LAST UPDATED: December 5, 2019
Best Outdoors Gear: The Ultimate in Wilderness Comfort and Style
Get the most out of the backwoods with this outdoors gear
The Review Team
How We Decided
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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.
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.
- Highly waterproof and will keep you dry indefinitely
- Setup is quick and easy
- Durable materials withstand years of use
- 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
This lightweight sleeping pad is made of convoluted polyethylene foam and will ensure you sleep soundly like a baby. It only weighs 11.02 ounces, so you won’t have a hard time carrying it around.
- Accordion design allows you to pack and unpack it quickly.
- There’s no inflation required, so you can quickly set it up after a hard day's trek to camp
- Durable materials withstand years of use
- Bulky when folded and cumbersome to carry around
- It is also very thin and uncomfortable to sleep on
- It stains easily
This backpack has adjustable straps for hands-free carrying that ensure you don’t get tired as you would with an ordinary backpack. It has a 47.8-liter capacity and many pockets and storage options. It is hydration-compatible.
- Top drawstring closure lets you easily pack up gear through the large upper opening
- Padded hip belt supports heavy loads.
- Zippered pocket on each side
- Comes with a lifetime guarantee so you can use it for years to come
- Slouchy and weirdly shaped, it's not a high-tech hiking backpack
- Only suitable if you need to carry less than 20-25 pounds. If you carry anything heavier than that, it sags
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Outdoors Gear
- Comfort. As you are out exploring the great outdoors, it’s important to be comfortable. If you’re not comfortable, you won’t have a great experience. Good outdoor gear creates a comfortable environment for you away from home.
- Convenience. The best gear for the outdoors makes backpacking easier. Whether it’s providing shelter or keeping your equipment safe, the gear helps you to make the most of your surroundings.
- Quick emergency response. Anything can happen when you’re outdoors. If you have the appropriate outdoor gear, you can quickly respond to emergencies such as accidents. Your outdoor gear might also help other hikers around you.
- Enhances safety. The best outdoor gear keeps you safe as you explore. You won’t have to worry about injuring yourself or nature-related attacks.
- Durable. The best outdoors gear is designed to last and may not require a lot of maintenance. You won’t have to keep digging into your pockets to replace faulty gear. Some of the gear can also be multipurpose.
Types of Outdoors Gear
Emergency Outdoor Gear
This refers to gear that is used in emergency situations. Whenever you’re buying outdoor gear, get some stuff in this category. The gear includes first aid kits, flares, navigation equipment, multi-tool survival kits, backup power sources, and communication devices. Keep the items in good condition so you can use them whenever they’re needed.
As the name implies, this is any gear with the sole purpose of providing comfortable shelter. Items you’ll find in this category include tents and bivy sacks. Most of the items come with interior features and reinforcements that maintain their structural integrity. But because the items are exposed to the elements and can easily get damaged, they may require regular repairs or replacement.
Even when you’re backpacking, you have to eat. The kitchen gear you choose will depend on the nature of your excursion—you may need more gear for longer excursions. Some kitchen gear is multifunctional. For example, an outdoor grill can cook and warm food. Choose your kitchen gear and cookware based on two things: the number of people and the food you’ll be cooking.
Your outdoor activities will determine the kind of gear you’ll need. Traveling gear is essential and should be among the first things you buy. It includes bags, flashlights, water bottles, and survival kits. If you want to avoid the hassle and pack a single bag, choose the most essential gear.
Coleman’s history dates back to the early 1900s when it began selling lamps. But the company only started producing camping equipment in 1960. Currently headquartered in Wichita, Kan., it is well-known for its tents as well as other outdoor equipment. A prime example of the company’s love for durable products is the Coleman 4-Person Cabin Tent with Instant Setup.
Garmin is an American company specializing in wearable fitness devices, navigation equipment, and women’s and men’s gear. It was established in 1989 and is currently situated in Kansas. It quickly became a global brand with a notable presence due to the high functionality of its gadgets. You can go explore the outdoors with a Garmin Forerunner 35 GPS Running Watch or find your way around with the Garmin Glonass and GPS Receiver.
