One of the greatest parts about going camping is having the time to create delicious meals. Plus, the food you cook always seems to taste that little bit better after a day stomping around outside. But for many people, camp cooking can be a bit of a chore. With limited space to keep fresh food cool it’s easy to just cook up some pasta, add a jar of sauce and be done with it. And this is totally fine for a couple of nights of your trip. 7 days of pasta, however, can get a little tedious, not to mention lacking some key nutrition!
We’re big fans of vegetarian food — it doesn’t spoil easily when camping, it’s WAY better for the environment and us, and it tastes amazing. But vegetarian camping meals aren’t the obvious choice for many people, even though they’re usually dead easy to make and super scrummy.
So to help make your next camping menu a breeze to plan, we asked a bunch of camp cooking fanatics to share their fave vegetarian camping meal recipes with us. Breakfast recipes, lunch ideas, evening meals and desserts — we’ve got you covered.
This list of vegetarian camping meals has something that everyone will love to cook as much as they’ll enjoy eating — even the meat-eaters! From simple camp stove recipes and easy camping meals for the family, to Dutch oven creations, camp meals to make on the grill and gourmet camping recipes.
10 vegetarian camping recipes
Cast Iron Ratatouille
Recommended by: Gail Kearns — Co-author of The Gourmet Girls Go Camping Cookbook
From our cookbook, The Gourmet Girls Go Camping: Amazing Meals Straight from Your Campfire. This is a gorgeous and simple recipe to make. It’s all about presentation. Use a mandolin to cut the veggies. We carry one in our camp equipment.
Cast Iron Ratatouille
Go gourmet on your next camping trip
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 sprigs thyme, leaves only
1 Vidalia sweet onion, thinly sliced
Herbes de Provence
Fleur de Sel (French sea salt), or substitute any good quality sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
3 to 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced very thinly
2 yellow or green zucchini, sliced very thinly
2 to 3 long, narrow eggplant (try Japanese or any that have a longer shape), sliced very thinly
1 small log good quality goat cheese
Prepare fire for Dutch oven cooking
In your Dutch oven, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook garlic and thyme for 1 minute over medium heat or until fragrant. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the oven and caramelize onions, seasoned with cracked black pepper and Fleur de Sel over medium heat, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and spread onions evenly across the bottom of the Dutch oven or cast iron skillet.
Prep veggies for arrangement. Pat dry and salt tomato slices with Fleur de Sel. Set aside.
Add zucchini and eggplant slices to bowl with garlic and thyme. Toss with 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and season with Fleur de Sel and cracked pepper.
Arrange the vegetable slices in a spiral around the Dutch oven, working from the outside in. Stack zucchini, eggplant, and tomato in the same order until a complete circle is formed. Once the outside circle is complete, begin another just inside. Continue until the spiral is finished and the middle is closed. Crumble goat cheese over all.
Place Dutch oven back over the coals, cover with lid, and place six coals around the edge of the lid. Cook until the vegetables are browned and tender, about 15 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Grilled Apple Crisp
Recommended by: Cathy Roma — Professional chef and owner of What Should I Make For
Since a popular way to cook fish and veggies on the grill is in a foil pack, why not an easy dessert? This grilled apple crisp cooked in a foil pack is as delicious as it is simple. Mix up the oat topping in advance, grab a few apples, aluminum foil, and pack it for your next excursion. Best part, each foil pack is an individual serving so you don’t have to share!
Grilled Apple Crisp
This recipe is easily doubled for a big group or cut down for a solo adventure
2 firm apples, peeled, cored and diced
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1/2 stick)
* non-stick foil and heavy duty foil
** vanilla ice cream and cinnamon for serving
Toss apples with sugar and lemon juice. Set aside.
Combine remaining ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well until fully combined.
Tear off four 11-inch pieces of non-stick foil. Alternatively spray four pieces of foil well with non-stick cooking spray. Tear off four 11 inch pieces of heavy duty foil and set aside.
Set your grill to med/low heat.
Spoon 1/4 of the apples on one half of a piece of non-stick foil and top with 1/4 topping.
Fold foil over in half and crimp the edges.
Place crimped pouch on a piece of heavy duty foil and fold in half and seal edges.
Repeat with remaining three servings.
Place on grill and cook for 20 mins. Remove and carefully open each pouch.
Transfer to plates and serve with vanilla ice cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon if desired.
Cook’s Note: Don’t skip the two-step foil pack. This is necessary so the crisp doesn’t burn or stick!
Campfire Skillet Hash
Recommended by: Suzanne Lee — photo stylist and lifestyle blogger
I named my favorite fancy camp meal, Fettuccine Dijon!
I learned it camping with my circle, from Matthew Ellenwood. I love it because it is easy on all fronts: portable, two pots, and it stores it’s own leftovers — if there are any! Plus, it’s great for groups and feels fancy.
Packed with protein. It’s pure creamy, zesty deliciousness.
1 package of fettuccine
1 jar of alfredo sauce – my favorite is Newman’s Own garlic
1 can of black beans
1 container of dijon mustard – my favorite is Annie’s Organic
Boil a pot of water big enough for the pasta. Salt or oil it as you can/ desire. You’re camping!
Cook the pasta.
Put the entire jar of alfredo sauce in another pot.
Add in the whole can of beans – no need to strain or rinse.
Add a big squirt of dijon mustard.
Heat it all up.
If you want to do one pot cooking, heat the sauce, after the pasta is done, in the same pot.
If you don’t have a place to hold the pasta while the sauce heats, start off with a big enough pot to ADD the sauce, when the pasta is very al dente so the pasta isn’t overdone.
Make sure you water a tree with the pasta water *before* you add the alfredo sauce.
Once it’s warm and well stirred, serve and enjoy!
If your pack allows, top with parmesan cheese and parsley.
Goes wonderfully with campfire baked bread. AKA – Essential Organics Ready to Bake sourdough, wrapped in foil and tossed in the fire. Or placed on the grill.
Chocolate Banana Boat
Recommended by: Sam Maizlech — Outdoors & Travel expert for Glacier Wellness
This dessert is great for camping since it takes little to no effort and is a great way to mix things up from the standard s’mores. While it may not be the healthiest dessert, bananas are super effective for giving you that much-needed energy boost thanks to their high concentration of iron, potassium, and B vitamins. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s good for the whole family.
Chocolate Banana Boat
Easy and fun to make, and SO delicious
2 tbsp. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp. mini vegan marshmallows
2 tbsp. cereal of choice (slightly crushed)
First, slice the banana lengthwise (not all the way through) and place it on a piece of foil.
Place your chocolate chips and marshmallows into the sliced banana.
Next, wrap the banana boat in foil and place over a fire on a grate or on a grill.
Unwrap and top with cereal.
Finally, wait a few minutes for it to cool and enjoy.
Dutch Oven Vegetable Frittata
Recommended by: Laura Bashar — Author & Photographer of The Camp and Cabin Cookbook
I cook everyday at home using fresh ingredients, so why would I skimp on flavor or fresh ingredients when my family and I are out camping? These two recipes from my latest book, The Camp & Cabin Cookbook, really highlight my cooking philosophy: use fresh, wholesome ingredients to create beautiful, delicious and incredibly satisfying camp food that is also easy to whip up. And when you are camping, hiking, kayaking or active outdoors, you get hungry! No one wants to walk away from the dinner table hungry or to be fed boring and bland food.
Dutch Oven Vegetable Frittata
A hearty, wholseome and mega heathly camp meal
10 large free-range eggs
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
11⁄4 teaspoons kosher salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped fresh kale
1 cup chopped red bell peppers
1⁄2 pound cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup shredded cheddar
In a chimney, light up 22 coals.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper, and baking soda.
Mix in the vegetables and cheese.
Pour into a 10-inch Dutch oven and cover.
Place 14 coals on top and 8 underneath the Dutch oven (350°F).
Cover and bake for 40 minutes or until the center of the frittata is set. Check the frittata after 30 minutes for cooking progress.
Let the frittata cool for about 5 to 10 minutes, then slice into wedges and serve.
Another one from Laura…
Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with Kale Pesto and Tomatoes
Make at your next BBQ and be the envy of even the most dedicated meat-eaters
3 ounces kale, stalks removed (see Note)
1 large sprig of fresh tarragon
2 ounces walnuts
1 lemon, grated zest and juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cauliflower head
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large tomato, diced
Prepare the fire for medium-high heat. Place the grill grate over the flames.
Finely chop the kale and tarragon and transfer to a medium-size bowl.
Finely chop the walnuts and add to the kale mix.
Stir in the lemon zest, garlic, and Parmesan until combined.
In a measuring cup or separate bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and 3⁄4 cup olive oil until emulsified and smooth. Mix in with the rest of the pesto and reserve.
Remove the leaves from the cauliflower head and trim the stem end until flush with the flower head.
Place the cauliflower, core side down, on a cutting board. Start- ing at the center of the cauliflower, slice from top to bottom into four “steaks,” approximately 1⁄2 to 1 inch thick. Reserve any florets that break free. They can be skewered and grilled, or cooked in foil packs.
Brush 1 side of each cauliflower steak with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper. Place the seasoned side down on the hot grill. Brush the tops with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with the remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper.
Grill until lightly charred, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Care- fully turn the cauliflower steaks over and grill for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until fork tender. You want the cauliflower firm but not raw.
Transfer the cauliflower steaks to a serving plate and top with pesto and chopped tomatoes.
Cook’s Note: Pesto can be prepared ahead of time using a food processor. Chill until ready to use.
Recommended by: Steve Silberberg — Owner of Fitpacking Fat Loss Backpacking Adventures
Vegetarian Quesadillas are always a favorite of my backpacking groups, even among dyed-in-the-wool carnivores. It’s great for vegetarians and the “meat” doesn’t spoil in the backcountry for up to 3 or even 4 days.
