If you ask three different people what their idea of camping is, you will likely get three different answers. Some people are purists and their opinion is the only way to really camp is in a tent. Some people are even more hard core and they just throw a hammock up in the middle of the woods.
My wife and I did the tent thing for many years. As is the case, we started getting older and the headaches associated with tenting became more of an issue for us. Specifically, rain and body pain from not sleeping in a real bed.
We eventually upgraded to the rig you see above and while some may consider it "glamping", we do a fairly good job of remaining true to our tent roots. In fact, besides sleeping we actually spend very little time in our trailer. Even when it is raining we typically sit out under our awning and enjoy the sights and sounds.
Through the years, we have seen our fair share of camping accessories and gadgets. Today, I want to share with you five of my favorite "must have" camping accessories. Feel free to chime in with your favorites in the comments!
So here we go (in no particular order):
The Thermacell has been a life saver for us when we find ourselves in particularly buggy situations. They used to only make a handful of styles, but now there are dozens of makes and models to choose from.
Basically, you use a butane cartridge to heat up a small pad of chemical that gives you a fifteen foot radius of protection from mosquitos and other types of bugs. Newer models are even USB rechargeable instead of relying on the butane cartridges.
I was skeptical at first, but these things actually work! It is pretty impressive. We have two of them that we use around the campfire and our campsite. We also have one we keep at home to put out on the deck when the bugs are bad in our back yard.
Another must have camping item for us a is a good Log Grabber. There are a large number of companies who do their own take on the idea of a log grabber, but this is the model I picked up about ten years ago.
Actually, I take that back. This is an upgraded model of the set I have. It appears they have added a spring mechanism which would be my only complaint about the one I own.
Being able to reach into a blazing inferno and move logs around to maximize the heat or flame is a must when you are camping. I highly recommend picking up a set of these.
Another must have item in my opinion is a good cast iron skillet. I have a skillet that was handed down to me by a friend and I literally use it every time we camp. I can throw it on our camp stove, I can put it on the fire, it is so versatile and durable.
Lodge is probably one of the more popular brands in the states. It is important to buy a good quality cast iron. Cheaper cast iron can become problematic and harder to maintain than some of the stuff in the middle price range.
While cast iron really shines when it comes to cooking meat, it can be used for any number of things including baking.
This may be a bad example, because I would never buy a camping chair for over $100! However, having a good quality chair that you can sit around the campfire in or take a nap outside in the middle of the day is imperative.
Unless you are out hiking or sight-seeing, you probably spend a good 80% plus of your daytime at the campsite in your chair. Having something you can sit upright in but also recline in when nap time calls is super important!
I encourage you to try a couple of different styles out and find the one that best suits you and your napping preferences!
Finally, I can't express how important it is to have a good quality camping table to sit next to you around the campfire.
Sure, some chairs (like the one I showed above) have little flip out tables, but quite honestly those are more of a pain than anything. They are really too small to adequately hold all of your stuff.
The table I showed above is collapsible and light weight. It holds everything I need it to without the worry of something falling or tipping over. I often put my phone, drink, Thermacell, Bluetooth speaker, and sometimes even a snack on it with no problem. Imagine trying to hold all of that on your lap around a campfire!
I am actually considering buying a second one of these just because it is so handy!
I know, I know, I said five, but at honorable mention I would have to include a doggy cot
This device is great because it keeps our dog up off the ground when we are at campsites like this one where grass is at a premium and dirt is the norm. We still give our dog a bath every time we get home from camping, but this cot helps us feel like she is a little less messy. It also keeps her away from bugs that might be crawling around. We often put her water bowl half under the cot so she doesn't even need to move off of it to get a drink.
The only reason this wasn't included in my list of five is the fact that many times she chooses not to lay on it and just plops down in the dirt. I honestly think she doesn't care since the dirt is maybe cooler. Using the cot gives my wife and I peace of mind and that is what matters!
So there you go, those are my top five must have camping items (plus one extra). Do you have any camping gadgets you can't live without?