Watch CBS News

Super-smart camping gear for everyone, from tenderfoots to experts

Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

It's official: It seems like everybody wants to visit a U.S. national park this summer. Parking lots are filling up as early as 7 a.m. Reservations at top parks such as Yellowstone are tough to come by. Other park visitors report wait times of up to four hours.

Prices for RV sales and rentals also have skyrocketed as Americans seek good times in the great outdoors. That trend first emerged last year and shows no signs of slowing -- which is fine, if you have, say, six figures to sink into a mobile camper.

Good news, though: If you're one of the thousands and thousands of folks hoping to get closer to nature this season, you still have options, including lesser-known state parks, RV parks and KOA campgrounds nationwide. No matter what kind of outdoor getaway you prefer, you may need to pick up some new gear. If you're a tenderfoot, here's more good news: Camping equipment has evolved -- a lot -- so now even a newcomer can rough it without feeling too rough.

CBS Essentials has rounded up the lightest and most innovative gear, including an all-season tent, cooking equipment and other camping staples that will help make your outdoor adventure a little less wild. 

Sawyer mini filtration system


Nothing can derail a camping trip like a stomach illness. The Sawyer mini filtration system is a portable gadget that, per the company, removes 99.99 percent of all bacteria (salmonella, cholera, and E. coli) and 99.99 percent of all protozoa (such as giardia and cryptosporidium) so you can drink water without worry. It easily attaches to a bottle, pouch, or hydration pack, but users can even drink directly from any fresh water source.

Core 12-person instant cabin tent


Sharing a shelter with a large group of people may not sound too appealing... unless you've pitched a tent as roomy as this one. Think of Core's 12-person shelter as a portable, three-bedroom cabin, featuring two room dividers with zippered privacy panels. Easy to set up in just two minutes from start to finish, it also features adjustable ventilation and is waterproof, just in case the weather turns.

Kovea mini stove


Cooking over a campfire isn't for everyone. Kovea's mini stove is a butane-fueled, portable, all-in-one cooking system, equipped with a ceramic nonstick frying pan and a lid that doubles as a plate, so you can cook and serve your favorite meals with minimal cleanup. Added bonus: That retro-cute design.

Thermacell Backpacker


Bug bites don't have to be a camping casualty. The Thermacell Backpacker is a compact version of the brand's other popular anti-bug products. Activated by heat, the odorless, invisible repellent creates a 15-foot zone of protection from mosquitoes and other annoying insects, without the pungent bug-spray smell.

Garmin Montana


If the idea of navigating your way through the woods with just a compass frightens you, invest in a portable GPS. Garmin Montana, one of the brand's newest GPS systems, is a touchscreen navigator equipped with United States and Canada maps, complete with terrain contours, elevations, water bodies (because we all need hydration) and geographical points of interest.

North Face The One sleeping bag

North Face

You get what you pay for with sleeping bags. Outdoor purveyor North Face boldly named this high-quality, all-season sleeping bag The One, a $300 glamping investment. The sales pitch? It's the only sleeping bag you'll ever need. The bag features layers that can mix and match depending on temperature, with user-friendly color-coding and symbols guiding you through the process. The 800-fill goose down is divided between two bags -- one for 20 degrees and the other for 40 -- so it will provide warmth in environments as chilly as five degrees.

Heimplanet The Cave 3-Person Tent


As the name implies, The Cave is a cavernous tent promising to minimize light. Looking like something out of a sci-fi flick, the two- to three-person tent features light-minimizing walls and a geometric design. It is easy to set up in under a minute. Reviewers rave that it is sturdy, well-made, waterproof and resistant to strong gusts of wind, making it worth the steep price tag.

Blavor solar panel charger


You won't have to stress about electrical devices running out of juice with Blavor's solar-powered gadget, which serves as a wireless power bank and charger, compatible with most iPhone, Samsung and Qi-enabled devices. After a six-hour charge, the device can completely fuel an iPhone 8 more than three times.

Yeti Tundra Haul cooler


The Yeti Tundra Haul is a large cooler (28.25 x 18.63 x 19.5 inches) built to keep food and drinks chilled for days at a time. Like all of the brand's coolers, this model is constructed out of rotomolded polyethylene, a virtually indestructible type of plastic, and insulated with two inches of commercial-grade polyurethane foam. It is also easy to roll to a camping site; it's the brand's first cooler on wheels.

Sleepingo sleeping pad


Sleepingo is a portable sleeping pad, offering two inches of padding. While other sleeping pads tend to be on the bulky side, the self-inflating pad weighs less than a pound (14.5 ounces) and packs down to the size of a water bottle.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.