swarm of nighttime insects, amber light does not, which is where the Cabela’s Bug-Proof LED Lantern shines. The lantern has two main modes: One uses high-flux LEDs that produce up to 400 lumens of glare-free white light white while the other switches the bulbs to an amber mode. The amber light isn’t quite as bright, but it’s serviceable, and better yet, it doesn’t attract bugs. The white mode lasts up to 100 hours while the amber mode will run for 175 hours using 4 D batteries. A third mode is a small amber night light that will run for up to 1,000 hours. The Cabela’s Bug-Proof LED Lantern is IPX-7 waterproof, so you can leave it out in the rain, and if you knock it off of a boat or dock while you’re fishing at night, it’ll float. As a camping gift, it’s hard to have too many lanterns, and on a bad bug night, it’s the one you want.
The FireBuggz Family Fun Pak includes two awesome FireBuggz Fire Fishing Pole Roasting Forks, which are basically small ‘fishing poles’ that let you roast up to two hot dogs or four marshmallows at a time. Instead of a stick, the pole system dangles a stainless steel hook with a cutout of a fish. If you lift the rod up in a jigging motion, the fish acts as a counter balance that lets you flip your hot dogs or marshmallows to ensure even roasting. It’s surprisingly cool. The Family Fun Pak also includes two straight roasting sticks — the Crank-Eez Roasting Sticks — that allow you to turn the shaft to rotate your hot dog or marshmallow, letting kids (and adults) roast to perfection. It’s a great camping gift for anyone who likes to laugh and roast over a campfire — which is pretty much everyone.
The Rolla Roaster Marshmallow and Hot Dog Roasting Forks have been around for decades — made in America in Idaho — and they’re awesome. The Rolla Roaster forks fit in most camp boxes but are expandable up to 42 inches, which is longer than most knockoff roasting forks. Better yet, the Rolla Roaster lets you rotate the fork with a knob attached to the handle. You want perfectly roasted marshmallows? Rotation is the key. You can even roast and rotate with just one hand. So good. They usually come in a set of two, but we recommend you get more for family camping trips.
Mosquitoes have the power to ruin an otherwise great camping trip. Some people are more susceptible to mosquitos, and if your camper has a guest who gets itchy red bumps from the little buggers, plenty of bug repellent spray is one answer. An even better answer is the ThermaCell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellant. It creates a 110-square foot zone of protection around your picnic table, camping table or campfire area. So cool. Most campers haven’t splurged on a ThermoCell, but we can almost guarantee that if you buy one as a gift for your camping enthusiast, it’ll get used. Of course, in addition to this camping-specific model, Thermacell offers mosquito repellers for your patio, for backpacking, and for hiking. We also like the Trailblazer Mosquito Repellent Camp Lantern.
Paracord bracelets have been ‘survival gear’ for years. Basically, all they are is handy paracord woven into a bracelet. If you get in a jam outdoors, you can unweave the bracelet, leaving you with cord that you can use to build a shelter. Or you can pull the thin inner cords out of the main cord shell and use them as a fishing line. Most people won’t get into a survival situation, of course, but building the paracord bracelets is fun and satisfying. Better yet, it’s a great project for kids while camping. The kit comes with a few buckles and lengths of paracord to get you started, but you can buy paracord and buckles separately or grab an additional material kit.
For car campers who might be short on space, it’s hard to beat the Camp Chef Rainier Campers Combo. This handy all-in-one unit blends a camp stove burner with a larger camp grill and/or griddle — you get all three: a stove burner on one side as well as a griddle that you can swap out with the included grill on the other side. So in the morning you can brew up some camp coffee while frying up some breakfast, then shift to grilling hot dogs for lunch or dinner. As a lightweight and portable all-in-one camp cooking unit, it’s hard to beat.
P.S. If all you need is basic camp stove — or want an awesome upgrade, check out our guide the best camping stoves.
If your camping enthusiast has a bit more space, the Camp Chef Exlporer 2x Two-Burner Stove is the base-camp stove to beat. You get two massive 30,000 BTU burners set up with removable legs so you don’t have to take up camp table space to easily use this stove. Better yet, it’s completely upgradable with some cool accessories, which you can choose as camping gifts in the future: You can add a BBQ Grill Box to turn one burner into a grill or add a large griddle to one side to create an egg and pancake-frying machine. And yet that’s not all: You can add the Artisan Pizza Oven accessory to let you bake pizza in camp! If you’d rather have a more foldable design for easier packability — along with fold-out side shelves — check out the Pro 60X Two-Burner Stove (which also accepts the aforementioned add-on accessories) or the 3-burner Pro 90X.
