There is only one thing that can make camping in Colorado even better: the right gear. The best stuff is utilitarian with top-notch design; products that work so efficiently and blend-in so well, you hardly have to think about them. Upgrade your backpacking and basecamping kit with these eight pieces of camping gear that meet that high standard.
Steamboat Springs’s own Big Agnes knows space. With 56-square-feet and a max height of five feet, the Titan 4 is a veritable palace of a car camping tent. And it’s a twofer: Instead of wiring poles through the tent’s fabric, you set up the fly first, creating a standalone shelter from sun, wind, or rain. When it’s time to sleep, clip the tent into the fly, unzip, and climb inside. The first time setting it up takes a second to figure out, but after that, it’s a breeze. Bonus: The four-person tent is pre-wired with Big Agnes’s Mtn Glo lighting. Flip a switch, press the power button, and you instantly have a well-lit tent without shining headlamps into your buddies’ eyes (just don’t forget the batteries).
Helinox Chair Two Rocker, $180
Forget the folding camp chairs that are barely better than sitting on the ground. Instead, go for Helinox’s Chair Two Rocker. It sets up quickly, weighs less than four pounds, and is so comfortable you might find yourself using it in your house, too (we did). On rocky or uneven ground, simply take off the rockers for a normal, four-legged chair. Helinox has a Colorado connection, too—they’re currently distributed in North America through Big Agnes.
Revel Gear Trail Hound, $25 to $29
If you really want to light up your campsite, ditch the Christmas lights—which suck battery power like nothing else—in favor of Boulder-based Revel Gear’s ultralight Trail Hound 30-foot Camping Light. They pack up smaller than a deck of cards and plug into any portable USB charger, like Revel’s Day Tripper Solar Pack ($39.99–$49.99). We also like MyCharge’s Portable Power Outlet ($180), which accommodates a three-prong plug in addition to two USBs. It runs two Trail Hound strands for hours and will charge your laptop, too.
Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe SI Sleeping Pad, $170 to $300
The double version of the Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe SI pad is so comfy, it should replace not only your basecamp sleeping pad, but also whatever air mattress you use for houseguests. It self-inflates as soon as you unroll it and open the valves, and you can firm it up in seconds with the Air Stream Dry Sack Pump ($30), also from Sea to Summit, whose North American distribution arm is owned by the same Boulder residents who recently bought and renovated Neptune Mountaineering. It’s far lighter than your standard air mattress pump—it weighs just a few ounces—and probably faster, too.
Grab a full-size sheet from home and Rumpl’s down puffy blanket—which packs down smaller than many single sleeping bags—for a camp set-up that might be better than your bed at home. Have a picnic, too; Rumpl blankets are water- and stain-resistant, so they can double as ground cloths.
RovR Colorado RollR 85, $449
Hike in a little further with Boulder-based RovR’s Colorado RollR 85, a massive hauler of a cooler with a rugged wheel system that tackles uneven ground with ease. This tricked-out ice box comes with a cutting board, cup holders, and wagon bin that sits on top to contain other essentials, so you can tow your gear without stopping to pick up what’s fallen off. The Colorado RollR is made right here in the Centennial State, and is compatible with RovR’s BikR kit, $54, which allows you to pull the cooler behind your bike.
Hults Bruk Almike, $149
Your $10 hatchet for splitting firewood might have been fine at first, but it’s definitely not an heirloom piece like Hults Bruk’s Almike. This one-pound hatchet was hand-forged in Sweden, and comes with a leather cover to keep the ultra-sharp, durable blade protected for years of use.
Helle Temagami, $209
Developed with Survivorman‘s Les Stroud, Helle’s Temagami knife is a true do-it-all piece for your camp kitchen kit. This Norwegian knife is so sharp, it will put any multitool or camp kitchen knife to shame. On top of that, it’s gorgeous. But its leather sheath isn’t just for show—it really is that sharp (so do be careful).