Now that warm weather is here, our minds should be turning toward camping season, and of course, all the fun gear that comes with it. Unfortunately, outdoor equipment can be expensive — but it doesn’t have to be. Here are my favorite items for under $50. How can you put a price on time spent with Mother Nature, anyway?
The brand self-dubbed this item the “backpacking utensil of your dreams,” which sounds lofty until you actually use it. Most importantly, it comes with an extra-long handle so you don’t end up with a sleeve covered in food after scraping the corners of your dehydrated meal bag. One end is a spoon, the other is a fork, and a spatula-like rubber edge runs along the spoon so you can snag that last little morsel of dinner (see what I did there?).
We can all pretend that we’re too tough to need a pillow while camping, but let’s be real: Having one makes a world of difference. Pillows don’t need to take up a lot of space, though. The Fillo Elite weighs a mere three ounces, and it uses a layer of Primaloft insulation to keep your noggin warm. Even better, it easily stows away in the attached stuff sack, which is no larger than a deck of cards.
Nobody likes to talk about poop in the real world, but when you get into the backcountry, it’s a hot topic. Any backpacker will tell you that the proper Leave No Trace ethic is to bury your waste, but that’s tough to do when the ground is rocky and rooted. Enter The Deuce #2, a trowel made from DAC, so it weighs just 0.60 ounces. This featherweight will make digging a hole so easy that it’ll be come your #1 priority every time you need to go #2.
If you really want a Jetboil stove but don’t have the cash for one of the higher-end designs, take a gander at the MightyMo. At just under $50, it doesn’t include the pot like many other Jetboils do; the brand recommends pairing it with the FluxRing Cooking pot (sold separately). And admittedly, it isn’t the best on shaky surfaces. But it boils water crazy fast, so if you’re looking for an emergency stove or a compact option to take on small outings, the MightyMo is a great bet.
It’s highly unusual to find a water filter for less than $50, but LifeStraw clocks in at an uber-affordable $17. Just like a straw, you can stick the LifeStraw into a body of water and suck knowing that bacteria and parasites won’t get through. It isn’t as user friendly as other filters since you can’t save the filtered water, but in a pinch, it gets the job done.
Camping and hiking frequently call for a lot of random items, but there’s often no good place to put your assortment of stuff. That’s where the Reusable Rubber Twist Ties come in. They feature a bendable wire interior that makes them easy to twist, fold, and reuse. You can hang stuff off your pack, secure a loose rainfly to a tent pole, or even cinch down a sleeping pad to your mountain biking should the need arise. The uses are truly limitless.
Want a decent headlamp that doesn’t break your bank account but offers enough light that you don’t crash into a tree during your midnight bathroom run? Check out the Neo4 and its 240 lumens, bright enough to “run through the darkness” (or so they say). It comes with a rear blinking red light and a swivel-mounted headlamp, all for less than four ounces.
Not only do these sacks provide waterproof protection for your gear, but they also help keep your backpack organized. Made from 30-denier Ultra-Sil fabric, the roll-top closure ensures moisture stays out, and the slightly see-through material makes it easy to identify what’s inside. I use multiple sacks in varying sizes for every backpacking trip, and I definitely don’t miss rummaging around for lost socks.