Here are a few of the things we’ve bought over the years that are super-useful or just well-made and we enjoy having when we take the family camping.
Opinel #6 KnifeUnder $20 on Amazon and hands-down my favorite knife to use. I try to keep it in the glovebox or console of the Vanagon. Easy to keep it nice and sharp, great for slicing dry-cured sausage. And other life-saving uses.
Bicycle LightsUnder $10 on Amazon and you can avoid the situation we found ourselves in as we headed back to our campsite in Burlington, Vermont this summer as we rode the bike path from downtown to the campground. In the dark. With two kids. Using my iPhone as our only source of light. Bad parenting moment but I ordered these up as soon as we got home. We’ll have them on each bicycle. Cheap and they work just fine.
HeadlampAbout $25 on Amazon and, well, see above about bad parenting choices. Having lights around at night when you’re camping is just smart. You can’t have too many as they seem to disappear like socks. Anyway, we like headlights with a red light option so you don’t totally destroy your night vision when shuffling kids off to the bathroom late at night, etc.
MOUNTAINSMITH CUbe bagsRight now, $70 for the 3 pack on Amazon, these bags are the best. We have the 3-cube and the 4-cube modular hauler sets. I’m not exaggerating when I say these things have completely changed the way that we pack for trips. One bag per person. One for dry-goods storage. The big hauler bag for dirty laundry, etc. They are amazing in the Vanagon because they fit under the bed when it’s folded out but would be equally useful in any other vehicle for road trips, travel/camping, etc. You can read our review of them here.
Coleman GrillAbout $50 on Amazon I wouldn’t spend the money on any of the fancier models but just get the basic Coleman Grill. The knobs will probably be finicky as all get-out and make any kind of fine temperature control absolutely impossible but we’ve found ours to be indestructible and indispensable.
While you’re at it, for about $15, get a non-stick griddle to put on top of it, too.
Hammock$25 on Amazon there may be better ones out there, i don’t know. But I used this one as much as I could this summer while we were out camping. Just for grabbing a few minutes nap in the afternoon it was a joy to have. I don’t think I’d sleep in it overnight with the comfy Vanagon being a better option but this is such a great little hammock to keep stashed in your glove box. You will also want to drop $10 on these straps which make it super-easy to set up the hammock.
There are probably a whole slew of other great gifts but these are the ones that I can think of this year that we used the heck out of on our trips and were glad to have (or wished we had!). Note the links are Amazon affiliate links so you help pay for hosting costs here when you click and buy from them but if you’ve got a local, outdoor retailer near you where you can shop for these things, they probably need your support more than I do.