Finding the best camping gear often involves a one-hour search of reviews online and multiple trips to local stores. Here, we break down some of our favourite gear that we often don’t leave home without. This is gear we have built from 20-years of camping for bowhunting, fishing or ecology field trips (“work”). If we can provide a direct link to find the item we will, but we ALWAYS recommended shopping local. Your locally-owned camping store will always go above and beyond any online store! Plus the yarns and laughs are worth it! Please note, NONE, of these products have sponsored us in any way, these are just products that we have researched and tested over time. We refer to OzTrail gear a few times as it is affordable and of reasonable quality.
The ‘Ecology Tools & Camping Gear’ video from Episode 6 of our Live Ecology Talks is also below – this video explains in detail these items. Expand the description in YouTube for the Chapter list to skip to specific sections.
The list below just goes over the rough category of each item you shouldn’t leave home without! The specifics will come further down the page!
“All the gear and no idea”…except in this rare occasion we do have a clue! That wooden camp kitchen on top of the ute is priceless and was one we made up during isolation for fun. Drifta have similar setups and I would highly recommened one of theirs!
The ‘Ecology Tools & Camping Gear’ video from Episode 6 of our Live Ecology Talks is also above – this video explains in detail these items. Expand the description in YouTube for the Chapter list to skip to specific sections.
Here is our favourite gear, with links to the product and our reasons why it’s our favourite!
Field guides: expand your knowledge of the animals around you at camp! I guarantee you with even one guide, you’ll learn an animal or two each trip! Source: Varies.
Headlamp: A GOOD headlamp is a must at camp. Cheaper version from camping stores around $40-50 are OK too. This LedLenser H14R.2 will set you back a couple hundred dollars, but you will NEVER regret it. I’ve owned one now for 6 years and it just malfunctioned recently. I sent it back to be repaired and a brand spanking newbie was returned! It’s rechargable, has a focus beam, an amazing spread beam and the battery pack can be moved to your waist for those longer walks. Source: https://ledlenser.com.au/products/h14r-2-headlamp
Cameras: This is always personal preference. Phones, point and shoots, DSLRs, mirrorless…all of these are great cameras, so long as you are comfortable with them! If you want to learn more about photography and how to take photos, our photography courses (online, outdoors or tours) are incredibly affordable and will put you ahead of everyone else starting out within an hour!
Battery & Charging: This Powertech MB3742 battery pack can power some 240V devices and charged USB & cigarette adapter devices as well. In the pack are three solar panels with a decent amount of cord to charge the unit. It can also be charged by 240V. This is more for remote camps where you don’t need a generator but still want some kind of charging ability. This model came from Jaycar, but they can be hard to find. Try Googling the model number above.
Folding Saw: This one is GREAT for those backpack walks where you might need a saw! It craps over the hanb-held, roll-up chain saw blades. We’ve used this several times to get us out of a sticky situation! Source: Survival Supplies Australia
Footwear: Depending on what I’m doing, I wear a combination of the below. On most non-work occasions, I just wear the ankle high reef shoes. They provide superior grip over ANY shoe because most of your foot will be contacting the ground at one time. These have a softer gel-like sole than other ankle-high reef shoes which is great for rock hopping and creek walks, but not so great when walking through a burnt area with lots of sharp stakes. The harder soled reef shoes would be better here. I don’t have ankle problems so I wear those on multi-day hikes with a 20kg backpack no worries! Hiking boots are your own preference. When working I wear these, and if grassy, sock protectors are a must to stop those annoying seeds going in your boots! If I’m doing lot’s of work in long grass, snakey areas or wet/cold areas I might throw on some gaiters, but it’s very rare. I never wear jeans or long pants, so these are a compromise for me.
Camp Oven: The truth is…no camp is complete without a camp oven! This one is called a ‘Potjie Pot’ and reigns from southern Africa. Instead of having a flat-bottom it is rounded and has 3 legs underneath. This lets you put coals underneath it and easily moderate the heat, whilst still being a thick cast-iron pot. This one is made by OzTrail and is available at most local stores. Source: OzTrail & local stores
Camp stoves: This one comes down to personal preference and the available brands out there. These are two basic backpack types, but stoves can include JetBoil, Coleman’s, as well as butane or propane gas stoves.
Lantern, First Aid Kit, Binoculars, Trail Camera, Whistle/Flint: All of these items are often quite basic and have so many different models available. We love having each of these items, but brand isn’t too important here. We found Moultrie were a great trail camera brand, and love our Nikon bino’s, although the pictured bino’s here are good too. A good general size for birding is 8×42.