Delicious, easy and with a super quick clean-up (unless you add salsa!)
Tortilla Wrap (flour is better because corn falls apart easily. 8″ is about the right size)
Shredded Cheese (I like Mexican Blend. Smaller shreds melt better)
Vegetarian Chicken (Morningstar soy strips or Quorn mushroom chunks)
Prepared Guacamole in a sealed container / pouch
Red Pepper Flakes
Optional Salsa (Roma tomatoes that hold up well in a backpack plus powdered Salsa mix)
Put a tortilla in your Teflon fry pan over medium heat
Cover half the tortilla in cheese
Cover the cheese with “chicken” strips
Sprinkle Rice on top of that
Coat the other side of the tortilla with guacamole
Sprinkle on the crushed red peppers
When the cheese begins to melt fold the tortilla in half (cheese side down)
When the bottom starts to get brown, flip the tortilla
This process shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.
Spoon salsa on top
Kebobs with Pineapple and Red Pepper
Recommended by: The Vegetarian Resource Group
Recipe by: By Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD, Vegans Know How to Party
Kebobs, brochettes, or skewered food date way back in culinary history. Kebobs are a fast and convenient way to cook protein, vegetables, and fruit. Kebobs are the original “meal on a stick.”
You can cook kebobs on a barbecue, stove-top or electric grill, a large skillet, or, if you are careful, in a broiler. If you want to both “kebob” fast and slow cook foods for one meal, place the fast-cookers on skewers separate from the slow-cookers. For example, cherry tomatoes, pineapples, fresh peaches or apricots, pearl onions or small onion chunks, extra-firm tofu, and button mushrooms all cook quickly, and can be placed on one skewer. Carrots, potatoes, apples, and winter squash cook slowly and should be placed together on another skewer.
Kebobs with Pineapple and Red Pepper
Easy to make with all types of camp cooking equipment
1/2 cup lite soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine or 1/4 cup white vinegar combined with 1/4 cup cold water
My favorite vegetarian / vegan dish to prepare and enjoy outdoors is Chana Masala.
The reason I love this dish for camping is because it can be prepared simply using a single pot on a portable stove or in dutch oven. And while I do have an affinity for fresh ingredients, to my surprise, this dish is still as flavor-packed when using canned ingredients. This dish is a hit among groups and can be served solo or on top of your favorite rice or grain.
A high-protein Indian dish that’s full of sweet heat, and quick and easy to prepare in a hurry—especially if you chop your onions and garlic in advance
2 15-oz Cans Prepared Chickpeas
2 – 3 Heaping Tbsp Tomato Paste
1 Small Sweet Yellow Onion, Minced
1 Thumb-size Piece of Ginger, Peeled and Finely Minced (or About 2 Tbsp)
6 Garlic Cloves, Finely Minced (or About 3 Tbsp)
½ Cup Fresh Cilantro, Minced
1 Tbsp Ground Coriander
2 Tsp Ancho Chili Powder
1 Tsp Ground Turmeric
1 Tsp Garam Masala (You can also make your own.)
1 – 2 Tsp Coconut Sugar (or Maple Syrup)Grapeseed Oil
Add 1 tbsp oil into large a dutch oven or saute pan. Once heated, add oil, onion, cumin, and a pinch of salt. Add minced garlic, ginger and cilantro to the pan. Stir to incorporate.
Add ground coriander, chili powder, and turmeric. Stir to coat your..
A versatile, robust and fully waterproof cool bag with excellent insulation
Paddle your picnic to a secret cove, enjoy ice-cold beer in the middle of your favourite lake or fuel up for a weekend on the waters. Wherever your water-based adventures take you, your menu doesn’t need to be limited to freeze-dried camping food and lukewarm warm drinks. With fully waterproof zips, external storage pockets, board or boat attachment points and excellent insulation, the Red Watertight Cool Bag will change the way you plan your paddling adventures. Plus, its portable, durable and lightweight design make it a top choice for camping, BBQs and park picnics, too.
Red Original Watertight Cool Bag: The stats
30 litres (54 cans)
Yes! With sealed zips
56 x 30 x 37cm / 22 x 12 x 14.5”
Features of the Red Watertight Cool Bag
The main compartment is opened and sealed with an YKK Aquaseal Zip. Every zip is individually tested to ensure that it is totally waterproof. The zips are so good that they won’t corrode or fail. Might be why Red Original claim them to be the best zips in the world?!
The cool bag is designed for use on outdoor adventures, and specifically for use in salty and wet conditions. This means durability is an essential feature. The outer shell is constructed of premium high density waterproof fabric to ensure it stands up to the demands of life on the water. And the reinforced base helps it deal with life on land.
The cool bag has Thermal-Lock insulation to thank for its effectiveness at keeping its contents properly hot or cold for longer than you might think. It is a closed cell non-absorbent insulation that is covered with a tough layer of TPU. (The whole bag is PVC-free). The underside of the lid is also insulated as above.
Shoulder strap and handles
There are three ways to carry the cool bag: two carry straps that can be attached to each other and are reinforced, an adjustable shoulder strap that has a reinforced section and is attached to the cool bag by connecting it to the side D-rings, and two carry handles on the sides of the bag. These are best for lifting short distances.
Pockets and loops
On each side of the cool bag is an expandable exterior pocket. These are ideal for storing picnic essentials or chucking in your sun cream etc. The wave webbing daisy chain is a really excellent addition that immediately expands the storage capacity of the bag and prevents awkward shaped items from floating away.
For boating and paddleboarding, the Luggage Tensioning System is invaluable. Each side of the bag has an extendable bungee cord with carabiner-style clips on each end. These enable you to secure the cool bag directly to the deck of your board or the floor of your canoe without fear of the bag moving around, falling off, or floating away should an unthinkable capsize occur! I’ve yet to test whether the bag floats or not. But so long as it’s secured properly I’d like to think I won’t ever need to know how well it floats!
Red Original Watertight Cool Bag review
With the ever-increasing popularity of stand up paddleboarding comes extended floating adventures and the ability to get to secluded places for private picnics and waterside dining. Which is why Red Original really are onto a winner with this boat/SUP-specific watertight cool bag.
I’ve yet to take it out on a SUP, however, its attachment systems prove highly useful when canoeing. And, together with the fully waterproof fabric and zips, the bag functions in much the same way as when used on a SUP.
Yes, it’s totally waterproof and it’s also made of incredibly tough fabric that is so far dealing very well with being chucked around the car, boat, campsite and beach.
More about the functionality…
Firstly, let’s talk about its efficiency as a cool bag. There’s no use having a ton of jazzy features if it doesn’t keep its contents cold (or hot!). The more ice you put in any cool bag or box, the longer it will stay frozen for. On a recent weekend trip I filled the bag half full with ice and then rest of the space was used for food, beer and wine. After 8 hours around 1/4 of the ice had melted. At 20 hours around 1/2 had melted and at 30 hours there was about a 1/4 of ice and 3/4 of water in the bag. I’ve also used it with no ice but instead placed 2 frozen plastic ice block thingys in the bag. These kept the whole contents (mostly food this time) cool for over 50 hours. That’s a long weekend away. Impressive! Don’t expect your beers to be ice cold when used in this way, though. Cool at best. But the temperature was low enough to prevent diary etc from spoiling during that time.
The zipper is mega robust which makes it a little clunky to open. This is obviously a huge plus in the watertight stakes. And actually, because it takes a little work to open, I find myself opening it less — great for prolonging the coolness inside. You just have to take everything you need out at once.
It turns out that having external pockets on a cool bag is a huge plus. They can fit small plates or a chopping board, cutlery, a bottle opener, and any small items of food you don’t mind getting wet, like a packet of seasoning or nuts etc. Plus, the daisy chain webbing allows you to clip extra stuff onto the bag. This means that if you’re a careful packer, everything you need for a beachside BBQ, picnic or weekend away stays with the cooling food.
Alternatively, Red Original have created a Dry Pouch that is also fully waterproof and can be strapped onto one of the side handles.
Post-use, the internal fabric of the cool bag is really easy to clean and so far hasn’t taken on the usual stink that old-school coolers do.
Aside from backpack straps, Red Original have included a load of carrying options, all of which are equally as useful as each other, depending on the scenario. The shoulder strap is best for carrying any distance: the car to the beach etc. It is comfortable on the shoulder, plus the side of the cool bag itself is soft enough on your thigh for it not to rub or bash you as you walk. The side handles make moving the cool bag around really easy: lifting it in and out of the boat, the car or the tent. Or if it’s just out of reach from where you’re sitting you can just drag it over to you without even putting your beer down! The carry handles have proved least useful so far as they are a little on the long side for me and they bash me in the ankles. But great for sharing the load with another carrier. On my own, I usually opt for shoulder carrying.
What I love the most about the Red Cool Bag
I love how versatile this cool bag is. This is mostly down to the durability and waterproof design that makes it totally ideal for water-based or rainy adventures as well as everyday escapades to the beach, park or campground. You don’t have to be precious about it in any way. The external features also add to its versatility a great deal. Fill the pockets with picnic extras and utensils or store your paddling essentials. Either way, there are extra storage options that really make the bag stand out.
What I don’t love so much about the Red Cool Bag
The zips take a little work to open and close which makes me open it as little as possible — not so great if you’re in a rush. As mentioned, this isn’t a bad thing from an insulation point of view. I also find the carry straps a little on the long side to use comfortably on my own. And when they’re not in use they kind of just get in the way a little bit.
If your leisure time revolves around being on or near the water then you need the Red Original Watertight Cool Bag in your life. It provides excellent insulation keeping its contents cool for over 50 hours and icey for up to 24 hours. Plus it is lightweight and highly portable for a cooler of this size, with extra features that will open up a whole new way to adventure on your paddleboard or boat. The attachment system is an unnecessary feature for land-based adventurers making the high price-tag a potential turn off. However, if a high quality waterproof and durable cool bag is what you’re after then the extra spend will be well worth it, regardless of how you end up using it.
Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.
Hammock camping is excellent alternative to regular tent camping. There are a ton of benefits to suspended sleeping, for both health and practical reasons. However, what many people don’t realise, when they leap feet first into the world of hanging out, is that a bunch of extra hammock camping gear is needed, not just a hammock.
Just like regular camping, there’s is a ton of hammock camping gear that you can comfortably live without. But there’s also some essential items that you’ll definitely need.
Here’s a list of the essential hammock camping gear that you can’t live without:
To be able to hang your hammock safely you will need a means to attach it to the anchor points. When you buy a hammock it may or may not come with it’s own suspension system. Many companies offer suspension systems at an extra cost which can often end up being the best option due to their compatibility with the hammock. However, there are a number of hammock suspension system options available that may be more appropriate to your hammocking needs and wants.
Really, your hammock suspension can be as complicated or as simple as you’d like it to be!
Tree straps should be made of wide (1-2 in) polyester webbing that protect the tree as well as providing a very strong system to attach your hammock to. Many have eye loops at one or both ends that are used with a climbing carabiner or similar to create a really simple setup.
These are adjustable loops of strong yet lightweight Dyneema cord. They are more complex to use than simple webbing tree straps, and due to their thin, rope-like nature you’ll also need tree straps to protect the tree. If you like tinkering, or want to cut weight in your setup, then these are a great option.
There are lots of options for connecting a hammock to its suspension system. Some people use special hammock knots, or hardware such as Dutch Clips, Descender Rings or Cinch Buckles. But carabiners offer a super simple solution that can be used for other things too. A climbing carabiner will do fine, just be sure you check the force they can withstand before you go opting for a mini-carabiner designed for your keychain!
Unless you are almost certain that there won’t be rain, packing a hammock rain fly is a must when hammock camping. Yes, it adds extra weight to your setup, but there are some excellent options that are lighter than others.
These are usually the most lightweight and best suited to camping in fair weather. When pitched corner to corner the coverage will be enough to get protection from vertical rain. But when the wind starts blowing the rain sideways the hammocker will be less protected.
Rectangle tarps provide the most amount of coverage and protection from the wind and rain, and are also the most versatile of the tarp types. Opt for larger sizes for greater protection or for accommodating more than one hammock
Most tarps will come with a ridgeline and a couple of stakes. But if not, you’ll need some cord to hang your tarp up on. Any kind of lightweight rope or paracord will do fine. Cord with reflective threads weaved in are a fun and practical option.
Optional hammock camping gear
Now to the not-so-essential hammock camping gear.
Depending on the conditions you are camping in, your personal preferences, and how much you are prepared to carry, there are a few other bits of hammock camping gear that you may want to add to your packing list:
Many hammock campers ditch a traditional sleeping bag and opt for a quilt instead. When you lay in a hammock, much of the insulation is lost from the underside of your sleeping bag due to your weight compressing the down and all the air out of the bag. So take away the bottom altogether and you don’t have to carry so much!
There are some scenarios in which camping without a bug net would be suicide. If you find yourself camping in climates where bugs and mosquitos are a real problem, then a hammock with a mosquito net built in is a good option. Or choose a bug net that totally encircles the whole hammock and zips open. This is a more versatile setup for those not needing bug protection each time they hammock camp.
If you end up hammock camping at cooler times of the year or at altitude, you may run the risk of CBS (Cold Butt Syndrome). As mentioned, insulation for your backside from a sleeping bag becomes too compressed to be effective. So, many hammockers opt for an underquilt which wraps around the underside of the hammock providing insulation whilst avoiding compression. Clever stuff eh?
Another option for keeping CBS at bay is to add a hammock sleeping pad to your setup. Some hammocks have a double layer of fabric to insert a sleeping pad into. A closed cell foam pad will work just fine – lightweight, doesn’t add much comfort but provides the insulation needed. There are also hammock specific options on the market that are highly effective at providing insulation without adding much weight.
Looking for more tips on hammock camping? Want to know how and where to set up a hammock? Take a read of our ultimate guide to hammock camping to get all your hammocking questions answered.
Vivobarefoot are taking their committment to sustainable and eco-friendly footwear to a whole new level with the release of the new Vivobarefoot Primus II Bio shoes. Featuring Susterra Propanediol — a natural by-product of the field corn food industry, Sorona plant based fibres, natural rubber, and BLOOM — an algae-based alternative to synthetic and petrochemical EVA. The result is a high performing barefoot-style shoe for everyday wear, walking and traveling that is leading the charge for sustainability in the footwear industry.
The least petroleum-reliant performance shoe in the world
Despite the escalating and highly depressing climate emergency we’ve created, I can’t help but feel buoyed by massive steps that small companies like Vivobarefoot are taking to push for change. Producing eco-friendly footwear is not a new development for Vivobarefoot; many of their lines are vegan-friendly and also made from recycled plastic bottles. They also aim to use 90% sustainable materials across their whole range by 2020. They’re making things happen, and making it easier for consumers to make well-considered decisions in their pursuit of sustainable living.
But being an eco-friendly consumer isn’t always a black and white process. It seems like every positive decision we make as a consumer from one standpoint, can have negative implications from another. Vegan clothing is a perfect example. If you’re opting for vegan clothing and footwear, the alternatives are often products made from plastic and petrochemicals. Hemp and organic cotton are, of course, excellent options. But have you ever tried taking a hike in boots or shoes made of cotton?!
So we do our best to justify each positive change we make and offset the potential negative outcomes with more positive ones. Some people are excellent at balancing this. I suspect they’re the ones that know an awful lot about it all and can be more confident in their decisions. For the rest of us, however, there’s the danger of being overcome by it all; eco-anxiety! It really is a thing, apparently.
The most eco-friendly shoes on the planet?
Thankfully, the geniuses at Vivobarefoot are helping ease our anxieties and conflicted decision-making with their innovative shoe technology. They and have created what may just be the world’s most eco-friendly shoes: the Vivobarefoot Primus II Bio. And these functionally funky shoes really are genius, in more than just their eco-friendliness.
Every 50,000 pairs of shoes produced using these materials equates to saving greenhouse gas emissions from 247,948 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle or reducing CO2 emissions from 11,286 gallons of gasoline consume.
Eco-features of the Vivobarefoot Primus II Bio
70% of the upper fabric is made from Susterra Propanediol that is derived from the glucose in field corn. It is petroleum-free, non-toxic and 100% USDA certified. The mesh part of the uppers are made from Sorona which a plant-based fiber. The uppers feel light and comfortable on bare skin, though breathability could certainly be better.
The grip on the outsole is not designed for any serious off-road adventures. However, it performs excellently on dry hard-packed trails, wet rocky terrain, and dry grassy slopes. You can rely on this sole more than you think you should be able to. Plus, the puncture-resistant material is 5 times more tough than your average outsole of the same thickness. On the sustainability front, the soles combine 45% natural rubber with 45% synthetic material and 10% BLOOM (an algae-based alternative to synthetic and petrochemical EVA).
Using the same algae-based BLOOM (10%) as is used in the outsoles, the performance insoles provides an extra layer of protection and warmth for your feet. They are also removable. So once you’ve gotten used to flat-footed walking (with them in), you can get even more connected with the ground by taking the insoles out. You’ll feel everything you’re walking on but with protection from the tough outsoles. This can take some getting used to. If you’re new to barefoot-style footwear then it’s worth keeping the insoles in for a little while until you get used to them.
What about performance?
Right, good question. There’s no point buying eco-friendly shoes just to do your bit for the planet. They also need to perform well and be as robust as the alternatives so that you don’t need to go buy new ones every year.
For starters, the Primus II Bio’s are incredibly lightweight; I feel like I’m wearing my wetsuit boots when I wear them; they’re barely noticeable. They also have a soft layer of padding internally around the ankle and on the underside of the tongue that feels like a super fine suede fabric on your skin. There’s zero chance of this luxurious cushion causing any rubbing or discomfort.
The sole provides excellent grip that as good as any regular trainer or sneaker, and certainly a huge leap above that of any kind of fashion pumps. In fact the Vivobarefoot claim that the Susterra Propanediol of the soles provides increased performance inline or better than the petroleum based soles they currently produce. Plus, the material gives greater flexibility in the cold and is incredibly resilient to abrasions and general wear. And having worn and enjoyed the Magna Trail hiking boots and the Primus Trail running shoes, I couldn’t agree more.
But the VERY best part, which is the core of what Vivobarefoot are, is that these shoes are also superb for your body. The design of the shoes provides a ton of space in the toe box to let the toes splay in a natural way. And the totally flat soles encourage your feet to work as nature intended: using every tiny muscle and fibre in them to balance, work and control your own gait. No more relying on overly sculpted, cushioned shoes. It’s time to get your feet, ankles and knees working properly again.
Injury is something that happens to us all at some point or, unless you’re incredibly lucky or superhuman! Unfortunately, I was involved in an accident last year which left me a bit battered and facing a long period of rehab. There is no denying it – injury sucks. Whether you just can’t do you regular training or you have to postpone/cancel races and adventures that you have spent many hours training and planning for, it’s hugely disappointing. Not to mention frustrating and depressing.
I am a very active person. Sport and adventure is my thing (read about my cycling adventure in Mongolia). So recovering from injury hasn’t just been about getting back to functioning well doing everyday tasks. It’s also been about coping without my passions, altering my focusses and pushing hard to get back my adventure-ready body, and mind.
How I stayed sane through injury rehab
It’s been a tough learning curve, but thankfully, there are some things you can do to make dealing with an injury more bearable. Here are my top tips:
01Structure your day
This is particularly important if you are off work but also if your usual structure outside of work is not possible because of injury. Being in work naturally gives your day a structure in terms of getting up and out the door and coming home. If you are still in work and your evenings are usually spent being active then don’t just come home and do nothing as this may impact your mood and send you in a downward spiral.
