Long gone are the days when “camping” was synonymous with endless, damp nights spent shivering on the ground with nothing but canned beans for sustenance. Today, boho-dreamy “glamping” has grown into a travel category all its own, and outdoor gear companies have obliterated the line that once separated “high performance” from “high design.” Camping culture has become downright chic.
Whether you answered the call of the wild years ago or you’re psyching yourself up for a first encounter with the business end of a tent pole, your camp is your kingdom. With the proper mood lighting, a statement-piece tent, and all the right details, you can set up the campsite of your dreams. These 10 seriously stylish pieces of gear are ideal for car camping (although a few were designed to be light enough that any backpacker would be happy to tuck them into a pack for a little luxury on the trail), so book a spot at a national park, load up the car, and get outside.
Developed using BioLite’s parallel innovation model (which creates products that appeal to outdoor adventurers and to consumers in emerging markets who lack reliable access to energy), the SiteLight Mini ($20) isn’t your average string light: Each daisy-chainable strand wraps and stacks into a self-contained unit, and the 150-lumen, USB-chargeable lights can be dimmed when powered by the BaseLantern XL ($130) or the more discreet PowerLight ($60). With four lights per strand, you’ll need three to five lengths (or more!) to make your campsite a real fairyland. Hang them in the trees, use them to create pathways, or cluster them under the roof of a tent.
2. The Simpson Tent from Homecamp
This stately bell tent from Australian outdoor supplier Homecamp is a total showstopper. It’s made of a cotton canvas poly blend, so it’s suprisingly tough and there are only two poles—one in the center and one for the door—so it’s actually easy to set up, too. There’s plenty of room in the 16-foot wide, 10-foot tall Simpson Tent ($1,299) for any imaginable setup: Cover the floor with blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags for a padded paradise or ring six cots around the center pole for the ultimate slumber party. You could even set up a queen-size bed and a couple of armchairs, if that’s your style.
Kammok’s Roo Double Hammock ($99) was actually designed for hammock camping, so while its tear-resistant, ultrasoft material is a welcome perk for the casual user, its packability, 500-pound weight capacity, and climbing grade suspension will impress any gearhead. The Roo comes in seven colors; ember orange (pictured here) in particular pops in redwood forests and when set up along a coast. You could opt for a single ($69), but the double is best for snuggling with friends. Don’t forget a set of the Python straps (from $29) to actually hang it up.
4. Wood and Canvas Sling Recliner from Blue Ridge Chair Works
Logs and stump seats are useful as makeshift chairs go—especially when you’re getting serious about toasting marshmallows—but the best camp chair allows you to lean back to gaze at the moon. The retro classic Wood and Canvas Sling Recliner ($284) from Blue Ridge Chair Works is perfectly angled for lounging back or curling upright around the campfire, and its padded headrest comes in handy when you’re counting shooting stars.
When it comes to camp comfort, there’s no such thing as too many blankets. Drape one over a camp chair for a cozier seat, place one on a cot to ward off a night chill, fold one up to pad a picnic bench. You’ll want blankets on hand to wrap yourself in while cooking s’mores around a campfire and then again when you’re sipping coffee in the brisk morning.
Rumpl’s machine-washable Sherpa Puffy Blanket ($159) in red buffalo check is lightweight, durable, and designed for the outdoors. It pairs the company’s signature sleeping bag–like blanket with a synthetic, super soft sherpa fleece. For a natural fiber, it’s hard to beat the warmth and comforting weight of a wool blanket. A portion of the proceeds from Pendleton’s navy-and-orange Grand Canyon National Park Blanket (from $249) helps fund park restoration projects, and Woolrich’s truly historic Gettysburg Civil War Wool Blanket ($115) is still woven with the same careful techniques the company used to make blankets that were issued to soldiers during the Civil War.
6. Camp Dutch Oven from Lodge
It’s the three little feet that make this 12-inch, 6-quart cast iron Camp Dutch Oven ($100) from Lodge a must-have. They help it nestle neatly in the coals of a fire pit to evenly bake a batch of dutch oven cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and they prop it proudly in the center of a table, teeming with chili. You can also flip the lid over and use it as a griddle. Of course, good cast iron only gets better over time, and this one is sure to last: time-tested Lodge has been making cast iron cookware since 1896.
7. Lithuanian Linen Tablecloth from Terrain
Why bring a linen tablecloth on a camping trip? The better question is “Why not?” Whether you’re serving hot dogs and hamburgers, or you’ve packed and prepped a multi-course menu, a beautiful tablecloth transforms any meal into an outdoor feast. While the red striped version pictured here is no longer available, the soft, neutral colors and summery stripes of Terrain’s Lithuanian Linen Tablecloth ($128) subtly brighten any outdoor space and provide an excellent backdrop for wildflower bouquets. (Psst! If you’re still balking, try the $20 Vardagen cotton-linen blend tablecloth from Ikea. It’s no Coghlan’s red-check tablecloth, but it may feel more practical.)
When one of the best parts of camping is sipping a hot cup of joe in the fresh morning air, there’s no room for cowboy coffee. Enter SnowPeak’s Cafe Latte Set ($111): a titanium French press and matching milk foamer. When packed together in its nylon carrying bag, the whole set weighs just 13.3 oz. (It does not come with a guide to nature-inspired foam art, so invite your friend with the barista skills.) You can heat water directly in the French press, but if you’re traveling with tea drinkers, you may want to bring along the Field Barista Kettle ($148), too. The stainless steel and wood kettle (pictured here) may look like it belongs in a Scandinavian modern kitchen, but it was designed for the outdoors. Complete the hot-drinks tool box with the Field Barista Coffee Drip ($70)—for those die-hard drip coffee fans who distain any other type of brew.
9. Enamelware by GSI Outdoors and United By Blue
Some things are classic for a reason. Sturdy, dishwasher-safe, nearly unbreakable enameled steel dinnerware is one of those things—at least in the outdoors. Family-run GSI Outdoors offers 12-piece, traditional speckled enamelware sets in blue, green, and red ($70), as well as by-the-piece plates ($7) and bowls ($6) in a cream design with green accents. United By Blue’s playful enamel message mugs (from $20) are handmade and painted with mountains, trees, and messages like “Leave the world a little better than you found it” and John Muir’s famous words, “The mountains are calling.” It has 13 designs available, and since the conservation-minded company pledged to remove a pound of trash from the ocean for every product sold, we recommend one of each.
10. Vintage bandannas
You can buy packs of crisp bandannas by the dozen in any outdoor retail store, but the best bandannas are faded, decades old, and worn soft with use. As cowboys know, these little squares of printed fabric are supremely useful around a campsite. Use them as napkins or dish towels, and fold them into trivets and pot holders. Knot them around chair arms or cooler handles so you’ll always have one handy to clean sunglasses or in case of a sneeze (and until they’re needed, they’ll just look really cool). The best bandannas are hidden in scarf bins at vintage clothing stores; keep an eye out for discontinued patterns you won’t come across anywhere else.