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Published Aug 22, 2022 8:15 AM

Camping gadgets are designed to make your trip to the great outdoors better in every way. They make life easier, they allow you to dive deeper into nature, and they help you avoid a few common camping pitfalls. We’ve gathered some of the best and most useful gadgets from around the net to make your trip outdoors oh, so much better. 

This is a broad subject and, admittedly, a fun one to approach. Not every gadget will be for everyone, and if you packed it all, you’d learn those ounces equal pounds real quick. However, even just one or two of our best camping gadgets can give you a new experience or convenience you didn’t know you needed.

The PowerLix Sleeping Mat is the best ever because, boy, oh boy, does it make sleeping outdoors more comfortable. I’m not a 19-year-old infantryman anymore, and I appreciate comfort. A mat like this keeps you off the cold, possibly wet, ground and allows you to avoid the pokes and prods of nature. Any mat can do that, but the PowerLix does it while being easy to use, easy to carry, and plenty comfy.

When wrapped up and folded, the PowerLix measures 11 inches long and four inches wide. It weighs 1.32 pounds, which is about the same as a water bottle. When inflated, it’s two inches thick and about six feet two inches long — a little short for me, but probably fine for 99 percent of the population.

Inflating is easy. Capture air in the inflation bag. Seal it. Plug it into the PowerFlix bag and squeeze, and it fills up the mat without needing to get red in the face blowing it up. The hexagonal shapes fill with air and provide a comfy surface for whatever angle you find comfortable. I’d love a pillow portion built in, but at this point, I’m acting spoiled. It’s the best ever camping gadget because who doesn’t love their sleep?

Product Specs
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Inflates easily
  • Two inches thick inflated
  • Hexagon design for superior support
Why It Made The Cut
  • Unless you’re committed to sleeping on the cold hard ground, the PowerLix Sleeping Pad is a must-have. It’s easy to store and set up, and will help you stay warm.
PROS

Weighs only 1.32 pounds

Increases comfort and warmth

Waterproof

Multipurpose inflating bag eliminates the need to blow

CONS

Tall campers will have hanging feet

No built-in pillow

Best for Cooking

The BioLite Campstove 2 is a high-tech means to the caveman-era woodfire. It’s a camp stove that uses a fan powered by an internal battery to create an ultra-hot fire in a matter of minutes. This heat then recharges the battery and allows the user to charge their small electronics, be it a cell phone, flashlight, or GPS unit.

The fans and stove design help keep the heat high, and the stove can boil a liter of water in five minutes. That’s fast and hot. BioLite produces a number of attachments, including a KettlePot and coffee press, and a grill to make cooking small meals easy and fun. The latest Camp Stove isn’t just handy, it’s versatile, too.

The Campstove 2 makes life easy and keeps things safe. Lots of sections of public lands restrict the means to build a campfire to prevent wildfires, camp stoves often being the exception. The BioLite stove doubles its versatility by offering an internal battery and USB charger to give you a versatile choice for the best camping gadget.

It’s a little heavy and requires some dry stick hide-and-seek. It might not be for hardcore hikers, but family trips are made better by it. From roasting marshmallows to keeping the tablet charged for a movie night under the stars, the BioLite Campstove 2 makes things better. The BioLite Campstove 2 ensures you get a hot, efficient, versatile, high-tech, and safe camp stove for all your camping needs. The Campstove 2 just makes camping easier.

Product Specs
  • 3,200 mAh battery for electronics charging
  • LED dashboard provides instant feedback
  • Weighs 2.06 pounds
  • Can burn sticks, bark, or pellets
  • Smokeless design Packs down to the size of a 32-ounce
  • Nalgene bottle
  • Modular by design
Why It Made The Cut
  • Cooking smores while charging your phone is exclusive to the BioLite CampStove 2. It’s tiny, portable, easy to use, and powered by the heat from your fire.
PROS

Compact design

Super efficient

Dual-purpose tool

Super handy for high-tech campers

CONS

Somewhat heavy

Dependent on finding dry fuels

Not as efficient as gas-powered options

A multitool is a must-have for most outdoor activities, camping included. The Signal offers you 19 tools, with three that excel for camping and outdoor use. You get a fire-starting Ferro rod, a diamond sharpener, and an emergency whistle which is a nice just-in-case tool. Being able to sharpen your blade and start a fire without matches is nice to have.

