Last week, we posted a list of ten items to bring while camping, ensuring that you’ll be the envy of your peers. While I’m sure that people found a few things to purchase immediately, many of you may have been more likely to have saved items to a wish-list instead. (Half of all that stuff started – and still exists – on my own wish-lists).
While it’s fun to sit around a campfire and discuss cool gear you’d love to have, your trip won’t be as fun if you’re left empty-handed. So, here is the budget-friendly version of those ten awesome camping gadgets. Although these more affordable options (by comparison) may have a few less features, they are still tops for performance and fun. So you might find yourself ordering some right away.
1. Sport-Brella Recliner Chair ($60)
You’ve put in your time with those basic camping chairs, probably while you were a kid growing up. You deserve something better and a lot more relaxing; doubly so if you planned the trip and/or set up camp. It’s a recliner chair, so you have a place to put up your feet while enjoying drinks from an insulated pocket. There is an additional storage pocket for gadgets. Best of all, you get your own personal, adjustable umbrella to keep you shaded all day.
2. High Sierra Loop Backpack ($30)
With pockets on the inside and outside, this backpack provides sufficient space for all your personal gadgets and equipment. If you don’t plan on using all the room available, compression straps squeeze it down to a more portable size. The ripstop fabric has a water-resistant coating to keep everything dry. High Sierra is known for quality, so this bag is ready for even the toughest of adventures.
3. Anker 14W Foldable Solar Panel ($46)
Anker is well-known for their high-quality products and accessories. This solar array can charge up to 5V/2A, which is almost wall-speed for tablets. Since you might be using gadgets during the day, it would be easier for these solar panels to charge an external battery instead (that’s coming up next). These panels are weather-resistant, and even have eyeholes to hang them on backpacks, tents, or wherever. When not in use, it folds up to a very convenient 8.5” by 11” inches for storing.
4. Limefuel Blast L130X Battery Pack ($40)
If you’re careful with your gadgets (like I am), you probably don’t need everything to be rugged. The Limefuel L130X gives the best bang-for-the-buck in terms of capacity, features, dimensions, and price. It’s about the size of a flask, which makes it easy to pack. The dual USB ports are universally compatible with devices and can charge up to 5V/2.4A each, which is perfect for tablets. The battery efficiency is top-notch too (read the review here), so you know you’re going to get the most out of it.
As much as we’d all love to own Eton’s larger, Xtreme version, the original Rukus is still fantastic for camping and outdoor fun. Connect to any Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or tablet, and let the music flow. The carabiner loops let you attach it to a backpack to carry around without worrying about space or busy hands. As long as you have sun, the Eton Rukus is completely self-sufficient in terms of power. It also has a USB output port to charge up other gadgets in a pinch.
6. GeChic 13.3” TFT LCD Portable Monitor ($170)
There is something about watching movies out in the wilderness that makes it extra exciting. It could be the open space, lack of city light pollution, crisp air, or all the above! A small group of kids is not going to deal with video from a smartphone, which is why this portable LCD screen is awesome. It’s USB powered and connects to a mobile device via HDMI. Plug both devices to an external battery pack (previously mentioned) for power, connect together with HDMI, and pair up a speaker (also previously mentioned) and you’ve got yourself a mini outdoor theater set up! The bonus is that you could probably find great use for this monitor at home, too.
This is a backpacker/minimalist’s ideal lantern for illumination. It folds up flat when not in use, and blows up to the size of a grapefruit. Although it only outputs 80 lumens, the LEDs are bright enough to cover a 15’ by 15’ foot area. Since it’s solar-powered, all it takes is a bit of direct sunlight to power up the Luci lantern for hours of use. It’s 100% percent waterproof, and unless you’re completely careless it won’t puncture easily either.
8. Mini Cree LED Flashlight ($4)
You won’t find any other flashlight under five bucks to match the performance of this Mini Cree. It’s pocket-sized (with a clip!), water-resistant, durable, and has an adjustable beam. All it takes is one AA battery, and it delivers 300 lumens of light. You might as well go buy two; one for camping and one for your home/car. I happen to own three of them. Once you get a feel for how convenient it is to have such a compact, bright flashlight around all the time, you won’t want to wait for the second to arrive later in the mail.
9. CamelBak Groove Bottle ($30)
While some of us like to trek off into the wilderness and pitch a camp like that, many more are content to book spots at a nearby campground. As such, there isn’t much need to filter or purify the drinking water provided at these parks. However, you may not prefer the taste, which is what this CamelBak Groove bottle is for. This 20oz bottle has a taste filter built right in, making the water more palatable. The bite valve helps to prevent spills, and the bottle is easily carried by attaching a carabiner clip to it.
10. Kershaw Skyline Knife ($38)
The best tool (arguably) you should have on you when out on adventures is a solid knife. Camping, backpacking, whatever. A quality knife is going to make life much easier. But if you’re on a budget and want one of the best, you couldn’t do much better than the Kershaw Skyline. The deep finger choil provides a secure grip, and the blade length is long enough for virtually any task. It has a great feel in the hands, yet is slim enough to go unnoticed when slipped in a pocket. This has been my everyday carry (EDC) knife for months and hasn’t let me down.