If you’re at a point where you are doing rehab work then make this your focus. Often rehab can feel like you aren’t making any changes but this is often because the changes are so small that you cannot see them. But they are happening.
If your injury is at the rest phase then find something else that interests you (see sections below).
If you are off work then structure is incredible important. For me it felt like I had all day to do things and I ended up doing none of them. This then had a negative impact on my mood and I had less and less motivation to do anything at all. As you will see in a later section, negative thoughts do impact your recovery in a number of ways. Just making a few small changes had enough of an impact on my mood to motivate me to do more things and soon my recovery gained momentum.
Give yourself a set wake up and bedtime, and then do it! Again, if you are at a point where you have rehab/physio exercises then make this the first ‘job’ you do. Then find tasks that you enjoy and motivate you (see sections below).
02Focus on the things you can do
Concentrate on what you can do rather than what you can’t. It’s very easy to get frustrated with what you can’t do when injured. I can’t run, I can’t walk, I can’t go hiking, I can’t ride. The list goes on. However, there will be many things that you can do. Even with the worst injuries there are things that you can do. Check out The Big Little Things by Henry Fraser.
This is an important shift in mindset as it helps to have a positive impact on mood and enables you to see that there are still many things you are able to do.
For example, depending on the nature of your injury, you may still be able to get to the gym and focus on a training a different area of the body. This doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. I am a member of a council gym (£26 per month or £5 pay as you go). The staff provided a personal trainer as part of the membership, so I explained my injuries and they devised a program that I was able to do without causing further damage. If getting to the gym is difficult, the Nike Training App is good (and free) just choose selected workouts which you can do in your own home.
One of the biggest struggles I had was not being able to get outdoors. But as with most things, a bit of problem solving and ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ attitude will help you find an appropriate alternative. After some Google searching and I found Tarn Hows (The Lake District). A flat short walk, that is crutch-friendly and where mobility scooters are also available for hire! Patient friends who don’t mind walking slowly also helped. Would I rather have been climbing a mountain? Of course. But was this a good substitute? Totally!
03Do the things you never got time for before injury
Do stuff you always said you would. We all have things we say we want to do but life has a habit of getting in the way! Whether this is learning a language, reading more, cooking, learning an instrument, visiting a particular city. Use the time to focus on that (non-active) thing that’s been on your mind for years.
Moocs (Massive Open Online Courses) are a great resource of free university courses which cover every topic under the sun.
Groupon also offer a variety of discounted courses.
YouTube is a valuable source of tuition, cooking, yoga whatever it is you want to do, just get searching!
04Get planning future fun
Organise your next adventure. While it may feel like you will never be fit again, you will. What places or races have you not discovered yet? What or where have you always said you wanted to do/visit? Start planning and researching, read blogs, get your maps out, figure out when the best time to go is and how to get there. Your next adventure is waiting. And what better way to keep you motivated through your rehab?
05Work sensibly towards your recovery
Do what your physio and doctors tell you, but don’t over do it! Concentrate on the activities that are evidenced as promoting recovery. The healing powers of sleep, diet, hydration and stress management are well documented.
It is very easy to get down when you are injured, so actively seek out things that can help you either guard against this or to manage it if you are experiencing it. Research shows negative psychological states, low levels of life satisfaction and high levels of stress are linked to athletic injury. Mindfulness meditation and mindfulness are becoming increasingly popular and can help you to become more aware of your thoughts. They assist you to recognise your own thought patterns as well as teaching you not be consumed by your thoughts — more akin to an observer of them going through your mind. This is useful in identifying negative thought patterns when they kick in or if they are there already but you haven’t been that aware of them.
I would highly recommend practising mindfulness meditation, even if you aren’t injured. It’s such a useful and beneficial tool for life in general and there is robust evidence supporting the positive effects. Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World comes with a CD and provides a good introduction in the form of an 8 week course.
The Headspace app also provides an introduction to mindfulness. It’s a free app with access to a number of free meditation sessions. There is also the option to subscribe for a fee, which provides access to a much wider selection of meditations including one that focuses on injury rehab.
Whether this be TED Talks, books, podcasts, or your friends, find things that get you excited, give you motivation, see things from a different perspective. A few of my suggestions:
Do this in whatever guise you fancy, but do it. If you’re a Park Runner (or even if you’re not), why not try volunteering at your local run. Seeing people run when you can’t isn’t as depressing as you might think! Even if it’s impossible to get out the house, get people round to see you/speak on the phone/Skype/FaceTime.
Come back stronger!
There is evidence out there that shows athletes can come back both physically and mentally stronger following an injury and working through the recovery process. So stay positive, and never let your injuries define you. Your body is only the vessel of your spirit.
Taking a chair backpacking may seem like a bit of an unnecessary luxury, but when you’re on your feet for several hours a day you’ll be surprised at how welcome one can be. Taking a break at the top of a mountain is all the more enjoyable when you can sit in comfort, not to mention spending your evening at camp kicking back and relaxing. Thankfully, the best backpacking chairs are much more lightweight than they used to be. Packing one on your next multi-day trip won’t add too much weight to your pack, and if you get one that feels as comfortable as it is light then it will be well worth those extra few pounds.
The Alite Designs Monarch Chair features an unusual layout for a camping chair: a butterfly design with just two legs. The wide nylon seat comes in a variety of bright colours and supports up to 250lbs. This chair is one of the lightest on the list at just over 1.1lb, which makes it great for backpacking or carrying long distances. The unique two-leg design does sink somewhat in sand or very soft soil, so it may not be the best option for beach camping. The Monarch does not feature any drink holders or storage pockets, but the streamlined simplicity is what makes it so small and lightweight.
Folds up easily
Can be used on uneven terrain
Two leg design means you have to engage your legs to support yourself
The Therm-a-Rest Quadra Chair is the heaviest option on our list making it a favourite for campers who also dabble in short backpacking trips and overnighters. It holds up to 300lbs which a huge plus for bigger folk. This semi-reclining chair has a low profile and no separate arm or neck support, although it does include a large mesh pocket on one side for gear or snacks. If you’re after a chair to get out on the trail each time you stop then this is not the one for you as it takes a bit of setting up. But for enjoying your dinner in comfort at the end of a long day, it’s a peach!
The Big Agnes Helinox Chair One is a premium chair and one of the priciest on our list. It comes in a wide range of colours, including some designs with contrasting colours and patterns. The high-quality construction and high weight capacity make this chair a favourite for heavier hikers. And at just under 2lbs it is just about light enough for long distance backpackers, too. It folds into a carrying case that is 14″ long and it is easy to set up, although not instant. A high quality chair that will last for many years of backpacking and camping.
The lightest option on the list is also the most unique. The Therm-a-Rest Trekker Chair converts a Therm-a-Rest (or other comparable) sleeping mat into a chair. The Trekker Chair comes in two sizes and both are incredibly light. The largest style is still only 13oz! There are no drink holders in the chair, but it is the very best option for backpacking because you do not have to carry a sleeping mat and separate chair. With the unique conversion straps and buckles, your inflatable mattress can also double as your chair.
No weight capacity limit
Adjust the reclining angle with the straps
Doesn’t elevate you off the floor
Not a good option for use on the trail — just the evenings
Another excellent quality lightweight backpacking chair is the TravelChair Joey. It packs down to a similar size as the Crazy Creek Hex but provides an elevated and comfortable seat for those looking for a little more luxury and comfort after a long day out on the trail. Although a little heavier than the Helinox Chair One, this highly comfortable option offers a little more sturdiness on uneven ground with its anti-sink disk feet. It will leave you feeling as at home in the wilderness as it will kicking back at a backyard grill.
If you’d rather not convert your sleeping pad into a chair and risk getting it dirty or wet, the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 is an excellent alternative. At only 1.3lbs (0.6kg) it is light enough for backpacking and rolls up to only 4 inches (10cm) in diameter. The high density foam provides 8mm of padding and insulation and doesn’t require any inflation (like the Trekker). This simple and low profile option is one of the best portable chairs for backpacking as well as other outdoor events and car camping.
Backpacking chairs don’t get much more simple than this tripod stool from REI. Sure, it won’t win any prizes for comfort and luxury, but for those looking for a highly practical and lightweight stool for backpacking and camping, you can’t go wrong with the REI Trail Stool. Complete with a shoulder strap for easy carrying around camp, this packable stool also has a second strap to secure the legs together when on the move. And at only 22 inches long, when folded up, it fits very nicely on the outside of a hiking backpack. It has a highly durable ripstop polyester seat, which, together with the aluminum legs, can support up to 200lbs.
If you like the idea of a backpacking stool over a chair, but don’t want to sacrifice comfort, then look no further than the Big Agnes Skyline UL Stool. Weighing only a fraction more than the REI Trail Stool you’ll sure look forward to getting your butt into this lightweight stool after a tough day on the trail! It has a highly durable and water resistant ripstop nylon seat that is reinforced with a high-tenacity Robic yarn. Whatsmore, the ultralight aircraft aluminum pole system can support up to 250lbs. It is super easy to assemble and comes in a small stuff sack for easy packability. But it is also up there with the more expensive backpacking chairs on our list.
What to look for when choosing the best backpacking chairs
Unlike camping chairs — that are hauled directly from the car to the ground next to the car — backpacking chairs are carried miles and miles on foot. So choosing one that is as lightweight as possible is high up on the list of priorities for most backpackers. That said, if you’ve made the effort to carry it, you really want it to be worth it! Be sure that it provides comfort, too.
Backpacking chairs with a supportive back tend to provide a little more comfort and luxury than a lightweight stool. Tripod stools are generally the least comfortable but they have their own appeal from a simplicity point of view.