Toast is even better when you’re camping, and we don’t know why. Trouble is, how do you toast bread while camping without hopelessly burning it? There are ways to get it done, but the easiest way might be with the Stansport Folding Camp Stove Toaster. You simply place it over your camp stove burner. Works for bagels, too. Because it folds, it stores well in your camping gear box.
The L.L.Bean Spin/Fly Combo is the best all-around portable fly fishing and spin fishing rod and reel combo we’ve ever seen. Why? You get both a complete fly fishing and spin fishing rod and reel combo. The point is to have always have a rod and reel handy for whatever type of freshwater fishing might present itself at any particular camping location. If you’re shopping for a true camping enthusiast, there is a great chance they have camped somewhere without a rod or reel and wished they had one handy. This is the camping gift idea answer you’ve been looking for. Plus, two people could fish at the same time. This ultra packable combo comes in a nylon-covered foam case and includes a fly box for flies and a box for lures.
A slack line, a.k.a. slackline, is a surprisingly great camping gift for campers who have kids. Simply set it up between two trees — along with the included top balance-assist strap — and you have a challenging and fun toy that kids will spend hours on. They’ll build micro-muscles and balance. And when it’s your turn, you’ll gain all the same mind-body challenging benefits of finding and keeping your balance on a slack line. Plus, it’s fun — and there are no digital electronic device game screens involved at all. Chalk that up as a another win for camping. One note: Can you choose other brands of slack lines? Of course — just be sure they’re built with high standards of quality.
If you want a unique camping gift, you’ll be hard-pressed to go wrong with the REI laser-etched Leatherman Skeletool Topo Multi-Tool. This multi-tool features outdoor-focused topographic map lines etched into the blade. Seems like a simple decoration, but it’s surprisingly cool for outdoor lovers. As for the tool design itself, it’s big enough to be useful but light enough to carry everywhere. The built-in carabiner doubles as a bottle opener. If the topo lines don’t do it for you, consider the red Skeletool RX, which includes a carbide glass-breaking tip. If your camping enthusiast is also the kind of person who might need to break a car window to rescue a fellow human trapped in a car in a lake or stuck in a car after driving off the road, the RX version is for them. If you’re looking for someone more tuned to outdoor survival, try the awesome Leatherman Signal Topo Multi-Tool — it features a safety whistle and a fire-starting ferro rod.
We have never met anyone at any camping spot where they said, “Geez, I wish we didn’t have that extra camp table.” Never. Camp tables are great for food preparation, for use as dining tables, and for playing games. They hold your drinks and give you a good spot to place a lantern. The best camp tables are made from lightweight aluminum with portable designs. Why aluminum? If you’re cooking, you can remove a hot pot or pan from your camp stove and set it on the aluminum camp table surface. Vinyl and plastic camp tables will melt. We are obviously fans of the REI Co-op Camp Roll Table, but the Cabela’s Deluxe Roll Top Table and ALPS Mountaineering XL Dining Table are great, too. High-quality camp tables are another can’t-go-wrong camping gift.
You don’t really need the massive and powerful UCO Titan Stormproof matches for most camping situations — standard matches will usually do the job — but that’s not the point here. The Titan Stormproof matches are windproof and burn for up to 25 seconds. They even stay lit under water. They come in a waterproof case. These are the emergency matches an outdoor enthusiast can throw in a daypack for a hike. As for camping, when the conditions are windy and wet, the Titan Stormproof matches might save the day.
Campers can often use a good shovel, but few campers want to pack around a full-size shovel. Enter the Gerber Folding Shovel. This shovel packs down small to 9.5″ x 2.5″ x 6″ but it’s stout. You can fold and set the spade to work as a traditional (albeit small) shovel or set it at 90-degrees to use it more like a pick or hoe — which is handy if you need to dig a small trench to prevent rainfall from seeping under your tent. You can store a folding shovel in a camp box, or better yet, just leave it in your vehicle. One more thing: Gerber has made a few different versions of this type of shovel — the Gerber NATO Folding Shovel from Cabela’s is the only folding shovel that is NATO and U.S. military approved, so nab that one for a slight step up.
