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Updated: May 5, 2021

Beginnings are always awkward. They are full of anxiety and missteps and interruption and awkward silence. Recall the last time you were in a group setting. Remember the moment everyone went to the bathroom except Karen and yourself? We all know Karen, but we don't know her. And it's a little weird because we start talking about the weather, her bedroom fetishes, and then athlete's foot. It's a lot for our first conversation and a train wreck in the making. However, I buckle in because she's quite peculiar and I'm intrigued.

That's where I feel we're at in our relationship, but in this case I'm Karen and you're me. I've never considered myself a writer and I almost sure you've never read this before. There will be WTF moments and questionable images. I can safely predict a myriad typos and unevolving storylines. At the end of the day, I can't guarantee the gold standard in literature or entertainment, but I can promise you imperfection and a cheap thrill.

So here we are, two newbies doing new things together. How neat is that?

Photo op near the Canyon Creek trailhead.


DATES HIKED: August 27-30

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Northern Wintu & Tsnungwe

MILES: AllTrails says 16.7, but I logged 22


TRAIL TYPE: Out & back

PERMIT: Wilderness permit required, but easy to procure at Ranger Station



By this point in my journey with Queen Mother Nature I've learned that there's always more to learn. It doesn't matter your experience, the lessons learned while sleeping under the stars are vast and plentiful.

Click here for my complete outdoor gear guide

This probably comes as a shocker, but the Canyon Creek Lakes Trail is wise beyond its years and was offering up a master class in outdoor preparation. Before I dive into my struggles, I must confess it was my first time hiking in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and I was happy as a clam. Mind you this was August 2020 and the world seemed to be imploding every other day. Wildfires. Coronavirus. Racial injustices [injustices being a severe understatement]. Oh and don't forget Chadwick Boseman died. Obvi a little outdoor therapy was desperately needed. I was tickled pink to be headed into the trees again, but was I thinking straight? Absolutely not!

Overlooking the upper & lower Canyon Creek Lakes

Early Arrivals & McCloud Falls

It was supposed to be easy. The plan was to arrive a day early, collect our wilderness permits, and get an early start on the trail the following morning. Actually, I was off to a great start. I arrived early enough to take a quick nap at the hotel before leaving to grab the wilderness permits. The weather was just about perfect. My car windows were rolled down and the intoxicating sweet scent of the Sierras was slapping me in the face. Before I knew it I was on a mission to the absolutely majestic McCloud Falls.

The falls are remarkably stunning. Breathtaking even. There are three falls in total: upper, middle, and lower falls. It's recommended that you start at the lower falls and make your way to the middle falls, a relatively flat 0.7 miles away. Locating the trailhead and the McCloud River couldn't have been easier. Its commanding roar could be felt in your bones. Massive tree trunks were tossed around and splintered like cheap matches. Like a chiseled specimen on the beach, evidence of the McCloud River's power was abundant and I was mesmerized. Unfortunately, time wasn't on my side and the sun had begun to set. It was time to return to the hotel and rest up for the main event: Canyon Creek Lakes.

McCloud falls in the evening.
All smiles at McCloud Falls

Dot the I's & Cross the T's

But before we get there, I have something to confess. In most circumstances, I consider myself a good planner and generally prepared for my outdoor endeavors. My packing routine involves making a list and checking it twice. I study the weather forecast and satellite images to ensure I'm prepared. The entire performance is a thorough exercise of dotting the I's and crossing the T's. Except for this time.

I goofed. The Canyon Creek Lakes trailhead is near Junction City, CA. The hotel I booked was in Mt. Shasta, CA. Door to trailhead it's about a 2.5-hour drive in the opposite direction. It was a little unnecessary. There were plenty of hotel options within a short radius of the trail. I simply wasn't paying attention. So much for arriving early to be closer to the trailhead.

Moral of the story: the delay did me no favors. After all, it was August and the afternoon temperatures had a reputation for being unforgiving. This particular day was no exception. The Canyon Creek Lakes Trail offers hikers almost 3,000 ft. of elevation gain that proved to be challenging due to a combination of screaming thighs and the relentless sun. It hurt, but a good hurt.

