Five Pieces of Camping Gear You'll Never Regret Buying
August 09, 20224 min read
Unsurprising to anyone who knows me, I’m a “gear guy”. You know, the kind of person that gets into a hobby and has to get all the coolest gear right off the bat? I’ve got a bit of an obsession with high-quality tools, which can be both a blessing and a curse. When a new hobby sticks, I never have to replace my gear because I got the best stuff and have a great time using it. When said obsession doesn’t turn out to be a favourite pastime, the gear collects dust in my Garage until I finally get around to using it or giving it away (I’m looking at you, $1000 meat grinder).
So, with that in mind, I own quite a bit of camping gear. Some of it I absolutely love, and some of it I can’t stand. Whether you’re a weekend warrior like me or a hardcore backpacker, I've found a few pieces of essential, reliable gear that I can guarantee you’ll never regret acquiring.
I first bought my handmade axe because it was super cool. I lived in an apartment at the time with no car, but when I eventually got into spending more time in the outdoors, it became a tool I couldn’t live without. I now use that axe for making kindling at the campsite, splitting my own firewood, and even clearing trails on hikes. I love my axe; it comes with me on every excursion.
Why a fancy handmade axe and not a $40 one from the hardware store? One word; reliability. Our traditionally made axes are forged from harder steel, which allows them to take a sharper edge and hold it much longer. This makes your axe much easier and safer to use. It won’t wear you out, but it also won’t wear out. By sharpening it much less often, you’ll allow it to potentially last in your family for multiple generations. How cool is that?
While my axe is my favourite tool, my knife is my most used. When I’m camping or hiking, this guy is basically my multi-tool: It cuts kindling, paracord, food, and I even use it for whittling by the fire to keep my hands busy. I’m pretty fond of my Helle Eggen, but if I were to bet it all on one knife, it would be something sturdy with a full tang.
Full-tang blades are overengineered for some applications, but they’re a must for hardcore survival scenarios. The Helle Utvear is certainly the most stylish choice with a comfortable contoured grip, rugged blade and gorgeous leather sheath. The Kershaw Camp 5 won’t keep an edge as long but is super tough, and Boker also makes some excellent fixed-blades. If you want something extra cool, get a handmade knife from Chris Green, as I did.
One thing I can guarantee about edged tools is that they will go dull eventually, no matter the quality. Being able to give them a quick tuneup in the field means the difference between an easy, enjoyable experience cutting firewood or skinning a deer and a frustrating, dangerous one. I find the Kent of Inglewood axe stone fills all my sharpening needs in the woods (except my chainsaw). This guy has a round 120 side for getting a quick edge and a 360 grit side for smoothing it out. Sure it won’t make your blade shaving sharp, but it’ll leave the edge rugged and durable, able to stand up to the tasks required.
Fire is one of the most essential survival elements, and no casual camping trip is complete without it. Fire means you can boil questionable water, heat food, and warm yourself! While I’m all for mastering the art of starting a fire from a single spark off a ferro rod, I’m not exceptionally skilled at using one, double so when hungry, tired, cold, etc. I take a ferro rod on every trip for funsies; I also take something much more reliable like the UCO Stormproof Matches. These things are BADASS. They’ll burn in a typhoon and even stay lit underwater! They cast a big flame and burn for 30 seconds, plenty of time to get your tinder started.
While maybe not required for the casual camper, I find a saw handy any time I do something more adventurous than renting a space in a campground. I think the saw is a seriously underrated tool. It can be used to break foraged firewood into smaller pieces, clear branches and trees from hiking trails, and even cut down wood fire carving by the fireside! While I love my folding bucksaw, my Silky Pocketboy is WAY more packable and insanely sharp.
Okay, this isn’t technically a tool, but the concept of redundancy might save your life (or at least your weekend). If something can fail on you, expect it to. Just as I don’t rely on my ferro rod, I don’t rely on just one tool to keep me safe. Axes and knives have a fair bit of crossover in function when needed, but consider throwing a cheap & light Mora knife in the bottom of your pack as a backup. Have a look through your gear and identify any essential items that could fail. Make sure you have a backup, so you’re never up shit creek without a paddle!
I hope this helps you have a fun, safer time in the woods. Camping and hiking are a ton of fun but also bring more danger than life in the city. Don’t be afraid to embrace your inner ‘gear guy’ and get equipped before you take off!