While we appreciate high-end and ultralight air mattresses, it’s nearly impossible to beat the price-to-value-to-comfort ratio of an Intex Classic Downy Airbed air mattress. The entire Intex line is very inexpensive yet reasonably durable and surprisingly comfortable, making it a great inexpensive camping gift. Because they’re so thick, they absorb and protect you from errant rocks, sticks or roots underneath your tent. While we’re fans of ultralight camping air mattresses and luxury sleeping pads — check out our guide to the best backpacking and camping sleeping pads to learn more — the Intex Classic Downy Airbed is outstanding for the low price point. Available in twin, full and queen sizes.
Every kid we’ve ever met loves the walkie talkie. The Sokos Walkie Talkies for Kids is a colorful and inexpensive camping gift that typically comes in under $25 — or nab two sets to get four for under $50. In the Sokos set, you get an auto scan function, auto squelch, a channel lock, and a built-in flashlight. The build size is a bit smaller than most two-way radios designed for adults, so kids can handle them. All in all, walkie talkies for kids are fantastic for letting kids play around the campsite, but if they’re getting old enough to head over to the lake to fish by themselves, having a way to communicate is handy for parents, too. If you’re looking for an adult set, the Midland GXT1000VP4 is hard to beat.
The REI Kingdom 6 Tent — as well as the Kingdom 4 and bigger Kingdom 8 — boast roomy interiors. The Kingdom 6 features two doors as well as an interior room divider, which creates a special place for kids, dogs or a living room for hanging out during a rainstorm. The price-to-value ratio on the Kingdom 6 is outstanding, and if you camp with a lot of extra gear like high-end coolers or bikes, you can nab a Kingdom Mud Room that extends out from your main door to create a massive 61 square feet of covered vestibule space. It’s great for storing wet and muddy shoes, and of course, gear. Even with the Kingdom Garage add-on, you end up with a high-quality, very price-competitive family camping tent system that can handle bad weather, wind and will last for years. It’s one of the best camping gift upgrades you can choose. We’re also fans of the jaunty green Big Agnes Big House 6 Deluxe Tent, and if you want to go really big, try the Eureka! Copper Canyon 12-Person Tent.
When the fire danger rises, many camping areas and camp sites ban campfires. Fortunately, some locations still allow propane-based fire rings. Either way, we’re big fans of propane camp fire systems. We like to pair them with a lightweight propane canister instead of a full-size 20-lb barbecue canister just to make them more portable. Sure, propane fire rings are not as good as a real campfire with real wood and real coals, but the Camp Chef Propane Compact Fire Ring is surprisingly great. Plus, we must admit, it is nice to simply turn it off at bedtime rather than leave your campfire burning overnight or haul over some water to properly douse it.
Bonus: We like to take ours to the ski hill or on picnics and fishing trips when we want a little extra warmth and the ability to roast hot dogs and sausages. Very highly recommended.
The Nite Ice LED Micro Lantern is a great stocking stuffer for camping and outdoor lovers. First, the clip lets you clip it to your clothes, to the interior roof of your tent, or to a tree branch. The light puts out a wide swath of usable light that will last up to 60 hours. Most every camper can find a way to use this little light, and outdoor enthusiasts will, too.
You don’t have to hike in grizzly bear country to need a good can of bear spray, but if your camper is visiting Montana, Wyoming, Alaska and parts of Idaho where grizzly bears roam, bear spray is an absolute must, making it a go-to camping gift idea. For the rest of the country that has black bears, well, most often a black bear will run away as soon as it notices a human. But not always. Bear spray is for those not always times. And while it’s not marketed as a deterrent against mountain lions, there have been some reports where bear spray has successfully fended off cougar attacks.
The stainless steel construction makes this camping coffee pot a gift for the ages. It’s available in multiple sizes. The durability is outstanding, and with a hanger bail, you can hang the pot over a campfire or place it on a grill. So cool. For the camper who gets up first to start the morning campfire, the Cabela’s Campfire Coffee Pot is a great choice. Meanwhile, the Cabela’s Campfire Coffee Pot is percolator-based, so you’re bound to get a few tiny coffee grinds in the bottom of your pot and cup, but that’s part of camp coffee charm. However, if you want to brew coffee just like you do at home with a drip system, check out the Coleman Stovetop Coffee Pot — it fits over your camp stove burner and uses paper filters like a standard drip coffee maker. We have to admit, it’s pretty cool, too.
