Best Outdoors Gear: The Ultimate in Wilderness Comfort and Style
Get the most out of the backwoods with this outdoors gear
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PUBLISHED ON December 5, 2019
You may love taking your car on adventures to the woods, the beach, the mountains, and beyond. But what do you need when you get there? With the wilderness gear featured in our buying guide below, there’s no need to sacrifice comfort or performance once you’ve arrived at your backwoods destination. Check out a few of our top recommendations for products that’ll power your adventures far off the road.
- Best OverallColeman Sundome TentSummarySummary
Available in sizes for two to six campers, this warm-weather tent is designed to be waterproof and comfortable. Includes a flashlight loop, air vent, stakes, and an electrical access port for powered campsites.ProsPros
One of the most waterproof tents on the market, the Coleman Sundown’s polyester construction will keep you dry indefinitely. Setup is quick and easy. Durable materials withstand years of use.ConsCons
It needs to be weighted or staked in high wind, as it’s prone to blowing away. Coleman is stingy about offering replacement parts if one goes missing or breaks.
- Best ValueSleepingo Camping PadSummarySummary
A self-inflating, two-inch-thick sleeping pad engineered to provide portable comfort on any kind of ground. It packs down tightly, weighs less than a pound, and features puncture-resistant material.ProsPros
It’s affordable and comes with a lifetime warranty promising hassle-free replacement. Its ability to pack down to the size of a water bottle makes it excellent for backcountry trips. Fabric balances lightness with durability.ConsCons
Remains a little short once inflated, so taller campers might find their feet falling off the edge. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell when it’s suffering from a slow leak.
- Honorable MentionEarth Pak Waterproof BackpackSummarySummary
Trail backpack built for 100 percent protection during any sort of outdoor activity. Fits easily in trunks and airplane compartments, while still maximizing storage space. Includes shoulder, chest, and waist straps for comfort, and a roll-top closure for ease of use.ProsPros
Waterproof enough to keep your clothes, food, and equipment dry, even when sailing or kayaking; you can submerge it in water and it’ll come out dry inside. Holds up extremely well to heavy use. Made by a small company where founders often fulfill customer warranties directly.ConsCons
No internal storage space, so you might need to add your own packing cubes. Lacks a hip belt, leading to less-than-optimal weight distribution over much longer hikes.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
- When shopping for backcountry gear, consider not just comfort and price but also space and weight. Even if you’re car camping, you’ll need to fit everything into your vehicle’s storage space, so take care not to fill your trunk with your tent, stove, and hammock before you’ve put any food or water in there.
- To test out a backpack, tighten the hip straps as much as possible by leaning backward so your pelvis is a little behind your feet. You want a pack that sits easily on your hips, chest, and shoulders and has all the space you need for the length of the trip you’re planning.
- Plan ahead. A wilderness adventure is only as good as what you do to prepare for it. Get maps of the area from the National Park Service or U.S. Forest Service, decide how much food and water everybody is going to need, and if you’re hitting the trail make sure to pack and wear your backpack while you’re still in civilization. Remember, a bit of planning can save your trip—or your life—down the trail.
Q: Do I need 4WD or AWD to take my vehicle into the wilderness?
A: No. As long as you’re cautious and pay attention as you drive, 2WD vehicles perform perfectly well on gravel, dirt, or rutted roads. However, it’s best to stay on marked roads. If you want to leave the path entirely, it’s best to have a bit more power and height.
Q: What’s the bare minimum I need to get started on my first wilderness journey?
A: If you’re car camping, you’re going to need a vehicle to get you there, a tent, bedding, food, and a flashlight or lantern. If you want hot food or drinks, you’ll need a camp stove and something to fuel it, like white gas or propane. Most campgrounds have water, but if you’re going to one that doesn’t, bring your own water or a method of purifying the water you find. Don’t trust the water in the wilderness.
Q: Do self-inflating sleeping pads require power?
A: No, they inflate themselves through built-in mechanical valves. Just open the valve, leave the pad alone for a few minutes, and then close the valve when it’s gotten to your desired firmness. If you still aren’t sure about self-inflating, you can always go with an accordion-folding foam pad (they’re also lighter).