Billy: The older the better. You can’t buy these. You can only inherit or find them haha!
Solar Panel & Battery Bank: This small, lightweight solar panel is designed for hikers. It will charge your devices up even in cloudy weather! The accompanying Battery bank is hefty, but will charge your phone and other devices several times! Anker has a great reputation and at the time, these products were by far the best options out of all the competition.
Leatherman: I’m not sure why every Aussie wouldn’t have one of these. This one is a Leatherman Surge. They are brilliant tools for so many different uses. Mine sits on my modified scouts belt from when I was a kid and is in an incredibly sturdy pouch made by ‘Dead Skin’. Source: https://leatherman.com.au/
Mattress, Fly, Hammock x 2: THE best compact camp mattress I’ve ever had is an Exped DownMat. Exped make a SynMat version as well (down vs synthetic filling). They are comfortable, warm, reliable and as close as you will ever get to a foam mattress. There are many options for a camp fly, but OzTrail make a lightweight one that is great for those backpack hikes. My two picks for camp hammocks are well and truly tried and tested. The Hennessy Hammock is more a camp style hammock. It has an in-built mozzie net and a fly above it as well. It has a sturdy zip on the side that you can access it from and even allows you to sleep somewhat flat inside it! At times where other campers have been soaked in their tents (Cape York monsoonal rain) due to absorption through the ground, these have kept us dry! My other pick is the ‘Ticket to the Moon‘ hammock. This is more of a relax hammock, however they now have camping versions and add-ons. I use a double-size mostly, but have a single as well. They are lightweight, cool, made of parachute material, take about 60 seconds to setup and pack down to the size of a pair of woolly socks! These are some of my favourite camp items! Sources: above.
Backpack: A quality backpack is an absolute must. Cheap packs will see you frustrated with torn zips, busted straps and a sore back in no time! Things you want are a comfortable waist strap (this is where most of the weight should go), solid zips, adjustable straps, lots of pockets, breathable back, a frame (sometimes) and a spot for your water bladder. This one is a Badlands 2200 and is one of the best packs I’ve ever owned. I even take it backpacking from time to time! Source: Badlands 2200
Rope & Cord: Good quality rope and cord at camp is priceless. Don’t get the cheap crap rope, spend a couple more bucks and get some stuff that won’t deteriorate in the sun within a couple years. Utility cord is great for the smaller jobs and washing lines too! Source: Your local hardware store.
Tables: These come in so many shapes and sizes. It’s personal preference really and depends what space you have. These white ones are pretty coming and easily pack on top or beside your other gear.
Hats: If you’re in Australia and you don’t have a hat, you’re a deadset fruitloop. Akubra are the go…leave the “Ariat” behind…that’s a yank brand. Support Australia, buy Akubra! Caps are also OK. Source: Akubra
Water containers: Any will do, just so long as they’re sturdy and have a replaceable tap (they can break often, carry a spare inside the container).
Camp chair: If you wanna relax at camp you can’t beat a good camp chair. This one is a Ridge Ryder, but just because it was half-price at the time. There are so many models, just keep out for a special and a reasonably thick material that will last.
Tents: My backpacking tents have expired so I couldn’t show them here. These days I mostly use a Hennessy Hammock for backpacking and take one of these 3 if I’m heading out in the ute. This pop-up tent is brilliant for me on tours as it is incredibly quick…just be sure to ask the camping store bloke to show you how to put it away!
Lights and reels: LED lights for camp are super useful. This strip light plugs straight into that battery pack above or your car cigarette outlet. A handline is something to always have in the car, that takes up bugger all space, and catches just about as many fish as a rod!
Swag: The mother of all camping beds. Don’t be a goose and put it on a stretcher, you really don’t need to take the extra weight. Unless you’re older or injured of course! Instead half an eggshell mattress overlay with a mate and put it inside (on top of your swag mattress) for the comfiest sleep you will ever have at camp!
Water storage: Canvas shower bags are awesome to treat yourself with a warm shower at camp. I don’t use them personally, but instead use this old army 5 gallon water bag. I would leave it in the sun to warm up for a shower. It doubles as a tap at camp for handwashing too. A thermos is great to take a cuppa with you on the road and the smaller waterbags are great options so you’re not stuck carrying multiple bottle when they’re empty. These ones even have a filter and suction pump that attaches so you can get drinking water out of lagoons etc.
Opera house pots: These yabby traps are brilliant if you’re near freshwater. One of the best camp meals you could ever have is freshwater redclaw or prawns fried in a delicious marinate!