Some public lands like to see every visitor bring along a bucket, axe and shovel, especially if they plan to light a campfire. We’re big fans of the Gerber XL Axe II because its 24.5″ overall length is long enough to be useful while it’s small size remains packable for car camping. In addition, the lightweight glass-filled nylon handle is super strong and will last through years of abuse. While we’re fans of traditional wood handles, we have a tendency to leave our axes either in vehicles or in pickup boxes where they cook and dry out over hot summer days, leaving you with a loose head on the axe. Not a problem with this Gerber. Plus, if you need to tap a tent stake into hard ground, the flat back of the Gerber XL Axe II head works great. Still want a great traditional axe with a wood handle? We understand. Try the hand-forged Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe.
Best camping gift for camping beyond the campground.
Our favorite camping toilet does away with water, flush and containment systems — the easiest way to use it is with Reliance Products Double Doodie Toilet Bags, but you could use it with black kitchen-size trash bags and kitty litter if you find yourself in a bind. Sure, it’s not the funnest gift idea, but if your camper likes to go car camping in off the grid areas that don’t have readily available outhouses, a camping toilet makes the call of nature much easier. It’s fantastic for kids, so it makes a great gift for camping enthusiasts who have children. If you’ve ever had to suddenly pull off to the side of a mountain road, let’s just say having a portable toilet for a kid who has to go now pays for itself on the first use. It also works with Eco Gel Port-A-Potty chemicals, which solidify liquid waste and help deodorize things. One note: If you do prefer to flush everything out of sight, try the Camco Standard Portable Travel Toilet.
The Green Elephant Pop Up Utilitent is basically a fold-up privy, which gives you privacy to use the aforementioned camping toilet. It has a rain fly, plus it includes four bags you can fill with sand if you want to “stake” it down on a beach. You can also use the tent to change clothing or take a shower. If you do want to use it as a shower stall, you’ll have to orient the tent underneath a tree branch that can support a gravity-fed solar shower — or you could use a portable camp shower system (see below). All-in-all, a privy makes a great camping gift because it extends the places where you can easily and comfortably camp, especially if you have kids and aging campers with you.
A bunch of inexpensive portable camping shower systems have hit the market lately, but the KEDSUM Portable Camping Shower gets our recommendation because it includes an extra battery as well as a handy spray nozzle. All you have to do is drop the submersible pump into a bucket of warm water, and boom, you have an instant shower. The kit also comes with a hook holder and a suction cup holder for the shower nozzle, giving you options for placing the shower head up high. The two USB-rechargeable 2200mAH batteries each last for 45-60 minutes with a full charge. (If you need an ultraportable bucket, check out our camping bucket recommendation below.) Remember the extra spray nozzle? You can use it to wash off muddy gear or even wash the family dog before you head home. So cool.
The Friendly Swede Collapsible Bucket pairs well with the aforementioned camping shower, of course, but it’s also great for washing camp dishes. Either way, buckets are must-have camping gear, if only for dousing a campfire before bed or leaving for a hike. The Friendly Swede Collapsible bucket, of course, collapses, so it’s great for packability. It includes a handy removable mesh hang bag, which can hold the battery for the portable camping shower mentioned above. It also comes with a lid. The material is made from BPA-free, heavy-duty 500D PVC. It comes in three sizes, but we like the do-it-all 16-liter/4.23 gallon size best.
The Lunatec Aquabot Spraying Water Bottle is a deceptively simple camping gift. Basically, it’s a water bottle with built-in pump that lets you add pressure, which lets you shoot the water out of the bottle in a stream or mist. It’s great for washing hands and washing camping dishes without using much water, but it’s also great for rinsing off dirty dog paws in camp and spraying off sand that sticks to legs and feet before you enter your tent or put on your shoes. As a first-aid tool, you can use it to irrigate a wound, and as long as you use clean water, wound irrigation is a very effective way to prevent infections. So yeah, lots of uses.
The great thing about a headlamp is that it frees up your hands. If you’re busy getting a family tent ready in the dark, a headlamp ensures that you aren’t creating shadows from a flashlight or lantern. And when it’s time to find your shoes in the dark, a headlamp makes it easy to tie them and make your way outside for a call of nature. And kids? Well, kids love headlamps. Makes them feel cool. The L.L.Bean Trailblazer Snap 300 Combo Headlamp puts out a respectable 300 lumens and converts to a bike light, lantern or magnetic area light. Definitely handy. Try the L.L.Bean Trailblazer Junior Headlamp for kids — it features a full-color spectrum mode. Of course, most L.L.Bean orders over $50 ship free, which is also great.
