I’m a Lifelong Camper, and I Found 15 Must-haves in Amazon’s Secret Camping Store

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15 Handy Finds We Discovered in Amazon's Secret Camping Store—and They Start at $TK
Travel + Leisure / Reese Herrington. Photo:


As a lifelong camper, I’ve become a walking encyclopedia of the latest and greatest gear to pack for outdoor adventures. Even when I was in the third grade, I can remember being inspired by the wilderness survival novel Hatchet to become independent and resourceful out in the woods. Now, 25 years (and countless trips) later when I set up my tent, I know I have all the best camping essentials by my side. 

Normally, I get my camping gear from REI. A lifetime membership only costs $30, and you get dividends every year in addition to discounts. But recently, I discovered an unexpected hidden gem in Amazon’s secret camping store, which is basically like Pinterest. It features camping-themed gear guides and shopping lists, all curated by avid campers like me. Whether you’re looking for navigational tools, go-to’s for off-grid camping, or everything you need for a camp kitchen, you’ll find it here. And many of the products are best-sellers with thousands of reviews. Plus, like most things at Amazon, they’re affordable!

Since I have an upcoming camping trip where I’ll be on a Natural Selection cycling safari following Botswana’s elephant highways, I’ve spent hours “window shopping” in Amazon’s hidden camping store. Here are 15 of my favorite finds starting at just $9 that I hope you’ll find helpful on your next camping trip, whether you’re headed to Africa like me or your nearest national park. 

Kelty Wireless Freestanding Tent 

Kelty Wireless Freestanding Car Camping Tent


When my dog and I tent camp this summer, we’ll be sleeping in the Kelty Wireless Freestanding Tent. Thanks to the “Kelty Quick Corners” this tent is easy to assemble and takes less than 10 minutes to set up. And because it has two doors, getting in and out is convenient. I also love the two vestibule areas which provide extra storage space for my camping gear I don’t want in the tent but don’t want exposed to the elements. Best of all, the rain fly actually works, which Amazon shoppers can attest to. “It got tested on our second use with a heavy rainstorm,” wrote one shopper who hopes to use this tent for years to come. “We stayed totally dry.” 

To buy: amazon.com, $150 for two-person tent 

Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Daypack

Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Travel Hiking Backpack Daypack


I’m not the kind of camper who can just sit around the campsite all day. I love to hike in between meals, and my go-to bag is the Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Daypack. I’ve used it everywhere from Africa to Argentina, and I’m planning on taking it to the Maldives in a few weeks. It’s water-resistant, has tons of pockets (including mesh water bottle holders on the sides and a separate compartment for wet stuff), and the best part is it packs down into its own front pocket. When folded down, it only takes up about as much space as a T-shirt. It’s the best travel daypack I know of, and I don’t know how I ever lived without it.

To buy: amazon.com, $29 (originally $34)

Coleman Camping Chair with Built-in 4 Can Cooler

Coleman Camping Chair with Built-in 4 Can Cooler


My family was once very territorial when it came to camping chairs. We all had our favorites and didn’t like to share. Fortunately, over the years we’ve all gifted each other the Coleman Camping Chair with Built-in 4 Can Cooler. Now we’re on equal ground, enjoying features like a padded head cushion, dual cup holders, a mesh pocket for reading material and snacks, and of course the insulated built-in cooler which can hold up to four cans of soda or beer. With more than 45,300 perfect five-star ratings, it’s the top-seller on Amazon’s list of Best Sellers in Camping Chairs

To buy: amazon, $32 (originally $35) 

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking


With nearly 90,000 perfect five-star ratings, the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is one of Amazon’s most highly rated products. It’s the $20 tool that could save your life someday, and I’ve used mine everywhere from Montana to Mozambique. Basically, it’s a plastic reusable straw that filters out 99.9 percent of bacteria and parasites. It also filters out dirt, sand, and microplastics. While you can use it to drink directly from a stream, I use it to fill up my favorite Nalgene Monochrome water bottle.

To buy: amazon.com, $18 (originally $20) 

Coleman Air Mattress

Coleman Air Mattress | Double-High SupportRest Air Bed


For backpacking, I’m a big fan of Nemo’s Self-inflating Flyer Sleeping Pad. But if I’m car camping and I can bring something bigger, it’s this cushy Coleman Air Mattress which gets me about two feet higher off the ground. It’s so comfy, in fact, that when I have guests stay the night, I often offer them my own bed and sleep on this. Of its nearly 3,800 five-star ratings, one was left by a shopper who slept on theirs every day for more than a year and wrote: “Really cannot tell the difference between this air mattress and a normal bed or expensive mattress when I sleep.” Note: it’s not sold with a pump, so you’ll have to buy one separately.

To buy: amazon.com, $79 (originally $88) 

Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Hammock

Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Hammock - Portable Hammock


No offense to the person who invented fire, but sometimes I’m even more impressed by the person who invented hammocks! I don’t think a campsite is a campsite without a hammock, and my personal favorite is the Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Hammock. While I like the woven look of traditional hammocks, this one is made of a water-resistant nylon so it’s much lighter and dries a lot faster. It also comes with a carrying sack, and when compressed, is the size of an eggplant. With nearly 40,000 five-star ratings it’s ranked number one on Amazon’s list of Best Sellers in Hammocks.

To buy: amazon.com, from $32 with on-site coupon (originally $40)

Ajmyonsp Marshmallow Roasting Sticks 

Ajmyonsp Marshmallow Roasting Sticks Smores Stick for Fire Pit


As a kid, my parents would have my brothers and me hunt for the perfect marshmallow roasting sticks. While that was fun, as an adult, I prefer to have one already handy. And I love these best-selling Ajmyonsp Marshmallow Roasting Sticks because not only do they have a telescopic handle which makes them easier to store, but they’re also made of a high-quality stainless steel that won’t rust. They have more than 11,000 five-star ratings, and because the tips are blunt instead of sharp, they’re safer to have around kids.