PIt stop along the Canyon Creek Lakes Trail

The Climb

It was all uphill from there, literally. From the parking lot to the first waterfall, to the initial false peak, and finally to the lower lake, the views along the Canyon Creek Lakes trail were breathtaking. The trail can be completed as a day hike or a multi-day backpacking trip. Frankly, I would recommend the latter if you don't like being rushed or want to avoid hiking at night. We made two nights out of the trip and enjoyed basking in the tranquil wilderness.

Swimming at the waterfall is a must

Like the namesake, the trail runs parallel to Canyon Creek. This makes it incredibly convenient to fill up your water whenever you need. We made several stops along the way for refills since it temperature got pretty warm. One of those stops was at the Canyon Creek Waterfall. If you have the time, this is a must! At just a little over 4 miles from the trailhead, the waterfall makes for a great spot to stop for a bite. The water is refreshingly crisp, stunningly clear, and overall inviting. We stripped down to our skivvies and dove right in!

We would occasionally pass other people, but for the most part, the trail was empty. AllTrails considers the trail heavily traffic, but personally I'd give it a 6.5/10 on the traffic spectrum. Although that could be due to our timing. We began our ascent later in the day, but our timing rounded out the tail end of an early string of wildfires across the state. The area was safe, but is was a skosh smokey. Luckily, the little bit of residue nastiness quickly lifted and shifted higher than the ceiling up on out of there and we had blue skies in no time.

Another false summit. Wondering how much further.
Filling water at Canyon Creek Lake

After a many false summits, we reached the lower Canyon Creek Lake. Surrounded by the jaw dropping granite slabs of Wedding Cake and Sawtooth Mountains, I knew in that moment I was in the exact place I was supposed to be! The peaks' reflection danced on the surface of the lake as if it was hypnotized by the hum of the wind or an occasional fish. It was a privilege to call this home for the next two nights.

Lazy hammock afternoon

The next day started slower than the first. In part due to sore body parts and a foggy brain, but also because the nearby falls played the perfect melody for a good read and cozy nap. The weather was prime and Apollo took advantage of all his chances to get in the water. I also took m, personally I found it a bit chilly.

We spent the afternoon exploring the upper lake. The trail continues behind the second lake and further into the wilderness. Unfortunately, we were unable to find an easy route and ultimately forced to turn back midway. Nonetheless, just when you thought the views couldn't get any better Queen Mother Nature upped the ante.

We managed our way back to camp just before sundown. As the day said its goodbyes the full moon rose above saw tooth mountain to the east and I wondered, "is this real life." Sure enough it was and I needed to pump some water to start some dinner. For most occasions I stick with freeze dried meals when backpacking. They're lightweight, easy to make, and surprisingly delicious. Also, don't forget to pack a lightweight jacket. The temperatures in the high Sierras can drastically drop after the sun sets and I hate being cold.

Apollo stands guard above the lower Canyon Creek Lake

Wrap It Up

This hike isn't for the faint of heart, man or man's best friend. It's a grueling ascent, but each step brought me closer to leveling up and accessing limitless rewards. I'm not talking about a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but rather a stillness that calms the soul centers the mind, and cleanses the heart. A stillness in which each breath is felt a little bit deeper than the one before.

At the end of this trail, I was radiant and felt nearly unstoppable. I couldn't be more proud of myself! Realistically my micro accomplishment of traversing the Canyon Creek Lakes Trail isn't groundbreaking. However it is a small reminder that by showing up, embracing the unexpected, and consistently putting my best foot forward there's nothing I can't do!

Favorite gear for this trip

Click here for my complete outdoor gear guide

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

Camping Gear Guide 2021

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"Let's go camping," they said. "It will be fun," they said.

For some those words are a catalyst for a classic serotonin boost that could potentially last for weeks, but for others they might induce crippling anxiety beyond belief. Regardless of which way you lean on the spectrum, I'm here to help!

