Therm-a-Rest Z Rest
You can have a zero-degree-rated sleeping bag and the fanciest of tents, but without proper insulation from the ground, you are going to be sore and shivering come morning. Enter the sleeping pad, the outdoor industry's answer to a portable mattress. Sleeping pads come in two main formats: air-filled open-cell mattress and closed-cell mattress, which are usually made of foam.
Though self-inflating air mattresses have their perks, closed-cell mattresses like the Therm-a-Rest Z Rest (costing around $40) are more affordable, durable and versatile. They can be strapped to the outside of a pack, can't spring a leak as open-cell mattresses can, and can be folded quickly and easily when it's time to pack up and hit the trail.
Open Country 4-Quart Pot with Lid
When looking for a cookware set for camping, it's easy to get overwhelmed with the range available: titanium pots and pans to ultralight cookware to uncoated aluminum pans. For an affordable and simple option, try Open Country's 4-Quart Pot with Lid for starters. It's big enough to make a substantial meal for three to four people, is durable enough to withstand the abuses of a backcountry kitchen, and is lightweight and easy to pack. It is uncoated (meaning it is not nonstick) and is constructed of aluminum rather than super-lightweight titanium, but it is reliable, durable, and costs $15, a great deal.
GSI Compact Scraper
As you prepare to make breakfast you don't want to see last night's leftover spaghetti remnants stuck to the bottom of your only pot. With GSI's Compact Scraper (about $4), your pots will be as clean as new (and you will save valuable water in the cleaning process). Even the most stubborn, burned-on foods coming off under the GSI's tough rubber and plastic edges.
Article Written By Susan Heller
Susan Heller is a Seattle-based freelance writer who has been writing outdoor-related articles for five years. Her work has appeared in "University Week," the "Ballard News-Tribune," and backpackgeartest.org. In 2004 she was named a Mary Gates Scholar, and in 2005 she received her Bachelor of Arts in Comparative History of Ideas and Comparative Religion from the University of Washington.