Summer may be over in the eyes of an astrologer, but there is still plenty of time to get outside and enjoy it. Of course you can never really over pack when it comes to going camping, whether it be a festival or hiking deep into the woods. I'm prone to carrying in way more gear then is needed but I'd rather have it when I need it then not have it. We at The Paddle Junkie are connoisseurs when it comes to bringing way to much stuff. However we have narrowed this guide down to a few of the essentials. Make sure to pack extra clothing and food but getting a few solid pieces will make your next camping trip a little easier and a lot more comfortable
Ranging from 70+ mph winds to Colorado scrub land, we have used this tent across the country and it has excelled in every environment. Not only is it extremely easy to put up, it takes about 3 minutes. Incorporated with a symmetrical, DAC lightweight aluminum pole system makes setting up a breeze. Any one who has went camping with their significant other knows that set up is a time of extreme frustration, not any more. Having the tent body clip to the frame, not only saves time but reduces stress. Color coded clips for the fly makes staying dry elementary. What really sets this series apart is the integrated LED strand sewn into the seam along the top. Lit using 3 AAA batteries the strand gives off more then enough light to enjoy this tent regardless of the weather or time of day. This tent is a little on the heavy side for backpacking but car camping this is a necessity. It does sleep four, so you could always make someone else carry it.
Do you like sleeping directly on the ground? Most likely the answer is no, The Paddle Junkie crew are avid hammock sleepers but that isn’t always possible. I thankfully have found the next best thing. This 20’’ x 72’’ sleeping pad is big enough for me at 6’ 1’’ but packs down small enough to carry on your back. Weighing in at a meager 21oz, “stitched” together using aviation grade TPU lamination technology, this is the mac daddy of them all. Built with larger outer baffles allows you to stay cradled in the middle of the pad throughout the night. For being a fairly large pad I was skeptical on inflation but it didn’t take long. With the one way valve it’s relatively easy. My first time using it I half expected to be laying on the ground but to my surprise I found myself off the ground with the pad fully inflated. At $99.00 bucks it’s worth the extra coin for the insulation as well as the quality.
Sanuk - Sidewalk Surfers - MSRP: $60 - 99 - Buy It Now
If Sanuk isn’t the poster child for festival camping then I’m not sure what is going on. The Paddle Junkie crew have been huge fans of Sanuk since we started this. Extremely comfortable, durable and flashy as hell these bad boys have seen it all. Infused with a sandal bottom and a shoe upper these will conquer any terrain you can see on the campsite. I enjoy these at the office then straight to the bar without ever changing. They have changed up the styles a little over the years with new patterns and colors but the soul remains the same. Extreme comfort and style, these pair well with jeans or shorts. From the festival to the foyer, Sanuk is a staple in my rotation.
Bringing a hammock to a festival is a necessity. Whether you sleep in it for the night or not, it’s a must have. It’s amazing the number of hammocks hanging in camp at every festival I have been to and Grand Trunk is perfect for it. The Kryptek uses an innovative pattern, is built with no-stretch fabric and weighs less than a one person tent. (19 oz) Built for two people to sit in comfortably (10'6" x 6'6") it’s when you’re hanging out in it alone is where is truly excels. Extremely comfortable and being so wide, I have figured out how to sprawl out on my side. Paired with a set of Trunk Straps you are ready for anything, from fishing by the lake to hanging out at the show.
The Paddle Junkie crew always carries a knife on them, whether it’s outdoors or hanging out with friends. Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) makes some quality gear for a great price, based in Oregon, this US company works with the world's leading designers. Amicus translates to friend or comrade and it lives up to its name. Designed and tested in the fjords of Denmark by legendary creator Jesper Voxnaes. The 3.4 in drop point blade can be used for almost anything, from creating kindlin to cutting up the veggies for dinner. A little on the heavy side for an everyday knife (6.7 oz), this is a perfect addition to the camping tote. I prefer a knife a little more on the heavy side, I can actually feel it in my pocket. Some may use this as their trail knife, I carry it with me everywhere. You never know how much you use a knife until you don’t carry it with you. Add this to the list and get a solid knife ASAP.
Any time you’re camping, whether it be at a festival or in the mountains there is nothing more important than having water on you at all times. We discovered liquid hardware at the last Winter OR and couldn’t be happier. Made from food grade steel, what sets these double insulated jugs apart is the quick tether system they developed. A powerful magnet on the lid allows for quick attachment to the top 2 in of the bottle. We happened to get our hands on the 16 oz and 20 oz versions, the 16 is my favorite of the two. It feels extremely sturdy without weighing a bunch. The new flip top lid allows for easy access and with a built in air hole the water comes out in a nice smooth stream not a big glug. I have a hard enough time getting the water in my mouth, I don’t need my bottle hindering me any more. For a solid bottle at a great price look no further, Liquid Hardware has you covered. They even donate a percentage of profits to both environmental causes and PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease) research. Do you need a better reason to get one of these?
We tested the larger of the two sizes, 20 & 30 liter. From heading to the beach to hiking the trails around the 7 sacred pools in Hana, this bag had room to spare for any day outing we had. Two large top-zip compartments handle the bulk of the gear, but the base pocket came in handy more than once stashing wet stuff away and keeping the rest of the bags contents protected.
I love to see this from a technical pack maker like Osprey. The "one pack to rule them all" methodology is usually impossible, but unless you are planning a serious multi-day trek this pack will handle whatever you have cooking. Light and nimble enough for an afternoon hike, yet capable of carrying everything I need for a long weekend deep in the woods. As usual it was bomber built and backed by the Osprey "All Mighty Guarantee", one of the best in the business.
This three season sleeping bag is perfect, and has been the best bag for my spring and fall trips to the BWCA. The 550 Fill Down and the insulated hood keeps you warm and toasty in the cool nights when keeping warm is essential. The Cosmic is the perfect size for packing, but if you want to get a compression bag to compact the size even more you can do it with the Kelty Cosmic.
Probably the best part of the Cosmic is the price! For a great down sleeping bag that will keep you warm and take years of abuse the Cosmic is only $120. One thing that bothers me about some of the gear out today is the price, and what is nice about Kelty is they make quality gear for regular folks like you and me. Let’s face it, price and quality both matter, and it is nice that somebody tries to make a great product while still trying to make it affordable for everyone. Thanks Kelty, and I can’t wait for another season with my Cosmic 20.
The Silver Spinnaker Cooler Sailor Bag has traveled with me many places this summer and I have officially thrown out my small Coleman hard cooler. The convenience of this bag is incredible. Instead of carrying the hard cooler that is clunking against walls or bruising your thighs with an awkward waddle, you can just throw this over your shoulders and be on your way. I have taken it camping in the mountains, boating, to the pool, and tailgating for Red Rock concerts. When the car is packed for camping there is never an issue squeezing the cooler in the car.
Sometimes I get lazy and forget to empty the cooler when I get home and the next day there is still ice with my items nice and cool. Even on hot days where it's 90 degrees and the sun is beating down in Denver this cooler is still doing it's job! The quality of the material has kept up with the beating of our activities and the zipper has never been an issue.
I highly recommend the Silver Spinnaker Cooler for all your summer activities. It will be the perfect size, quality, and style for your adventure!
Of course you can never bring to much stuff when you go camping, just ask the crew who go into the boundary waters with us. But getting a few really nice essentials make your journey all together more enjoyable. Camping is supposed to be about reducing stress and letting go, make sure your gear is up to the challenge and you will have a lot more fun.