Henny, consider me your camp counselor: here to guide you through your camping, backpacking, and outdoor adventure fantasies. I recognize outdoor adventures may appear daunting at first; after all there are hundreds if not thousands of variables to account, and let's face it, outdoor rec policies/industries are historically exclusive when it comes to who should spend time with queen mother natche. However, even with the most basic of skills you can thoroughly enjoy your time underneath the stars.

Trust. You're in superbly moisturized hands. I may not have summited Everest or Kilimanjaro [yet], danced with penguins in the South Pole [yet], or free soloed Half Dome [hard pass], but I've been gallivanting in the outdoors since I was a little tyke. Through the years I've constantly been learning and hope to share a sliver of that with you. Do you have some knowledge nuggets to share too? Feel free drop your thoughts below, follow on Instagram, or send us an email.

So where do we start? Before we go anywhere we need to know where we're going and what we're doing. Is this venture a multi-day backpacking crusade, leisurely car camping, riveting rafting overnight, or something entirely different? Having a solid plan will ultimately determine the type and amount of gear to pack! Below are a my camping gear recommendations for a range of people from the fierce first time car camper to the legendary backwoods pioneer. Share your personal recommendations in the comments below!

  1. Tents

  2. Sleeping Bags

  3. Sleeping Pads

  4. Backpacks

  5. Camp Kitchen

  6. Camp Gadgets

  7. Camp Comforts



Consider thy tent, thy sanctuary! When I was a young pup I had an overnight with my Boy Scout troop. It was the middle of March, in the middle of Missouri, and it rained cats & dogs. Unfortunately, a few fellow scouters made some poor tent choices and ended up miserably soaked. However this diva came correct and spent the trip dry and toasty. You're tent preparedness will either make or break the experience, henny.

Lofted ceilings your thing? This 3-season tent has room for the entire gaggle and is perfect for a weekend car camping excursion or a multi-day festival. Two doors make entry & exit a breeze, even with a roll out mat to boot. Finally, the rain fly can been set up without the tent as a sun shelter for a sunny park day with your favs. Word of caution, I would avoid extreme weather with this cutie pie. She will perform great with a light rain or dusting, but is not suited for gale force winds. Pick up the Big Agnes Big House 4 footprint to increase tent floor durability.

Weight: 11 lbs. 2 oz.

Dimensions: 90" x 92" x 70"

The Marmot Limestone is a great all around festival & car camping tent. It's super easy to set up either in the day or night and the seam-taped, catenary-cut floor offers extra 3-season weather protection if Mother Nature isn’t cooperating. Speaking of night you can tuck a strobe or el wire into the lampshade pocket for a personal disco. Or a headlamp makes for nice ambient lighting too. Available in 4p & 6p. Add the Marmot Limestone 4 footprint to protect your tent bottom.

Weight: 10 lbs. 1 oz.

Dimensions: 100" x 86" x 61"

Coleman Sundome? More like Coleman FUNdome! The perfect entry level tent for anyone. Seriously, if you've never owned a tent this is a great place to start. It's incredibly affordable, easy to set up, and all around good starter tent. Bottom line if mama needs a simple and cheap tent for a few nights of fair weather camping, the Sundome will do a fine job. Personally I used this fierce tent for 4 nights during weekend 2 of Coachella 2018. It was amazing! Available in 2p, 3p, 4p, & 6p. Don't forget the footprint.

Weight: 10 lbs. 3 oz.

Dimensions: 108" x 84" x 59"

Fly like a butterfly sting like a Nemo Hornet? A 3 season ultralight tent is essential for your next 20 mile out-and-back backpacking trip. The gorgeous Hornet has two doors and vestibules. It also boasts a large field of view without the rain fly. The Hornet also handles superb with rainy conditions keeping you toasty & dry. I wouldn't recommend this tent for car camping. Save it for the long miles. Available in 1p & 2p. Improve floor longevity with the Hornet 2 footprint.

Weight: 2 lbs. 6 oz

Dimensions: 85" x 53/41" x 40"

The Hubba Hubba is downright sexy! This tent is widely popular in the backpacking community and has been around for many years. Made with high quality materials makes this 3-season tent strong, durable and lightweight and provides excellent protection in windy/wet weather. Although the Hubba Hubba is considered a mid-weight backpacking tent it packs down nicely and is also durable enough to double for car camping. Available in 1p, 2p, & 3p. Increase floor durability with the Hubba Hubba footprint.

