This past June, RV sales hit a record high. It comes with no surprise that families are turning away from air travel and crowded tourist destinations this year. More and more parents are looking to get their kids and pets into the great outdoors. While the prime of camping season may be coming to a close in most parts of the country, the holiday season is quickly approaching. As someone who has lived on and off the road for the past 5 years, I’m here to help you shop for the RV enthusiast in your life.
Electric Blanket ($45 – $119)
When you’re up in the mountains or camping in the desert, the temps can go from a balmy 65 to a frigid 30 in less than an hour. Keeping an electric heated blanket on your bed ensures you’ll sleep through the night and have a toasty place to rest after a long day. Some RVs struggle with climate control when the temperature drops too low, plus a heated blanket uses less energy than most RV heating systems. Make sure you set your alarm, waking up can be tough when your blanket is 60 degrees and that crisp morning air is 30…
Camping Toaster ($5)
Glamping but make it thrifty. This 5 dollar accessory is the best way to breakfast on the road. Throw this on top of your RV or camping stove to toast bread and bagels in just a few minutes. Bringing a classic plug-in toaster along with you can take up space and is a pain to clean properly. This is a quick fix that makes breakfast hot, fast and easy.
Screen Shelter ($150 – $300)
Ever been to Crater Lake National Park in July? I wouldn’t recommend it. The mosquitos make it nearly impossible to hike, bike or sit comfortably around a campfire. Pesky insects are an inevitable part of the RVing experience. This pet-friendly screen shelter from REI is the best way to enjoy a meal outside or take in the fresh air without the flies, gnats and mosquitos. Large enough to comfortably fit about 6-7 lawn chairs, and compact enough to shove in the trunk when not in use.
REI Flexlite Chair ($100)
By far my favorite camping accessory out there. What’s great about the flexlite chairs is they only weigh about 1lb and fold up into a compact stuff sack. Since they easily fit into a backpack or messenger bag, they’re great to take on hikes, fishing outings, outdoor concerts, soccer games, picnics, and float trips. Heads up – these chairs are built small which makes them better for folks who are under 6ft.
Solar Light Lanterns ($25 per lantern)
Flashlight batteries die just when you need it the most? It’s the worst feeling. I love these solar lanterns for so many reasons. The solar panel means no battery acid corrosion, no losing its charge and no tangled cords to keep track of. They give off a gentle glow that doesn’t burn your eyeballs when looking directly at the light. These lanterns blow up into a small cube, making them virtually indestructible and kid friendly. Get the one with the multicolored light settings because, obviously, that’s way more fun.
SmartWool Socks ($16 – $35)
Created by skiers who were tired of getting cold, wet feet on the slopes – these socks now have somewhat of a cult following. They use a Merino Wool blend and have expanded their collection to offer socks for hiking, sleeping, cycling, hunting and running. The sweat-wicking material helps deter blistering, which can make or break a day on the trail. My personal favorite is the Extra Heavy Cozy Slipper Sock because they keep my feet warm during long drives and cold nights at camp.
Camelbak Backpack ($100 – $200)
I splurged on a Camelbak Hiking Pack back when I didn’t quite have the money to spend on fancy gear. It ended up paying off and is still in great condition 5 years later. Remembering to drink enough water when you’re out exploring is essential, the tube and bite valve on Camelbak products make it so that you can drink on the go without fumbling around with water bottle caps. I’d recommend getting the pack with at least a 3 liter reservoir. If you are prone to back pain, make sure to get a pack with a load-bearing hip belt to take the weight off your shoulders (most 3 liter packs have this). Pro tip: hang your Camelbak pack around the back of your drivers seat during long hauls so you can get hands-free hydration on the road.
Roasting Sticks ($15)
While whittling a tree branch may seem like a fun activity, it gets old fast. Not to mention the risk of losing a digit increases every time you try to sharpen a stick in the dark. Roasting sticks are great for hot dogs, marshmallows and brats. The telescoping feature makes them great for little ones who need to keep their distance from the fire. A definite staple in my camping bin and a great stocking stuffer for the family.
Lodge Cast Iron Pan ($50 – $115)
This cookware is all the rage right now. They’re great in the kitchen, but even better on the campfire. The cast iron allows for the pans to be put directly over hot coals without damaging the nonstick finish. The website says their products are “not indestructible”, but I beg to differ. Whether you get a skillet or a dutch oven, just make sure you get a lid – without one, embers from the fire can fly up into your food. Pro tip: driving to the smokies? The original Lodge Cast Iron factory store is just outside Chattanooga on the Cumberland Plateau. A fun pit stop just north of Gatlinburg.
If you’re shopping for a true nature enthusiast, chances are they already own a camping hammock. There’s lots of accessories out there to make your hammock experience even more fun and relaxing (i.e. tandem hammock hardware, rain fly contraptions, hi-tech hammock insulation quilts). My personal favorite hammock accessory is the Dragonfly bug net from Kammock. It’s zipper and suspension system makes it simple to get in and out of. You can rest easy knowing that you won’t wake up with lymes disease.
Questions about these products? Hit me up in the comments, I’m happy to help.