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Perfect camping gear and unique camping gifts for friends and family. Pop Up Truck Camper
What’s better than an adventure in the mountains and camping under the stars, a cool breeze rustling right outside your tent? Or a sunny hike to places unknown? Not much, at least not much to me! I’m an avid hiker, camper, and novice backpacker—and I’ve personally crash tested most of the items on this list of camping gear and camping gifts.
There’s a lot to choose from—and consider—when you’re picking the perfect present for your outdoorsy pals. Are they experienced hikers or campers, or just starting out? Do you want your gift to be deeply useful, or is it just for fun? Will they be on the go, or spending time in a specific spot where they could use something that doesn’t have to be super lightweight or travel very far? Do they have kids that might need entertaining while unplugged and away from civilization? Are they foodies that might appreciate something to help them perfect the best camping recipes? Do they have any pets that might need pampering too? These are all great places to start, if you ask me.
Whether you’re picking out the perfect gift for an experienced friend in your hiking circle or a newbie just starting out—or even someone who is more into the camping-lite version of things, where amenities are abundant—you’re sure to find something fun (and budget-friendly) on our extensive list of ideas. And, while you’re at it, check out our favorite hiking sandals, hiking shoes, base layers, compression socks, and motivational water bottles too! Happy adventuring!
This noodle-shaped glow rope can be used for so many things—brightening up a camp table, illuminating a tent, or let your kids (or grandkids) hold onto it as they play after dark at your campsite. It comes in both five and ten-foot versions, and you have the option of choosing between color or regular warm light. It’s rated for outdoor use and is waterproof, so it can handle getting left out in a storm. Did we mention it has more than 2000 five-star reviews?
It’s a backpack! It’s a chair! It’s a cooler! Really, it’s pretty much everything you could want in a piece of casual camping gear—whether you’re on the beach, tailgating, or at a woodsy campsite in your local national park. Users can easily pack snacks, ice, a water bottle and more between the central part of the pack and two exterior pockets. It’s also ultra-light, but reviewers say the product is very durable and lives up to its claim of supporting up to 250 lbs. One verified Amazon reviewer shared, “I took this on our trip to Portugal and Malta. It held everything from purse contents to groceries, and even successfully carried a bag of ice home in 90 degree weather. I found the seat to be comfortable and convenient for my XL body, whether waiting on public transportation or any other place that public seating was unavailable.”
I use my Therm-a-Rest pillow whenever I go camping, and I sleep comfortably on it. I prefer camping pillows that are soft/fabric-based vs. inflatable alternatives because they feel cozier (and fabric options tend to last longer)—just make sure to fluff them up properly. There are four available sizes depending on your needs/pack space, and I find the the medium to be the perfect size. Therm-a-Rest pillows squish/fold up nicely at the end when you’re ready to toss it back in your pack too, and if it gets dirty, it’s easy to throw in the wash. This should definitely be on your list for plane travel if you are running tight on space but want some creature comforts.
Give your pals the lighthearted gift of a custom camp counselor shirt featuring their last name or nickname—better yet, get one for your whole family or camping crew for a weekend away, because why not. The cotton-and-polyester shirts come in 13 colors and plenty of sizes: unisex adult tees and shirts for toddlers too! Reviewers rave about the level of service from KCM Design Studio: “T-shirts turned out great! Seller sent multiple mock ups to help me decide exactly what I wanted. She was very quick to respond to questions!”
Want the feel of a campfire without worrying about wood or kindling? This impressive little ambiance-creator should do the trick. Made from recycled soy wax and recycled paper, this “mini campfire” (which is eight inches wide) burns for anywhere from 1.5–4 hours, according to reviewers. It’s earned more than 2,000 5-star reviews on Amazon, and one happy customer shares, “This is such a cool gift for anyone! We have since bought different sizes for friends and family. It really is so simple as you light the inside and poof! You have a legit campfire in an instant!” Please note: If you want to cook marshmallows, order the original version without eucalyptus oil.
The ideal outdoorsy family gift, these easy-to-use packets turn your average campfire into a rainbow of color, and they’ll burn for about an hour. Make sure your coals are hot, then follow the directions and toss right in. With more than 21,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, it’s clear that this one’s a winner! One thrilled buyer comments, “This stuff is so fun to use and watch the fire come to life with colors! This is also a great way to engage the kids and have some nice family time...the beautifully colored flames are so relaxing and meditative...my only complaint is that I didn’t know about this product sooner!”