Manufacturing eco-friendly and convenient bags since 2015, Earth Pak is known for one thing: its love for the environment. The company was started as a project by friends and has rapidly grown over the years. It now sells traveling gear to outdoor enthusiasts. Its highly-rated bags include the Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag.
Outdoor Gear Pricing
- $10-$50: In this category, you’ll find highly useful items such as day packs, lighting equipment, ropes, and some emergency supplies. Most of the items here have basic functionality.
- $50-$100:Here’s where you’ll find multi-day packs and multipurpose lighting equipment. You’ll also find one-person tents and energy-efficient stoves for preparing meals.
- $100-$200: If your budget is $150 to $200, you can get a good deal on a camping tent that can accommodate up to eight backpackers. High-quality stoves and camping tables are also in this class.
- $200-$500: If you’re going on a camping trip with your family or a group of friends and you prioritize comfort, look for outdoors gear in this price range. Glamping tents, high-end camping cots, and portable movie screens are all here.
If your excursion calls for a lot of outdoor gear, portability should be your priority. Portable gear will be easier to haul when you’re tackling harsh terrain. It is also easier to pack and unpack once you get to your destination. Less time spent unpacking means more time to explore.
Due to the unpredictability of nature, your gear must be able to withstand weather elements. Harsh sunlight, strong winds, and rainfall can quickly ruin your experience. Good outdoor gear offers protection against different weather conditions. Make sure your backpacks, sleeping bags, hiking boots, and cutting equipment are waterproof so you can use them at any time.
Ease of Installation
Can you imagine spending six hours putting together a tent? It’s hard to imagine, but it happens when people buy the wrong tents. The outdoor gear you choose should be easy to set up and dismantle—if the setup is needed. Your camping gear, table, stove, tent, and other equipment should make your trip easier, not harder.
- Power Requirements. It’s vital to check if your outdoor gear has any power requirements. That way, you can set aside money for a power source. If any gear you buy uses batteries, get rechargeable batteries. They can be used in most devices that use standard alkaline batteries.
- Safety Certifications. Some outdoor gear must pass safety tests before being released to the public. Make sure your gear is free of harmful contaminants. Chemicals in some gear can cause fires or interact with water to create dangerous byproducts. Understand how your gear interacts with the elements to avoid on-site accidents.
Best Outdoors Gear Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This tent is the first thing you need to pack when going out into the wild with friends or family. You will love its capacity, its durable polyester material, and the fact that it is waterproof. It is built to withstand rain and humidity, and its interior stays dry at all times.
The tent is well-ventilated to maintain proper air circulation. If you have small items, you can put them inside the pockets, which are quickly accessible. It features a loop that can hold a light at nighttime. If your camping area is powered, the charging port will come in handy.
However, despite Coleman’s great reputation, you may get frustrated when trying to get a replacement tent if yours has any issues. Additionally, you may have to pack stronger stakes, as the tent may not be able to withstand strong winds.
Getting a good night's sleep on a camping trip was once a rarity, but today's sleeping pads are much better than their predecessors. They offer superior comfort with advanced cell designs and their weight and packed size continue to drop. If there's nothing you love more than camping or backpacking—and you are in the market for a sleeping pad—get the AceCamp Portable Foam Sleeping Pad.
It is made of convoluted polyethylene foam and is quite comfortable to sleep on. Its accordion design allows you to pack and unpack it easily. You don't need to inflate it—all you have to do when you want to sleep is unfold it. The manufacturer provides a compression strap so you can keep it compact when it’s not in use.
We also love the fact that it only weighs 11.02 ounces. You won't have a hard time carrying it around when backpacking. However, the sleeping pad stains easily and becomes quite bulky when folded. It is also not comfortable to sleep on because it's very thin.
Whether you are heading to the mountains for a week or for a quick hike, having the right gear is of utmost importance. The most important feature you should look for in a backpack is comfort. If you'll be carrying heavy loads, choose a backpack with a hip belt, like the Arrowhead Mammoth Internal Frame Backpack. It is the perfect backpack for overnight or multi-day trips.
The backpack is large enough to carry all your gear and has a capacity of 47.5 liters. Its adjustable comfort straps make for hands-free carrying and ensure you don't get tired on your hike. Its padded hip belt supports heavy loads while its cool mesh padded back keeps your back comfortable.
