Great Outdoors: Must-Have Camping Gear

Every once in awhile, we here like to step outside of the CrunchGear Mansion. And, when we’re feeling particularly frisky, we’ve even been known to go camping. Of course, just because you’re roughin’ it, it doesn’t mean you have to be without some basic necessities. As part of our ongoing series on summer outdoorsy fun, here are our favorite camping gadgets.

Eureka Solar Intent Tent

See how happy that family looks? You would be smiling too if you were spending your summer under the roof of this solar-powered tent. The panels power interior LED lights or add juice to your batteries. Just because you’re roughing it doesn’t mean your gadgets can’t have fresh batteries.

Buy it here

Decathlon Quechua 2-Second Tent

If you’re anything like me, the prospect of pounding spikes is enough to keep you from ever loading up and heading to the campgrounds. Thank goodness for instant-up tents. Unfortunately, most of them are made for serious adventure backpackers, and are hardly practical for the casual camper. That’s why the Quechua 2-Second Tent is so great. Folded up, it’s a ring-shaped bag about the size of a bike wheel. You just take it, toss it in the air, and it lands fully sprung on its feet. It couldn’t be easier. Packing it up is a bit toughter–they claim it takes 15 seconds, but that takes some practice. It usually takes me a minute or two. Still, it sure beats tying knots.

Buy it here


These days, finding clean drinking water in the wild is impossible. Unfortunately, lugging liters of water is heavy, and a quick way to turn your ultra-light camping trip into a watered down shell of itself. And, until now, decent water purification systems weren’t much lighter. Thank goodness for the Steripen. Stick this pen-sized contraption into the water source of your choice, and it emits ultra-violet lights powerful enough to kill nearly all the gross microids and bacteria that would otherwise keep you outhouse-bound.

Buy it here

Dynamo Hand-Crank Lantern

An oldie but goodie–transform your kinetic energy into sweet illumination. One minute of hand cranking this lantern enough juice to power 15 built-in LED lights for 8 to 10 minutes. Bonus: This model has a built-in emergency siren and can even charge your cell phone (sweet!) And in case you are feeling particularly lazy, it comes with a rechargable battery.

Buy it here

CamelBak/Skullcandy M.U.L.E. SC10 Backpack

Listening to nature is nice, but sometimes you want to rock out under the stars. With this backpack, you can have it all. The hydration bladder packs your liquid of choice, while Skullcandy pitched in with some iPod and phone controls. Simply plug your gadgets into a secret stash, and buttons built into the strap let you navigate your tracks and take calls. The neatest part, of course, is the built-in speaker system–which pumps out the jams through the shoulder straps.

Buy it here