Nothing says summer to Outside staffers quite like sitting around a campfire and then sleeping in a tent under the stars. So as we’ve wandered the floor at Summer Outdoor Retailer this week, we’ve sought out the coolest camping gear coming down the pike for 2020. Here are our picks.
Klymit Maxfield Four-Person Tent ($500)
Utah-based Klymit is best known for its sleeping pads, which use recognizable V-shaped air pockets to support and cushion your body. Now, for the first time ever, the company is branching into tents. The Maxfield 4 has all the basics of a good group-backpacking tent: a roomy 44 inches of peak headroom, 53 square feet of floor space, and an 18-square-foot vestibule. But at five pounds eight ounces, it’s much lighter than most other four-person tents on the market (for example, REI’s Half Dome 4 Plus weighs seven pounds ten ounces). Our favorite feature? The whole thing rolls up into the front-vestibule floor mat for easy, fast setup and packing.
—Ariella Gintzler, assistant editor
Tenalach Night and Day Bean Bag Toss ($299)
Sometimes the gear that excites us most is the gear that offers simple solutions to problems we didn’t know we had in the first place, such as not being able to play cornhole in camp at night. Tenalach nailed it with this set, which includes two collapsible aluminum boards with LED lights around the holes. Plus, the eight beanbags have LED lights inside. It all comes in a portable case, which makes it ideal for car camping. Now you can have an actual game of cornhole after the sun sets—and still be able to hit your target.
—Jeremy Rellosa, reviews editor
Hillsound BTR Stool ($50)
Known more for its traction devices and gaiters, Hillsound Equipment has developed an ultralight camping stool for spring 2020. Despite weighing only 12.2 ounces, the BTR (which stands for Better Than a Rock) can support up to 265 pounds with its nylon mesh seat and aluminum-alloy legs. Its coolest feature, though, is what Hillsound is calling the PhantomLock: the legs extend and telescope down when they’re in the folded-up position, but splay them out and they fix in place, no fiddling with latches necessary. The BTR comes in 14- and 17-inch versions, and they pack down to a little more than 11 and 13 inches, respectively. A crowdfunding campaign is currently live on Kickstarter, and backers who chip in $50 or more will get their stools delivered in February.
—Will Egensteiner, senior editor
The North Face Eco Trail Down 0-Degree Sleeping Bag ($169)
The zipper is the only detail on this North Face sleeping bag that’s not recycled. This is an impressive design and sourcing feat on the company’s part and particularly remarkable because it used repurposed down—a first in the outdoor industry. The down is taken from old comforters and pillows collected by the European Bedding Association and then cleaned in the U.S. When the North Face gets its hands on it, the filling is a 650-fill mixed-waterfowl blend that will keep you just as warm as its 650-fill fresh-off-the-duck counterpart. On top of that, the Eco Trail is a handsome sleeping bag, thanks to its retro seventies colors, styling, and sewn label. The bag would still be sweet at a high price point, but it’s only $169, which is a great deal for a zero-degree model.
—Joe Jackson, Gear Guy