Hiker resting near fire and tent

Are Camping Beds and Shower Tents Essential Outdoor Gear?

Camping is one of the most popular outdoor recreation activities in the United States. In 2020 alone, more than 48 million households in America went outside to camp at least once. Over 10 million of these households were first time campers. Camping is one of the cornerstone activities of American outdoor life and it is constantly changing to meet with the demands and necessities of the time.

Where once camping was seen as a grimy activity reserved for scouts or outdoorsmen, camping has evolved to cater to the luxurious. Glamping is a form of camping that involves buffets, silk sheets and gourmet smores. New technology enables campers to bring gadgets with them that make the camping experience less hardy and more convenient.

However, not all available devices and camping gear in the market can be considered appropriate.

Do you really need a camping bed out in the mountains? Is lugging a portable toilet worth it?

Weigh the pros and cons of 7 pieces of camping and hiking equipment.

1. Large Tent

Large tents work better in controlled environments instead of the wilderness. 
Large tents work better in controlled environments instead of the wilderness. 

Although alternative accommodations, like RVs and cabins have risen in popularity in the previous years, most campers make do with small pop-up camping tents. However, you may want to bring a larger tent. These tents usually can sleep between 4 to 6 people comfortably and have footprints of anywhere between 20 to 30 feet.

These large tents have huge drawbacks compared to other types of camping gear. First, they are heavy and cumbersome, even when rolled up. Unless you stay in flat and open parts of the wilderness, you will have a hard time finding a place to set it up. It can be worth it if you are staying in one place for more than a couple days and have a lot of people with you.

2. Camping Bed

When you go camping, especially on your own, you will probably only bring a bedroll or sleeping bag with you. But what if you can bring a portable camping bed? These contraptions look more like folding beds than rolls and have struts under them that allow you to sleep above the ground. There are several pros and cons to bringing your own camping bed.

First, the average camping trip lasts a little over 2 nights, which can be uncomfortable if you spend all that time sleeping on the bumpy ground. A camping bed can be comfy, especially if it suddenly rains or if crawling insects are a problem.

On the other hand, even a small camping bed can add a lot of weight to your backpack. Unless you don’t plan on hiking too far into the wilderness, you should eschew bringing one and focus instead on bedrolls and a pop-up camping tent for comfort.

3. Cooler

ice cooler
A cooler can help your drinks and food stay fresh in the outdoors.

Food and drinks are necessities in any camping or hiking trip, but most campers stick to eating shelf-stable food like jerky or dried oats.

On the other hand, you can enjoy cold sodas and tasty sandwiches if you bring a cooler on your camping trip. Like camping beds, these bulky contrivances are only good if you don’t expect to travel far on foot and can reasonably refill it with ice every day or so.

If you are traveling by RV or camp very close to a store or similar establishment, a cooler can be a great way to keep food fresh for the duration of your stay. Once again, the weight and bulk of the object makes it a poor item to bring if you don’t have a vehicle or are camping alone.

4. Camping Shower Tent

Most camping trips last at least one night outdoors and unless there is a nearby pond or body of water, you may have to eschew bathing for the time being. However, you could also decide to bring with you a camping shower tent. These look like tall tents to give you privacy when you are showering.

Some of these camping shower tents also come with a small pump and showerhead that allows you to bathe property without the need of a dipper or similar object to pour water on you.

This is mostly relegated as a tool for glamping or luxury camping equipment. They aren’t very bulky, being roughly the same size as a pop-up camping tent, pump not included. However, they can be very tricky to set up since you will need to fill up the pump and need a nearby water source to do so.

If you camp near a body of water, you might as well use it to take a bath instead of a camping shower tent.

5. Outdoor Stove

open fire
An outdoor stove is useful for heating up food and cooking without an open fire.

One of the joys of camping is putting together your own bonfire or cookfire. This can be very comfortable on cold nights and let you cook your own food or even make smores. But not everyone is skilled enough to start their own fires. Or you may not feel comfortable enough with your skills to do it on your own in an uncontained manner.

An outdoor stove has a small metal box below a grill or cooking surface where you can ignite and smolder coals. Their heat will allow you to cook food or even use a small camping coffee pot to brew yourself a nice hot beverage.

An outdoor stove is great if you want to be able to cook food without needing a large fire and if you don’t have the tools or skills needed to make a bonfire.

6. Portable Toilet

Many people do not cherish the idea of going without a cup of coffee in the morning and so they bring camping coffee pots. Many people also don’t relish the idea of doing their bodily processes in the wood. Glamping camps have dedicated toilets to ensure their guests don’t need to use leaves or pop a squat in the woods. If you can’t afford to go to such a camp, you may want to bring a portable toilet.

These devices look like training toilets but with a large chamber below to collect liquid and solid waste. A portable toilet may also include a tent for privacy.

The tent itself isn’t much of an issue, but the portable toilet is cumbersome and may require a vehicle to transport easily. You can bring it with you if you don’t trek too far from your vehicle. Otherwise, you’re better off learning how to do your business in the woods.

7. Camping Knife

folding pocket knife
Camping knives are portable and a great investment.

Tools like spades and ropes are essential hiking equipment, but many campers don’t tend to bring them along. This can be a mistake since they serve plenty of uses outdoors.

A camping knife is a contrivance that can help you around your campsite. They usually come with serrated edges which are perfect for cutting branches or twigs in case you build a fire. They are also sturdier than regular knives, letting you use them more without worrying about breaking the blade.

A camping knife is a great tool to bring with you on a camping trip. It’s lightweight and provide a lot of help with cooking, cleaning and other maintenance chores. However, they can also be very expensive and dangerous, especially if you are camping with kids. If you can afford to buy one, make sure to be very careful when you use it around other people.

Equipment like camping beds and other gear are essential when you go outdoors. However, be very careful when you decide which items to bring with you. Consider the object’s weight, uses and requirements before you pack in your backpack or into your RV.

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