Quality camping gear doesn’t come cheap, and for that reason many families collect what they need and then reuse the same gear year after year. If you’re among those who still sleep in patched tents they bought back in the nineties or sleeping bags that have lived past their prime, it’s time to start thinking about upgrades.
Today’s camping gear is all about efficiency. With the help of technological advancements, tents and sleeping bags have become more compact and lightweight, camping tools and utensils can be folded or dismantled for easy packing, and lanterns and flashlights have become safer and more energy efficient. There are also a number of eco-friendly camping innovations available that appeal to the environmentally minded.
Before your next camping trip, you might want to consider replacing some of your gear to reflect the changes in the times – even if that old tent still has some life in it and only leaks a little. Here’s a look at some of the most important camping upgrades to make this year.
Switch to LEDs
If you’re still lugging around propane lanterns, it’s time to make the switch to battery-powered LED models. An LED lantern is not only lightweight and more compact than a propane one, but burns cool and has no flame so you can take it into your tent. It doesn’t require any pumping or matches, so it’s easy to turn on, and it doesn’t produce any hissing noises or propane smells.
Many LED lanterns produce a powerful area light and include multiple power settings so you can control the brightness. You can also buy lanterns that have special emergency signal settings in case you become lost or stranded.
Flashlights are another camping staple that can probably use an upgrade. If you’re still using a clunky incandescent flashlight, consider that an LED flashlight is more compact, more powerful and has a much longer battery life than a traditional torch.
These days, many campers are even choosing LED headlamps instead of flashlights. These forehead-mounted lights leave your hands free for grilling, building a fire, setting up a tent (it happens!), baiting a hook or even reading at night. LED headlamps direct a powerful, focused beam right where you need it so you don’t have to worry about juggling a flashlight along with your tools.
Beef Up Your Survival Kit
If you pay attention to the news, you’ve probably heard enough lost hiker stories to know that people stumble into major trouble in the woods all the time, and a survival kit should be more than just a hasty nod to emergency preparedness.
If your camping emergency kit consists of waterproof matches and a few band-aids in a plastic baggie, you may want to take a look at what today’s survival gear looks like. There are water bottles with built-in filters for an easy supply of safe drinking water; LED lights for seeing and being seen; lightweight and amazingly efficient survival blankets in case the weather shifts drastically; dehydrated food rations; GPS devices; two-way radios; and all manner of other gadgets that come in handy during an emergency. Take a look at what’s available, and do your best to ensure you’ve got the basics covered: food, water, fire, first aid and a way to call or signal for help.
Another important survival tool is a sturdy hunting knife, which also comes in handy for basic tasks around the campsite. While a basic, high-quality hunting knife can last for decades, it’s worth checking out the types of knives available today to see if an upgrade might be in order. Some folding hunting knives come attached to a multi-tool that also includes pliers, screwdrivers, a serrated saw, and other useful bells and whistles. Some camping multi-tools even come with eating utensils and a can opener.
Outdoor equipment is a rapidly developing industry, and there are many innovations out there that help make camping safer, easier and more comfortable. Even if your old camping gear is still carrying its weight, it might be worthwhile to take advantage of what technology has to offer.