Best Camping Tools
Despite the enjoyment and fulfillment that comes from camping, there is a lot of prepping work that goes into it. As a camper, you need to make a mental checklist (or physical) to ensure you have packed all the essentials you need. Depending on your length of stay, this list can be immensely long. Of course, essentials such as clothes, personal hygiene, kitchen equipment, sleeping gear, and personal devices will need to be accounted for. Yet, you can’t overlook the types of tools that you may need. A tool is defined as a device that is used to carry out a particular function (primarily in one’s hand). As such, you will not see any tents, sleeping bags, or air mattresses on this list.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 17 hrs of research
Includes over 12 different functions
A lifetime guarantee against defects is included
Encased in polished red ABS scales for durability
- Victorinox Swiss Army Knife
- MSR Stake Hammer
- Frontiersman Bear Spray
- Petzl Screw-Lock Carabiner
- Fenix Tactical Flashlight
- UCO Air LED Headlamp
- Garmin Oregon 650 GPS
- Leatherman Wave Plus
- AceCamp Hand Shovel
- Schrade Small Axe
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Victorinox Swiss Army Knife
Includes over 12 different functions
A lifetime guarantee against defects is included
Encased in polished red ABS scales for durability
It is a bit heavy to carry around in your pocket
A Swiss army knife resembles a Lay’s potato chip in a lot of ways in that once you have a taste, you will never stop coming back for more. Simply put, a Swiss army knife is an essential tool for every camper due to its insane diverse functionality.Read more
There are 12 separate functions that can be used within this Swiss army knife. This includes a small blade, large screwdriver with a bottle opener, small screwdriver, large blade and can opener.
Technically, the entire Swiss army knife as a whole is convenient. There are not too many built-in convenient features but with all the functionality, this truly is as convenient as it gets.
To enhance the durability and allow this to last you a lifetime, give or take a few years, the blades and tools are made from stainless steel and encased in polished red ABS scales.
One of the reasons why fans rave about Swiss army knives so much is because of their compact nature and portability. While the Tinker Swiss Army Knife is similar, it is a bit heavy when you carry it in your pocket.
Everyone has a style that adapts to them and because of the plethora of design and color choices available, finding the right appeal should be very easy to do.
Instead of packing the 12 functions that this performs individually, why not just combine them into the total package? Sure, you could find heavier-duty blades and screwdrivers but you do so at the expense of the convenience.
2. MSR Stake Hammer
Has a claw section that allows you to remove the stakes from the ground
The handle is exceptionally designed
It can be used as a bottle opener
For backpacking, it would be quite heavy
When assembling your tent, have you ever struggled to pound the stakes into the ground? Depending on the roughness of the ground, this can be a painfully annoying experience. Well, why not use a tool that is specifically designed to accomplish just that?Read more
Attempting to hammer down a stake into rough ground with a cheap mallet can quickly become a nuisance. With this design, the stainless steel head is crafted in a manner to perfectly connect with the stake every time.
While you need help hammering stakes into the ground, they also need to be removed at some point. Thankfully, the claw section of the head makes this an easy process. Additionally, this tool can also be used as a bottle opener.
You can clearly tell how eloquently this hammer is crafted merely by looking at it. While the head is hardened stainless steel, the handle is a finely-shaped alloy tubing that provides an optimal grip.
Despite the fact that there is a nylon cord loop at the end of the handle, the weight is a bit excessive. For camping, it should not be much of an issue but for backpacking, it may not too heavy.
There is only one size and color available but to be honest, there is no reason for you to desire any alterations to this masterful design (other than the weight).
While a normal hammer will accomplish the same main feat of the MSR Stake Hammer, it may not do it with the same efficiency. Then, when you add its riveting construction and multi-functionality its appeal becomes apparent.
3. Frontiersman Bear Spray
Delivers a heavy fog for your defense against bears
Has been field tested by Brown Bear Resources
Does not come with a holster
When you venture out into the world of the unknown, you truly never know what you will encounter. Depending on where you plan on camping, this could be a 700-pound ruthless and viscous brown bear. In this nightmare scenario, only Frontiersman’s Bear Spray is the answer.Read more
There are few ways to defend yourself against a bear attack. Even though it may be rare, keeping this bear spray on hand will deter any raging bear because of its 2.0 percent major capsaicinoids strength.
