Every once in a while I’ll come across a new product, tool, or gadget that really gets me excited. As a self proclaimed gear junkie, I’m always trying out new products to further refine my equipment and efficiency and have found a few products that make my time fishing and camping more enjoyable. While the following 7 pieces of gear may not be new to you, they are products that I’ve thoroughly tested and rely upon week in and week out for all of my camping and fishing trips and would recommend to any other angler who also enjoys spending nights in the wilderness.
Wildfires and burn bans have unfortunately become a norm throughout the west during the summer months so having a viable option for heating camp meals is a must. When I’m unable to cook my camp meals over a fire, one of life’s true great pleasures, I turn to my trusty camp stoves.
When car camping, I regularly rely on my GSI Selkirk 540 2-Burner Camp Stove for larger meals when weight and space isn’t an issue. Featuring two 10,000 BTU burners this stove can cook a meal for a family or group of friends in no time and stands up to a steady wind thanks to the wind diffusers on each side. This grill is perfect for the no compromise camp chef. The only real downside is that push-button ignition isn’t the most reliable so having a lighter at the ready is a good idea.
If I’m backpacking or hiking, my beloved Selkirk Camp Stove simply isn’t an option due to it’s size. In those scenarios, I turn to my MSR PocketRocket 2 camp stove. Trusted by many hikers and backpackers, the MSR PocketRocket 2 is an incredibly compact and ultra lightweight cooking solution for an affordable price. The MSR PocketRocket 2 is highly wind resistant which makes it great for cooking a warm meal at high alpine lakes where winds can be unfavorable at times. Big or small, having alternative solutions to wood burning fires is crucial to ensure a comfortable camping trip throughout the seasons and I’d highly recommend both the GSI Selkirk 540 2-Burner Camp Stove and the MSR PocketRocket 2 depending on your intended use.
There’s no substitute for a good nights rest whether you’re backpacking, thru-hiking, or even car camping. I’ve been turning to my Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad for the past 5 years and can’t imagine spending a night outdoors without it. This pad is compact and relatively lightweight for the amount of comfort that it provides. Made of a durable laminated ripstop fabric and featuring a lightweight PrimaLoft Insulation, this pad can go just about anywhere and keep you incredibly comfortable at the same time.
I’ve tried closed cell foam pads in the past but have never found one quite as comfortable as my Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad. There are plenty of other inflatable sleeping pads on the market from brands like Sea to Summit, Kelty, Nemo all worth checking out but I personally can stand behind the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad.
Water storage is a major consideration I make when heading out on any camping or fishing adventure. I’ve regularly struggled to find a good balance of carrying enough water to sustain a trip and saving space in my car and backpack while also reducing weight. Recently, I have turned to the Sawyer Products Squeeze Water Filtration System to compliment any water that I bring along with me. This highly compact portable water filtration system can quickly filter 32 oz of water. I have been taking the Sawyer Products Squeeze Water Filtration System with me on hikes to refill water bottles as I fish streams or when I reach a high alpine lake. Simply dip the pouch into a fresh water source, screw on the filter cap, and squeeze for fresh filtered water.
Very rarely am I in scenarios where a stream or lake is hard to find so I can consistently rely on the Sawyer Products Squeeze Water Filtration System to supplement the water bottle that I carry. It’s always good to have access to more water than you need. A good rule of thumb is to have at least a gallon of water available per person, per day. Water jugs from your local grocery store will suffice however having a reusable water jug or a portable water filtration system is a much more sustainable solution.
Everyday Carry Worthy Pocket Knife
One item I don’t leave my house without is a quality pocket knife. Perfect for day to day chores like opening mail or packages but even more useful when I’m spending a day on the water or in the woods. A good everyday carry (EDC) folding pocket knife will serve you while doing camp chores like food prep and starting fires with a flint yet still be compact enough to slip into your pocket.
I’ve been carrying the same Chris Reeves Small Sebenza 21 folding pocket knife daily for 5 years and it hardly shows due to the durable hardened steel blade and titanium and micarta scales. I have found that folding pocket knives with a ~3.5” blade are suitable for most tasks and anything larger can be bothersome to carry.