When considering comfort levels, you should also think about whether you prefer/want/need to be close to the ground or elevated. While elevated seats are great for sitting comfortably and relaxing in, they also mean that you have to bend down to do any tasks at ground level — like cooking. Ground level backpacking chairs, on the other hand, need to be insulated to prevent getting a cold butt.
The next most important thing to consider, after weight and comfort, is a chair’s packability. Firstly, the best backpacking chairs should be easy to set up and put away. This is especially important if you are the sort of person who likes to take lots of breaks on the trail. Secondly, it shouldn’t take up much room in your pack, and the smaller the pack-down size, the better.
Weight capacity and strength
Lastly, be sure to choose a chair that will hold your weight. Imagine lugging your lightweight stool up a mountain only for it to collapse under you! Opting for something that is constructed of tough and durable materials will help ensure that it provides plenty of support, as well as holding up to the tests of time. Look for seat fabrics made of ripstop nylon or polyester and frames made of aluminium.
Features of the best backpacking chairs
Backpacking chairs are generally fairly frill-free. However, there are a few things to look out for and consider, depending on your needs.
The addition of mesh panels on backpacking chairs makes them more cool and comfortable in hot weather. But they also help to keep the weight of the chair as low as possible without compromising too much on toughness and strength.
This is especially important for chairs that dismantle into more than one piece. It will help prevent you from losing key components, and makes the chair much more packable either on the outside of a backpack or stashed inside.
If you backpacking stool or chair has legs then it should also have feet that are durable and grippy. Look for either rubber feet or anti-sink feet that dig into the ground slightly.
Most lightweight backpacking chairs don’t have pockets. However, some chairs do exist with them, like the Therm-a-Rest Quadra. Pockets are useful to keep your snacks and drinks close at hand.
Carrying a chair on a backpacking trip may seem like a luxury you just can justify. Opt for something that is as lightweight as it is comfortable, however, and you’ll barely notice the extra weight in your pack. Some people can live without a backpacking chair, but for those who value a little luxury and comfort in the wilderness, these beauties are invaluable.
An unfathomably lightweight barefoot-style walking boot that is also eco- and vegan-friendly
Be a responsible consumer AND help your body work in the way it should by stepping into the ultra-lightweight and eco-friendly Vivobarefoot Magna Trail hiking boots. With a durable nylon upper that is made from recycled plastic waste, these highly water resistant, all-terrain shoes are ideal for day hiking on forgiving trails, making you feel nimble and connected to the trail. Their not-so-outdoorsy style also makes them very well suited to everyday use.
Vivobarefoot Magna Trail: The stats
500g per pair (women’s)
Highly water resistant
Nylon made from recycled plastic waste
Features of the Vivobarefoot Magna Trail
The minimal design of the upper fabric is constructed of nylon that is made of recycled PET. It is also highly water resistant (pretty close to fully waterproof), and is highly durable.
Though only thin, the outsole has a puncture resistant layer that is 5 times more resistant than standard soles of the same thickness. The multi-directional lugs are shallow compared with traditional hiking boots, but plenty deep enough to provide great grip on rocky surfaces.
There is a removable insole that adds 3.5mm of insulation to the soles of the shoes. The outlast thermal regulator insole also features reflective foil to keep your toes warmer during the cooler months. In fact, the insole technology apparently provides 3 times more warmth than regular insoles!
The toe box is vast, providing a ton of room to let your toes splay out. This helps you use your feet in a more natural way and also contributes to your balance. Plus, there is a rubber toe protector on the outside of the shoes — a nice addition to make your feet feel a little more protected in the minimalist shoes.
The laces are slightly crimped/curly. This helps them stay well done up and makes them easy to adjust. The lacing system also features metal eyelets at the ankle and tough plastic eyelets further down.
The neoprene ankle sock fits snuggly to your feet preventing dust and debris from entering the boots. This fit gives a load of freedom and flexibility through the ankles, helping them move and work as naturally as possible.
Vivobarefoot Magna Trail review
I’ll be honest, I was a little resistant to try out barefoot-style hiking boots. There are some fundamental features missing from these lightweight boots that mean they can only just be called “boots”. Plus, they’re so far from what I’m used to wearing to hike in that I was worried they’d leave me limping my way back to the trailhead never wanting to hike again.
However, since even my first steps in them I’ve been pleasantly surprised. And though there are most certainly types of hiking where I wouldn’t wear these, I love wearing them if I want to get places fast, when it’s fairly flat and dry terrain or when I’m likely to be on my feet all day, but not necessarily hiking.
First up, let’s talk about support. If you’re used to regular hiking boots with high ankles, stiff soles and arch support then your feet and ankles will feet totally naked to start with in the Magna Trails. They provide very little support at all. But that’s kind of their point! They’re designed to make your feet and ankles do the work they’re supposed to do, and I kinda like that.
Leading up to my first wear of these I’d been running in zero-drop trail runners (totally flat across the whole sole). This means that my calves were slightly conditioned to the effects of the flat-soled Magna Trails. However, my calves still felt ‘worked’ after the first outing. The more I’ve worn them, the better this has become.
As for ankle stability… I found this really interesting. Because the sole is so thin, your heel and ankle are as close to the ground as they could possibly be, short of wearing no shoes at all. This means that if you do ‘go over’ on your ankle, you’ve really got nowhere to fall to — you’re already at ground-zero! Yes, your ankles work harder than normal because of this, but they soon get used to it.
The relatively shallow lugs aren’t the best on muddy, wet trails. They struggle to shed the mud making each step rather slippy. On dry rocks, however, they are super grippy making me feel really confident hopping from one rock to another.
Comfort and fit
I found the fit to be about a half size too big. I usually wear a UK 4.5-5. These are a UK size 4 and they still feel very spacious inside. I initially felt like my feet moved around lots inside the boots, and my feet had to work extra hard to grip. But this has gotten better the more I’ve worn them, and I guess, the stronger my feet have become. As mentioned, there’s also a ton of room in the toe box for your toes to splay and help grip.
The sole is fairly thin, and on rocky/gravelly trails I can feel the ground a little too much for my liking. It’s nice to feel what you’re treading on and feel a connection with the ground, and this is especially important when the boots don’t help out on the stability front. However, I don’t enjoy having to be careful where I tread, which is the case on certain trails.
Up on the grassy moorland this is no problem at all. My feet feel wonderfully connected with the ground, making the most of the natural cushioning provided by the soft terrain.
Vivobarefoot claim that the Magna Trails are “Pretty damn close to waterproof”. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I rather think they’re being a little modest about this. I’ve worn things that claim full waterproofness that don’t perform as well as these. In wet grass and splashing through puddles they’re amazing. Even walking through shallow streams your feet come out totally dry. And because of the sock-fit at the ankle you can actually afford to go as deep as you dare right up to the ankle cuff.
What I love the most about the Vivobarefoot Magna Trails
I really love how nimble I feel wearing the Magna Trails. They are so lightweight that I barely notice them on my feet and they make me want to trot along and jog occasionally when I wear them.
I also really enjoy their small footprint… in every sense of the word! They are vegan-friendly and are constructed of nylon made from recycled plastic waste. Big thumbs up for this.
What I don’t love so much about the Vivobarefoot Magna Trails
Though the sock-fit helps to make your feet feel secure in the boots and protected from grit etc getting into the boots, it also means that it takes a little more effort to get them on and off than I would prefer. That’s not to say it’s a difficult process. It just could be easier!
I also found that the fabric across the tops of my feet (where my toes bend) is very rigid. The result is that when I walk, a stiff seam is created here that pushes into the tops of my feet. This may not be much of an issue for most wearers, however, I have an uncomfortable scar on my foot, right where the shoes crease!
For those looking to get back to using your body in a more natural way, stepping into the Vivobarefoot Magna Trail hiking boots will only be a positive forward leap. They provide minimal support, yet are comfortable and lightweight making you feel nimble on the trail.
If you’re taking on more technical multi-day hikes that are likely to be on muddy and challenging terrain, you may want to opt for something with better grip and more protection. But for everyday wear and day hiking on moderate terrain, these stylish and eco-friendly boots may be the only boots you really need in your life.
Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.
Listening to the crackling campfire and watching its dancing flames. Falling asleep under the stars. They’re the things I love most about camping. They’re also things I can do without that flashlight I’m so careful to pack each camping trip. However, all the other things that I don’t love so much about camping (like washing the dishes and fixing broken guy-lines) make having a good camping flashlight essential. And, of course, there are a load of unexpected occasions when a strong beam from a reliable camping flashlight really comes in handy.
Those times when you stayed out to watch the sunset and now have to find your way back to your tent in the dark. The nights when you drank too many cups of cinnamon tea before tucking into your sleeping bag. It’s times like these, stumbling about and stubbing your toe in the darkness, when you wish you’d brought a flashlight. Not to mention their importance in emergency situations. I don’t mean to over-egg your perfectly cooked camping omelette, but having a good flashlight to hand could be the difference between life and death when things go awry.
Hopefully, you’re convinced and your next question is; which flashlight should I buy? Well, you’ll probably find plenty of options at your nearest superstore, but if you want a flashlight that you can really depend upon then these are our top picks.
If you’re looking for a flashlight with an ultra-long runtime then look no further than the Maglite ML300LX. There are two versions — two cell or three cells — the larger of which can run on the eco setting for over 100 hours! The batteries are removable too, so if you’ll be out in the dark for an extended period you can carry spares.
This Maglite flashlight isn’t the cheapest on the market, however, it’s certainly durable. Its casing is made from a tough anodized aluminium with weather-resistant seals. Plus, its quick click button and quick twist beam focus are simple to operate in the dark. The maximum light output is 625 lumens which are considerably lower than others on this list. However this is still plenty for most campers.
Efficient battery use
Available in two sizes
Lower light output
Eco-friendly: We like this the Maglite MX300LX has an ECO setting meaning that its far less energy consuming than other flashlights. It does take disposable batteries but eco-conscious campers can choose to purchase rechargeable batteries for this flashlight.