Because of the heavy fog design, you are provided with some leeway for your accuracy and precision. In addition, you have up to three years from the manufacture date before this reaches its expiration date.
As this fog will extend up to 30 feet, you can stand back at a safe distance while firing. Combining this with the wide range (up to nine meters) is ideal for safety.
The spray is encapsulated inside of a can and as such, you can easily carry it in your backpack or walking bag. Yet, to be truly ready for a bear attack, you can invest in a holster to have quick access to the spray.
While you will need to buy the holster separately, which is a bit disappointing, you do have the option of choosing either a 7.9-ounce can or a 9.2-ounce can of spray.
The hope is that you will never need to use this product. It seems ironic to buy something with the hope of never using it but in this case, words have never been truer. But, if a bear does confront you, this is the best product you could have.
4. Petzl Screw-Lock Carabiner
Integrates a fantastic locking system
It is designed to prevent snagging
Extremely compact and can be taken anywhere
It does not hold up too well to dirt
No, a carabiner is not strictly designed for climbing and rappelling. While it certainly can be utilized for those activities, it can also make for a convenient and handy tool. In fact, you would be quite shocked at how many ways you could utilize one.Read more
The actual intent of this carabiner is to be used for a belaying system for climbing purposes. However, if you use your imagination, you will realize that it can also be used as a place to hook your essentials.
Due to the design of the system, the carabiner will not snag on your gear. In addition, the strength-to-weight ratio is improved and the contact surface is wider for easier use.
Despite the fact that this is a lightweight carabiner, only weighing 56 grams, it has an immense axis strength of 22 kN. As such, it is designed to hold anybody and virtually anything in the world.
Due to the amazing strength-to-weight ratio, this is incredibly easy to carry around and can be installed on any object with an opening.
Even though it will not change the dynamics of the carabiner, there are options for either a black-colored version or the standard orange. The preferred carabiner is merely a choice of preference.
Given how easy this is to transport and the variety of ways it can be utilized, this carabiner should be a no-brainer. What puts this specific model over the top, though, is its unbelievable strength.
5. Fenix Tactical Flashlight
It is waterproof per IPX8 standards
Made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum
Features a max lumen rating of 1000
Does generate heat while in your hand
Ever since you were a kid, it has been drilled into your cranium that certain tools can end up saving your life in an emergency situation. While a tactical flashlight does not need to be used for this extreme, you never know when you will find a use for it.Read more
A flashlight can be used in a variety of different circumstances, clearly. Yet, what is fascinating about the Fenix Tactical Flashlight is it is equipped with six different input modes to alter the brightness of the light.
When the battery needs replaced, a low-voltage indicator light will alert you of so. Additionally, there is reverse polarity protection and a built-in intelligent memory circuit that remembers your previous lighting mode.
Good luck damaging the exterior of this flashlight. It is designed of durable aircraft-grade aluminum, features a hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish, has a slip-resistant body, integrates a toughened glass lens and is waterproof to IPX8 standards.
There is an integrated clip on the body that allows you to easily clip this into your pocket. Of course, due to its size, it can also easily be packed away in a storage bag.
As a buyer, there is only one flashlight that you can choose from. Sure, different colors may have added a more personal touch but in terms of functionality, additional seller options are not needed.
About the only glaring issue with this design is various users have reported that it tends to generate heat while in your hands. It will not burn you, per say, but it is the only small caveat in the otherwise breathtaking tactical flashlight.
6. UCO Air LED Headlamp
The hinge design does not create a hardpoint
It is available in two different styles
Has a phenomenal battery life of up to 160 hours
The headband is going to wear over time
Tagging along a flashlight on your camping trip is highly recommended but yet, it does not have quite the convenience that a headlamp possesses. In situations where you need a guided light with hands-free operation, a LED headlamp will work wonders.Read more
With the manner in which the hinge is designed, you can focus the lamp either forward or towards the ground. With its 150 lumens of light, you can have a guided light in darker areas.
The integrated dial can alter transition the light from either a spotlight, floodlight or red vision light. Past this, you can adjust the band for a perfect fit and the battery will last up to 160 hours.
While the headband itself is going to wear out over time, the entire design is water-resistant to IPX4 standards.
If you are not using this headlamp, it can be folded down for storage purposes. Because of this, it is neither large nor bulky when you need to transport it.