Having a pocket knife at the ready is a great idea when spending time outdoors for everything from food prep to self defense to basic survival tasks. Like most products, you typically get what you pay for in a knife. Higher quality pocket knives will typically have harder steel blades that retain a sharp edge longer. Some other quality EDC knife brands to consider would be Benchmade, Kershaw, and Spyderco.
Once you’ve found your perfect knife, it’s important to keep it sharp. I’ve been using the relatively inexpensive and incredibly compact Smith’s CCKS 2 Way Knife Sharpener for everything from my EDC pocket knife to kitchen knives with great success for years. The Smith’s CCKS 2 Way Knife Sharpener features a coarse carbide sharpener to work out any imperfections in your blade and a fine ceramic sharpener to hone a razor sharp edge. Any outdoor enthusiast should have a few Smith’s CCKS 2 Way Knife Sharpener on hand to keep your knives sharp at all times.
Rooftop Rod Carrier
I know what you’re thinking, “unnecessary”, right? Maybe…but hear me out. After you’ve broken a rod or two or three, you may change your mind. Not to mention the convenience factor of having your rods rigged and ready when you arrive at your favorite stretch of water or move from spot to spot. I’ve had too many rods end their lives in a car door while getting ready for, going to, or coming back from a day of fishing. Sure, we all have rod tubes but there are times when transporting a rigged rod is just more convenient. As a result, I’ve been safely and securely hauling my quiver of rigged rods around in the Denver Outfitters Rod Vault 4 (currently sold under the Thule brand) for the past 3 years and can’t give it enough praise.
Available in 2,3,and 4 rod models, the Rod Vault easily transports rigged rods up to 10’ with a fighting butt. If you often find yourself transporting built rods for quick access to your favorite water, a rooftop rod carrier is worth some serious consideration. Keeping rigged rods in a variety of weights in your Rod Vault will ensure you’re ready for any condition that you may encounter. While they’re certainly not cheap, after considering the cost of replacing a few broken rods a Rod Vault might just make sense for you too. Other rooftop rod carriers worthy of consideration would be the Riversmith River Quiver, Yakima Double Haul, Big Sky Rod Box, or even DIY.
My rooftop cargo box is one piece of gear that revolutionized my camping experiences. You may very well have one but if you don’t, listen up! The added storage provided by rooftop cargo boxes makes adventuring with friends and gear far more comfortable and convenient. The ability to throw day packs, tents, waders, boots, camp chairs, you name it in my rooftop carrier allows me to keep the trunk of my SUV relatively organized and my back seats free of gear for friends.
Having a free back seat also allows me to fold the back seats down and have a comfortable sleeping setup for two all while knowing my gear is safe and secure on the roof, a real game changer for fall and cold weather camping trips where sleeping in a car is more comfortable than a tent. I purchased the Yakima Skybox 12 Carbonite as it conveniently fits on my roof rack next to my Rod Vault 4 thanks to it’s sleek 24″ width. Another reason that I chose the Yakima model over other brands is that it opens on both the driver and passenger side, allowing me to leave my Rod Vault mounted on the passenger side, outside of my field of vision. There are countless other options available from Yakima, Thule, Inno, in a variety of widths and lengths to suit your needs and vehicle.
Theres not a whole lot that can put a damper on a fishing or camping trip like melted ice, soggy food, and warm beer. Having a cooler that can keep ice for several days can really make or break a trip. After making 3-4 ice runs on a multi-day camping trip last summer due to using a cheap cooler, I decided it was time to make the investment in a quality cooler. I turned to the YETI Tundra 45, a somewhat obvious choice. Certainly not a new product, but one that anglers and outdoor enthusiasts turn to around the globe, for good reason. These coolers are worth the hype and after ruining enough food with cheap coolers, worth the price too.
So far, I’ve been able to keep ice for 5 days without any concerted effort and expect I could go much longer if needed. If YETI isn’t your thing, there are certainly other good cooler brands from Engel to Igloo, and Rtic all capable of keeping ice for several days when properly packed. If you’re not sure how to properly pack a cooler, be sure to check out our guide. When you’re camping or fishing, picking up ice should be the last thing on your mind. Long story short, having a means of keeping food and drinks cold for several days is a must for multi-day camping and fishing trips and a quality cooler is a simple solution.
Article by Evan Garda on the Content Team here at Fly Lords. He can be found chasing trout throughout the west with his trusty fly rods. Check out his adventures at @evangarda.