The Signal allows you to easily open each tool with a single hand. Once opened, they are locked in place, and you have no worries about them slipping or sliding. Leatherman produces a number of bit kits that also work with the Signal and can be lifesavers when you can’t bring a toolbox with you.

You can also choose from a number of colors when ordering the Signal. I’d probably go with a high-visibility color to make it easy to find. If the wire cutters wear out, they are replaceable, which is really handy when you use your multitool often.

The downside is that the Signal does a few things to increase access to the tools and decrease weight. This includes a skeletonized frame that doesn’t offer a ton of protection to the internal tools and joints. You’ll need to make sure they stay clean, and I’d suggest getting a good belt case. The Leatherman Signal is the perfect tool for your next camping trip and can pull double-duty as a solid EDC. You don’t need a good tool, you need the best tool.

Product Specs
  • Sports 19 tools
  • Tools all lock
  • Operates with ease
  • Compact and lightweight
Why It Made The Cut
  • Designed from the ground up for campers and adventurers, the Leatherman Signal packs 19 tools, and it’s rugged, reliable, and compact enough to fit in your pocket.
PROS

Camping-specific tools

One-handed opening design

Small parts are replaceable

Works with other Leatherman accessories

CONS

Internal tools lack protection when folded into tool

Best for Car Camping

Car camping has exploded in popularity with the rise of van life and overland as a hobby. Along the way, a number of camping gadgets have popped up to support the four-wheeled adventurers. The MoonShade is an awning system that attaches to the side of your vehicle and provides instant shade and coverage.

Unlike other vehicular awning systems, this doesn’t require any kind of permanent mounting. It pops up onto your vehicle with ease. The kit uses suction cups to secure the MoonShade to your vehicle, along with a set of adjustable height poles. You get nine by seven feet of coverage, and you can mount it any which way you choose.

Storage always seems at a premium for car campers, and the MoonShade breaks down into an eight-pound package that is 28 by six inches — not too bad for a portable awning. The awning material is a tough 420D ripstop polyester, and the inside has a reflective coating to make the most out of your camp light at night.

The seams are not waterproofed. Users can waterproof the seams, and MoonShade shows you how. However, why not just waterproof it from the factory? Luckily, car campers can just climb in the car when the rain falls. The MoonShade allows you to enjoy the great outdoors with a little overhead protection.

Product Specs
  • Provides 9 x 7 feet of coverage
  • Uses removable anchors
  • Made from 420D ripstop polyester
  • Provides UV protection externally
  • Provides a reflective inner coating for night use
Why It Made The Cut
  • The simple MoonShade awning system will attach to most standard vehicles. It’s a non-permanent attachment that weighs eight pounds and provides everything you need for 63 square feet of coverage.
PROS

Stores easily

All-in-one awning solution

Mounts to nearly anything SUV-height

CONS

Seams are not waterproof

Best for Keeping Cool

The SmartDevil Portable Camping Fan is literally one cool camping gadget. It’s a portable, battery-powered fan perfect for rejecting stale heat and getting some air circulating in your tent, car, RV, or wherever. The SmartDevil features a rechargeable battery that provides up to 11 hours of power to the fan, although that’s at the lowest setting of three. The base of the fan allows it to be positioned in a variety of places, and a hook allows it to be hung nearly anywhere, as well.

Besides being a fan, the SmartDevil can act as a portable battery to recharge your small electronics, like a cell phone, flashlight, or GPS unit. A little extra juice can be a lifesaver, and the power bank nature of the SmartDevil makes it a two-in-one device. Wait, maybe three-in-one is a better description — the SmartDevil also packs a light with two settings.

The fan head can be swiveled 180 degrees to get the fan and light positioned just how you want it. Combine that with the versatile base and hook, and you can put it just about anywhere and bathe in the glory of that circulating air. Only you can bathe in that air because this little fan doesn’t work well for groups.

The SmartDevil Portable Fan provides you comfort and convenience because camping doesn’t always have to be a hardcore roughing it.

