Buying new camping gear is an investment, there are so many options it can be hard to know what to choose. I do a lot of research and look for a combination of functionality, light weight/small pack size, and best value.
My top 5 essential pieces of camping kit have been thoroughly used by me and tested in all conditions, and I would recommend all of them!
1. Tent – Terra Nova Laser Competition 1 (970g packed)
The Laser Competition 1 is super lightweight and packs down small. It stayed completely waterproof during two weeks of constant rain in Norway, it’s survived gales in Wales, and it was perfect on the Tour du Mont Blanc hike when I wanted to keep weight down to an absolute minimum.
The compromise is that it’s pretty small. I would say it’s really only suitable for one person except in extreme circumstances. It would be nice to have internal pockets, and a groundsheet makes the living space feel much bigger. These all add weight though, and are adaptations you can add if you want to.
2. Sleeping bag – Rab Neutrino 400 (900g packed in stuffsack)
After much research, the Rab Neutrino 400 down sleeping bag is the best I found for a combination of light weight and warmth. I chose it over its rivals because it’s good to -3 (comfort 2.5), which means I can use it in the UK. Lighter bags are available, but are more expensive and good to about 5 degrees.
It comes with a drybag which helps make the pack size small, and kept it perfectly dry when strapped to the outside of my bag as I fastpacked from Manchester to Sheffield in heavy rain. It’s silky and comfortable to sleep in, and the baffles are really effective at keeping the heat in on colder nights.
If there had to be a compromise it would be the price, as this is one of my most expensive items.
3. Sleeping mat – Thermarest NeoAir Xlite (350g)
The compromise is that it’s not very durable – mine got a puncture the first time I used it (I sat on it in a grassy meadow), so keep it inside the tent.
4. Stove – Alpkit Brukit (466g)
The Brukit is an absolute bargain as you don’t need any additional cooking gear. I have used it to cook everything for two weeks on several trips, including stew, pasta, noodle soup, and of course it boils water very quickly.
The compromises are that you have to have one pot meals, which can feel a bit limiting after a while. It doesn’t have any attachments available, I’d really (really) like a coffee making attachment.
5. Dry bags – Podsacs (various weights)
I use several drybags as they’re a great way of organising gear inside my rucksack and tent. They guarantee that clothes stay dry, ants stay out of food, and I know where things are when I want them. They come in various sizes, I chose the ultralight versions.
Anything I’ve missed? Have you used these, and do you have any suggestions or advice? Comment and let me know!