Battery type: 2 x AA (included) Runtime: High: 5 hours. Low: 15 hours. SOS/Strobe: 10 hours.
When you’re looking at waterproof flashlights the Spark 240 from ALPS Mountaineering is a sensible choice. It has four lighting settings, High/Low/SOS/Strobe, and a beam width which adjusts from 15 to 75 degrees with a simple twist. It can deliver a strong 240-lumen beam for up to 5 hours, but the real selling point of this compact flashlight is its rugged exterior. The Spark 240 is fully waterproof and shockproof. It can even survive being submerged in water, up to 1 metre in depth, for up to 30 minutes. On the low setting it offers a reasonable runtime, too.
Battery type: 2 x AA (Included) Run time: 2.5 hours average
In terms of pocket-sized flashlights, the Mini Maglite Pro 2 is one of the most compact models on this list. Despite that, it still emits a respectable 226-lumen beam which extends for up to 140 metres. The beam can be adjusted from spot to flood by twisting the head. Though the stated runtime is rather short, users confirm that it will last far longer than the predicted 2.5 hours without changing the batteries. In terms of durability, its anodized aluminium casing is corrosion and water resistant. It’s also shock-resistant up to 1 metre. This flashlight may not have all the technical features of other models on this list but the Mini Maglite Pro 2 is certainly a reliable and super compact flashlight for camping.
Battery type: 18650 rechargeable (included) Runtime: Up to 13 Hours
The Anker Bolder LC90 is one of the best flashlights for camping on our list. Not only does it come with a very affordable price tag, but it also has a wide range of lighting settings and a reasonable battery life. With five different lighting settings (Low/Medium/High/Strobe/SOS) and a zoomable beam, the Bolder LC90 is suitable for anything from night hiking to camp cooking. On full brightness the 900 lumens LED beam should stretch for almost 200 metres.
The tough aluminium casing is both water and shock resistant, too. Our only criticism is that the double cell battery and larger than average handle does make it bulkier than other flashlights on this list, however, it should still squeeze into your coat pocket! Overall, we think the Bolder LC90 is one of the best flashlights for the money.
Battery type: 2 x 3500 mAh 8A 18650 (Included) Runtime: Maximum 300 hours
The Nightcore MH23 is the most compact rechargeable flashlight on this list. It weighs in at just 3.39 oz and fits snugly into the palm of your hand. It’s also fitted with a pocket clip and comes with a lanyard, holster, and a plastic battery case. Its size doesn’t limit its power, however. The Nitecore MH23 has a maximum output of 1,800 lumens, reaching nearly 300 metres — even more impressive is its 300-hour runtime! The five lighting settings are controlled by one button and offer an even wider range than the Felix UC35; 1,800 lumens on High and 1 lumen on Low.
This flashlight is also waterproof up to 2 metres and 1.5 meters shock-proof. When it’s time to recharge we like that this flashlight gives you the option to charge by USB or change the batteries. The Nightcore MH23 is compatible with C123A batteries as well as normal 18650 batteries.
Battery type: 3500 mAH Li-ion Rechargeable (included)
Made from a solid aircraft grade aluminium, the Fenix UC35 is one of the toughest flashlights for camping on the market. The exterior is dustproof and waterproof for up to two metres. Its 1,000 lumen LED lights also pack a powerful punch. Manufacturers claim that on high the beam will reach 266 metres. What we really like about this USB rechargeable flashlight is its range of five lighting abilities, plus a strobe setting. Set to low, the light output is just 1 lumen reaching only 10 metres, making the UC35 ideal for seeing short distances in the dark or searching for something in your backpack. The beam can also be set to spot of the flood. The Fenix UC35 certainly isn’t a budget option. However, the product does come with a lifetime guarantee and 5-year limited repairs guarantee. The package also includes a removable lanyard, body clip, and two O-rings.
Weighing only 2 oz, the USB Flashlight Tool from Goal Zero is something you can carry in your pocket on any hiking trip or outdoor adventure. Rather than carrying a bulky battery, the Goal Zero Flashlight Tool plugs into any standard USB port, such as the one on a portable power bank. Alternatively Goal Zero sell a Switch 10 Recharger which pairs with this product. The 3-watt white LED provides a bright 110 Lumen light and flood beam. Although the light output and beam only have one setting, the focal point is adjustable.
Battery type: 1 x 18650 Li-ion Rechargeable or 2 x 123A Lithium Runtime: 2.25 – 3.5 hours
The SureFire P2X Fury is a powerful searchlight contained nicely inside a very compact package. With a 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery this flashlight can emit a 1,500-lumen beam, reaching up to 315 metres, for 3.5 hours. It’s virtually indestructible too, thanks to its corrosion and abrasion resistant aerospace aluminium body and tail cap. Plus, the simple tail cap switch makes it easy to turn on in the dark. The same button allows you to turn on a constant beam or momentary beam. The main downside, however, is that the SureFire P2X Fury doesn’t have any brightness or beam settings.
What to look when choosing a camping flashlight
Light output is measured in lumens and the number of lumens the bulb has indicates how strong the light will be. The more lumens there are, the stronger the beam. Flashlights typically range from 10 to 3500 lumens but the upper limit is far more than you need for basic camping. A low lumen level is actually better suited to activities like evening reading, while a high lumen level would be useful for hiking at night or emergency signalling.
Beam distance is measured in metres and reflects the distance that you can effectively see by the beam of your flashlight. If you plan to use your flashlight for midnight hikes then you’ll want to choose one with a beam which reaches at least 100 metres. For use around the campsite, a shorter beam distance is usually sufficient.
Flashlights usually have a flood beam or a spot beam. However, the most versatile flashlights are fitted with adjustable lenses. The flood beam will light a wider area making it useful for lighting your camp kitchen or inside of your tent. Meanwhile, the spot beam allows the light to focus and reach a greater distance, which is necessary for walking at night. If you plan to use your flashlight for a range of activities then look for one with an adjustable beam.
Most camping flashlights are built with more than one setting. This usually allows you to choose between a lower lighting level — thereby extending the battery life — or full brightness. The best flashlight for camping will be the most versatile, which usually means a good range of lighting settings. Extra settings, such as strobe and SOS, are not essential for basic camping but can be useful in emergency situations and night hiking.
Another important consideration is how long your flashlight will run for without recharging or changing the battery. A flashlight with a greater light output will usually have a shorter runtime or a larger battery. If a flashlight has multiple brightness settings then the runtime will vary according to the chosen setting. Consider what you’ll be using your flashlight for. Long battery life is useful for bedtime reading or night activities but not essential if you will have access to power sockets and spare batteries, or if you only need to see your way to the..
Sitting around the fire is one of the most magical things to do when camping. Add in some cracking campfire games and it’s also an opportunity for endless silliness, fun and laughter. The place to create lasting memories. But if you’re not prepared with campfire games that are suitable to the group then things can easily fizzle out before they’ve even gotten started.
Campfire games should ideally have very few props. They should be easily played without having to get out of your camp chair (too often, at least), and you should be able to play them in low light.
I LOVE playing games, and have had many, many a good night sat around the fire trying out new campfire games. So I hope you enjoy my tried and tested faves.
Time around the fire at the end of a busy day exploring is yet another way for families to bond and enjoy each others’ company when camping. Having a set of campfire games for families up your sleeves will help to keep the fun rolling.
01In the pond, out of the pond
This was one of my favourite games as a Girl Guide, and is still one I love as an adult! It’s simple, requires no props and will get everyone in giggles instantly. It’s also an excellent game for large groups, regardless of their age.
How to play…
You’ll need one caller and everyone else will need to sit in a circle around the campfire with their hands on the tops of their thighs.
The caller will say one of three things, in no particular order:
“In the pond” — everyone puts their hands forwards into the circle (the pond!)
“Out of the pond” — everyone puts their hands in the air above their heads
“On the bank” — everyone puts their hands on their thighs
If anyone moves their hands to the wrong place or at the wrong time then they are out of the game and have to sit on their hands until there is only one person left in, who is the winner!
So simple, yet SO fun.
Late-night campfire games don’t get any better than this classic. It’s a good one to play if you need to keep the noise down. That said, it can also get pretty silly with a constant risk that eruptions of laughter will kill the tranquility!
How to play…
One person thinks of phrase. They can make it as simple or complex as they like. But if it starts silly then it’s likely to only get sillier!
The starting person whispers the phrase into the ear of the person sitting next to them. They are not allowed to repeat themselves.
Whatever has been heard by the listener must then be whispered to the next person, and so-on.
Once the phrase has been passed all round the circle the last person says it out loud to the whole group. The results can be rather interesting!
If you’ve got some drama kings and queens in your group then a game of wink murder will keep them happy for hours!
How to play…
One person, the ‘detective’, leaves the campfire so that they are out of earshot.
The rest of the group choose one person to be the ‘murderer’. Everyone should know who this person is.
The detective is invited back to join the circle to observe as a dramatic crime scene unfolds around them.
The murderer ‘kills’ other members of the group by winking at them. If the victim sees the murderer winking at them they must ‘die’. This can be done as dramatically as the victim pleases! Or they can just close their eyes and let their head droop to the side.
The detective must get to work quickly to figure out who the murderer is before the whole group has been eradicated! If they do this, then they win the game and a new detective is chosen.
If the murderer manages to wipe out the whole group without being found out then they win the game and become the next detective.
The general gist of charades is for one person to act out the title of a play, book, song, TV show or movie to the rest of the group. However, they are not allowed to speak or make any noises whatsoever! Everyone plays it in a different way with different rules. But once you’re all on the same page it is one of those campfire games that can go on forever. If you’re not sure of the rules then check them out here.
The first person to guess what is being acted out becomes the next ‘performer’. Some people keep score to determine who will be an Oscar nominee of the future! And it can also be played in teams or to a timer to up the competition. But most games are played for the fun and silliness of it!