Weight: 3 lbs. 14 oz

Dimensions: 84" x 50" x 39"

A classic design the Mountainsmith Morrison is a first rate 2 door/2 vestibule, rectangular floor, and crossing pole tent. It's light enough to pack for a super short backpacking trip, but I wouldn't recommend for any serious distances. This tent is also vers and can be used for car camping or festivals. Overall, the Morrison is a solid budget buy. Add the Morrison 2 footprint to increase floor durability.

Weight: 4 lbs. 11 oz

Dimensions: 92" x 56" x 43"



I don't want to boast, but I was prepared for that chilly moist camping trip with my Boy Scout troop. Yes ma'am! I spent hours analyzing the weather forecast and knew the likely chance of rain. Frankly I wasn't going to miss this trip. It was Marceline, MO afterall, the boyhood home of Walt Disney, and my most favorite overnight of the year. Linked directly to my enjoyment was my sleep and getting a great night sleep is a nonnegotiable. A good sleeping bag is key. For extra comfort don't forget your Travel Pillow.

Nemo Disco sleeping bag
Kelty Cosmic Sleeping Bag
Western Mountaineering MegaLite sleeping bag

Marmot Sawtooth Sleeping Bag

Mountain Hardwear Rook Sleeping Bag

The Nemo Disco is designed for comfort. It's perfect for side sleepers who like a little extra room to twist & turn about. This feature is also a fault as it takes a little more body energy to heat up the roomy interior. It's slightly bulkier than bags in a similar class, but will work great if you're trekking low miles or need for car camping. The Disco has excellent ventilation capabilities with a 2 zipper system. If you're looking for a more affordable bag check out the Nemo Fore below.

Weight: 2 lbs. 11 oz.

Comfort Rating: 25℉

Insulation: 650 fill power down

The perfect beginner sleeping bag, the Kelty is an affordable buy for car campers and those who aren't bothered with bulk/weight. The Cosmic 20 is one of the cheaper down bags on the market, but the 30℉ rating should keep you snug as a bug for 3 seasons. However it doesn't have the same warmth & packability as the WM MegaLite below. If you intend on backpacking a lot over the years, I'd recommend investing in a bag with a higher fill power and lighter weight. All-in-all this is one of my favorite down bags for backpackers on a budget.

Weight: 2 lbs. 13 oz.

Comfort Rating: 30

Insulation: 600 fill power down

The MegaLite is truly a premium high-performing ultralight sleeping bag. Rumor has it that it's 850 fill power down is a generously low statement and actual testing has it closer to 900. Henny, that's what you call packing heat. Not to mention this dainty beast is super lite and makes the perfect 3-season bag for all of those trail miles. Toss & turn at night? The MegaLite is splendidly roomy. At the end of the day, it's one of the best bags on the market.

Weight: 1 lbs. 8 oz.

Comfort Rating: 30

Insulation: 850 fill power down

Most bags in and around this price range will keep you warm around freezing temperature. If you run a bit cold or are active in the spring & fall, the Sawtooth is a great option without spending a fortune. It's 650 fill power will pack down nicely although it's not quite as light at the Rook or MegaLite. Overall the 27℉ will be comfortable for most backpacking excursions, but may be a little overkill for sizzling summer conditions. You smell what I'm stepping in?

Weight: 2 lbs. 8 oz.

Comfort Rating: 27℉

Insulation: 650 fill power down

Hands-down I prefer a down sleeping bag when I'm backpacking. They tend to be warmer, more comfortable, and pack down smaller. That being said, the Nemo Forte is attempting to cross to the other side with the somewhat compressible PrimaLoft RISE insulation. The synthetic bag is roomy enough for side sleepers, sports a decent 40℉ comfort rating, and costs a considerable amount less than its down counterparts.It's not perfect, but the Nemo Forte is a fine option at a good price.

Weight: 1 lbs. 15 oz.

