Have you ever rolled up on someone’s campsite and been immediately hit with an envious “whoa, that’s super cool” reaction? Have you ever taken a step back during an adventure and realized how a seemingly trivial piece of gear is actually an incredibly important, awesome part of your kit? Have you ever forgotten something silly and realized it is in fact essential? Yeah, me too. In fact, I fall victim to all these situations far too often. Here are the discounted pieces of gear you need to remember.

Shades are a must have, but not just any sunglasses will do. We’re adults now, friends. We can afford to spend some cash on shades. I am convinced the reason sunnies are lost or forgotten or disregarded is because they were purchased at a gas station for less than twenty bucks. The moment I started spending a little coin on polarized, burly eyewear, I started to respect the sunnies as I do other pieces of gear, like my pack, sleeping bag, or stove. I don’t throw those things around like they’re easily replaceable. Check out SunSki. They make great durable shades for adventures and if you get a little too radical you can easily replace scratched lenses for only $3. Plus, don’t forget some Chums. Keep them shades on your melon and do it with some style. Life, as well as the mountain, is a runway, my friends.

Grill Protection
Ever dealt with a sun-burned or wind cracked grill? It is the absolute worst. Along with my wallet and my pocketknife, lip balm is a part of my daily carry. Yet, somehow I either finish a stick after 6 months or lose it within 5 minutes of purchase. Anybody else? The longstanding go-to has been Chapstick. However, I’ve recently been using Beyond Coastal, SPF 15, made with beeswax, aloe vera, vitamin E, yerba mate, and shea butter. Try the vanilla bean. It makes me feel fancy…and just a little sassy.


Thick Butterfat
“Whipped cream, it turns any fruit into a dessert.” So says one of my best buds in the universe, the hulking Hoosier himself, Scotty P. I have to agree. Strawberries are delicious, sure. But add a lil (or a ton) of whipped cream to them and BLAMO!, they’re instantly a million times better. Blueberries, too. Or steak. Or an old boot…pretty much anything, edible or not.

The Drank Game
A Nalgene, a Klean Kanteen, a Yeti rambler and tumbler, and an old school coffee thermos are always in my camp bin, which is almost always in the back of my Subi. I like to idiot proof my drink game. My everyday coffee container, from Main Street cruises to mellow hikes to backcountry epics, is the Espro travel press. It’s been a game changer. When you plunge this to-go mini French press, it creates an air bubble that separates the grounds from the brew. No over brewed sludge. I’ve recently been using the thermos sans press (it easily unscrews). It keeps 15 ounces of coffee hot for hours and is completely spill proof. Also, remember to bring good coffee beans and a hand crank grinder. Everything tastes better outside but nothing beats a good cup of joe. Even dirtbags can act like an adult and brewing up good coffee is an easy way to pretend to be a grownup, my dudes and dudettes.

On Deuces
Imodium or Pepto can be your best friend, as well as tons of extra turd tickets. Be ready for your buds to scoff at your multiple rolls of TP. Sticks, rocks, or a handful of dried grass will work just fine. But, in the end, no one has ever been bummed about having extra soft 4-ply. I bring a poop kit with me on every adventure, except for those where I forget it at home. I don’t typically have to call upon it. But like an umbrella or rain jacket, I only need it when I don’t have it.

The Most Important Thing Ever
According to my dear friend Meghan, “If you’re camping and your hair tie breaks, life sucks.” And with the rise of the man bun, this is not lady specific. I can testify that hair constantly whipping your face on a windy rafting trip or camp out is a major bummer. Even if you’re a short haired bro, just think about the major brownie points you’d get for supplying a brah with an extra hair tie. Probably like a bajillion points.

Other miscellaneous but ever-important gear items include: real food rather than GORP, a trustworthy headlamp, a pocketknife, a book for long camp outs, inflatable solar powered lanterns, and a pop up festival tent. Oh, and a campfire tripod stand with a Dutch oven. Plus, you can’t forget camp slippers like Pakems or Minnetonka’s. And music, duh. And…and…and…well, and everything. What about you, AJ reader? What’s your too often forgotten but essential piece of gear? Let us know.

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