Product Specs
  • Equipped with rechargeable battery
  • Works as a power bank for small electronics
  • Three air circulation settings
  • Pulls double-duty as a light
  • Easy to position
Why It Made The Cut
  • The SmartDevil Portable Camping Fan beats back the heat, circulates air, and even acts as a multipurpose camping tool. It's simple, effective, and helps keep your tiny tent cool.
PROS

Long-lasting battery

Multifunction

Swivels 180 degrees

Can be positioned almost anywhere

CONS

Suited only for individual use

The AeroPress Go is designed for camping, hiking, and getting a caffeine fix when you are embracing the great outdoors. It’s not exactly high-tech — it’s just well-thought-out and well-designed. The kit is made up of a mug with a lid, a plunger, chamber, scoop, filter, filter holder, and even a little folding stirrer. It all fits into the mug and weighs a mere 11.4 ounces.

The AeroPress Go can make American-style coffee, cold brew, and even espresso for those who need that shot of caffeine. Heat up some water with your CampStove 2, and you can get a nice warm cup of coffee to wake up with. Add the filter, the coffee grounds, and water, then slowly press the plunger down, squeezing all that brown goodness into an eight-ounce mug.

If you want to make coffee for more than one, it might take more than a minute. This is a single-serve device, and you’ll need to take it apart, clean it, then remount it and press. Not a big deal, but worth noting. At only forty bucks, it might be worth having more than one on hand for the caffeine addicts at your campsite. It’s a must-have camping gadget to avoid a cranky camper.

Product Specs
  • Provides quick, tasty coffee
  • Budget-friendly
  • Compact and lightweight package
  • All-in-one kit
Why It Made The Cut
  • Is there anything better than kicking up your feet in nature while sipping a fresh cup of coffee? Nope. Why suffer instant coffee when the AeroPress Go exists?
PROS

Takes about a minute to make a cup

Makes multiple coffee types

Entire press packs into an eight-ounce mug

CONS

Coffee for one person only

Best for Night Viewing

Night vision is a lot of fun, but it’s admittedly expensive. The Bushnell Equinox Z2 brings the cost down significantly and provides a simple digital monocular for those who have simple needs. This isn’t something you’d use for playing operator in the dark, doing security work, or trying to navigate in the dark. It’s an observation tool, and in that role, it works great.

The Equinox Z2 makes it easy to see animals in the dark up to several hundred yards away. This device will open the world up to you when the sun goes down. The powerful IR illuminator makes this a fairly clear device, especially for digital night vision. The clarity is surprisingly nice, and you can even stream from the device to your cell phone, so everyone can see what you’re seeing.

With the addition of an SD card, you can both record videos and take pictures to show off your finds at night. Seeing an owl and the IR light reflecting from its eyes creates a spooky photo that’s worth capturing. The Equinox Z2 has options for various magnifications, and I think the 3X model is the easiest to use and most affordable. Digital night vision has some limitations, and long-distance viewing isn’t one of its strengths.

Make sure you bring a few extra sets of batteries because it chews through them. The Equinox Z2 might not make you an operator, but it’s a ton of fun, especially for kids who’ve never seen the world after dark without a flashlight. The best camping gadgets should enhance your enjoyment of nature, and the Equinox Z2 does just that.

Product Specs
  • Multiple magnification options
  • Streams to mobile devices
  • Can capture images and video
  • Works in the day or night
Why It Made The Cut
  • The Bushnell Equinox Z2 is a simple digital night vision monocular that's affordable and perfect for nature-watching. Watch and record with clarity and ease.
PROS

Affordable

Easy to use

Powerful included IR illuminator

A ton of fun

CONS

Chews through batteries

Only designed for stationary observation

Best for Kids

Getting kids out of the house and into nature can be a challenge, especially little kids. New sights, sounds, and experiences can be scary, especially when the sun goes down. The Olight Obulb is a very compact and affordable lantern to give kids a little control of their own light. Four modes allow for up to 55 lumens of light all the way down to a battery-sipping seven lumens.

The modes include standard and strobe, as well as a white and red light at high and low settings. At seven lumens, the battery will last for 56 hours, so it’s got potential as an all-night, all-weekend night light. The Obulb fully recharges in two hours and comes with a handy magnetic charger.

That charging port doubles as a magnetic mounting port as well. Stick it, click it, and boom, you have enough light to illuminate a tent. It’s only 55 lumens, and the Obulb is fairly small, so it won’t light up much more than a small personal tent. Olight seems to recognize the target audience and even makes something called the Obuddy which acts as a little robot that holds the Obulb.