There are actually two different styles that are available and the difference is how you prefer the headlamp to be powered. You can opt for the version with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or one with three AAA batteries.
If you enjoy nighttime strolls or are simply looking for an optimal light source for emergency situations, this LED headlamp is the way to go. It may not be the essential camping tool but it certainly can be helpful.
7. Garmin Oregon 650 GPS
Features a built-in eight-megapixel digital camera
Integrates a sunlight readable touchscreen display
The touchscreen is a bit too sensitive
Garmin has designed so many astounding GPS units that it is hard to pick just one. But, with their Oregon 650 GPS, you will have the power of GPS technology at your fingertips and if you ever get lost, you will have the means to find your way back.Read more
With both GPS and GLONASS high-sensitivity receivers built-in to this device, you have navigation capabilities at your fingertips. In addition to this is a built-in 3-axis electronic compass for enhanced navigation.
Thanks to the dual-battery system, when the built-in rechargeable NiMH pack runs out of juice, you can then use traditional AA batteries. Plus, there is an integrated eight-megapixel digital camera for taking photos.
For the most part, you can get away with accidental bumps and light rainfall with the Oregon 650. Even more so, the sunlight readable touchscreen, while a bit over-sensitive, is a nice feature.
As this is a handheld GPS unit, it is compact enough to easily fit inside your backpack, storage bag, or even a pocket.
It is worth noting that the aforementioned camera feature is optional so you can simply settle for the basic model. But, besides the camera, you can also choose a model with topographic maps built-in.
If you are a camper who loves to explore and go on exciting adventures, a GPS unit is practically mandatory. Unless you know the complete layout of the current location you are at, which would be rare, you will find the Oregon 650 GPS highly useful.
8. Leatherman Wave Plus
Comes with a variety of pliers, a saw, plain and serrated knives, etc.
Backed by an impressive 25-year limited warranty
The included sheath is not the best
While this Multi-tool Wave Plus is a lot like a Swiss army knife in that it is capable of performing multiple functions, it is also much different because of the functionality it possesses. As such, it can be utilized in many more ways than a Swiss army knife can.Read more
As with the Swiss army knife that was previously documented, this multi-tool has several different functions that you can utilize. An example of some would be a saw, plain and serrated knives, pliers, and screwdrivers.
Beyond the simple convenience of having so many tools integrated into one design, Leatherman found a way to design their Wave Plus to be operated with one hand only.
Of the two versions, with one having a stainless coating, the black version comes heavily oiled (to the point where you will need to wash your hands). But, some users have questioned the longevity of the Velcro.
Even though a sheath comes with this multi-tool for storage and protective purposes, several users have been appalled at the design of it. Even without it, though, the device is compact enough to fit in your pocket.
As previously alluded to, there are two different options to choose from. The difference is with the coating as you can either go with a black or stainless look.
One could almost consider this the man’s version of a Swiss army knife. That is not to say a Swiss army knife does not have its benefits for men or that this tool is designed only for men, but it has more practical tools for assembly purposes.
9. AceCamp Hand Shovel
Folds flat for storage purposes
It is backed by a limited one-year warranty
Designed from durable stainless steel
Really only functional for digging
A hand shovel is probably not the first tool that you will think of when constructing your camping checklist. Yet, it can come in handy in situations where you need to do a little digging.Read more
Will this be the tool you use the most on your camping trip? Most likely not but in the situation where you find yourself needing a portable and reliable hand shovel, this is the way to go.
Past its intended design, there are not too many convenient features to speak of. Unfortunately, it is a little small and it is not the most efficient at digging larger holes.
Although it is quite small in stature, it is certainly not poorly constructed. The decision to go with stainless steel pays dividends as the durability is increased.
This is absolutely made for camping because of its portability. Not only does it fold down when you are not using it but there is also a carrying case that comes with your purchase.
Past the gray model that is displayed, there are no additional seller options available.
A hand shovel can be more than just a simple gardening tool and can be of use during a camping trip. If you have any feeling at all that a hand shovel could be ideal for you, this specific version is recommended because of its construction and portability.
