Many of my fellow outdoor enthusiasts have found this summer puzzling. A lot of traditional summer pastimes, like crowded beach houses and outdoor evening concerts, have become taboo. Friends of ours that have never considered camping (and peeing) outside are now asking us for our best tips and tricks—and to borrow our gear. Camping is a safe and socially distant way to get a much-needed change of scenery close to home, but I only have so many sleeping bags. It’s time for you to buy your own.
Luckily, WIRED favorite outdoor retailers like REI and Backcountry are holding their Labor Day sales through September 7. It’s the perfect time of year to pick up some beginner basics, like folding chairs, a sleeping pad, or a stand-up tent.
For more ideas, don’t forget to check out our roundups of the Best Rain Jackets, Best Camp Stoves, and Best Bikepacking Gear.
Deals on Starter Tents and Sleeping Gear
2-Room, 6-Person REI Co-op Tent for $374 ($125 off): I have had this tent since 2011. It’s still in fine working condition and compatible with other REI Co-op accessories, like the Kingdom Mud Room that gives you a little more space to stow wet bags or shoes to dry. Alternatively, you may want a smaller two-person tent ($244, $105 off) if you don’t have to fit two children and a dog in your tent.
Therm-a-Rest Sleeping Pad for $34 ($12 off): I have inflatable Therm-a-Rests, which pack down smaller. But if you’re a beginner and you’re not hauling everything overland in a backpack, a folding pad works great and is a little bit warmer.
Nemo Tempo 20 Sleeping Bag for $112 ($38 off): Sleeping bags with synthetic insulation are usually a little cheaper, a little more durable, and easier to dry than down bags (but are heavier and less warm). I like Nemo bags because they have plenty of room to move around, if you find a standard mummy-shaped sleeping bag to be a little claustrophobic. The men’s version is also on sale.
2-Person Camping Loveseat for $82 ($28 off): This seems self-indulgent, but I love this. I have two kids that never let me sit in my own camp chair by myself. If you’re not backpacking, I recommend a one-person chair that collapses rather than one that has to be completely disassembled and painstakingly stuffed into an annoying tiny stuff sack.
Solar Tent Light for $17 ($8 off): I have this lamp from Mpowered. It’s cheap, recharges from the sun, and is convenient for both finding things around your campsite in the dark and hanging in your tent at night. My favorite headlamp and a bunch of other small, powerful, and rechargeable lamps are also on sale.
GoalZero Portable Device Charger for $20 ($10 off): Now that your phone serves as your camera and navigation device, it’s worth keeping a charger on hand. GoalZero’s battery packs pair with its solar panels for recharging off the grid. The device is small and slim but will charge an iPhone from 0 to 100 percent and have a little power left over. The cables are built in.
Deals on Bags and Cooking Gear