by Marc Peruzzi
Jetboil Genesis Base Camp System Stove
Field Test: After 25 years, my battered two-burner propane stove ignited for the last time. I replaced it last summer with the new Jetboil Genesis and used it heavily over six months of race support for my high school mountain bike league son—plus a few trips to the high desert. As two burner stoves go, it’s a revelation. First off: The stove folds onto itself and locks in place via bungee straps. Then you slip that unit into the included five-liter cooking pot, which you then top off with the nonstick frying pan and lid before tucking it all into the tight (8.5” by 10.75”) carry case. I don’t like wasting green cans for car camping, so I hooked the Genesis up to my small refillable propane tank (you can buy the connector hose on the Jetboil site). And I also opted for the Luna Satellite Burner ($60), which fixes to the same fuel source via the stove, and the Grande Java Kit ($65), which comes with a 1.8-litre compatible cup and French press. It boils water for coffee as fast as a, well, Jetboil, and it frees up the main burners for the eggs and the hash. Slick!
Why It’s Timeless: Because the large pot features the same type of heat retaining “FluxRing” you find on smaller Jetboil pots and mugs, the system is hyper efficient. I’m burning noticeably less propane per trip.
Helinox Camp Chair and Ultralight Table
Field Test: There’s a lot of junk on the market, and my carbon footprint won’t let me buy quasi-disposable furniture destined for the landfill in three years. Helinox builds chairs and tables like its US distributor Big Agnes builds tents: with lightweight but strong aluminum poles and tough fabrics. The Australian company calls them the lightest and strongest camp chairs on the market. Setup is brainless; tear down easier still.
Why It’s Timeless: They’re high quality enough that you won’t leave them out in the yard all summer to rot.
Thermarest MondoKing 3D mattress
Field Test: At 4-inches thick, the MondoKing is the plushest car camping mattress Thermarest has ever made. Even deflated, it’s kind of comfortable. But once inflated—under a minute if two people take a valve each—it’s like sleeping at home in bed. The large is 25-inches across; two fit in the back of my rig. There’s an XL for big fellahs. To deflate just open the valves, roll into a 7- by 26-inch log, and stuff.
Why It’s Timeless: In terms of luxury, it turns a truck bed into a Sprinter van. Made in the USA
Nemo Cosmo Air 25L pad
Field Test: If space and weight aren’t an issue, then the MondoKing (above) is a great call, but the Cosmo 25L from Nemo is also 4-inches thick and 25 inches across. But this pad only weighs one pound, 13 ounces and it packs down to a 9- by 4.5-inch football. It’s way more comfortable than any backpacking pad I’ve tried, and you could use it backpacking if sleep is at a premium. Still, it’s a tad squeaky in the bed of the truck. A built in foot pump makes setup easy.
Why It’s Timeless: Small and light, you can use it rafting, horsepacking, and llama wrangling.
Nemo Concerto Down Sleeping Bag
Field Test: I’m happy to have my zero-degree mummy bag in winter, but in summer, the constriction of a mummy is smothering. The semi-rectangular down Concerto is 76-inches wide at the chest and a roomy 72-inches at the feet. On warm nights, the top folds down on two sides like a duvet to reveal a sheet. It’s rated down to 20 degrees, and it earned that rating on one cold night by Leadville, Colorado, last October. Packs into a 16- by 12-inch sack.
Why It’s Timeless: You can roll over in it and kick your feet.
Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Deluxe Pillow
The Aeros is a full size pillow that packs down to a grapefruit. But it doesn’t feel like those cruddy air pillows you’ve tried thanks to “Air Sprung Cells” inside and a soft fabric outer. The trick? Don’t overinflate it.
Light My Fire Titanium Spork and Salt&Pepper Plus
This spork is so much better than those other sporks because one side is a fork and the other is a spoon. Separation of the utensils, people. I’m also a big fan of the Salt&Pepper Plus triangles, which hold salt, pepper, and one other spice. I have two so I can bring more flavor.
Hults Bruk Jonaker Hatchet
They’ve been making Hults Bruk axes in the same fjord-side town in Sweden since the 1600s—and probably before that. The Jonaker arrived razor sharp, short enough to be handy around the campfire, and well balanced for splintering kindling. It’s also beautiful in its hickory and tempered steel way.
LuminAid Packlite 16
The idea came from two grad students looking for a product to help with disaster relief in Haiti. Leave the solar panel in the sun, then unfold the lantern and blow it up. Suddenly you have enough light to read by. Works great for car camping—and now in 70 countries around the world as emergency lighting.
PackTowl Luxe Towel
Our last car camping essential? PackTowl’s microfiber Luxe Towel, which feels softer than cotton and dry in minutes.
From our Early Summer 2016 issue.