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There's an argument to be made that fall camping is the best kind of camping. And we’re here for it, for obvious reasons—fall foliage, less crowded campgrounds and state parks, fleece. But it's fall's more ethereal qualities that make it the ideal time of year for a camping adventure. Balmy days and cool nights, crisp air and cold swims; how a campfire meal satisfies more fully when there's a nip in the air and that morning mug of coffee hits a little harder after waking up with dew on the tent.
Plus, you get to use all the camping gear in your closet, including all those cozy layers. With colder weather and shorter days come less ambitious plans when heading out (at least for us), which translates to more time around camp and the fire pit. With this in mind, knowing what to pack for a more comfortable fall camping trip is key. A proper camp chair and insulated blanket will elevate any campsite, whether accessed by car or on foot.
What else is on our must-pack list? Keep scrolling to find out what makes the cut for Field Mag’s 11 essentials for a fall camping trip.
11 Gear Essentials to Elevate Your Camping Experience This Fall
Fall is the official season of fleece, and Mountain Hardwear's high-loft HiCamp™ Fleece Pullover is one of those pieces that’s perfect for wearing around the campsite and around town, thanks to subtly stylish colors and patterns. The half-zip layer is lightweight yet insulating, even when wet (shout out unpredictable fall forecasts). Extra features include two zippered chest pockets and a hoodie-style kangaroo pocket. Throw it on underneath your Stretchdown™ Hoody to reach max cozy levels when the temps really drop.
Not all camping spots have picnic tables—or even a downed log near the campfire—which is why it's always a good idea to keep a camping chair on hand. Helinox makes the best out there, and the high back Savanna Chair balances comfort, support, and packability far better than any standard camping seat. The Savanna's design includes a wide seat that accommodates most all body types, two cup holders, and a panel for optional head support, making it perfect for a full day of lounging or recuperating after a day on the trail. The best part is, it collapses neatly thanks to the same aluminum poles high-end backpacking tents use, though it's still just over four pounds so probably best for car camping or boating.
No fire ring? No problem, with Howl's propane-fueled Campfire. The designers behind the soon-to-launch firepit studied the science of wood fires and figured out how to replicate the experience in a portable package that's perfect for car camping, tent camping, and backyard hangs. Unlike other portable fire pits, Howl's four-legged design gives off more heat, so it's not just for ambiance. Sitting around an open flame is the most satisfying of camping activities, and this thing guarantees the experience.
With room for three, the Mineral King is a backpacking tent you won't feel cramped in. That's in part thanks to a pre-bent, hubbed pole architecture that maximizes space but also due to oversized doors that bring the outside in and a mostly-mesh tent body. On top of that, when you do need the rainfly, you can roll it back halfway so that the stars are visible from the comfort of your sleeping bag. The Mineral King™ also has five interior pockets for gear organization plus an included footprint. And like all Mountain Hardwear tents, it's free of nasty flame-retardant chemicals.
With this simple little camping accessory, the isobutane fuel canister that powers your camp stove turns into a torch Indiana Jones would be jealous of. Use it to kickstart a campfire in no time (even with wet wood) or get charcoal going in the grill without the usual hassle. Made of stainless steel, aluminum, brass, and wood, the Japanese-designed Folding Torch packs away neatly in a nylon pouch once your fire starting needs are satisfied.
We’ve been saying it for years, you need down pants. Wear them around the house, to the bodega, and of course, while camping. Everyone owns a puffy jacket, but why not puffy pants? Mountain Hardwear’s latest offering in the category is a stand out, taking key design features from its popular Stretchdown™ jackets including a 20-denier double-weave shell made of synthetic materials like nylon and elastane and down insulation organized into offset baffles. The combination makes these the stretchiest, most versatile down pants out there. Warm enough to be comfy outside until the campfire is down to embers and it's time to crawl into your sleeping bag.
Coleman's classic two-burner camp stove hasn't needed improving for decades, but the company went ahead and made a deluxe model anyway. The 1900 model works just like its predecessor as a range portable enough to carry into your campsite, but it does so with a more secure latch, improved knobs for flame control, and included grill and griddle accessories for cooking up different types of cuisine. With 24,000 BTUs behind it, you'll be boiling hot water and frying fresh caught fish in no time.
Here's a fall camping tip: bring a blanket. Not the duvet on your bed, but a dedicated camping blanket designed for the outdoors. Rumpl's recently released NanoLoft Flame Blanket is stuffed with enough post-consumer recycled synthetic insulation to keep a New England chill at bay. Plus one side of its shell is made of fire-resistant fibers in case any sparks fly off the fire. It also has a nifty clip that lets you wear it like a cape, packs into a water-resistant stuff sack the size of a Nalgene water bottle, and is machine washable. In a pinch and on warmer nights, it could even replace your sleeping bag.
After hiking miles of trails in search of the perfect fall colors, the last thing you want is to return to a campsite where the main amenity is a thin foam groundcover. Instead, maximize the comfort factor by maximizing the size of your sleeping pad. Therm-a-Rest's self-inflating MondoKing does just so with over four inches of sleep support. And with alternating layers of foam and air inside, this air mattress brings enough warmth for the season's cold weather. It packs down into a stuff sack (and includes a pump sack to aid inflation), but this XL sleeping pad is best for car camping.
The ideal layer for shoulder season outdoor adventures, the HiCamp™ Shell Jacket features a rugged, weather-resistant nylon shell that's backed by a sherpa fleece liner, providing warmth and protection in camping seasons known for fickle weather. A versatile (and stylish) take on the classic coach's jacket, this toasty layer is ideal for everything from backcountry getaways to a casual afternoon of leaf peeping near town.
Fall camping typically calls for bringing extra gear, and to keep the campground organized, you're going to need a better bin. The RUX 70L is it. Made of durable and waterproof TPU-coated nylon, this unique piece of camping gear is rigid when you need it to be and flexible when you don't (as in, when it's empty). Its modular strap system lets you carry it like a backpack, over the shoulder, or in tandem with a partner, too. And there's a viewing window so you can see if your headlamp is all the way at the bottom without digging around.