Comfort Rating: 40

Insulation: PrimaLoft Rise Synthetic

The Mountain Hardwear Rook is my personal car camping & backpacking sleeping bag. It's a great 3-season bag that sports a comfy hood, spacious interior, and water-repellent exterior. The bag's quality 650 fill power down is light weight, compresses down tightly, and keeps you cozy on those chilly alpine nights. I enjoy using this bag myself and would recommend to your too!

Weight: 1 lbs. 13 oz.

Comfort Rating: 30

Insulation: 650 fill power down



You've heard of The Princess and the Pea, but have you heard of babe on a branch? No? Well then you're lucky. If you are anything like me, you've learned the consequences of picking the right sleeping pad the hard way. Growing pains.

The most common ways to define a sleeping pad are by its weight, thickness, and R-value. Establishing the type of outdoor trip your planning will determine if you need to worry about weight. As for thickness, bigger isn't always better. Choose a pad that's thick enough to adjust the firmness before bottoming out. Most important is the R-value, the measurement for insulation. If you only need a pad for summer trips an R-value of 0-2 will suffice, whereas 3-4 is perfect for 3 season activity.

This is my personal backpacking pad and I would hands down recommend! It's a splendid 3-season pad! The NeoAir Xlite is super light weight, packs down amazingly well, and has the R-value to keep you warm even when temperatures fall slightly below freezing. Bonus: the pad comes with its own pump sack for quick and easy inflation for those late night set ups. This pad does come at a premium price, but is a solid investment when put to good use.

Weight: 12 oz.

Thickness: 2.5 in.

R-value: 4.2

If you're looking for something squishy, cozy, & comfy the Switchback is not for you. It's thickness is less than an inch, and inflatable pads are simply much more pleasant to sleep on. That being said the Switchback is affordable, guaranteed not to pop, and pairs nicely with an air pad for extra spring or insulation.

Weight: 14.5 oz.

Thickness: 0.9 in.

R-value: 2.0

You're probably wondering how the Coleman Cot mad this list and so am I. But truth be told, I have this queen. Literally, it's queen size and so comfortable! I would never recommend for a backpacking trip, but if you have the room the Coleman Cot is divine for a summer car camping or a festival. I've brought mine to a number of festivals and paired with an eye mask & ear plugs you will sleep like a baby.

Weight: 41.9 lbs

Thickness: 12 in.

R-value: 2.0

Big Agnes is a reliable brand and the Insulated Q-Core SLX is no exception. Pricewise it's inline with the NeoAir Xlite, but there are number of differences that separate them. Primarily the Q-Core is considerably thicker. If you're a size queen this one's for you! Otherwise the NeoAir XLite is lighter, has a higher R-value, and packs down better.

Weight: 18 oz.

Thickness: 4.25 in.

R-value: 3.2

It would be unfair to talk about the Switchback without mentioning one of Nemo's insulated air pads. The Tensor is a top quality sleeping pad that brings comfortability to the trials. Furthermore it packs down nicely and is suitably warm. The only downside is that the material isn't quite a sturdy as other insulated pads such as the NeoAir XLite.

Weight: 18 oz.

Thickness: 3 in.

R-value: 3.5

The Exped Megamat is a true 4-season sleeping pad, constructed with insulation that will keep you toasty down to -54℉. Sickening, no? Ideal for car camping in all conditions the self-inflating mat is lusciously padded and spacious. It does weigh a whopping 10 lbs. and doesn't pack down super well, but if you have the space and want lux comfort the Megamat is ideal.

Weight: 10 lbs.

Thickness: 3.9 in.

R-value: 8.1



My earliest memory of backpacking was strapping a cumbersome sleeping bag to a massive external frame and strutting my 11 year-old self eight miles from the neighborhood elementary school to the banks of the Missouri River. In my head I was unstoppable, but realistically the external frame was crooked and ill-fitting and my body ached from head to toe. Clearly a lack of experience

Lack of experience and old school technology may have been early misfortunes with backpacking, but that doesn't have to be you. It doesn't matter if you're planning a thru-hike of epic proportions or weekend exploring your local regional park, your backpack is one of the biggest choices/investments to make.