The Obulb offers kiddos a small bit of light to bring them comfort. It’s affordable, easy to use, rechargeable, and doesn’t cast a blinding light that a kid will invariably shine in your eyes. For an adult, it might not be that useful, but for kids, the little light shines.

Product Specs
  • Four modes
  • White and red light
  • Magnetic mounting
  • Modular and fun
Why It Made The Cut
  • The Obulb is a simple 55-lumen little dot that’s fun, easy, and can make the dark a little less scary. It's also cheap and rechargeable.
PROS

Fully recharges in two hours

Long battery life

Seven-lumen mode makes a perfect nightlight

CONS

Not very useful (outside of fun for kids)

Things to consider before buying a camping gadget 

Size and weight 

Unless you have a massive RV, then space is probably a prime consideration. The more primal you go in your camping, the more important size and weight become. Trimming the fat varies, but typically, the more compact and lightweight a gadget is, the better. You still want whatever it is to be efficient, useful, and versatile, but it can’t hog up too much room in your pack, car, or tent. 

Versatility 

I like camping gadgets that can be used for a multitude of purposes. This helps excuse and make up for the weight and size of the device if it can do multiple things. This is why a multitool might be better than a dedicated pocket knife for camping. This is why a big focus was put on items that can serve multiple purposes throughout this list.

Usefulness 

How useful an item can be is a bit subjective to your personal uses. The best camping gadgets are typically not essentials when we see essentials as food, water, and protection from exposure. Yet, they can still provide a reasonable degree of usefulness to increase the enjoyment of your experience. Don’t get me wrong, hardcore campers enjoy the misery, but most of us prefer to have a good, relaxing time when camping, and if a gadget can improve that, then it’s quite useful.  

Durability 

You are taking these gadgets camping and likely traveling with them, hiking with them, and exposing them to nature. They need to be somewhat resistant to outdoor environments. A basic ingress protection, or IP, rating goes a long way, as does a durable design. It’s smart to look for gadgets purposefully made for outdoor use and for camping. I love my juicer, but I’m not taking it camping with me. 

FAQs about camping gadgets

Q: What am I forgetting to pack for camping?

A: You probably packed all the actual camping supplies. Most people forget the basics like a toothbrush and toothpaste, toilet paper, and extra batteries. 

Q: What are fun things to bring camping?

A: Depending on how you like to camp, this can vary. I like to bring a Bluetooth speaker, a simple game like Cards Against Humanity, something to make coffee, and something to enhance my enjoyment of nature. 

A: Probably a flashlight or a lighter, followed by some form of blanket or sleeping bag. A tent might rank high, but so many people camp in cars, RVs, and campers that it might not be that dominant. 

Q: What camping essentials are best?

A: Depending on where you’re camping, this answer will vary, but you’ll need proper clothes for the weather, as well as a proper sleeping bag and essentials like drinkable water and a place to sleep.

Q: How do I make my campsite cool?

A: First, get some lighting so people can see. Second, some music, third, make sure you have a legit campfire or something to make s’mores or cook hotdogs over. Have a nice area with places to sit and relax, and a cooler full of your favorite adult beverage helps. 

Q: What is the most important gear to bring on a camping trip?

A: A means to call for aid, if required, is pretty dang important. Second is the necessities to stay warm and dry like a tent, sleeping bag, tarp, etc. 

Final thoughts 

The idea of a camping gadget is likely to make some campers roll their eyes. These admittedly aren’t for the hardcore camper who enjoys that misery more than they enjoy relaxing. That’s fine, but for the rest of us, these gadgets can make the campsite fun, cool, and more enjoyable. The gadgets themselves can be a great source of entertainment, from cooking s’mores safely over the BioLite Campstove 2 to watching deer through the Equinox Z2 monocular at night. Camping should be your definition of fun, and gadgets can be plenty of fun. 

Methodology

Gadgets can be a lot of different things, and for camping in particular, we wanted to select gadgets that would enhance your experience with the wonderful world of the great outdoors. We looked for gadgets that would be both useful and entertaining, while at the same time allowing you to enjoy the reason you are camping.

Past that, we went with companies that had good reputations and designed its products specifically around camping. This way, we’d know the product’s intent would match the hell we planned to put it through when we tossed in our rucksack and hit the trail. For more information on our process, check out the Task & Purpose review guidelines