10. Schrade Small Axe
Includes an integrated fire-starting striker
It is ideal for campers and hunters
Features an ergonomic black rubber grip for safety
Both the body and handle are very heavy
An axe may seem like an old-school tool but you know what they say, “another oldie but goodie”. But, when a device is as beautifully crafted as this stainless steel axe is, you will quickly realize how functional this can be in the modern world.Read more
Even though it is not required while you are camping, the average camper will want to sit around a bonfire come nightfall. A convenient way to split the wood is with an axe and thus, a match is made in Heaven.
Inside of the shaft, there is a hammer pommel and an extra-large Ferro rod. Plus, there is an integrated fire-starting striker that can be conveniently stored at the end of the handle.
Both the blade and the handle are eloquently designed. The former is made of a titanium coated stainless steel and the latter is cold-resistant and filled with a rubber material.
Included with your purchase is a black thermoplastic sheath to protect the blade. But, as a few users have claimed, both the body and the handle are quite heavy.
This is yet another tool that is unique and only comes in one style.
No, this is not going to be a suitable tool for splitting monster logs of wood. It will not hold an edge for that so the strength is compromised a bit for the portability. But, for small tasks, it is almost perfect.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When you construct any sort of list that is pertaining to a vague category, personal preference is always going to come into play. This could not be truer in regards to camping tools as from one person to the next, the desired tools may be drastically different. Of course, there are always certain tools that everyone can get use out of no matter what their preferences are. A few good examples of such would be a Swiss army knife and a flashlight. Given the functionality and convenience of a Swiss army knife, everyone will be able to find a use for it. The same goes for a flashlight but instead of featuring a plethora of functions, they are ideal for everyone for nighttime use and emergency situations.
Yet, other products such as a carabiner or a GPS unit may not be that important to you. Perhaps you own a compass and do not feel you need the advanced technology of a touchscreen GPS device. Or, maybe you see no use out of a carabiner. Both these are fair points and again, it all comes down to your preferences.
The modern world is predicated on that good old green stuff. Even though some people can go to the extreme when it comes to money, no one enjoys spending their money on a product that is not worthwhile. One of the best ways to ensure you get your money’s worth is to assess the overall construction of the tool that you are looking into. Because of the nature of camping tools, though, the durability and weather-resistance are critical as you will be utilizing most of them outdoors.
You simply can’t predict what Mother Nature is going to throw at you so it is ideal if your tool can withstand some moderate abuse and rainfall. For example, with an axe, stake hammer, shovel, or another tool, it should be durable enough to handle what it is set out to do. As simple as it sounds, if an axe begins to chip within a few uses it becomes a devalued tool. Of course, during rainfall, when you need to, it is nice when you can still utilize your devices such as a flashlight and GPS unit. Assessing their water-resistance and waterproofness levels per IP standards will inform you of how much water it can handle.
When it comes to camping, the bigger and more powerful the tool does not pay the dividends that it would normally. It goes without saying that a more powerful tool will outperform a less powerful tool but there is a reason that this does not come into play when camping. Because you physically need to transport everything you need (unless you buy something while camping) from your home to your camping destination, it is more viable to keep them as portable as possible. Yes, they still need to perform admirably but do not believe that just because something is portable, it is not functional.
Besides assessing the overall weight and bulkiness of a camping tool, you should also look into how you are going to transport it. Sometimes, a carrying case or a sheath (for knives, axes, and other such tools) will come included with your purchase. This is a welcome sight as you do not need to worry about how you are going to safely transport it. Of course, some tools may also be small enough to carry around in your pocket (such as a GPS, Swiss army knife or flashlight).
To be honest, thWhoever coined the phrase “variety is the spice of life” could not have hit the nail on the head any better. It is only natural for people to prefer a little more variety when they are investing in a product. While it can become overwhelming for some people if there are loads of options, having three or four is ideal. Most of the time, the actual appeal of a tool is not going to matter (as long as it gets the job done) but some people may feel differently. But, different sizing options or having optional design features to add on are both a nice touch. e entire point you construct a camping checklist is to ensure your experience is more convenient. Because of this, all the tools you need for camping are convenient in one way or another. But, because portability is so important (which will be addressed later) one of the main features you will see in some camping tools is their multi-functionality and extra design features. The fewer items you need to pack, the better. Instead of individually packing common tools such as blades, screwdrivers, and pliers, why not get the total package with a Swiss army knife or multi-tool?