The Osprey Atmos is king of the packs when it comes to ventilation and carrying 35-50 lbs. It's unique anti-gravity suspension helps hikers manage slightly heavier loads and the adjustable harness and fit-on-the-fly hipbelt provides with perfect fit with great support. Bonus points for the built in hydration reservoir sleeve to cure the victims of your mountaineering thirst traps.

Weight: 4 lbs. 6 oz.

Volume: 65L

Mountain Hardwear's AMG is one of the most recent additions to my gear outfit. I choose this pack because it delivers generous space for my essentials, camera gear, and Apollo's dog food. Also, the the pack is outfitted with ridiculously comfortable shoulder straps and hip belt. Also the number of pockets and straps make it easy to carry awkward gear or sometime special for your next shoot.

Weight: 4 lbs. 13 oz.

Volume: 75L

The Granite Gear Crown 2 is a versatile lightweight pack that is great for light overnights. Keep this pack under 35 lbs. or your pack will start to become a lot less comfortable. Additional features include: compression straps, plenty of mesh pockets on the front & sides, and a roll-top closure for securing the load.

Weight: 2 lbs. 6 oz.

Volume: 60L

The Baltoro & Deva are one of Gregory's flagship backpacks that are intended for heavy loads. It's strong suspension, firm & supportive padding and superb organization make it ideal for hauling extra tools or equipment. That being said if you are counting ounces this pack is a bit on heavy side and could potentially be overkill.

Weight: 4 lbs. 15 oz.

Volume: 75L

I adore multipurpose gear and the Osprey Aether AG 70 check several boxes. The packs is cavernous when you need extra capacity for longer trips. Also, the top lid detaches and converts into a daypack for that time you need to leave basecamp to summit or explore a side trail. That being said the Aether is on the heavier side.

Weight: 5 lbs. 3 oz.

Volume: 70L

The Gregory Optic is a great pack for those that desire a lightweight backpack. Proper load management, moisture-wicking ventilation, and intelligent features keep you comfortable and mentally balanced from sea level to the High Sierra. The pack does feature less structure in the suspension and as a result isn't going to be as comfortable with loads much higher than 25 lbs.

Weight: 2 lbs. 8 oz.

Volume: 58L



Burn baby burn, disco inferno! Though hopefully just the stoves and not the food. When it comes to camp food I'm passionate about cooking delicious meals whether I'm car camping or out on the trail. Here's a few essentials to help make those scrumptious dreams a reality.

Folds up nicely is a perfect for car camping. The wind resistant design combined with heat technology leads to more efficient cooking with less fuel.

The GSI Selkirk 540 is a powerful, efficient and has all the right makings of a stellar campstove. The setup is easy and clean up is even more elementary. Additionally the build in carrying handle make packing and transport a breeze. Finally the wrap around screen design prevents gusts and inclement weather from slowing your cooking down.

The Camp Chef Explorer is durable, versatile, and packs enough power in its 30,000 BTU burners to boil water and cook your food. It's designed for groups that focus on food whether tailgating, camping with family, or feeding your crew at a festival. Portability is no problem with the removable legs, but will require more space than other stoves.

The MSR PocketRocket 2 is an ultralight (2.6 oz.) and compact backpacking stove and is my personal favorite. Powered by high performance isobutane-propane fuel the stove can boil 1 liter of water in 3.5 minutes. This durable stove won't break the budget and should be essential part of your backpacking gear.

The same great stove as above with an added stove kit. The kit includes PocketRocket stove, a 2-liter hard-anodized aluminum pot with heatproof handle, two deep dish bowls, two 12.5-ounce double-wall insulated mugs, a clear strainer lid, and two folding sporks. This is a good option if you're just starting out backpacking

The Jetboil Flash is not the lightest stove for backpacking, but they are optimized for efficiency, boiling water in lightning-quick 100 seconds. Among stoves in this class the Jetboil Flash is one of the most affordable and dependable option. There isn't a simmer control, so it's best suited for boiling water quickly - the primary need for most backpackers.

