Camping Goes High Tech: 6 Gadgets You Shouldn’t Leave Home Without

Tent? Check. Sleeping bags? Check. Flashlight? Check.

You might think that you’re ready to hit the great outdoors with nothing more than a warm, dry place to sleep and some trail mix, but if you want to camp in comfort, you’ll probably want to bring a bit more than that. After all, you’re supposed to be having fun, not auditioning for a spot on "Survivor," right?

Okay, so you would probably survive for a few nights in the woods without some of the following gadgets and gizmos, but you probably wouldn’t have nearly as much fun — or be as safe. Because after all, nothing will ruin a camping trip faster than an injury, and if you don’t have everything you’ll need, you won’t be comfortable and won’t want to head back out again.

So as you’re loading your pack for your next wilderness adventure, don’t forget these gadgets — they might just save your life (or at least make the trip more enjoyable.)

Tent LED Lights

It’s happened to everyone: You get up in the dark of night to answer nature’s call, and the next thing you know, you’re sprawled out on the ground, having tripped over a tent line. Best case scenario? You have a skinned knee and some hurt pride. Worst case scenario is that the tent collapses — on whoever happens to be inside.

The solution is so simple it’s hard to believe that no one has thought of it sooner: LED tent line lights. These lights attach to the guy line on your tent and automatically adjust to the amount of ambient light; in others, the darker the night, the brighter the light. And the brighter the light, the lower than chances that you’ll be apologizing profusely to the person you startled when you pulled down their shelter.

Cordless Bug Zapper

Nothing can ruin a camping trip faster than bugs — a single mosquito trapped in a tent can leave you swollen and itchy in the morning and desperate to go home. Bug spray can help, and campfire smoke can drive them away, but you can truly eradicate the problem by bringing along a cordless bug zapper to deal with the pesky critters once and for all. Small, portable models sell for less than $50 each; choose a rechargeable model to ensure you won’t spend more than the cost of a campsite on batteries.

Solar Backpack Charger

Speaking of charging things, if by chance your portable bug zapper runs out of juice (or any of the other gadgets you decide to bring along) a solar-powered backpack can help ensure you have the power you need. The lightweight backpack includes a panel that collects solar energy as you go about your day, which you can then use to power your devices. So if you simply can’t go a few days without your cell phone or you want to keep your camera powered up and ready for anything, a solar backpack will keep you from having to desperately search for juice.

Satellite Phone

You might think that you can use your cell phone when you’re in the woods, but before you head out, confirm that you can get service. Cellular service is spotty at best in many wilderness areas — and nonexistent in others — meaning you won’t be able to update your Facebook status from the campsite or call for help if you need it. That’s why you should always bring along a satellite phone when you get back to nature. Renting satellite phones is affordable, and will help you call for help or check in with loved ones while you’re away.

Eco Grill

Cooking over an open fire is one of the great pleasures of camping, but carrying a heavy camp stove isn’t always pleasurable — and disposable grills aren’t exactly Earth-friendly. The solution? An Eco Grill, a disposable barbecue that allows you to cook food over an open flame a disposable barbecue that allows you to cook food over an open flame and enjoy a few hours of a campfire, without any waste or clean up. The barbecue is made of wood and contains charcoal, and when it’s done burning, it leaves nothing but ashes — no cleanup, no worrying about smoldering embers, no bulky gear to drag home.

The Kitchen Sink

It might feel like you are bringing everything but the kitchen sink if you carry all of this gear, so why not add an actual kitchen sink? Okay, so it’s not actually the kitchen sink, but you can purchase collapsible, heavy duty "pots" that serve as a makeshift sink when you need to wash dishes or yourself. Instead of dragging a heavy metal pot around with you, pick up a collapsible version that can hold several gallons of hot water, keeping everything squeaky clean without filling up space in your pack.

You might not think of any of these items as necessities right now, but once you add them to your collection of gear, you’re probably going to think differently and wonder how you ever camped without them. So grab some gadgets and stop falling over, not keeping touch and coming home stinky from your epic camping adventures.

Posted by Steve Manley