A few months ago, I shared our favorite camping gear essentials that get the job done without taking up too much space.  After years of filling our car with everything it could possibly hold, and still having to squeeze things in under the seats and below our feet, we’d had enough.  Getting into the great outdoors, into the peace and quiet, where we could bask in all that mother nature has to offer really shouldn’t be this complicated. Since then we’ve been more conscientious about the camping gear we buy.  We have been slowly replacing all those camping essentials with versions that are much more space-friendly.

With a goal of creating a camping space with the comforts of home, but without actually bringing our home with us, here are more of our top picks for camping gear.

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1. Collapsible Roasting Sticks

Our pick: MalloMe Marshmallow Roasting Sticks 

Why we love it:  Yes, going into the woods to find nature’s roasting stick is really the best option, but it’s not always reliable – especially if it’s dark and the kids are hungry.  The lenght of the metal roasting sticks we’ve always carried with us are nearly impossible to pack or store.  These are extend enough to keep a safe distance from the hot fire, but are compact enough to pack away in a smaller tote.  We like to pack these as a back up for those times we can’t get a good old fashioned stick to roast those marshmallows over the campfire.

2. Single burner Propane Stove

Our pick: Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove

Why we love it: This is our backup for getting dinner cooked when a fire just isn’t going to happen (like those unexpected rainy weekends), or we don’t want to use up the firewood just for a pot of coffee.  Just make sure you bring a spare canister of fuel in case your first one runs out.  Jet boils and similar camping stoves are smaller and more environmentally friendly, but they cost more than we are ready to invest for the casual car camping that we do.

3. Nesting pots and pans

Our pick: Texsport Kangaroo 7 pc Camping Cookware Outdoor Cook Set with Storage Bag

Why we love it: If you aren’t ready for making any more investments into the camping essentials, the pots and pans you use at home will certainly do.  I just don’t like how much space they take up and the handles always get in the way when packing them up. These pots have removable handles so they don’t get hot when sitting on the fire (or camp stove), and nest so they never take up more than the space of just one pot.

4.  Compression pillow

Our pick: Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow for Camping, Backpacking, Airplanes and Road Trips

Why we love it. Just like other bedding, pillows take up so much space!  Many people have their clothes work double time, by using them to fill an empty pillow case to make a pillow, but I’m a little too high maintenance for that. These pillows squish down to get really compact, but are (almost) as comfy as the pillows we use at home.

5.  Slackline

Our pick: Slackline Kit with Training Line

Why we love it: Sometimes you just want an afternoon to relax in your camp chair with a book or a magazine.  But the kids want to play.  Our solution?  Pack up games and toys that will entertain them while we chill.  We started with cornhole, but it was way to big to pack with all the other camping gear.  Then we tried ladder ball.  Still bigger than we’d like.  Then we found the slackline.  It’s nice and compact, and fits right under the seat of the car, so we always have it with us, even if we aren’t camping.

Planning your next camping trip? If you are in the Boulder, CO area, be sure to check out Pawnee Campground at Brainard Lake Recreation Area!

6.  Compact Sleeping Bags

Our pick: TETON Sports Tracker +5F Ultralight Mummy Sleeping Bag

Why we love it: Yes, we are frequent campers who are only just now getting sleeping bags for everyone!  As often as we camp, you’d think this would be an obvious one, but we’ve just been using sheets and blankets.  Those can take up so much space though, and sleeping bags will let us camp further into the colder weather.  We snagged a few hand me down sleeping bags, which are really great, but we also bought a few on Amazon that pack down even smaller.  The difference in size is amazing, but the small ones keep us just a warm.

7.  Ove Glove

Our pick: Ove Glove Hot Surface Handler

Why we love it:  Saving the best for last!  This has been one of the most valuable items in our camping essentials tote.  So valuable that my son was given one for his birthday this year as a rite of passage in manning the camp fire with Dad. This glove is meant to protect against the heat and makes moving logs around to keep that camp fire roaring super easy.  And a bit safer since you have more control over the logs.

We’d love to know about your favorite camping gear in the comments!


Whether you are just gearing up for some family camping adventures or are ready to replace some of those camping essentials, make packing easier and faster with these small-version camp gear.


Want to see more camping gear picks?  See 10 more space saving camping essentials here.

These car camping essentials are our favorite gear picks that pack small to save space in your car. Easy to store in totes so you will be ready for your next camping trip at a moments notice.

camping gear
Camping this summer? Check out these essentials to make the most of the space in your car!

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