If you’re playing with children then it’s a good idea to have a few ideas written down for them to pick out of a hat. Otherwise, thinking of things to act out can stop the game before it’s even got going. You can even add a theme to the game.
05Name that song
Name that song is one of the best campfire games if there’s a musician in the group — one of those types who can play any song on the guitar, on demand! They simply play a short riff, intro, or section of a song and the rest of the group has to guess what the song is as quickly as possible. It can be done in teams or you can score individually.
Alternatively, it can be played in a more inclusive (and potentially less tuneful) way. But there’s little doubt it will certainly be more entertaining! Write down a load of popular songs on scraps of paper and place them in a hat. On your turn you have to pull a song out of the hat and sing it to the rest of the group, regardless of how well you can (or can’t) sing.
Warning: This game is best played earlier in the evening or on a campground that has no-one else on it!
Numbers is one of the silliest and most simple campfire games out there…
How to play…
The aim of the game is to count out loud, as a group, from 1 to as high as possible without any two people saying the same number at the same time… go!
Anyone can speak at any time saying any number of numbers, so long as they are in order from 1 upwards. There can be no pointing or gesturing to indicate who will be the next person to speak.
As soon as two people say a number at the same time you have to start again. Can you get to 100?!
It’s strangely addictive.
07I went to market…
This is an excellent campfire game for families to play. And a good one to test the old memory! I like to play it based around a camping theme.
How to play…
Person one starts by saying “I went to market and bought….” (a camping item beginning with the letter ‘A’) eg: “an awning”.
Person two says the same as person one (“I went to market and bought an awning”) but they also add a camping item beginning with the letter ‘B’.
Person three says what person two said but adds a camping item beginning with the letter ‘C’. And so-on.
When someone gets it wrong they are out of the game.
08Celebrities (hat game)
The hat game is one of the best campfire games for families to play in teams, as kids will have different knowledge to the adults making them have to work together to win the game.
How to play…
To set up the game, everyone must write down the names of 5 to 10 well-known celebrities on pieces of scrap paper. These are put in a hat and mixed up.
One person from team one has a minute to describe as many of the celebrity names to their team as possible. BUT, they are only allowed to use 3 words for each celebrity they pick out of the hat. No gesticulations or noises can be made and they are allowed to pass only once during their turn.
All the correctly guessed names are counted and recorded. None of the names are put back in the hat.
The other team then gets to do the same.
Once everyone in the each team has had a turn at being the ‘describer’, all the names are put back into the hat and everyone gets to go again. In this round, however, the describer is only allowed to use ONE word!
In the final round, the describer isn’t allowed to use ANY words!
Keep score after each round and tally up the total at the end of the game to declare the winning team.
Campfire games for adults
If you’re camping with teenage kids, or with no kids at all, then you can enjoy some of these campfire games for adults. Some of them are no less silly than the family-friendly games, but some of the rules are slightly more complex and challenging.
Start the night with a game of Mafia and you could end up playing for hours! It’s sort of a more complex version of wink murder, but with more characters, more deception (yes, lying is allowed), more teamwork and more back-stabbing.
It’s fairly involved to set it up and it helps if one person, who understands the game well, can direct the first round. But once you get going it’s actually really simple to play. And highly enjoyable.
The simple version of this game can also go in the campfire games for families category.
How to play…
One person starts by saying a random word out loud e.g. “campfire”.
The next person says a word associated with campfire e.g. “wood”. (If they said firewood then this would not count as “fire” was used in the first word.)
Person 3 says a word associated with wood e.g. “furniture”. And so-on.
Players are out of the game if they repeat a word (or part of a word), pause for too long to think about a word, or say something that the rest of the group deems unrelated to the previous word. Simples!
The more complex version follows the same rules as above. However:
At the start of the game everyone picks a random word and keeps it to themselves.
The aim of the game is get someone else to say your word by steering the words / theme toward the word you have chosen.
But don’t focus too closely on your word as everyone else is also trying to get you to say their secret word!
Once someone says someone else’s secret word they are then out of the game.
11Six degrees of Kevin Bacon
This is one of the more simple campfire games for adults, at least in terms of its rules.
How to play…
One person says the name of a famous actor or actress (or you can pull a name out of a hat).
Players challenge each other to find the fewest number of connections from the first name to Kevin Bacon.
If you say the name of an actor or actress that connects to another, you have to be able to prove the connection. In theory, every actor or actress can be linked to Kevin Bacon via 6 or fewer people.
How many can you do?!
12The Rob Whitehouse alphabet game
Created by our in-house graphic designer and gaming guru, this is one of the most unique campfire games you will come across! It can be played with only two people, but it’s better with 3 or more. It’s also pretty silly, and can be quite intense, so bear with me…
How to play…
One player shouts out a category, e.g. “camping”.
At the same time, another player shouts a letter, e.g. “D”.
Everyone has to quickly think of an item from the category as close to the starting letter as they can – anything that begins with a letter that is earlier in the alphabet than the letter D, is not a good choice. But sometimes there are no other options! E.g. ‘campfire’ would be further away from something beginning with D than ‘fire’.
As soon as one person has thought of a word they declare it and slowly count down, out loud, from 10-0. Everyone else has 10 seconds to get a word that is alphabetically closer to the letter D than the first persons word. Make sense?!!
Once the countdown begins things can get kinda stressful, so make sure you know your alphabet before you attempt this epic(?!) and unique campfire game.
Contact is another brain-bender that is best played before the campfire tipple comes out. Or not?! It’s also ideal for long car journeys as it can get fairly involved. You need 3 or more people to play it…
How to play…
Person 1 chooses a secret word eg: Campfire. The aim of the game is for the other players to find out what this secret word is.
Person 1 discloses the first letter of their secret word: C.
Persons 2 and 3 think of a words beginning with C. As soon as one of them has thought of one (e.g. custard) they give a clue to their word eg: thick and creamy.
Person 1 says “no it’s not custard”.
Persons 2 or 3 repeat the above until person 1 can’t answer the clue i.e. such a cryptic clue is given that they don’t know the answer. This is a good thing as the more letters of their secret word they disclose, the closer the other players are to finding out what the secret word is.
At any point anyone else (player 1 or 2 or others, if there are more playing) can say “contact” to let the group know that they know the answer to the clue. If this person gets it right then player 1 must disclose the next letter of the word: CA.
From hereon in, clues given by person 2 and 3 must be for words starting with CA.
The game ends when person 2 or 3 gives a clue for the word CAMPFIRE. Player 1 then responds with “Yes, it is CAMPFIRE!”
Campfire drinking games
For those who enjoy a beer (or three) with friends to finish off a day at camp, campfire drinking games are guaranteed to get the party started. There are a ton of great drinking games out there, but they’re not all suitable for playing next to a highly dangerously burning mass. If things start to get too rowdy then take the games elsewhere, or just go to bed!
Simple, silly and very easy to get wrong, especially if you’re not paying attention (or have already had too many to drink!).
How to play…
One person starts by choosing a direction of play (left or right around the circle) and saying the number 1. The next person says 2, the next person, 3, and so-on until you get to 21. Simple?
Kinda. Players can choose to say one, two or three numbers, so long as they are in sequence.
One number: play continues in the same direction.
Two numbers: play changes direction and goes right back to the previous person.
Three numbers: play continues in the same direction, but skips a person.
If you get it wrong then you drink two fingers of your drink and start the process again at number 1.
If you manage to get to 21 as a group then the unlucky player to say 21 has to finish their drink. BUT, they also get to choose a new rule. E.g. on multiples of 5 you have to clap instead of saying the number.
Things can get messy very quickly, so stay sharp and pay attention. And whatever you do, try not to let 21 fall on you!
15I have never
This is an insightful way of really getting to know your friends. It should only be embarked up if everyone is willing to share their darkest secrets!
How to play…
One person starts by saying something that they have never done. This could be something as innocent as doing a bungee jump. But it’s inevitable that some members of the group will opt for more intimate scenarios…
Players who have also never done a bungee jump (or whatever else is suggested) do nothing.
Players who HAVE done a bungee jump take a drink whilst all the non-bungee jumpers watch to see who chugged and who didn’t.
Play this with the wrong people and there’s a danger of it becoming mean and personal. Play it with proper friends and it can be really hilarious!
G’day Bruce is one of my favourite campfire drinking games, and one which requires bright red lipstick! It’s also a chance to bust out your best Aussie accent for even more giggles.
How to play…
At the start if the game all players are called Bruce.
Player 1 says to player 2: “G’day Bruce”
Player 2 replies: “G’day Bruce”
Player 1 says back: “Say G’day to Bruce, Bruce”.
Player 2 then turns to player 3 and repeats the process.
As soon as someone messes up, which is surprisingly easy to do, they take a drink. They are now no longer called Bruce, but are known as Sheila.
If (and when) anyone called Sheila messes up, they get a big lipstick spot drawn on their face. They are then known as One Spot, instead of Sheila.
One Spot can turn into Two Spot, and so-on. And the more names and spots involved in the game (and the more drinks consumed), the more EVERYONE is guaranteed to mess up.
This can also be done without drinks and is an excellent option to play with kids.
Whether you prefer quiet and thinky games or raucous and silly games, our list of campfire games for adults, families and drinkers has something for everyone. Enjoy!
For hammock campers looking to take a step further into the world of airborne accommodation, may we introduce the hammock tent! In this article we will be venturing into the even more intricate, intriguing and downright game-changing niche of overnight hammock camping options, highlighting some of the best hammock tents out there in 2019.
Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. At some point in the not-too-distant past, some unhappy camper awoke in a squished, wet tent on a rocky patch of ground. Said camper thought it necessary to take things up a notch in terms of camping comfort and convenience. He or she took this quest very literally, with the result being the first of what have evolved to be the veritable high-fliers of the camping equipment catalogue. And so, suspended tents and hammock tents were born.