The GSI Pinnacle is the best of the best when it comes to backpacking cookware. It's compact and the nesting design can be configured for 2 or 4 people. The surface is coated with nonstick Teflon making these easy to clean and care for.

These sporks are cheap, simple, and lightweight. They are made from high-temp nylon that make them extremely durable. Also they are 100% BPA-, PC-, and phthalate-free. The cherry on top is that they are top rack dishwasher safe. How neat is that?

Fresh water is bigly important and the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System is a must have for anyone that intends on backpacking. The design is ultralight and void of any chemical treatments that may alter the taste. Not to mention it's super affordable. Check out their Micro, Mini, and Gravity versions as well.

Made with organic oils and fair trade ingredients. No synthetic preservative, detergents, or foaming agents. More concentrated than most liquid soaps. Packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. Good for your body and the planet. Could Dr. Bronner's be any sexier?



Go go camp gadgets! These nifty tools are typical small items that will have a big impact on your overall camping trip. Clever and functional, these also happen to make some great gifts for outdoor lovers.

If you don't mind a few extra ounces or have a short route carrying a multitool can help you through a plethora of sticky situations. The Gerber suspension is a 12-in-1 tool with an easily accessible butterfly design featuring spring-loaded pliers and a lightweight frame.

Your headlamp is a nonnegotiable condiment. Similar to the hot sauce you carry on keychain, you should not leave your house for the outdoors without one. The Black Diamond Spot will meet or exceed most people's needs on the trail, in camp, at festivals, or around the house. The downsides are common complaints with battery life and the fact it's not rechargeable.

The Petzl Actik Core is a step up from the Black Diamond Spot. This headlamp is rechargeable, lightweight, and bright. It's also incredibly user friendly. Bottom line the Petzl Actik is a dependably rechargeable and would make an excellent choice for a headlamp.

The Deuce of Spade Backcountry Potty Trowel is perfect for your poopy needs. You really have to used it for yourself to see how surprisingly light, effective, and though this trowel really is. If you poop in the woods this should be apart of your pack.



Having as many comforts of home can help transform normal camping in to glamping. However, depending on your outdoor activity you might be limited to the number items you can bring whether due to weight or space.

The ENO DoubleNest is versatile, durable, and compact making it perfect for camping hiking or lounging around with a friend. The hammock supports up to 400 lbs and weighs only 19 ounces. I've had this hammock for years and practically take it everywhere. You will not regret this purchase. Though don't forget the hammock straps before you leave the house.

Another great hammock from Eagles Nest Outfitters, the Sub6 is an extremely lightweight option for those who are counting their ounces. This particular hammock weighs only 6.5 ounces and holds up to 300 lbs. Once again, don't forget the hammock straps.

This Amazon Portable Camping Chair will give you everything you need in a camping chair at an affordable price. Plus it has a side cooler pocket to keep your next drink conveniently cold. It's not the most slender or durable as other camping chairs, but will work great for short camping trips or an afternoon at the park.

Helinox Chair Zero Ultralight Compact Camping Chair is one of lightest, most compact camp chairs on the market. It weighs just 1.2 pounds and packs smaller than a water bottle for easy transport in a backpack or travel bag. The chair frame is constructed from advanced DAC aluminum alloy for maximum strength-to-weight ratio, and can hold up to 265 pounds. To prevent the legs from sinking into soft ground be sure to get the Helinox Chair Ground Sheet.

Yeti, eat your heart out! The RTIC is a premium high performing cooler at an affordable price. Made using roto-molded technology this cooler will retain ice for up to 10 days and is built like a tank. Whether you're camping, road tripping, or spending the week at Burning Man the RTIC is a great option when you're ready to upgrade your cooler.


A Royal Investment

Queen - you made it! I hope this gear guide wasn't too overwhelming. The world of camping gadgets and gizmos can be a little over the top and the cost can run up quickly. But be content knowing that your investing in adventures, travel, and spending quality time with friends all while exploring and learning about miss mother nature. If you're looking for a place to start I encourage you to begin with the essentials like a sleeping bag and tent. Over time you undoubtedly will accumulate plenty of great gear.