To buy: amazon.com, $10

Rainleaf Microfiber Towel 

Rainleaf Microfiber Towel Perfect Travel & Sports &Beach Towel.


On most of my camping trips, I’m hiking to a remote campsite and I need to carry all of my gear on my back. But even when I’m not limited to space and trying to be as lightweight as possible, I like the Rainleaf Microfiber Towel. Because it’s made of an incredibly absorbent microfiber, it dries in half the time a traditional towel does. It’s also less abrasive since the fibers are smaller. This towel, which has nearly 16,000 five-star ratings, comes in 11 colors and sizes XS-XXL. It’s also a great travel towel, so I use it on road trips, too.

To buy: amazon.com, from $9 with on-site coupon (originally $15)

Yeti Rambler 10 oz Wine Tumbler

YETI Rambler 10 oz Wine Tumble


Much like coffee tastes better when you’re camping, I think wine is also more of a treat. Still, I don’t want to pack my delicate wine glasses into the woods. Instead, I bring this hip, and far more practical, Yeti Rambler 10-ounce Wine Tumbler. Like all of Yeti’s best-selling cups, it’s vacuum insulated, so it keeps my white wine cold, and when I use it for hot drinks, it keeps them hot for a lot longer. Thanks to its durable design and “duracoat” coating, it’s practically indestructible, and the Magslider lid helps prevent spills.

To buy: amazon.com, $20 (originally $25)

Core 6-Person Tent 

CORE Tents for Family Camping, Hiking and Backpacking


If your camping plans involve the whole family, or you simply want plenty of space to stretch out, consider this roomy Core Tent, which is big enough for up to 11 people. It’s an Amazon best-seller and has more than 3,800 five-star ratings. Shoppers love the interior organization which includes pockets, hooks for hanging things like lanterns and headlamps, and a mesh “loft” for other gear you don’t want on the ground. Another perk? Despite its size it’s easy to assemble. “My 11-year old facilitated the set-up without looking at the instructions,” wrote one satisfied shopper

To buy: amazon.com, $80 for six-person tent (originally $120)  

Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree Down Sleeping Bag

Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree 550 Down Fill Sleeping Bag


My first sleeping bag was a hand-me-down from my uncle who gave me the sleeping bag he was issued when he was in the military. It was warm but way too heavy and bulky for the kind of camping I do now. If you’re looking for something super lightweight — think 2-3 pounds — that easily fits inside your backpack or can be attached to the outside with a carabiner — it takes up about as much room as a sweatshirt — I recommend my Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree Down Sleeping Bag. This cozy three season (summer, fall, and spring) sleeping bag is filled with a water-resistant down, and it has an interior stash pocket where I keep my phone and headphones. 

To buy: amazon.com, $165

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160


I first learned about Jackery’s products when I was researching solar-powered generators for Kampgrounds of America. Campers I interviewed swore by their Jackery’s, and the Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 160 is perhaps the most popular. It has an impressive 4.7-star average rating and more than 5,000 five-star reviews at Amazon. About the size of a lunch box, it’s quite compact, and because it can be charged via solar panel (sold separately), car, or wall outlet, it’s very versatile. It can charge up to five devices at a time including those powered by USB. 

To buy: amazon.com, $140 (originally $150)

Igloo BMX 52-Quart Cooler 

Igloo BMX 52 Quart Cooler with Cool Riser Technology


Even if you have a 40-foot-long RV, your fridge and freezer probably won’t be big enough to hold all of the food and drinks you need to keep cold. That’s why I recommend investing in a sizable cooler like the Igloo BMX 52-Quart Cooler if you’re driving to your campsite and are staying for more than a night or two. It has more than 6,200 five-star ratings, and shoppers love features like the secure T-grip latch system, the tie-down loops, and the thick, yet lightweight, insulation that keeps ice intact for up to five days!

To buy: amazon.com, $150 (originally $170)

Biolite CampStove 2+

BioLite Campstove 2 Wood Burning Electricity Generating & USB Charging Camp Stove


Behind every incredible camp meal, even if it’s just your morning oatmeal, is a quality camp stove. Personally, I have the Biolite CampStove 2+, which is so efficient I can boil a pot of water in less than five minutes. And unlike other camp stoves, this one doubles as a power bank, so I can also charge my mobile devices with it. It also has an attached light which makes using it in the dark a lot easier. It has more than 1,000 five-star ratings, and one shopper who says this stove “rocks their world” wrote: “I love that I can gather a little pile of twigs, pine cones, and sticks and have a smokeless fire that will not only cook my food but allow me to charge my devices after a long day.” 

To buy: amazon.com, $200 

Kitchen Gadgets Set 

Kitchen Gadgets Set 5 Pieces, Space Saving Cooking Tools


When it comes to camping supplies, the less space they take up, the better. That’s why I’m obsessed with this handy, stackable Kitchen Gadgets Set. Despite featuring five tools, including a grater, grinder, pizza cutter, bottle opener, and swivel peeler, it only takes up about as much space as one normal sized tool. And all of the tools are attached to a ring so they won’t get separated. It has an impressive 4.7-star average rating from more than 3,000 ratings, and one shopper who left a five-star rating wrote: “All the tools are easy to use, sharp, and feel very comfortable in my hand.” 

To buy: amazon.com, $13 (originally $24) 

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