What can I say? I love this product so much that I’ve personally recommended it twice: Now, and when I worked at Good Housekeeping! I have several of them, which I bought on a whim from REI what feels like a million years ago, and I use them for everything from quick trips around a campsite in the dark to overhead lighting inside my tent. Extended, it’s a flashlight, and pushed back together, it’s a tiny lantern that can be clipped to the top of your tent for reading or late-night Cards Against Humanity. One pleased Amazon reviewer also shared, “This little flashlight is outstanding! It’s small enough to carry in your pocket, and you hardly know it’s there, but when you need it it’s there for you. High and low settings along with the strobe function make this a great flashlight, but you can also use it as a little lantern. The attached shock cord is handy, but out of the way when not in use making this a versatile all around light. It’s great for camping, road side assistance, and I even used it walking out of a concert when all the lights went out.”
Our friends over at Best Products recommend this camping cot for max comfort—it’s actually bigger than a twin mattress, so tall folk can rejoice. The brand notes, “The aluminum frame and S-shaped steel legs can support up to 600 pounds. Its size and stability even make it a great option for out-of-town guests if you run out of couch space in the basement.” Did we mention this cot also has more than 3,000 five-star reviews on Amazon?
I’m not joking when I tell you my husband borrows this headlamp from me weekly—whether that’s for late-night dog walks or examining brisket on the smoker. We love it for tent camping (easy to pop on when hunting for firewood or heading to wash up before bed), and I also add it to my backpack whenever we’re hiking later in the day for just-in-case purposes. It comes in a variety of colors, it has a strong LED light, it’s adjustable, and it has several brightness settings. I’m not the only one who swears by it, either—it has almost 500 five-star ratings on Amazon.
When you’re camping, you don’t necessarily need to settle for uncomfortable camp chairs or picnic benches. Waving this inflatable lounger/sofa through the air (and snapping a seal shut!) makes it easy to have comfy seating anytime. No pump is required for inflation, which makes this two-pound option perfect for any adventure—including the beach and campground. It’s also rated to support 500 lbs, making it one of the sturdier inflatable options on the market. One happy reviewer shares, “I purchased this for my son for his birthday. It was one of his favorite items he received. It’s great for the beach, camping, or just lounging in the backyard. To top it off, the owner sent us a thank you card to show appreciation for the purchase. I highly recommend buying from her, there are many options…do yourself a favor and buy from this store!”
Backpacking meals (or hot tea...or water for pour-over coffee...you name it) are made easy thanks to the Jetboil, which comes with its own canister. Normally, my husband and I use something like this MSR PocketRocket 2 (with which we use our own ultralight pot). That normally takes 3-4 minutes to boil water, which is great for regular use, but the Jetboil can do it in around two minutes—it’s a helpful all-in-one option if you have the space to pack it (or are car/campground camping). The fuel canister will need to be purchased separately.
Useful for backpackers and casual campers alike, this ultralight titanium spork comes in four pretty colors (plus a limited-time rainbow color if you’re after something with added flair!). I have personally used a Snow Peak spork for a few years now (no color), and it is SO convenient and shows basically no wear. Amazon reviewers agree that this is a long-lasting, durable, and unique buy but do offer a heads up that the color-tinted options could change color over time with heavy use: “I first bought Snow Peak Titanium Spork in college in the 90s. 30 years later I still have it and its undamaged. I bought colored sporks for Christmas presents last year. My son (8) loves them and uses them almost daily. After 6 months of use the color is fading/wearing off in some areas. I still give it 5 stars.”
This alcohol-free product is one of the only repellant picks I’ve found that (to me) smells great, and works effectively against ticks and mosquitoes. I have a can in my shed, one of these smaller pump spray bottles in my pack, so I’m always covered. Customers rave about the quality of the product, with one recent review noting, “We like the ease of use and travel of the bottles. Also like consumer reports highly recommended this product. We’ve found it to work as advertised.”
I love a brightly-colored Nalgene for hydration at my desk or on the go for day hikes. These bottles last forever, and I prefer the small-mouth version vs. the traditional because it’s easiest to drink from while walking. They’re also BPA, BPS, and Phthalate-free, and they’re made from 50% recycled plastic so you’re doing your part to keep disposable bottles out of the landfill.
Help them record their outdoor adventures with the help of this 160-page hardcover hiking logbook, which can be customized with their name on the cover. Inside, there’s space for two pages to document each hike (noting things like weather, difficulty, and friends met along the way), plus an inside pocket to store notes too. The whole thing closes up with a sturdy elastic band. Need a smaller one? This mini pick from MaDaJax Studio ($11) is cute too!
