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The 10 Best Camping Gadgets (Don’t leave home without them!)

June 24, 2011 by · 26 Comments 


I was recently asked by a fellow camper, “What are the 10 gadgets you consider most essential for camping?”

I wanted to respond with items like an air conditioner, clean bed off the ground, TV and remote, coffeepot and ice maker.  But, I was quickly informed that those were not considered “gadgets” (or tools) and would not be acceptable.

“This is serious!”, he admonished.  So, giving it only a little thought (and very little at that) I did my best to reply with what I consider my ten most essential camping gadgets.

Actually, my list could have been much, much longer – perhaps a hundred or more items.  But, having to limit it to ten, this is what I came up with.  See if you agree and perhaps add your own essential gadgets in the comments section.

#1 – Duct Tape

You can make anything from duct tape.  A coffee cup (yuck!), rope, patch a leaky tent or awning, start a campfire, fashion a plate or bowl, strap pants cuffs tight to keep out ticks (leave some sticky side showing), fix a rip in the seat of your pants, fashion a bandage, stop a leak in an air mattress and thousands of more handy tasks.  Never leave home without it!



#2 – The butane match or lighter.

I’ve never been very good with rubbing two sticks together or hitting flint on steel.  In fact, my success with matches has been miserable.  Just last week I burned my thumb and forefinger nails off trying to light the pilot on our gas oven with a match – a task that is virtually impossible.

#3 – My pocket pen knife.

It only has two blades – well, only one now since I broke the other off trying to open a tin can.  Still, it is a tool I am constantly using to dig, screw, cut, scrape and pick at most everything.  It is best to keep it well sharpened so you won’t cut yourself!


#4 – My pocket MiniMag flashlight.

It isn’t much, only the size of a Chap Stick tube.  But, the light from the single AAA battery and bright, focusing bulb are invaluable when stuck on a dark night, looking for the keys that rolled under the truck, or finding your way to the bathroom in the dark.


#5 – 1% Hydrocortisone cream.

Skin irritations are inevitable – they come from bugs and plants, not to mention boiling water and burned down matches.  Fortunately, the soothing relief of this amazing steroid can make a miserable burning and itching a lot less miserable.


#6 – A small, plastic pocket poncho.

Yep, just as sure as the day is long, you will forget to have one in your fanny pack when it decides to pour down rain.  There is noting more miserable than wet hair and socks.  Keep one handy for your dog as well.  Next to wet socks, a smelly, wet dog runs a close second.


#7 – The Leatherman Tool.

One of the world’s greatest inventions next to the Swiss Army Knife.  The ability to pull out splinters with the needle nose pliers, loosen (or tighten) Phillips head screws, cut and shape wire, open a bottle of wine, or just dig something out of the dirt is unsurpassed.  But, not really capable of replacing the common pen or small pocketknife.


#8 – A pair of walkie-talkies.

I like the small FRS radios that have a range of a mile or more.  They are invaluable when trying to park a camper and as a result have saved many a relationship and marriage, not to mention an awning or fender.



#9 – A magnifying glass.

Great for splinters, bee stings and ingrown toe nail surgery.  One can also come in handy when the sticks, flint, steel and butane matches fail.  Perfect for finding the lost screw from your eyeglasses and, even in some cases, your eyeglasses themselves.  Also great if you can’t find your eyeglasses – period!


#10 – A LOUD whistle

Great for attracting attention in an emergency or scaring away bears, bobcats and raccoons.  Unfortunately, they do not work too well with snakes.



Most all of the items mentioned here can be purchased either in person or on-line from Camping World


(Now let’s here some of YOUR top 10!)



26 Responses to “The 10 Best Camping Gadgets (Don’t leave home without them!)”
  1. Dave Planitzer says:

    Here are a couple more I don’t travel without:
    “Y” splitter for sharing the water.
    Spring clamps for the tablecloth.
    Weather radio.
    Length of rope.
    My battery operated drill and socket to fit the stabilizer jacks.
    Small tarp.
    2 X 6s for leveling.
    Plastic bags for walking the dog.
    Small “white board” and marker for noting needed items for the next trip.
    Awning deflappers.
    Piece of grasscloth to wipe feet on before entering.
    Eyeglass repair kit.
    Sewer hose support.
    Whole house filter to filter fresh water.

  2. Ditto. Got everything except the last 3 items!Publisher,

  3. Nathanael says:

    The Duck Tape is a very useful Item to always have. Also its always good to have a whistle around to signal help, just for a worst case senerio. These are good items to remember though. I need to start carring these items more often.

  4. Just got back from a camping trip and we were ever so grateful for our duct tape and roll of twine like string. We built a cool shelter with some tarps, slender trees and twine. :)

  5. bill wilson says:

    I do not go anywhere with out ducttape. it is a life saver

  6. JOHN W says:

    Scratch the pocket knife off the top 10 list if you are packing a Leatherman. Its just a duplication. Add a rope to the top 10 list instead.

