If you haven’t taken your first camping trip of the year, what are you waiting for? Perhaps some fresh new gear for inspiration? There is, after all, always something new and cool you could add to your kit. In this series, we look at gear, grub and activities to keep you comfortable and entertained while you commune with nature, whether you eschew crowds and hike in to your sites, love to hit the beaches on the coast or lean into the convenience of car camping.

Today: Hike-in camping

Car camping: What to pack, eat and do when you can bring it all

If you’re a hike-in camper, your idea of heaven is probably getting far, far away from other people. But carrying everything you need on your back can be a special kind of hell. Balancing comfort and weight is an art, but these finds might be worth a place in your pack.


The absolute minimalist ounce-counter will find myriad uses for the Seattle-made Therm-A-Rest Z Seat ($15 at thermarest.com and REI), a foam pad that can be used as a seat, tabletop or hip pad at night. It folds accordion-style for transport and weighs just 2 ounces.

Always have a light in the dark with the new MPowerd Luci Solar Inflatable Base Light ($45 at mpowerd.com and REI), a solar-powered lantern that gives off a serious glow (up to 300 lumens) for up to 50 hours per charge. It packs flat and weighs 10.1 ounces.

For trail hikes, for the dog, for your stash of whiskey — you’ll find many uses for a collapsible bottle, such as the new HydraPak Stow ($17 at hydrapak.com). It holds 1 liter, has a spill-proof nozzle and packs down to almost nothing, weighing just 1.9 ounces.


You can only live off of fresh air and the beauty of nature for so long. After that, you’ve got to eat. Make it more pleasant with Good-To-Go dehydrated meals ($13 at goodto-go.com), created by chef Jennifer Scism, an “Iron Chef” winner and avid backpacker. Dive into the Herbed Mushroom Risotto, Mexican Quinoa Bowl, or Kale and White Bean Stew, and you’ll be energized to keep moving into the wild.


Coffee is key, but instant coffee is often disappointing and pour-over equipment can be heavy and take up valuable pack space. The solution: Kuju Coffee Pocket PourOvers ($22 for 10 at kujucoffee.com), a clever system that includes a paper grounds holder that can fit any size mug. Add the grounds and pour hot water over them, and you have low-tech, big-flavor coffee with almost no added weight.


After you’ve finished contemplating your place in the universe, going over your bucket list and coming up with genius business ideas, relax with a game of cribbage. Made in Portland, the Walnut Studiolo Travel Cribbage Board ($45–$49 at walnutstudiolo.com) is made from leather and birchwood and is about as small as it gets, clocking in at 1.2 ounces and folding down smaller than the deck of cards you pack with it.

And if you want to cut weight on even that deck of cards, pick up the teeny-weeny Air Deck Playing Cards ($9 at amazon.com), which are a mere 3.43-inches-by-1.26-inches and weigh just 2.65 ounces, but are completely legible and playable. They’re also waterproof and resistant to tearing and bending.

Get away. Far away. But keep in touch, even if it’s just for some peace of mind, with an easy-to-use satellite communication device, such as the Somewear Global Hotspot ($350 at somewearlabs.com). Small and light, at just 4 ounces, it supports text messaging, location tracking and weather forecasting, with SOS monitoring available with a satellite data subscription.

The best camping chairs for summer 2019