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colorful tents in the mountainsSummer is officially in full swing and that means it’s time to head outdoors for camping trips and day hikes. High temperatures this time of year can make things uncomfortable, so having the right equipment is an absolute must to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Although weather conditions factor in when deciding what to take with you, Max Witzke, General Manager of MooseJaw Detroit, says prioritizing what you buy according to your budget is key when buying gear.

“Make sure the items that will keep you safe, warm and comfortable are the bulk of your funds,” Witzke said, “Then feel free to look at the clearance section for less-necessary items.”

Witzke said that when it comes to outdoor gear, there are a wide variety of brands with products at different price points and quality.

Whether you’re a first-time camper, or an experienced hiker, you’ll find everything you need on our list of outdoor recreation essentials.

For the Camper

Sleeping Pad

Sleeping bags typically top most camping pack lists, but a sleeping pad is just as essential for ensuring a comfortable night’s sleep when you’re sleeping on hard or uneven ground. There are a number of models available. The Air Core by Big Agnes is a versatile option. If you’re planning on camping in cooler weather, you can find thermal options to keep you warm from Therm-A-Rest.

Camping Chair

For a more comfortable experience when you’re gathered around the campfire, or relaxing after a day of exploration, don’t forget a collapsible camping chair. You can find everything from basic models to options with built-in coolers like this one from Coleman.


If you plan on camping on an open campground, a good tent is essential to escaping the elements and keeping bugs at bay. If you’re new to camping, Witzke recommends a tent with an easy-to-use design. “Setting up a traditional tent can be a pain, even in perfect conditions,” Witzke said. Witzke recommends practicing putting your tent together before you go on your outing. You can find everything from a good starter tent with a collapsible design to more spacious options suited for large families at Moosejaw.com.

For the Hiker

Hydration System

You might be tempted just to grab a bottle of water as you’re heading out the door, but if you plan on taking a longer hike, or being active on a hot day, a hydration system might be a better option. If you’re looking for a hands-free experience, CamelBak makes a number of hydration packs that fit into specially designed backpacks. These models also allow you to carry hiking essentials, such as first aid supplies, snacks and more. If you’re looking for a less bulky option for running or biking, try a hydration belt like this one from Nathan Sport.

Hiking Shoes

A good pair of hiking shoes can make all the difference. Many people think of the classic pair of sturdy hiking boots as the ultimate trekking footwear, but there are a number of options out there depending on the kind of hiking you’re doing and your level of fitness. If you’re planning on tackling unsteady terrain, a shoe with an aggressive tread, like the Speedcross 3 GTX® by Salomon can make your hike easier. If you’re looking for sturdy ankle support, try a boot like the Crestbound Gore-Tex® by Merrell.

Hiking Poles

Whether you’re a beginner planning your first hike or an advanced hiker tackling tricky terrain, a pair of hiking poles can give you added security. You can find everything from anti-shock to collapsible options from LEKI.

Head Lamp

If you’re planning on setting up camp on a site without electricity, packing light sources is an absolute must. In addition to flashlights and electric lanterns, add a headlamp to your checklist. “This can be a real lifesaver if anything rough happens in the dark,” Witzke said. Headlamps, like this one from Black Diamond, are a wonderful hands-free option for hikers and campers, with many models providing more light than a typical flashlight.

“Camping, hiking, backpacking and other outdoor activities can be extremely rewarding,” Witzke said.

Make sure you have all the equipment you need to make your outdoor adventure one to remember.

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