The Best Gear to Help You Kickoff Camping Season

As camping season inches closer, our minds begin to wander towards the contents of our gear closet (or corner, in my case). The weather is warmer and once again, it’s time for winter gear to take a backseat to all of the summer camping gear. Sorry, ski poles, we’ll see ya next year.

Sad as we are to say goodbye to slushy winter slopes and goggle tans, we are none too sad to welcome camping season, excitedly, with open arms. Because with every new start of summer comes a chance to stock up on new gear — and bug bites, of course. It all comes with the territory.

So, to help you get your gear dialed, I tested out some of this year’s best products on an overnight camping trip in coastal Maine. Once the mud dried up and skies cleared, we threw our packs, camping gear, and three-legged dog into the back of our Subaru and headed out with a permagrin the whole way there.

UCO Gear 4 Piece Mess Kit

I love gear that is multi-functional. If it doesn’t have more than one purpose, then to me, it feels like it’s lacking something and ends up being a waste of space. Strong feelings, I know, but good camping gear should be versatile and earn its keep, otherwise it will ultimately be replaced. The UCO Gear 4 Piece Mess Kit is a super durable and handy piece of gear that’s also got a streamlined design. Highlights are the rubberized grip (trust me, you do not want to spill your ration of mac and cheese), a sturdy spork, and the reusable tether that holds it all together, or allows it to dry quickly after cleaning.

UCO Mini Flatpack Grill

This portable flatpack grill is a top-notch addition to your camp kitchen. The UCO Mini Flatpack Grill is lightweight, compact, and super easy to set up or break down. It can perfectly cook up veggies or make a grilled cheese, and the case ensures leftover food won’t make a mess once you’ve packed it away. This portable grill will help you Leave No Trace, as it comes in handy when you don’t have a campfire ring or grate at your site. As a reminder, don’t make your own campfire ring if there isn’t an existing one! It can cause forest fires and severely damage the natural places you love — use the Flatpack Grill instead.

Yeti Hopper Flip 12 Soft Cooler

Alright, Yeti, we get it, you’re pretty awesome. Turns out the hype is real and the beers are still cold. That’s why the Yeti Hopper Flip 12 Soft Cooler is a must-have for any and every car camping trip you’re going on this summer. It stood up to a fully-packed car, some mud and dirt, and a couple of six packs for a night under the stars.

Fjallraven High Coast Trail Pack

The Fjallraven High Coast Trail Pack has their signature G-1000 Eco Fabric, which is a durable and sturdy material designed to stand up to any kind of conditions. As a bonus, the fabric and the earthy green color seems to repel any trace of dirt. While shiny new backpacks are great, the Fjallraven comes with a worn-in look and feel that makes it seem like you’ve had it for years. The same goes for the fit and comfort. It’s easy to pack your stuff in, adjust the straps, load, and go.

UCO Hundred Headlamp

I’ve had some literal ups and downs with headlamps that persist season after season. Straps that come loose, a light that isn’t bright enough, lenses that simply just fall off — it’s a problem. Thankfully, the UCO Hundred Headlamp brightened things up (get it?) and finally made it easy to go hands-free. It’s got an adjustable strap for a snug fit that stays secure, and a cool design to boot. The real game-changer is the articulated lens that reduces weight imbalance, so it won’t fall down. The three light settings worked like a charm and instantly made this my new favorite headlamp.

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