Yes, you read that right, an inflatable standup paddle board, a.k.a. SUP board. We used to doubt the paddle board because we just couldn’t see ourselves tooling around on a lake on a paddle board. We’d rather be fishing or boating or rafting, right? And then we tried it with kids on the beach. For starters, kids can stand up and paddle these things around way better than most adults. They get great exercise and tons of fun. Kids will sit on them, lay on them and play on an SUP all day long, and when they finally get tired and need a snack, you can sneak out for a few minutes yourself. The RoC Inflatable Standup Paddle Board is an entry-level SUP that will let you try out paddle boarding for yourself. When it’s time to get serious with a board that will last through years of frequent use, choose any inflatable SUP from NRS.
Not sure about the SUP camping gift idea? An inflatable kayak brings a similar sort of fun to the camping experience. The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is inexpensive yet surprisingly durable and it’s built for two. It’s a pretty fantastic deal, really. It’s not rated for whitewater, but for tooling around near shore on a mountain lake, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better at this price point.
The Klymit Double V Sleeping Pad is great for camping honeymooners and car-camping parents who still like each other. Better yet, the side-by-side V-chamber construction reduces the movement of air between the two sides, which means a big guy can roll over without bouncing his partner around, waking her up and creating a heightened need for coffee in the morning. It’s 74″ long, just under 4′ wide and it’s 3″ thick. It weighs in at about 2.7 pounds, which makes it fantastic for car campers who like to travel light and don’t have a lot of extra room. Oh, one more thing: The Double V comes with a pump-integrated stuff sack for easy, rapid inflation, so you don’t need to pack a bulky pump.
Best camping gift for campers who like to get off the beaten path.
RV campers often have refrigerators, and most every camping enthusiasts has a hard-sided cooler for food and drinks, but few campers have soft-side backpack coolers — yet. The soft-sided backpack cooler lets you load up with cold drinks and food at base camp then head for the beach or day hike. No one likes to lug a cooler more than 40 yards but a backpack cooler lets you take ice cold beverages far off the road with ease. We’re big fans — check out our guide to the best backpack coolers for more detail or just nab the ICEMULE Pro Large. The price-to-value ratio is fantastic, it works surprisingly well, and it packs down small. Very highly recommended.
The Coleman Instant Screenhouse is basically a pop-up shelter with screened walls that keep the bugs out. Remember the Thermacell Radius mosquito repellant system? A good screen house helps keep other insects at bay, too, namely yellow jackets, hornets and bees that might be attracted to your dinner. The Coleman Instant Screenhouse is a roomy 15 by 13 feet but sets up in about a minute. You get two large doors for easy access. The canopy acts as a sunshade.
The Luminoodle LED Light Rope for Camping is a waterproof, USB-powered LED string of lights. You can hang the string of lights around camp, which provides a fun, jaunty environment for both kids and adults. It comes in a nylon bag, and if you pack the string into the bag, it transforms into a more diffuse lantern-like light. The string has built-in connectors for attaching it to branches, your tent or vehicles. Just make sure you nab the version that comes with a battery pack, otherwise you’ll need to supply your own portable battery charger with a USB connection. Alternately, we’re fans of the Big Agnes mtnGLO Tent & Camp Lights, which uses three traditional AAA batteries. Both are great under $50 camping gifts.
Kids will surprise you by playing with sticks and pinecones while camping — which is fantastic — but sometimes a good physical game can take a campout to next-level fun. The L.L.Bean 3-in-1 Portable Game Center sets up like a tent and includes ladder ball, bag toss and quad-toss games. When it’s time to go, the whole set packs up into a tidy carry bag.
Best camping gift for backpackers and backcountry explorers.
Usually camping enthusiasts pack enough freshwater for drinking, but sometimes we run out — we tend to underestimate the amount of water our bodies crave while overpacking on the sports drinks, juice boxes and beer. The answer is the MSR TrailShot Water Filter. This little water filter will filter-clean fresh water from lakes, rivers and creeks. All you have to do is drop the pre-filter hose in your water source and start squeezing. You can drink directly from the nozzle or squirt the clean water into your water bottle. It works surprisingly well. It’s one of our all-time favorite portable water filters because it’s lightweight and works so well. We’d trust it with most any water source in the U.S. and Canada. If your camper is also a hiker or backpacker, the MSR TrailShot Water Filter should be on your camping gift shortlist.
