At Eastern Mountain Sports, we know that sorting through the many different options from dozens of popular brands can be daunting. While brands and price are important factors, the first step to narrow down your choices is to determine your style of camping.
Just Getting Started/Backyard Adventures.
If you're looking to escape the daily stress without spending a fortune, a weekend camp out is the perfect solution. For a few hundred dollars you can get a basic, but totally reliable tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad plus a backpack to carry them all in. Start in your backyard to get the hang of how your gear works and how to set up your tent efficiently. From there, you're ready to test your new skills in a campground or state park. Once you decide that camping is for you, you can graduate to more sophisticated gear, with features designed for the next two styles of camping.
If the distance between your car and your campsite is more than five miles and your only means of transportation is yourself, you're going to want the lightest and most versatile gear you can find. Fast and light gear definitely costs more, but the weight you save can dramatically improve the quality of your experience. For example, at $259, our Sugar Shack 2 tent is a great choice for any type of camping trip but it weighs 5 pounds 12 ounces. The Nemo Espri 2 tent will set you back $299.95, but at 3 pounds, five ounces, the two and a half pounds you save, can be used to carry an extra day's worth of food and fuel without wearing you down. You'll also want to swap your bulky flashlight for a lightweight headlamp that will keep your hands free around camp and on the trail.
When you graduate from the occasional overnight campout to multiday outdoor adventures with your friends or family, it's time to invest in base camp gear that can really enhance your outdoor experience. Unlike a backpacking camp, a base camp is typically made in close proximity to your vehicle. Since you don't have to worry about carrying big, bulky items under your own power, you're free to choose the most spacious tents, thickest sleeping pads, and loftiest sleeping bags. You can also upgrade your base camp with camp furniture and lanterns, portable kitchen setups, hammocks, and games. Sure, some of these items can get a little pricey, but when properly cared for, they'll last for years and the money you'll save on hotel bills and room service will pay for quickly them.