  7. PeteB says:

    Might I add any kind of hammer or mallet (any size will do provided it is able to drive in stakes or things of that nature), yellow polypropylene 1/4″ rope (50 feet or so), candles, a very well supplied first aid kit with lotsa Band-Aids, Ajax to get rid of annoying ants, a small axe and a foldable army shovel.. and the list goes on…

    But my main number One choice goes to that ubiquitous duct tape: very useful to hold on mirors against the body of a class A motorhome when spruce trees decided to impeed on one’s right of way … unannounced!! Red Green wouldn’t stay at Possum Lodge without it!!!

  8. Dona R says:

    OK…love all the suggestions, but 1 question…How do you start a fire with duct tape?

  9. Kirk says:

    Use the duct tape to pick up #2 and start your fire.

  10. Tim says:

    I can’t do without my P-36(Army can opener)

  11. Bob says:

    All excellent items, I also carry 50 ft. of 550 paracord, and it can be used to starrt a fire.

  12. Glen says:

    All are good suggestions, but personally I’d leave the walkie-talkies at home. If you have worked out your hand signals, you should be able to communicate well enough to guide the driver into the site.

    Some things I might add: lightweight climbers-style rope. It’s good for tying things together of course, and also for use as a clothesline, or a support for a tarp or awning. First aid kit: bandages and antibiotic cream. Matches. Yes, you can use a lighter for many things, but for starting a campfire or lighting a candle, give me a match (or two on rare occasion). Multi-screwdriver, one of those with interchangeable bits. An adjustable “crescent” wrench. Some small screws (On a long trip, I had to replace some cabinet screws with some larger ones, and back them with blocks of wood to keep the new screws from pulling out). Some wood glue.

    Yes, this adds up to much more than 10 now, so if I have to keep it down, I’d take the original list, drop the walkie-talkies and add the first aid kit.

  13. katie gold says:

    We like to travel with various lengths of bungee cord.

  14. margaret says:

    Yes and bungee cords are excellent tie downs for your awning in a pinch! You strap them to the top of the awning and then with an anchor secure the rest of the cords down! works wonderful.

  15. Mike says:

    Stickyback velcro and an assortment of plastic wire ties. When I go any where more than 20 miles from home, even just for a day, I always carry a basic set of tools. I am a building mantenance tech and have come to rely on my tool bag in many situations and DUCT TAPE is the most useful stuff I can think of. DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT.

  16. GaryM says:

    WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it moves and you don’t want it to, use Duct Tape. If it is supposed to move and won’t, use WD-40.

  17. GaryM says:

    I forgot to say – bungee cords – yes, yes, yes. When on the road, we use them to keep the Exit Window from popping open, to keep the coffee pot from exiting the the coffee maker, to hold the table cloth down on a windy day, to keep the firewood from exiting the truck, to keep foldable camp chairs from unfolding when in the storage compartments, to hold the garbage sacks in the can to keep it from sliding to the bottom, to contain the patio mat, for hoses, electrical cords, coax cables – used to use them to keep the cabinet doors shut but have moved up to velcro straps now…

  18. Keith Fullerton says:

    All suggestions are good. I wouldn’t go anywhere without cable ties of all sizes. Indispensible.

  19. Dan says:

    You may think a duct tape coffee cup is a yuck item but I just saw instructions published on the internet for a duct tape CANOE! I’m trying to convince myself of the safety of such a camping staple even though it did look pretty sturdy. A life jacket would be a definite requirement!

  20. June says:

    Living in the southern plains a weather radio is a MUST have. We were in a hurricane, hurricane Eric. It had come on shore in Texas, and as it moved over land it broke apart and was just another rain event for most places north of its initial land fall. But, to our suprise, it had reformed over Oklahoma. We were in its path. The wind blew at 50-60mph all nite long, it rained 12 inches that long nite. The lake we were by rose 5ft. over nite.

  21. joseph says:

    this site is the best because you get the best tents you can ever buy and they are very reasonable prices. is for you.

  22. Tom says:

    Instead of the mini maglite, I prefer a headlamp (led light on a strap around my head) as it leaves both hands free. I carry both but the list is limited to 10.

  23. Ron Johnson says:

    So many electric circuits to fail! Doing almost any electric troubleshooting would be difficult without a Volt Ohm meter.

  24. Laura Latham says:

    Good list. We actually saved the day on a Cub Scout trip with a small socket wrench set when another parent needed the metal tip for one of his tent poles. One of the sockets was a perfect fit for a quick fix. But duct tape, which we did not have, would have worked well there too.

  25. Great list! Thanks! We would add paracord…The Macgyver of all tools!

  26. April Grier-Dymond says:

    I use plastic cable ties on everything!

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