Have we learned a LOT. Over the last 18 months that we've been playing outside, we have learned a thing or two in our 21,000 miles traveled, 109 nights camped at 51 different campsites in all sorts of conditions. With 6 of us on the travel team, our goal from the beginning has been to keep our kit as simple and lean as possible so that it's easy to hit the road.

Regarding the items listed below you need to know a few things: 
1) We've used each of the items listed extensively on our travels. We consider them battle tested.
2) If you choose to purchase any of the items for yourself or as a gift, we really appreciate it. Thank-you! If you make a purchase, Campfire Delight receives a small compensation at no added cost to you which helps us keep the lights on and the kittens fed.

Tie downs + tent stakes

Before our 2018 trip across the West, we were most concerned about our stay in the Badlands National Park as we'd seen horror stories about entire tents being blown away by the infamous winds that roll across the prairie.  We took a test trip to the windiest place we knew and discovered that our setup was no match for the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  A little more research and testing led us to these two items that never leave the kit.


Nite IZE Carabiner Clip/Rope Tightener attached to a tent

If there was a Nobel Prize for camping gear, the guy that invented these beauties would have won. These simple tie-downs have now permanently replaced the ones that came with our tent.  They are easy to use, but their real value comes when you are setting up in a storm or high winds.  Run a line down to a stake, hammer that puppy in, give a tug on the feed end, and you are all set to move on to the next one.  No knots to tie or confusing plastic mechanisms.

Nite IZE Carabiner Clip/Rope Tightener - $3.59 - $19.95

Tent Stakes

The best Snow and Sand Tent stakes for camping

Honestly, under perfect conditions we pull out the simple aluminum stakes that come with most tent kits and leave it at that.  If, however, you find yourself on sand or snow you'll want these instead.  They are lightweight and nest like spoons. Their additional surface area and pass-throughs hold on to sand and snow like you've set them in cement.

Snow and Sand Tent stakes - 6-pack - $11.36


Phone mounts

Like most families that adventure together, we have a small arsenal of devices that need to be powered  while in transit between campsites. We use our mobiles as our GPS unit and on-the-road entertainment for audio books and podcasts. We bought, tested, and returned several solutions until we finally landed on this simple phone mount and USB power plugs from Souche. Low profile, easy to use.  We have two in the front dash area. When not in use, you forget they are there.

SCOSCHE MagicMount Universal Magnetic Mount - Black - $11.97

USB Power Plug

We have two of these in the van. One in the front, which powers our Mobile/GPS and camera, and another in the back that feeds kindles and the kids' mobiles. They are back lighted which makes them easy to locate in the dark.

SCOSCHE ReVolt Compact Dual Port USB Fast Car Charger - Black - $9.98

Camp Lighting


Streamlight MicroStream for camping

This has been part of my everyday carry now for well over a year, and it's the one thing that I simply could not do without. It has a simple tail switch and the clip doubles as a headlamp.  I like the AAA battery solution - I  have too many things that require USB power now. I keep a few spare batteries in the camping first aid kit just in case.

Streamlight MicroStream  - 1.04 oz - 45 Lumens - From $14.52


Nite IZE 300 Lumen Camp Lantern

Oh, the tale we could tell before settling upon this little gem.  We love the balance between its diminutive size and 300 lumen output which in the end is all you need for in-tent use. We charge this up before we leave and it generally lasts a solid 3-days of use. Easy to recharge in the van with the above USB power plug.

Nite IZE 300 Lumen Camp Lantern - $35.99

Under The Stars

Book cover of Under the Stars by Dan White

On your next camping trip, use the Nite Ize lantern to read this very entertaining travel log/history book Under the Stars by Dan White (Read our full book review). White recreates some of the great outdoor endeavors and movements in American outdoor history. He attempts to "see what they saw, and do as they did," tracing the roots of American camping from Henry David Thoreau in the mid-1800's through the present-day phenomena of glamping and RV's.

Under the Stars by Dan White - $14.42

The Best Cook Kit Under $30

The best mini camp stove under $30

These are so small, light, and cheap, you'll want two. We put these cook kits together when planning a 7-day kayak trip down the Neuse River here in North Carolina while on a tight budget and with limited space.  They worked so flawlessly that one always stays in the road camping kit.  We use it primarily as a backup to our Coleman 2-burner beast and pop it in our day pack when we go out on a hike and want to take coffee or hot chocolate along for a treat. Everything fits neatly in the Stanley with room to spare and weighs in at only 16oz with a full canister. Self-contained piezo ignitor is included, but we throw in a mini-Bic lighter, just in case the mechanism fails.

Stanley 24oz Cook Kit = $12.38

Etekcity Ultralight Camping Stove - $13.99

MSR IsoPro Fuel 8 oz. - Check at your local camp store.

Add in a folded up piece of aluminum foil for a windscreen - Free

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are Amazon or other affiliate links. An affiliate means that if you make a purchase, Campfire Delight receives a small compensation at no added cost to you. We only recommend products that we've tested, use on our adventures and love. If you have any questions about products featured on our site please email us.

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