Expert Interviews & Opinions
For the technology devices on this list you need to pay attention to the battery. Consider, not only how long it will last on one charge but if there are multiple ways to power it. These features can offer much-needed convenience down the road.
Other Factors to Consider
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a standard flashlight; let’s get that out of the way first. Yet, there are several reasons to why the lone flashlight in this list is a tactical version. The most glaring and obvious, especially if you know anything about the word tactical, is the enhanced durability because of the high-quality construction. Oftentimes, these types of flashlights are built with tough and durable materials that can handle abuse. Additionally, they typically will either be waterproof or highly resistant to water exposure.
But, the construction also makes them a viable defense weapon for emergencies. Due to the metal casing and rugged exterior, they can easily knock an attacker unconscious. Of course, most of them also utilize LED bulbs which are the most efficient and long-lasting lighting method available. To wrap this all up, tactical flashlights are typically preferred because of their longevity and incredible build quality.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Can You Wash Swiss Army Knives in a Dishwasher?
As you are no doubt aware by now, Swiss army knives are some of the most convenient products on the market. A common question that is associated with them, though, is whether or not it is recommended or safe to clean them in a dishwasher. One would think because the tools are small enough that it would be feasible to do so. Looks can be deceiving, however, and there are a few reasons why this is not recommended under any circumstance.
Firstly, dishwashers achieve temperatures well past 100 degrees Fahrenheit and it is not ideal for Swiss army knives to be exposed to that extreme of a temperate. In addition, strong cleaning agents and cleaning salts are used in a dishwasher and these can compromise the construction of the Swiss army knife. Instead of using a dishwasher, you should merely open and close the blades in warm water several times. From there, add a small sprinkle of oil in between the blades.
q: What Can You Do When Your GPS Has Reception Issues?
It would be nice to lie to you and inform you that GPS technology is foolproof. But, it is important not to be ignorant about the matter and to understand that at times your GPS device will struggle to lock onto a satellite. Of course, high-sensitivity receivers will be more efficient under heavy tree cover but no matter, signal reception can be an issue. If this ever happens to you, there are some tips that you can try that may improve your reception.
For one, sometimes it can harder for GPS units to lock onto a satellite when it is moving. Try remaining in place for a brief amount of time to see if that helps. It could take upwards of 30 minutes but you need to give it some time. Also, try to go to a location that is not under intense tree or rock cover (an opening to the sky is a good place).
q: Would Not Spray Merely Upset a Bear Further?
Being prepared for a bear attack is similar to being prepared for a home invasion. It is a scenario that you hope never happens to you but in your heart, you always know it is a possibility. There is often a debate between the superior method of preventing a bear attack with a firearm and bear spray being the two most popular methods. While this question is not to debate the two, it is only addressing what happens when you spray a bear with proper bear spray.
Basically, it is fair to assume that spraying a bear is only going to aggravate it further. However, this is why it is utterly critical to use bear spray and not a normal pepper spray. If you blast a bear with traditional pepper spray and do not get a good shot off, you are done for. Yet, because of the capsaicinoids strength of bear sprays (which is often 2.0 percent), they will flee due to panic if they are exposed to it.
q: How Do You Care for a Hand Shovel?
If you happen to be among the demographic who is interested in purchasing a hand shovel for camping, you may be interested to know how you are supposed to care for it. Despite what you may believe, it is a bit more complicated than simply wiping it down and tossing it away. You do want to ensure you clean it after each use, ridding it of all the dirt and mud, though. But, a little-known tip that you may not have been aware of is to store the shovel with the edges off of the ground.
Storing the edges on the ground will only dull your blade faster and depreciate the performance. Also, to prevent rusting, it is never a bad idea to apply some rust-preventative spray. Lastly, no matter what you do, occasionally re-sharpening the blade is also recommended. As this process does require a learning curve, it may be wise to search online tutorials from experienced users.
q: Will a GPS Unit Work Outside of the United States?
Yes, this is the second question pertaining to GPS devices but it is important as not everyone reading this guide will reside in the United States. This can cause complications as if a GPS unit is sold in the United States with according maps, can they be in other countries? First off, it is important to understand that GPS units can function anywhere in the world where they have access to the satellites in the sky. This does not include many indoor locations or underwater locations, though. With United States’ maps installed on a GPS unit, though, operating it in another country will not give you access to detailed maps unless you install them on the device.