PackTowl microfiber products (which come in a variety of sizes, colors, and designs) are compact and absorbent—and ideal for quick campsite showers, drying your feet at a riverbed, or wiping down dirty hands without carting around a big, soggy towel that won’t dry the whole weekend. They’re also a great gift for your backpacking friends who definitely can’t spare the space for a traditional towel.
Who needs to dig around for sticks in the woods when you have these nifty, colorful marshmallow roasters (that are also great for roasting hot dogs and other stuff too?). Prepare for your (fastest) s’mores ever (you can thank us later). One glowing review states, “I stumbled across these and love them! The turning function on the handle is super easy to use! They are easy to clean and long enough. I’d buy these again in a heartbeat!”
For minimal tent-assembly hassle, this pop-up tent takes seconds to set up. It fits two adults, offers side ventilation for a light breeze, and it’s super affordable at only $50. A happy customer reports, “This is a great little lightweight tent. took it camping, quick set up, easy to move and change directions once assembled. It is small, but was surprisingly roomy for two. Folding it up the first time with instructions (I found the instructions easy to follow) did not take long at all. Second time didn’t need the instructions at all.”
Foldable water bowls are great and all, but how about this pup-friendly water dispenser? All you need to do is squeeze the bottle, and the small bowl at the top will fill, giving your furry pal plenty of opportunity to slurp away. When the bowl portion of the dispenser isn’t in use, you can simply fold it back down, and there’s a leak-proof lock to keep water from spilling once you’re done. The product comes in a variety of colors and sizes, it’s recyclable, and it’s made from BPA-free, food-grade polyethylene.
At just 8 inches long, this compact kit is ideal for the car or other on-the-go functions. It includes a range of supplies for bleeding, airway, burns, and more so it can tackle the most common issues you might encounter day to day. Find what you need easily using color-coded modules and mesh pockets to see contents at a glance. There’s even a tourniquet to stop significant bleeding. “This kit is so well thought out and fits perfectly in my purse, car, or in my pantry,” one reviewer says. “I love the color-coded system and feel confident that I’ll be ready if anything were to happen."
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Finding your way back to your campsite is super easy thanks to these large, customizable vinyl buckets that come in more than 20 styles. The included LED light has 16 colors and 4 modes, and the seller notes that the light is fully submersible if twisted closed, so you can theoretically use it as an ice bucket too!
I’ve always been intrigued by reusable plastic bags, but as someone who cooks (and travels) a lot, I wasn’t sure taking the time to wash plastic bags would be worth it. I will say that these impressed me with their durability. I tested smaller re-zip bags as (dry) snack bags, and the larger ones for wet bathing suits and on-the-go toiletry bags, and they held up. In general, they were easy to hand wash (and I stuck to using them for things that would be easy to remove from the bag). I can see these being really useful for backpacking in terms of dry storage (or even protecting a phone or other electronics from the elements while adventuring) if you’re in need of a stocking stuffer for your experienced pals.
All Better Co.’s pen can be swiped over bites for itch relief, and the hydrocolloidal patch uses tea tree oil to soothe inflammation. For the pen, All Better Co. shares, “This product contains 20mg of hemp-derived CBD as a conduit to relax the skin and to help your body heal itself.” One happy customer comments, “Finally, an anti-itch product that works and helps me rest easy knowing it’s not full of chemicals!! Thank goodness. I am ordering one for every beach bag, carry-on tote, picnic, and park bag. These patches and this pen are saving our family’s skin. We are SO susceptible to mosquito bites and have been known to rip our skin apart trying to stop the itching. Relief has arrived.”
Food-grade silicone cups are a great solution for family camping. They’re easy to toss in a tote, and there’s no need to worry about burned lips or hands on a metal camping cup. Silipint also offers food containers, lowball glasses, wine glasses, and other options for an easy clean-up. The products have a lifetime warranty, so you can be confident in your purchase.
Living up to their name, Darn Tough hiking socks are long-lasting, nicely cushioned (but not so thick that you’re immediately sweating), and made from wool, nylon, and lycra. A happy reviewer shared, “Warm in winter; cool in summer. Always the first choice - make sure you have plenty.”
Many of the picks on our list are, as I mentioned early on, personal favorites of mine from adventures hiking and camping in New York, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Montana, and beyond. The rest of the picks on our list are a mix of tried and true favorites by hundreds of reviewers—and items recommended to me by equally outdoorsy pals.
Pop Up Camping Trailer For more than 70 years, Prevention has been a leading provider of trustworthy health information, empowering readers with practical strategies to improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Additionally, Prevention also examines hundreds of reviews—and often conducts personal testing done by our staff—to help you make informed decisions.