After months spent stuck hibernating from the cold of winter, there are few better ways to celebrate spring and summer than packing a bag, rucking in the wilderness, and communing with nature — along with fire-cooked meat and some adult refreshments. But as any good grunt knows, not all pieces of gear are created equal: straps break, fabric tears, and some tools just aren’t reliable enough to get the job done. camping, outdoor, national parks, travel, gear & gadget
We asked our community of veterans about the gear they rely on for a good old-fashioned camping trip. Here are their top picks (with a few suggestions from the many veterans on our staff).
1. A cast-iron skillet
Unless you’re planning to only eat s’mores during your sojourn in the woods, a skillet is essential for prepping that sweet, sweet grilled meat that the body needs to survive. For your sake, T&P vets recommend the Camp Chef 12 Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet for easy handling and durability. camping, outdoor, national parks, travel, gear & gadget
2. A woobie
Do I really need to explain all the ways that this nylon poncho liner is way, way more than just a nylon poncho liner? No, but Angry Staff Officer can and will: “It can be used as a blanket, pillow, shelter, hammock, camo hide for concealment, jacket liner, seat cushion, mattress … it is remarkably resilient to extreme heat and cold, dries quickly when wet, and most importantly, can be squished up into a tiny ball that takes up barely any room in your rucksack and adds virtually no weight.”
If you don’t already have one, you can score one for a (relative) steal at on Amazon.
3. Solid boots
Unless you spent your military career flying UAVs from the comfort of your gaming chair, a good pair of boots may the most essential piece of gear in a service member’s inventory. And frankly, that applies even after the service — I can’t begin to tell you how many civilians I know who have gone hiking in Chuck Taylors and hated themselves.
T&P readers swear by the Salomon FORCES Quest 4D hiking boot and “assault shoe” that the company says “support free-fall airborne and rappelling/fast rope operations” and “can take you up mountains, or through the door on target.” As long as it fits firmly into someone’s ass, I’m game.