When packing up the trunk for a long weekend of camping, you’ve got the bare essentials down. You’ve got the Eddie Bauer Pantheon Dome tent, Tenica Forge hiking boots, a lightweight yet cozy blanket, a 256 GB iPhone 12 with three-dozen playlists, and a cooler full of chilled glass bottles, which are knocking around calling your name.
You’re so excited to make the best out of the trip that you’ve even gone the extra mile and surfed TikTok for a couple hours trying to find the best campfire snack hacks (because S’mores, while delicious, don’t make for a great mid-morning nosh).
If you’ve scoured the Internet for the best tips and tricks for an ultimate camping experience, then the following gadgets and accessories no doubt have a permanent space in your trunk. But for those once-in-a-blue-moon campers who worry their lack of experience and Scouts knowledge is setting them for a less than a less-than-enjoyable weekend, not to worry: we’ve got you covered.
Enjoying the great outdoors doesn’t have to be hard work, and we’ve compiled a list of items to make sure that your next trip makes you a happy camper.
Moka Coffee Maker
Sure, you love the idea of being completely disconnected from the world and one with nature, but let’s face it—being miles away from the nearest Starbucks is scary. That’s when bringing along a stovetop (or in this case, campfire-top) is a good idea. A stovetop espresso maker—known to Italian nonnas as a moka—is a quick and easy way to make a cup of joe without using coffee filters or wasteful K-cups. Best part: you can take it on the road. All you need is a cup of clean water, ground coffee of choice, a source of heat (in this case, your fire pit), and a moka. Simply fill the bottom piece of the espresso maker with water, pack the filter piece with your Continental dark French roast, add heat, and presto! Once you hear the sweet, sweet gurgling sound of your coffee brewing, remove from heat and you’ve got yourself a hot, delicious cup of bean juice. ($34.99 for a six-cup moka at grosche.ca)
Nebula Apollo Pocket Projector
A big problem with camping in British Columbia is the campfire issue. At some point in every season a ban comes into effect, which isn’t great news for those who see a fire as nature’s version of a television set, and a stick as the remote for changing the channel. So you can either sit in the dark before retreating to your tent in the middle of nowhere, or you can do something about it. Like watch a movie—and by that, we’re not talking on your phone. Anker’s Nebula Apollo operates as a portable projector—all you need is a sheet, white tarp, or empty beer box, and you’ve got your own campsite version of an outdoor cinema. With 8GB of internal storage and four hours of battery life, there’s enough oomph to get you across the finish line of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev, Roman Polanski’s Tess, or Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac. Got kids? Secure yourself a couple of hours of downtime by cueing up Cars and Adventure Time. Bluetooth and screen mirroring give you the option of streaming from your phone, and pairing it to, say, the Anker Soundcore Motion Boom. (You can therefore make most of the “Ride of the Valkyries” scene from Apocalypse Now while scaring off the bears, deer, and tufted titmouses). Off the grid? Nothing adds a little terrifying spice to the night like a Willow Creek/Deliverance double bill. Got a group of loogans one site over who won’t stop blaring AC/DC? Make the most of the Nebula Apollo’s 100-inch projection size by cuing up FUBAR and then re-creating the camping scene. If your fellow campers complain, tell them it’s the campfire ban’s fault that you’ve decided to give’r. ($420 at us.seenebula.com)
Coleman Fuel Gauge
Gone are the days of shaking the fuel canister, trying desperately to determine how much propane you have left before making an emergency trip back into town. Simply twist on the Coleman Fuel Gauge, lift, and this handy little contraption weighs it for you—a digital read-out showing how much propane is left. Compatible with 14- and 16-oz. propane canisters, and MAP-Pro cylinders, this pocket-sized tool is a must-have. If you’re using fuel canisters, don’t leave home without it. ($12.99 at canadiantire.ca)
Stanley’s Adventure Happy Hour Cocktail Shaker
One of the most beautiful things about camping is the way normal societal rules go right out the window. When you’ve spent all night sleeping in a tent, no one judges you for waking-and-baking before that first morning cup of coffee, or getting a 10 a.m. head-start on being gooned by noon. On the former front, don’t forget to load up on something suitably summery like Simply Bare’s Organic Platinum Punch indica hybrid, with cherry, ripe blackberry, and creamy vanilla notes. When you’ve finally pulled yourself out of the hammock for cocktail time, go the Planter’s Punch route with Stanley’s Adventure Happy Hour cocktail shaker. Recognizing that the last thing anyone has room for while camping is their entire home bar-cart, the tall-boy-sized unit is a self-contained marvel: unscrew the top and you’ll find two insulated stainless steel glasses, jigger cap, strainer lid, and citrus reamer. All you do is dump in the rum, juice the fresh limes, add the simple syrup, and then imbibe until you can’t see straight. Don’t forget the Kodama Ice. And don’t feel guilty about climbing right back into the hammock. ($31 at stanley1913.com)
Coghlan’s Telescoping Fork
No one likes to be so close to the fire that you fear your eyebrows will singe off. Finding twigs long enough so that you don’t have to be dangerously near to the fire, yet sturdy enough so they don’t break in half while you’re trying to maintain your distance, is also not an easy chore. The worst part comes when you think you’ve found a good one, and little pieces of bark end up embedded in your gooey marshmallow, ultimately ruining your S’more with tiny tree chunks. To save yourself the taste of marshmallow-cracker-chocolate-and-Douglas Fir-bits, invest in one of these bad boys instead. ($5.95 at mec.ca)
A classic! Right up there with “Kumbaya” and S’mores, nothing says campfire quite like Jiffy Pop. As an O.G. member of the camping squad, we can’t leave it behind. If you’ve never cooked this invention from the ’50s before, fear not because the steps are quite simple. First, remove the cardboard covering, being careful not to damage the foil under it. Place the Jiffy Pop above the fire (on a rack if you have one) and wait until you hear a sizzle. Then, shake the Jiffy pan in a rapid, circular motion to make sure all those kernels get popped. At this point, as the popcorn is coming alive, the foil will expand into a big silver dome. Remove from the heat once it’s expanded all the way, wait for the kernels to stop popping, let cool, and voila! Just puncture the foil top (be careful of hot steam!) and your retro snack is ready to munch. ($2.99 at saveonfoods.com)
Woods portable camping shower
Here’s one of camping’s inescapable realities: assuming you don’t have access to a lake, river, or fully-loaded RV, at some point you need a shower. No one, with the possible exceptions of Post Malone, Pigpen, and Johnny Depp, enjoys stinking like body odour, campfire smoke, and high-summer pit toilets. The Woods portable camping shower solves that—all you need is a tree branch to hang it from, a bar of Irish Spring, and a pine cone (more commonly known as nature’s scrub brush). Each portable camping shower bag holds 17 litres of water, and comes with both a shower nozzle and hanging rope. Either lay it in the sun (the black bag soaks up the rays, leading to hot water in a couple of hours) or use a Coleman stove to expedite the process. Don’t forget to bring a bathing suit—preferably one loose-fitting enough that you’ll have no problem getting in all the cracks. The importance of which, by the way, is something Pigpen, Johnny Depp, and Post Malone evidently know nothing about. ($11.99 at canadiantire.ca)