Summer is great for outdoor adventuring. Fair weather, warm temperatures, and profuse foliage offer a warm invitation to nest in the bosom of nature, with no more amenities than you can fit into your backpack.
That being said, autumn is my favorite time of year to go camping. The summer crowds have cleared out, the landscape is painted with glorious color, and the crisp temperatures make everything a little more delicious, from the first steaming cup of coffee to the midday trail hike to the twilight hours around the campfire.
Don’t get the wrong idea — I’m no tough guy. Part of the reason I love autumn camping so much is because it’s a great excuse to break out the really sweet
Let’s get one thing clear: I’m not talking about glamping. While I’ll never say no to spending a weekend in a yurt or a platform tent, outdoor adventure it is definitely not.
While luxury camping may not be as physically rigorous as backpacking, it’s still fundamentally setting up a home in the outdoors. And if the Bear Grylls types of the world want to scoff at me for being a softie, I’m fine with it. I’m not trying to set any endurance records — I just want to spend as much time outside as possible, before winter shuts us all inside for the long haul.
We’ve collected and tested gear brands from far and wide, and shortlisted the best luxury camping gear to kickstart your autumn
First, a good base layer is as important for your campsite as it is for your outdoor wardrobe. We all know that the rug is what really ties the room together, and these waterproof camping mats from(from $177) are as tough as they are decorative. Plus, we love the Velcro side pocket where you can stash small items for safekeeping.
With the camping mat as your base and the fire ring as your hearth, fill out your al fresco abode with a pair of heavy-duty camp chairs from — who else? — Yeti, maker of all things solid for outdoor fun. Incidentally, the brand’s signature cooler doubles perfectly as a bench, an ottoman, or even a table. For the latter, however, we prefer the many options from Blue Ridge Chair Works, a little family-run outfit in the North Carolina mountains that hand-builds sturdy pine outdoor furniture that looks handsome and collapses into compact, packable form. At 30 inches tall, its($210) makes an ideal “kitchen counter” for setting up your ($250). This dual-burner propane-fueled stove makes camp cooking not only easy (with a push-button Piezo ignition, fold-out windscreens, and variable settings for each burner) but also elegant (gotta love those oak laths and brass detailing). Throw in their and you’re equipped for any meal prep that suits your fancy.
To really take your camp kitchen to the next level, though, you’re going to want to invest in the($220). From morning flapjacks to fish just pulled from the stream, this ultra-portable flat-top grill makes camp dinners a thing of beauty. Just prepare to lose a little privacy — this thing draws a crowd.
On to the centerpiece of your campsite: The tent. We’ve tested every reputable tent company around and, for our money, there’s no better luxury camping option than the aptly named($300). The exoskeleton frame makes it a cinch to assemble (even single-handedly) and its wide footprint makes it a comfortable fit for two campers and all their gear. But our favorite feature of this tent is its extra tall cathedral ceiling, which offers unparalleled stargazing as you drift off to sleep.
The camping world is an egalitarian marvel, including the full spectrum of personal backgrounds, ethnicities, and individual tastes. But in the end, it divides into two groups: Those who favor sleeping pads, and those who prefer air mattresses. If you’re among the former, our team recommends the($120), which features a whopping 19-inch height, a built-in one-touch pump that inflates in five minutes or less, and (best of all) the support of 40 internal air-filled “coils” that mimic bed springs. If you want less between you and Mother Earth, we can’t say enough good about the ($130) sleeping pad. Not only is this extra-wide sleeping pad more comfortable than a lot of mattresses we’ve slept on, but it’s shockingly quick to inflate, even without a pump, and has plenty of toss-and-turn room for two.
As far as sleeping bags go, we were evenly split between the($225) and the ($290). Both bags are ultra-plush with a balance of down-filled tops and synthetic bottom fills for the ideal warmth-to-weight ratio. The KSB 20 features an extra roomy foot box that let you starfish out to your heart’s content, while the Blue Kazoo boasts anti-compression pads that put the kibosh on waking up to cold spots. Both offered fluffy comfort and cozy warmth without giving us a case of the night sweats.
And it goes without saying that every camp bed deserves a marshmallowy soft Rumpl blanket on top. This company just keeps getting better at what it does, and its latest collection of($130) will make you never want to get out of bed.
Finally, the crowning touch for your luxury campsite: The lights. Luxury camp lighting is about two things: Variety of looks, and convenience of use. Biolite offers the best of both, with three different collections (solar-powered, USB, and string) of lanterns that feature ingenious design and festive functions. Such as, for example, the($100) full-spectrum feature which turns the flat-pack lantern into a campsite disco ball. And no need to worry about losing charge if you packed your ($300), a workhorse power station that banks a whopping 187 watt-hours of lithium battery from either wall outlet or solar cell.
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