’17 Summer Gear Guide: The Best in Camping + Vanlife

Our editors curated and personally tested some of the most exciting, innovative, stylish and just plain fun products that Summer 2017 has to offer. Here are our top picks for camping and vanlife.

Biolite Camp Stove 2 ($130)

Photo: Biolite

Why we chose it: Because you aren't going to drag your barbeque into the backcountry, are you?

Why we liked it: You can charge your phone off the heat created by the fire, the fan it comes with will fan the flames in the camp stove (and the fire can really get going) and the light it comes with is surprisingly effective in illuminating your cooking experience.

Tester tip: Like we said, the stove can get really hot. Don't underestimate it unless you like your campfire hot dogs extra well-done.

Bramble Camp Towel ($35)

Photo: Bramble

Why we chose it: If you're going to be backpacking, you'll want a lightweight, packable towel.

Why we liked it: It's hyper absorbent, dries in an instant and 5 percent of your Bramble purchase goes to protecting the deserts, rivers and canyons of the American West.

Tester tip: Inexpensive enough that you can justify buying more than one colorway. Go ahead, do it.

Goal Zero Light-a-Life Mini Quad USB ($90)

Photo: Goal Zero

Why we chose them: They're already on your patio and maybe in your bedroom – now string lights are becoming the trend for mood-setting your campsite.

Why we liked them: Goal Zero's mini quad lights don't just create ambiance, they provide serious illumination. The set includes four 110-lumen lights, each with individual carabiners for easy attachment. Each light has an "Area" (high) setting for lighting outdoor spaces and a "Lantern" low setting for the indoors, as well as interchangeable colored lamp shades for creating a softer, more festive look.

Tester Tip: The lights are powered via USB, connected to your battery pack of choice. We like the Flip 20 Recharger.

Kammok Roo Camping Hammock + Python Straps ($99)

Photo: Kammok

Why we chose it: We wanted a hammock we could travel with and use in a variety of locations for ultimate relaxing vibes.

Why we liked it: We loved this hammock for a number a reasons. It's lightweight, and the mosquito net, hammock, and python straps are all made to fit in small stuff sacks that make them perfect to travel with. The "python", or hammock straps, are adjustable suspension straps that enable you to set up your hammock between both smaller and larger anchor points, great for camping destinations where attachment points are sparse.

Tester Tip: This hammock can support two people, and up to 5,000 pounds of force! Note: the insect net, python straps, and hammock are sold separately.

Leatherman Surge Multi-tool ($100)

Photo: Leatherman

Why we chose it: Have you ever wished you could take half your tool chest on the road, without lugging around 200 pounds of tools? We never have either, but with the Leatherman, that’s possible.

Why we liked it: Camping doesn’t mean bringing your whole home outdoors, it’s about bringing the essentials. The Leatherman proved itself to be an essential on multiple trips, with our tester finding new uses for the 15 included tools each outing.

Tester Tip: Be very careful when closing the multi-tool. Two of our testers felt the pliers’ full sharpness potential when the locking mechanism got caught while closing up the tool.

Traeger Tailgater Grill ($450)

Photo: Traeger Grills

Why we chose it: Because who doesn’t want a top-of-the-line grill that they can throw in the back of the truck?

Why we liked it: Traeger Grills has been around for 30 years, and there’s a reason they have a cult-like following: Their grills are some of the best. We cooked dishes from brisket to smoked jalapenos, and everything satisfied.

Tester Tip: Don’t toss the instruction manual aside once the grill is assembled. You’ll need it for first-time firing instructions, and there’s a handy cookbook inside as well, filled with mouth-watering recipes.

Yeti Tundra 65 ($400)

Photo: Yeti

Why we chose it: Yeti released a limited-run ice-blue colorway, and we didn’t want to miss out.

Why we liked it: We took the Tundra 65 out to the middle of the desert for three days, and it kept our food (and beers) cold in 90-degree weather.

Tester’s Tip: Not sure how much ice you need? This medium-sized cooler holds 56 pounds, or seven 8-pound bags.

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