The camping first-aid kit gift idea is the least sexy camping gift idea, but it’s arguable the most important: When you’re camping, you’re usually far away from medical attention and facilities, so having a great first-aid kit is a necessity. Sadly, most campers have poor first-aid kits . . . or none at all. So show your camper that you really care — and in the off-chance they seriously need it, they’ll appreciate your smart thinking. The Cabela’s Essentials First Aid Kit by Adventure Medical is one of our favorites, balancing a lightweight package with the key first-aid supplies you might need while camping.
The Coleman CPX 6 Lighted Tent Fan doubles as a light and a fan. You can hang it from the ceiling of your tent with a magetic plate or carabiner clip or use the included stand if you want to set it on the floor. If you’ve ever camped in hot weather, a little breeze inside your tent can kick the hot air out and help bring the cool air in, making it a great camping gift for hot summer campers — or anyone who gets stuck in the full sun in the last camping spot available.
The Coleman CPX 6 Lighted Tent Fan will run for up to 30 hours on low with 4 D-size batteries or you can nab the Coleman CPX 6 Rechargeable Power Cartridge for recharging through your vehicle or a standard outlet.
Fantastic for dispersed camping sites on public land.
When you need to pack more than a gallon of clean drinking water into your campsite, you want the 7-gallon Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer. It’s durable, inexpensive, BPA-free and it works great. We like to set one up in camp so that the water spigot is easy to access for filling water bottles or camp cooking.
The classic Aqua-Tainer is truly a can’t-go-wrong camping gift. Better yet, when you wrap it up as a camping gear gift, it’s big enough to spark some interesting gift guesses. Just don’t fill it with water first.
The great thing about a heavily-insulated rotomolded cooler is the excellent ice retention — you can use less ice and keep the contents cool for days. The Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer Cooler gets our nod for our favorite line of rotomolded coolers. It’s just a bit better than most and usually available at a slightly better price point, but seriously, most every rotomolded cooler is excellent, so we’re splitting hairs. What we like about the Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer Cooler are its burly grab handles. It has rope handles, too, but the built-in grab handles let you strap this cooler down in more ways that most. Our second pick would be the iconic YETI Tundra 45 followed by the OtterBox Venture 45 Cooler.
Luxury that even hard-core campers can appreciate.
Speaking of high-end coolers, why not just go with a refrigerator/freezer? The Dometic 12v Electric Fridge/Freezer lets you not only keep things cool, but you can keep ice cream frozen, too. Ever had ice cream while camping far from the pavement? We bet you’d like it. So why does the Dometic 12v Electric Fridge/Freezer make a great camping gift? Admittedly, it’s a bit of a luxury item — most every outdoor adventurer wants one but few actually make the investment. If your camper only camps in a big recreational vehicle that already has a built-in refrigerator, sure, skip this idea, but if your camper is a tent camper or hunter or fisher, the Dometic 12v Electric Fridge/Freezer is a sweet camping gift: Shop Dometic’s full line of portable electric coolers here.
The new Cabela’s Duramesh Elevated Dog Bed is fantastic for dog-loving campers because it packs up small but works like a comfortable cot. This Cabela’s portable dog bed gets your dog off the ground and away from pesky insects, easily elevates over rocky, uneven ground. Better yet, if you dog gets wet and muddy, the Cabela’s Duramesh Elevated Dog Bed dries fast and washes easily. And if it gets rained on, no problem. Plus, it comes in three different sizes.
Great for family camping and camp cook enthusiasts.
The Bass Pro Shops Deluxe Camp Kitchen helps delivers a next-level camping experience. You get outstanding organization for your camp cook, including plenty of space for food prep. You get two internal shelves in fabric cupboard, a wire storage rack, lots of counter space, a wash basin, and a side rack perfect for a camp stove or small portable camp grill. It also includes a lantern stand, and an all-important paper towel holder. Gotta love that.
The Luci Pro Series inflatable solar light takes standard solar camping lanterns one step farther — with onboard batteries that can charge your mobile devices. For instance, you can charge the Luci Pro lantern in the sun, then if you need to top off your smartphone, you can. Most car camping happens near vehicles, of course, but if your camper is also a backpacker or likes to head out a bit farther — or go on canoe or rafting camp trips — the Luci Pro stands out. If you think about it, the solar charging and mobile charging capabilities make the Luci Pro a great emergency lantern, too. Check out our full Luci Pro review for more detail. Oh one more thing: The clear version is a bit brighter, but we really like the matte version for the softer, more usable light when camping.
