Take the comfort of your bed at home with you on car-camping trips. That’s what two testers did for the last six months, and the result was many fights about who got to sleep on this bit of heaven. “This is the most comfy pad I’ve ever slept on,” one tester said.
Camping Gear Reviews
When you’re car camping next to the crag, weight is less of a concern than luxury, which is where this 14-pound beast comes in. Two two-person tents are connected by a floorless storage area that’s large enough for a six-person game of Twister—trust us, we played the game—and makes a great covered “porch” when weather comes in.
This solar recharger has been around for a few years, but it got a sizeable downgrade (in a good way) this year, now weighing just 1.1 lbs. The whole kit (recharger, Nomad 13 solar panels, AC inverter) can charge anything from a smartphone to a laptop.
We’ve given this tent a lot of ink (and our sister pub Backpacker gave it an Editors’ Choice Snow award), and for good reason. From Everest to Peru, testers raved about the ideal combo of mountain-worthy features and livability that’s rare in four-season tents.
The only thing easier than this UV purifier would be to drink straight from the creek. And what climber doesn’t relish an occasional swig of glacial melt? But this device gives serious peace of mind: Ultraviolet light neutralizes all water-borne nasties.
“I could churn out hot water at a fast clip, but dial the heat back to simmer sauce,” said our resident camp chef. A standard screw-on canister attaches to the stove via a flexible hose, so the squat, 7-inch-diameter burner sits only two inches off the ground, making it stable on uneven surfaces and under fat pots.
Cheers to Nemo for making two of our favorite bags of the year. The Stratoloft 25 (right) is a down comforter that pairs with an insulated air pad (sold separately); the combo is the perfect setup for car camping and weekenders. “The pad with integrated pillow and lofty down bag with elastic in the seams made for a better night’s sleep than I get at home,” said one tester.
You could sit on the cold, hard ground. Or you could be more civilized (and way more comfortable) with this laid-back chair. You hover six inches above the ground, cradled in a mini-hammock of nylon. “Crazy pleasant,” mused one tester.
Charge this device before you leave for the weekend, and you’ll have eight hours of music for the crag or campsite. Link your smartphone via Bluetooth to conjure anything from your playlist. “Surprisingly deep and rich,” said one tester.
The BioLite CampStove ($129.95; biolitestove.com) seemed like an impossible paradox at first: a wood-burning stove (outdated) that charges your electronics (futuristic), but after a fall season of car-camping trips, our testers were sold. One Joe’s Valley tester was able to brown a pound of ground beef and vegetables in just a few minutes on a 40°F night. But because it’s real fire and not a regulated gas stove, boil times for one liter of water depended largely on the outside temperature, ranging from 6.5 to 14 minutes.
Take a bomber four-season tent and make it comfortably livable, and there you have the First Ascent Katabatic ($599; firstascent.com). Our seasoned tester and guide put this tent at the top of his all-time-favorites list after taking it to 26,000 feet on Everest and braving 40 mph winds in it. He then rounded out his testing with another high-altitude stint in wind-whipped Peru.
This tent was perfect for car camping, yet light (4 lbs., 6 oz.) and packable for backcountry adventures like my twoweek stint in the Cascades of Washington. For the hot and dry eastern side of the range, it had large doors on either side, with a fully open option or a nice screen for bug protection. For the soppy western side, double-wall construction, vents in the fly, and those large screened doors meant no morning condensation buildup.