Answering the above question can be done in two ways: the long way and the short way.
Short: Airborne sleeping facilities which fulfil all the same functions as a traditional tent (and more), only in the air.
Long: A fairly variegated and complex array of tent-like, dome-like, cocoon-like and/or spaceship-like structures composed of various materials. Boasting various features, occasional flaws, multiple set-ups and best uses but all sharing the common denominator of providing a sleeping system that lifts the user up off of the ground into the (beginnings, granted) of the stratosphere. Whether elevated versions of traditional tents or tarp-and-mesh cocoons enclosing a more standard backpacking hammock, each of these products offers something a bit different in terms of reliability, convenience, comfort and ideal mode of usage.
The tech-specs and jargon can be a touch bewildering, as can the array of choice but, as always, Cool of the Wild is here for you to help you get to know and navigate the ins and outs.
The best hammock tents and suspended tents in 2019
Ready to take camping adventures to even greater heights? These are your options, and some of the best hammock tents and suspended shelters that you could possibly choose to hang out in.
Eco-conscious: Tentsile plant 18 trees for every tent and hammock purchased
With four inner stash-pockets, 53sqft of floor space, a maximum load of 880lbs and user height of 6’6”, the Tensile Connect is a very spacious, accommodating arboreal abode which is suitable for two or more people and all of their gear. Though the extra space and weight capacity might seem overload for just two people, together they allow those two people to stretch out, bring their gear inside or even hang it under the tent to keep it dry in rainy weather. If that still leaves you a fair whack of legroom, you can always invite the dog in too. Though a tad on the heavy side for taking on the trail, even when split between two or three people, the Tensile Connect is very user-friendly and maybe the most sociable tent out there – if you know fellow-Tensile users the tents can be connected to form a small village of floating domiciles!
A contender for best multi-person suspended tent.
Easy to set up and adjust
Can be connected to other tents to form a small community in the canopy!
At only 1.8kg, supporting up to 275 lbs, and with ground use adaptability, the Lawson Blue Ridge could easily become any solo thru-trekker’s go-to option for backcountry accommodation. Having been rated #1 by Backpacker, Outside and American Survival Guide and Gear Of The Year Award in 2015, it has many fans and it’s easy to see why. Easy to set up and boasting a spreader bar and arch pole system which keeps the bed of the hammock much flatter than in other models, this tidy little tent scores high on user-friendliness, convenience and comfort and sets the bar high for one-person hammock tent competitors. It is a little heavier than the Clark NX-270, but when it comes to verstility the Blue Ridge offers more due to its ability to be used on the ground.
The price – cheap (though straps must be purchased separately)
Weighing 2450g at its heaviest and packing down to just 3.5 inches thick, the Flying Tent may not quite make it onto the best lightweight suspended tent list, but its versatility sure makes up for it. Not only does this cosy little number double as a bivvy tent that can be used on the floor, it triples (!) as a poncho. Yes, a poncho. With a built-in hammock bug net and rain-fly and supporting both tall users and those weighing up to 264lbs, this might just be the best all-in-one hammock tent solution out there. And to top it off, it can be stripped right down for use as a regular, no-frills hammock that weights just 1120g.
Includes rain fly
Can be used as a bivvy tent
Max user height 6’7”
Doesn’t actually fly…(other than that, we’re still trying to find them!)
It’s hard to believe that anyone could make a genuine 4-season hammock tent while keeping the weight down, but with the NX-270 hammock specialists Clark have done just that. The Weathershield outer layer provides reliable protection from the elements and, in one of the niftiest features we’ve yet to see in a camping hammock, the pockets not only serve as storage space but provide extra insulation too! With a pack weight of only 1340g (1740g with the tarp), a max. user height of 6’9” and max. user weight of 300lbs, the NX-270 poses serious competition to the Flying Tent and Lawson Blue Ridge for best one-person hammock tent. Which will suit you best depends on the climate you’re camping in and how much you want those super-handy inside pockets! For winter hammock camping, this sturdy, rugged one-person option is hard to beat.
Justifiable four season rating
Storage – 6 pockets which can be accessed from inside
Eco-conscious: For each Nubé sold, Sierria Madre will provide clean water for one person in Honduras for a year
The Sierra Madre Nubé hammock shelter takes the rainfly to a whole new level. Although sold separately, combined with the Sierra Madre Xplor, Solo or Pares hammock, this generously-proportioned tarp (12ft long and 9ft wide) offers a great deal of versatility in addition to its eye-catching and highly functional design. Beneath the sleeping area, the Nubé contains an integrated gear hammock sewn into the bottom of the all-enclosing bug mesh that can hold up to 200lbs. If this isn’t enough, the Ripstop, waterproof tarp itself covers a wide and long enough space below the sleeping area to host a small to medium-sized family. A one-person suspended tent high on storage, weather-resistance and versatility.
200lbs of storage
Versatility – can be used with different sizes of hammock
Double zip on bug mesh for easy entry
Can be combined with the Nubé Winter barrier for 4-season protection or the Nube floor for tree-free camping locations
Very well-made and weather-resistant material
The hammock is sold separately to the Nube shelter (which can be a plus if you already have a hammock!)
Ideal for those who anticipate spending time in a variety of terrains, the Sunda might just be the answer to your prayers. Both a two-person tent with a generous 35sqft of floor space and a comfortable, two-door, two-window suspended tent that can be stripped down to a basic hammock for day-use. The Sunda will have all your hammocking/tenting needs covered whatever scenario you find yourself in. Where the Sunda excels over other two-person competitors such as the Tensile Connect, the Tensile Stingray and the Nubé is in storage capacity, of which it has tons, all of it easily-accessible. Boasting two 6.5sqft exterior vestibules for storing backpacks, boots and anything else you fancy, and also 6 internal mesh pockets and 9 gear-hanging loops, the Sunda is as much a sleeping quarters as it is a walk-in, sleep-in cupboard!
Eco-conscious: Tentsile plant 18 trees for every tent and hammock purchased
Weighing in at 8620g, the Stingray is one of the heaviest suspended tents on the market and, as such, one you’re unlikely to be taking out very far into the backcountry. That said, with a whopping 75sqft of floor space, when up in this airborne giant you’re likely to feel like you’re in a world of your own in any case! With four internal pockets to store gear and a user weight limit of 880lbs, barring calls of nature, you could take everything you need for a week or so up there and not bother coming down. While it leaves multi-person tent competitors like the Nube and the Tensile Connect far, far behind in terms of floor space and storage space, the Stingray is definitely an option with which you’re unlikely to venture far from the car park without the aid of a Sherpa or two.
Access – easy to get in and out of thanks to floor-hatch and large front door
880lb weight limit
Spacious, even for three people
Fly sheet can be pegged out to create 160sqft of sheltered porch area
Can’t be used on the ground in tree-free environments
With an all-in-one set up of tent, hammock, insulated air-mattress and sleeping bag, the Crua Hybrid Camping Hammock Tent is perhaps the most user-friendly option on review. Although short on features and storages pockets, this uncomplicated, comfy tent-hammock combo is a reliable, well-built, stress-free option for solo campers looking for a bit of versatility with regard to sleeping arrangements (it can be used on the ground or suspended between trees). The only downsides are the single-entrance and the 3150g weight, which place it marginally behind the competition as a one-person trail-tent and hammock solution. For simplicity, however, the Crua can’t be beaten, and the weight saved in the integrated sleeping bag must be factored into any comparisons to other one-person options such as the Flying Tent, Clark NX-270 and Lawson Blue Ridge.
All-in-one camping/suspended tent solution – can be used on the ground or in the air
What to look for in your suspended tent or hammock tent
Comfort in a suspended or hammock tent derives from a number of variables. These include:
And, last but not least, the peace of mind begotten of knowing your tent or hammock is well-made, safe and unlikely to plop you back down to earth hastily during the night.
Ultra-lightweight or luxurious, ‘bomb-proof’ palace in the sky? How heavy you choose to go will depend, alas, on how much you’re willing to or are able to carry. For thru-hikers and other campers spending the night far from where they leave the car, the ultra-lightweight models are likely to be your best option. For those not straying too far from home and who value comfort over convenience, the heavier, more ‘deluxe’ and spacious options are more appealing and feasible.
3Use and ease of use
Some systems are blissfully user-friendly whereas others require PhDs – well, at least a great deal of practice and faffing around with instruction manuals, straps, cords and slings. What’s best for you will depend largely on your patience levels and where you plan on using your hammock/tent. If you’re out on the Pacific Crest Trail, the Annapurna Circuit or going from John O’Groats to Lands end on foot, we’d recommend the easy options. If you’re driving down to the local campsite and parking up a short stroll from your intended ‘hangout’ with time to kill, the PhD options might just get your vote for the added comfort and convenience they offer. Ease of use depends on a large number of factors.
*It’s also important to note that some models can be used on the ground, others not. If you are headed to any area with sparse tree coverage or want a true replacement system for the traditional tent, opt for a ‘hybrid’ model that can be used on the ground when required.
Certain tents/hammocks comprise one or more of a variety of possible special features that make them go the extra proverbial mile in terms of comfort, convenience, and/or general functionality. Among these we can include layered flooring, extra insulation, inner and outer storage pockets, multiple doors, weather-resistance and overall square-footage.
Suspended tents and hammock tents are not cheap. Before you make an investment, it’s best to know that you are going to fit in there comfortably. For smaller users size should not be a problem, but for those over 6ft a few of the one-person options might make things a bit tight (or require foetal-position sleeping) if you intend on taking any gear into your tent/hammock with you.
All hammocks/tents come with a recommended maximum user weight. Be sure to allow a few pounds of ‘buffer’ for clothes, sleeping bag, midnight munchie supplies, teddy bears and anything else you might take to bed with you.