By now we hope that you’ve followed our guidance and have acquired the basics for constructing the perfect kit for car-camping weekend escape—your tent, your sleeping bag, your sleeping pad, maybe even a fancy camping cot. Now it’s time to up your game with a cache of products that, while not essential, still make living in the side country an experience equivalent to hanging at home, only with better views and none of the perpetual obligations.
1. Jetboil Genesis Base Camp System, $350; 2. GSI Outdoors Destination Kitchen Set, $50; 3. Big Agnes mtnGLO Tent Light Accessory Kit, $40; 4. Snow Peak Cast Iron Oven, $250; 5. Dragon Fire Tinderbox, $5; 6. Light My Fire Grandpa’s Cooking Stick, $10 for Two; 7. Brunton Lightwave Amp Lantern, $199 (on sale now for $149).
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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Jetboil's one-pot stove system revolutionized cuisine prep in the backcountry, and their take on a base camp stove solution may be another game-changer. It comes with everything you need: a five-liter pot and a ten-inch eco-friendly fry pan, each with their dedicated burner that's high-octane enough to boil 32 ounces of water in just over three minutes, but with the ability to dial down the 10,000 BTU output to a simmer subtle enough to sauté veggies.
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Everything you need for preparing—and consuming—a backcountry meal, all in one kit. The 24-piece set includes four plastic cutlery sets, a high-temp plastic folding spoon and spatula, spice shakers, mini-whisk and cheese grader, utility knife, cutting board, pot scrubber, and camp towel, all encased in in a ballistic nylon case.
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Big Agnes received loads of accolades with they introduced the mtnGLO tent series—and with good reason. The tents integrated strings of LED lights into the tent, creating easy-use ambient light ideal for sorting gear, playing cards, or reading—without a blinding burst of white light. But you don't need to upgrade your tent because they also offer an accessory kit. The 100-inch-long strand of lights encased in nylon tubing runs of three AAA batteries and comes with six plastic clips to easily position the lights on the tent poles and other internal clip points. You could also string these lights around your campsite, or create lighted pathways from the fire ring to the tents.
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Cast iron was made for camping. The burly material can withstand the heat of fire, opening up a variety of cooking options, from making bunt cake by burying the pot in hot coals to a slow-cooked roasted chicken over open flame. This three-piece cast iron set is made with an ultra-thin casting technology from Japan, which dramatically thins out the oven's walls to 2.25mm; even at almost 17 pounds, it's way lighter and more versatile than your grandmothers hand-me-down. Comes with a 1.4-gallon pot, a 0.6-gallon skillet, and a lid, all configured into one kit easily transported via wire handles.
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Yes, this product almost sounds like a pure parody of artisanal-everything trend, but these hand-crafted tinder boxes really deliver. The wood—birch bark and wood, cedar, iron sumac, pine, poplar bark, apple wood, and fat wood—has been hand-selected for their fire-creating properties, making it easy and kind of exciting to get the fire going. Set the whole takeout-style box at the base of some dry wood, put a flame to it, and let the Tinderbox do the work. Or start several smaller fires, one at a time, by picking out a few piece of kindling each time.
Dragon Fire Tinderbox
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Time to stop sharpening twigs. Grandpa's Cooking Stick is stainless steel spring device that attaches to a finger-sized branch and makes cooking over an open flame a breeze, with a curved point to grasp anything, from a pair of marshmallows to sausages and hot dogs.
Light My Fire
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Dubbed "the world's most advanced camping lantern," the Brunton Lightwave Amp produces up to 700 lumens of ultra-bright LED light that can last up to 13 hours—with music playing at full blast. Yep, you can also stream music to the lantern's speakers via Bluetooth. But you can also control the music AND the color of the light output via the B-Synch app (or just set the colors to flash to the beat). The whole package runs on a rechargeable lith-ion battery, and includes two USB outputs for charging phones, tablets, and other "essential" electronics.