The 10 Camping/Hiking Products I’ve Used the Most
Camping & Hiking expert Hannah K. runs through the gear that she's relied on the most in the outdoors.
Like many, my camping and hiking gear has changed as my experience and knowledge of what I need in the outdoors has evolved. From simple day hikes to multi-day backpacking trips, I’ve put my gear to the test and have not been disappointed. It takes time to find the gear that is best for you, so don’t be afraid to test things out and return them until you find your perfect piece of gear. Here are the ten (okay, slightly more than ten) products I use the most and my honest opinions on all of them!
I love my Nemo Hornet tent. I was lucky and found it at an REI garage sale for half the price and snagged it before anyone else could. It’s easy to set up, roomy enough for me and my dog and our gear, and is lightweight at a packaged weight of two pounds, six ounces. It’s a three-season tent, so if you’re planning on any extreme weather, this is not the tent for you. But I’m from Los Angeles and don’t like the cold, so that’s never a problem for me!
Some people prefer hammocks to tents, but my doggo is terrified of hammocks and she likes to lay right next to me—so tent it is.
When it comes to backpacks, I have three—and yes, they all have different purposes. I have a backpacking pack, a daypack, and a slightly larger-than-a-daypack pack that I use for overnight car camping trips or throughout my daily life.
The Osprey Tempest 20 is my go-to pack for my daypack. It has enough pockets to organize everything I need but it’s not too large that I end up bringing things I don’t need (and add on weight). It has an external hydration sleeve, a trekking pole stow system, and a dual-zippered main panel.
My slightly larger pack is the Fjallraven Ulvo Rolltop 23. This pack got me through college: it carried food, books, extra clothes, my laptop, water, etc. I love the rolltop, the sleek lines, and how comfortable it is to carry. Even after four years of distress, this pack is still going strong. I use it throughout my daily life and for overnight car camping trips to carry my personal items (clothes, toiletries, etcetera). It can also be used as a daypack, of course!
For my backpacking pack, I use the Deuter Aircontact PRO 65. I first learned of the brand through a friend and instantly fell in love. This pack has a dedicated sleeping bag section, padded hip belts and huge hip pockets, ample room for all my goodies, and multiple ways to clip gear to the outside if you need more space. I haven’t used this pack for too long, but so far I love it.
Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Pad
My sleeping pad of choice is the Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Mat. It has an R-value of 3.5 and the 174 air-sprung cells bring an incredible comfort to this mat. It’s easy to inflate and deflate, and does not make a sound when I thrash around all night. If you have a dog that tries to step all over your sleeping pad, this is not the pad for you. Try a foam pad so your dog’s nails won’t destroy it. The Nemo Switchback is a very budget-friendly and durable option.
Like I said earlier, I’m from Los Angeles and don’t like the cold. I’m always cold at night, regardless of the time of year. So a warm sleeping bag is essential for me. The Marmot Women’s Trestles Elite Eco 20 gets the job done. It’s a synthetic bag, so I pair it with a compression sack and squeeze it down small if I take it backpacking, even though down-filled sleeping bags are more commonly recommended for weight and compressibility on a backpacking trip.
I most recently used this sleeping bag on a car camping/road trip from Moab, Utah, to Laramie, Wyo., and it kept me warm throughout the high elevation of the mountain towns in Colorado. No cold hands or feet for me! I personally enjoy that this bag is made from recycled materials (hell yeah sustainability), has a pocket for a headlamp or phone, and a nice roomy footbed.
Camping requires, at minimum, a good headlamp. If you’re feeling snazzy, bring a lantern. The Petzl Tikka Headlamp is my trusty headlamp (and comes in multiple colors). It has proven to be durable and long lasting. Once, I dropped it in a small puddle (oops) and it was totally fine! I also like the Black Diamond Moji Lantern for when I’m at camp. I typically don’t bring the lantern on backpacking trips, but for a camping trip it’s nice to throw it in your tent and read a book before bed!
First off, check out the article I wrote about becoming the best camp chef possible. It lists all the gear you will need (and the items in there make great gifts too). My backpacking and camping cooking gear is slightly different, so take note.
For backpacking, you want lighter gear that will pack small. The MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove is by far the best I’ve used. I once heard someone call it the “holy grail” of backpacking stoves and I couldn't agree more.
When it comes to pots, I have the Optimus Terra Weekend Set. It comes with two pots that stack nicely and it’s nice to either use them for different purposes or one can double as the lid to boil water faster. The set is a lightweight, durable holder of yummy food.
Finally, my trusty Sea to Summit Alphalight Spork always comes with me. I actually leave it on my keychain so I never lose my keys and it is a great conversation starter. Try it out! Maybe you will meet a new friend over a spork.
If I’m car camping with a bunch of friends, I pack slightly heavier or larger gear that is easier to cook with for a bigger crowd. The Primus Primetech Pot Set is larger and can hold more food—which is great if you’re particularly hungry that day or just made really good food and can’t stop eating it.
Water Filter and First Aid
The last few products (I think I’m over ten, but who cares) I use the most often are my water filter and first aid kit. I made my first aid kit myself to ensure I have the necessities for me and my dog, but this adventure medical kit comes in a myriad of options and has all the goodies you need to stay safe on trail.
For my water filter, I use the Katadyn BeFree system that comes in both a one and three liter option. I find it easy-to-use, lightweight, and has thus far kept me safe from any icky disease lurking in dirty water. It is designed to pack small by collapsing down small when not in use and is great for long-term use. Change the filter every 1000L or so.
The very last item that I use the most is my jar of peanut butter. It’s a great snack for me and safe for my dog. Trader Joe’s has some great options if you want a variety. Almond butter and pistachio butter are great alternative choices. Peanut butter may not be a technical item, but it is something I always have on me; I even keep a small jar in my car if I forget other snacks.
If you need some new gear, these items I’ve tested and greatly love would be good options. These items have kept me warm, safe, happy, and able to fully enjoy my time outside. If you're looking to buy gear of your own, reach out to a Camping & Hiking expert here on Curated for free, personalized advice and recommendations. Have you used any of these items? Hit me up through my profile and let’s chat about all things nature!