The Best Camping Gear of 2012

By Ashley Berg , last updated February 27, 2012

With spring swiftly approaching, finding the best camping gear for 2012 is an important consideration for nature enthusiasts with big plans for the warm seasons ahead. Each brand comes out with its own line of high-tech and must-have essentials and little luxuries to carry with you, but with limited space for equipment, it is important to select your gear carefully and pick only the tools that support your needs. To help narrow down the multitude of choices, here are some of the most enticing new camping gear picks from the best name brand companies, and why they are sure to become necessities in your kit.

The Essential Backpack

Wenger is a revered brand name that makes quality camping gear for the serious and passionate outdoorsman. The Wenger Patagonia Expedition Race, or WPER, line has the most lightweight breathable, comfortable, and adjustable backpacks on the market. The Onex model is a perfect balance of price range and features. Great for quicker trips with its 20 liter capacity, integrated rain cover, and knife pocket, it is also one of the most versatile choices with a waist belt that can hold up to 40 pounds of anything you care to haul. Whether you are a hiker, biker, or climber this is the right pack for you, and it costs about $135.

The Essential Sleeping Bag

Wenger also makes the best sleeping bag, the Chaseral, which proves its merits with its Climbashield XP insulation that makes it comfortable and warm in down to -40 F degree weather. It also features a zip off top that can be converted into a pillow, or a blanket for use around the fire. The unique trapezoidal shape makes it unusually comfortable, especially around the foot area. Lightweight and affordable, it is a practical and comfortable choice for cold nights in the middle of nowhere. Pick it up for around $180.

The Essential Cooker

Building a fire is the old camping standby, but the professional camper of 2012 knows a portable grill makes life easier and more delicious. The Coleman PerfectFlow InstaStart Grill Stove is based off the original Coleman grill, but has all the conveniences of today. It has wind guards which keep your food safe from dust and your fires burning, it is compact for reasonably easy stowing, and you do not need any pots or pans, just throw your hotdogs right on the grill. The built-in igniter makes cooking a snap, and it costs only $95.

The Essential Tent

In order to camp you are going to need a place to sleep, and a great tent can make the difference between being comfortable, warm, and secure all night and being terrified, bug-eaten, and half frozen. The REI Half Dome 2 is the best combination of many features, including price, square footage, and weight. The unique architecture gives you almost vertical walls and the two doors give you plenty of functionality for this two-person tent. It weighs 5.5 pounds and is good for three seasons. Grab it on sale for around $135 bucks, or even at full price ($180) it is a great deal.

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