The YayLabs SoftShell Ice Cream Ball lets you make homemade ice cream at your campsite without the need for electricity. All you have to do is put cream, sugar and flavorings (like vanilla) in one end of this ball then fill the other with ice cubes and salt. Next, roll the ball around for 25 minutes and you’ll have astoundingly great homemade ice cream. Just choose the quart size option because you can never have enough ice cream at camp.
If there’s one thing we know about tent camping, it’s that you never have enough stakes. The Orange Screw ground anchors are lightweight and screw into the ground using an included tube for leverage. The result is that your tent, sun shade, bug house, awning or privy will stay staked down in the wind. They’re great for high-wind areas, and they can work better in soft soils and sand than typical tent stakes. The Orange Screw is manufactured in the USA, and if you manage to break one, the company will replace it.
Some campers just take an old hodgepodge mix of old kitchen cook pans, pots and cups, but none of it fits together or packs up easily. And inevitably, something gets left behind at home and the camp cook has to make do without a pan or pot. Or maybe you forget the paper plates and you’re out of luck far off the pavement. The GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Cook Set has you covered. This camping cook set includes two pots with strainer lids, a frying pan, plus four color-coded plates, four triangular bowls and four triangular cups with sip-top lids. The cookware is non-stick anodized aluminum, and the entire set packs up into an included collapsible wash-basin carrier. It’s all very handy and very good for car camping where space is critical.
The classic Crocs clogs are great for camping because they’re inexpensive, comfortable, easy to slip on and off, and versatile. They’re great for resting tired feet after a long day of hiking, but they’re also capable of working as a serviceable water shoe for wading along rocky beaches. If they get wet, they dry fast. If get dirty, they’re easily washable. Plus, they’re available in gobs of colors and styles. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with Crocs.
This camping gift for dog lovers will make packing for the family dog much simpler and ensure that food and dog bowls are never left behind again. The Mountainsmith K-9 Cube is a carry bag with two interior pockets. On one side you store food in a removable TPU-lined food bag. In the other, you can store more food or dog toys. The front pocket holds a collapsible water bowl and a collapsible food bowl. For odds and ends, the top includes a mesh zipper pocket and the side have mesh water bottle pockets.
We include this camping gift idea more as a public service announcement than a recommendation: Campfire colorants produce vibrant green, blue, yellow and purple flames when burned. Most people think they’re pretty cool. But to create the flames, they are packed with chemicals or metals, some of which can be dangerous or poisonous. If used properly — when each pack, unopened, is tossed into a well-burning campfire — the packs produce colorful flames. Campers should stay out of the smoke and avoid cooking over the colorful flames. The biggest danger is if a kid or camper opens the packet and touches or ingests the chemicals. Don’t let that happen. If you’re considering campfire colorants, check out this news report with a warning from Minnesota Poison Control.
The Coleman Cold Glow Cooler Light is a motion-activated cooler light that you install on the inside lid of a hard cooler. When a camper opens up the cooler, the light will come on, illuminating the interior contents. If you’re ever struggled to find the right drink in the dark of night, this camping gift is for you.
Some camping enthusiasts like to broadcast their favorite hobby, and if that sounds like your camper, a cool camping t-shirt or hoody that matches their personality is a good bet. There are tons of camping shirts and designs, so you should have plenty of choices.
Cots are stable yet comfortable, especially with a cushy pad. More importantly, cots are raised so aging campers can get into and out of their camp beds more easily . . . but you don’t have be older to appreciate the stable comfort of a great cot.
As for tent camping with most grandparents, the bottom line is this: Set them up with cushy cots to ensure everyone has a great time. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll come tent camping with you and the kids again.
Great for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, under $30.
A water bottle with a built-in filter or purifier isn’t usually needed for most camping trips because you’re bringing along your own water and drinks. But stick with us here: Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts can get off the beaten path and run out of water. The LifeStraw Go Filtered Water Bottle can filter out 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites, which means they could use this bottle to safely filter water from most creeks or lakes in a survival situation. Better yet, the 2-stage activated carbon filter reduces odor and chlorine and can make campground water taste better.