This technical backpack has four compression straps that secure and stabilize contents. It also has many pockets and storage options. But you can only carry loads weighing up to 25 pounds. If you overload it, it may start to sag. It is also not a high-tech hiking backpack and will not offer you many years of service.
If you’re going on a camping trip, you’ll want to pack light, and having the ALPS Mountaineering Tri-Leg Stool will help you do just so. A full-size camping chair is great for the beach, but they take up quite a bit of space in a truck bed or trunk. This compact stool is easy to transport and can be set up quickly in a few seconds. It can support up to 215 pounds. If you decide to go on a hike, you can even bring it along in a backpack. It measures just 16 inches high, includes a powder-coated steel frame, and 600D polyester fabric, all of which makes it strong, capable, and highly functional. It’s also extremely lightweight and conveniently folds up for easy stowing. It even comes in five different colors.
The seat is rather low to the ground and can be difficult to use for older people or those with bad backs. There also isn’t a backrest. The chair can also be uncomfortable after using it for a few hours. It’s no recliner.
You will need to eat while enjoying the great outdoors, and the Coleman Gas Camping Stove is compact and easy to use. It fits snuggly in the trunk of a compact sedan or the bed of a pickup. It’s not too cumbersome and includes all the joys and comfort of a campfire without having to spend time lighting the flame. One of its best features is that it weighs just one-quarter of a pound. The stove also folds up to fit nearly any space, increasing its versatility and functionality. It includes two adjustable burners so you can cook multiple things at once. Plus, the stove comes with wind-blocking panels, runs off of a 16.4-ounce canister (sold separately), and lasts for one hour.
However, there have been reports that the adjustable flame knobs can be difficult to use. This ranges from hard to turn to finicky and touchy. You will also have to buy a propane canister to use it.
We’ve covered food, so now it’s time to think about water. The Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System allows you to filter any freshwater source into crystal clear drinking water. If you happen to forget bottled water, then it’s a handy tool to have packed away in a backpack or pocket. It’s great to have for any camper, hiker, or biker. The bottle weighs less than half a pound and is simple to use. All you do is attach it to the included water pouch and use it to draw in water. The straw filters out any unwanted bacteria or sediments. Or you can just as easily use the straw to drink directly from any freshwater source. It’s rated to filter out up to 100,000 gallons of water.
It is smaller than the pictures make it out to be. The filter will also take a lot of suction power in order to start the filtration process. It isn’t like drinking through a normal straw and can leave one breathless, especially in higher altitudes.
An outdoor adventure is made even better and convenient when you have an adventure knife. What better one to use than the Gerber Bear Grylls Folding Sheath Knife. It’s a sharp, 1/2 serrated high-carbon stainless steel blade and is great for cutting food, rope, or whittling wood to pass the time. It features an ergonomic handle for a stronger more comfortable grip. It also folds up so you don’t accidentally cut yourself. It’s well-balanced and can fit snugly in your pocket or a hiking backpack for easy access when you need it. It’s an excellent knife for smaller tasks like cutting and slicing open rations or stringing bait.
One of the worst parts about the knife is its sheath; the stitching has been known to fray and breaks after a few months. There have also been complaints that the knife could be just a bit sharper.
You should always have a backup plan for power when you’re in the wilderness, and the Jackery Portable Power Station is a great choice. It has everything you could need to ensure your outdoor gear is powered. It includes a 110V AC outlet, 12V DC port, two USB-A ports, and one USB-C port. But perhaps best of all, it comes with a compact and foldable solar-powered option. You can power up to four external devices at a time too. It’s also extremely portable and fits right at home inside any car, truck, Jeep, or SUV. It’s a lifesaver if you find yourself without any power and you don’t want to risk draining the battery on your car. It even has enough energy to power a small cabin.
It is a bit on the expensive side, but you get a lot of power for your money. It may last around five hours if you use it constantly. It can also be quite loud due to its large fan.
- 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?
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?
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?
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).
We recommend the Coleman Sundome Tent for keeping warm and dry in the backcountry.
The AceCamp Portable Foam Sleeping Pad adds comfort to the experience at an affordable price.