The Best Gear for Hunting Camp
These two dozen products will help you hunt smarter, finish chores faster, have more fun, and maybe even get a little sleep
Palace or pup tent, backcountry or back 40, as long as you’ve got some critters to chase and some buddies to razz, it’s hunting camp. Good food helps, and, well, maybe a drink or two after the hunt. But you also want the right gear—the stuff that will let you put all your focus on filling your tag and having a blast. This stuff.
If you’re hunting in warm weather, you’re probably already bringing a ThermaCell unit for the field. While you’re at it, bring the new Radius Zone for the camp porch. Powered by a lithium-ion battery, it creates a 110-square-foot swat-free zone. Each charge gives you six hours of operation; each repellent refill lasts 40 hours. $50 —Dave Hurteau
A balled-up jacket is not a pillow. In fact, for years I’d have told you that an inflatable camp pillow is not a pillow either. But then, at a wall-tent pronghorn camp in Wyoming, my hosts handed me this one, and, lo and behold, it was comfortable and didn’t slide all over creation. I slept like the dead. It was and is the most comfortable inflatable camp pillow I’ve ever put under my head. $43 —D.H.
If you’re serious about cooking, there are three kitchen knives you’ve got to have (and usually can’t find at camp): a chef’s knife, a bread knife, and a paring knife. That’s what you get with this new set, designed by custom knife-maker Ernest Emmerson. They’re basic and inexpensive, but not cheap. Perfect for camp. $45 —D.H.
There are newer boot dryers than this one. But none that I know of does the job faster than the Maxxdry Heavy Duty, which will dry up to four boots at a time, typically in about an hour. Why is that important? Because by the time you finish eating lunch and BSing with the crew after the morning hunt, your boots will be ready to go for the afternoon outing. $70 —D.H.
I can’t think of a more fitting glass with which to enjoy some bourbon after you’ve filled your tag. Yes, that’s a real .308 bullet stuck into the side of this handmade glass. If whiskey isn’t your beverage of choice, Lucky Shot also makes a .50-caliber pint glass for beer drinkers ($26). Here’s to good hunting! $35 —Colin Kearns
RAVPower 24W Waterproof Solar Panel
Just because your hunting camp is off the grid doesn’t mean you can’t keep your gadgets charged. The RAVPower 24W solar panel harnesses the sun’s energy and channels it into your electronics. With three USB ports, there’s no fighting over who charges their phone first. Plus, it’s foldable, packable, and waterproof. $80—Sage Marshall
Campfire Defender Pro Kit
This hefty fire blanket is a multi-layered tarp that responsibly preserves your campfire overnight. Peel back in the morning to reveal glowing coals and a jump-start on coffee, or use it to block the elements for cooking in any weather. The kit includes stakes for tenting and securing edges. It should be used only where legal. $190 —Natalie Krebs
StarCraft Mossy Oak Travel Trailer
Don’t have a hunting camp? For around $20K to start (only $5K each for you and three buds), you can own this rolling camp and go hunt the country. The new Mossy Oak Travel Trailer comes in two base models, with a total of 18 configurations and sizes that sleep anywhere from three to 10 hunters each. All feature kitchen appliances, a water heater, a flush toilet, a shower, and much more. Plus, it comes with Mossy Oak–accented furniture, curtains, pillows, and bedspreads, which means you don’t even have to decorate. Starts at $20,660 —D.H.
Cabela’s Lounge Cot
I would say that I hate sleeping on the ground, but I’ve never actually slept there—only tossed and turned. If I’m camping anywhere but the backcountry, I’m bringing a cot. This new one from Cabela’s has a padded nylon sleeping surface, a built-in pillow, and adjustable legs on the steel frame so you can level the cot on uneven surfaces. Plus, it doubles as a lounge chair, which means it has you covered for two of the three essential deer-camp activities. And between sleeping and lounging, you should be able to squeeze in some hunting.$200 —D.H.
Hunterra Wall Map
Smartphone apps may be a boon for hunters, but nothing beats the big-picture utility of a sprawling wall map for marking trails and stands—or the tradition of gathering in the war room to strategize for tomorrow’s hunt and argue about who gets to sit where. Hunterra makes these custom dry-erase aerial maps in a range of sizes, all with a light adhesive backing for easy hanging. The best feature? Gramps will understand exactly how it works. Starts at $130 —N.K.
Among the many reasons to have a portable fridge/freezer in camp, cold beer comes to mind. Then there’s having food that’s not swimming in a pool of thawed ice. But the best reason is cold venison. On an extended hunt in warmer weather, this 40-quart, AC/DC (plug-in or battery-operated), solar-compatible unit lets you keep boned-out venison cool and dry. Or you can flash-freeze meat, which will then stay frozen for days in a good cooler. The MR040 is built to take a beating, with a corrosion-resistant ABS case. $850 —D.H.
Camp Chef Pursuit Pellet Grill
Camp Chef’s SmokePro DLX is a perennial best-of among wood-pellet smoker grills. The new Pursuit has all the same high-end features (indirect- and direct-flame grill modes, digital temperature control, SmartSmoke technology, Ash-Kicking Clean-Out System) in a more portable package. Wheels and folding legs make it easy to load this grill in the truck and then roll it into camp for some serious barbecuing. $400 —D.H.
AJJ Cornhole Framed Deer Set
First, let’s all agree that the game is called Cornhole. Not Bean Bag Toss, Bags, or Baggo. It’s Cornhole. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s also agree that this set is so tacky, it’s beautiful—in other words, perfect for hunting camp. The set includes two boards and two sets of bags (“Hunter Green” is a color option), and the vinyl buck decals are finished with a clear-coat polyurethane, which will protect the boards from aces, airmails, blockers, and grasshoppers season after season. —C.K.
Brant & Cochran Allagash Cruiser Axe
For the first time in something like 60 years, you can buy a completely handmade axe that’s turned out in Maine, which was once America’s axe central. It’s a 2-pound Maine wedge-pattern camp axe, hung with a 28-inch ash handle and stamped with the year of manufacture and the temperer’s initials. The family-owned company, best known for restoring vintage axes, felt it was time to actually build an axe on our shores. What they turn out is the product of people who obviously view axes as not only tools but also works of art. $250 —David E. Petzal
Hunting Buck Standing Dartboard
One thing you never get enough of at hunting camp is shots at deer. But you can get a whole lot more of them in a hurry just by hanging this dartboard on the wall. It’s a quality, 1-inch-thick, regulation-size board with an aluminum frame and hook that comes with six brass darts (and a nonsensical name that’s good for a chuckle). Just don’t team up with the old-timer at camp who likes to take neck shots. $66 —D.H.
After supper, would you rather play another card game or step outside and pick up the heat signature of a possum? We all know the answer. The Leupold Quest HD is a handheld thermal-imaging device with a built-in camera and flashlight. It’s marketed for game recovery, and it works for that. But every time I’ve seen one used for playing around camp in the dark, everyone seemed genuinely entertained. $975 —Will Brantley
SecureIt Agile Series Gun Safe
When this thing arrived at my house for testing, I told my wife, “It’s a gun safe; carry it on inside.” Unlike a traditional safe, this one is relatively lightweight (though my wife did need a hand, as it’s 90 pounds) and can be disassembled for moving. But it still uses 1⁄2-inch-thick hardened steel lock rods for security, and assembly is internal. $499–$599 —W.B.
This compact kit has all the tools needed to keep everything on your rifle or shotgun snug and secure. What separates it from other kits are the torque-limiting bit holders, which let you tighten fasteners on your scope, action, and bases to the correct values. I carry it everywhere I take a long gun, and it has pulled my bacon from the fire more than once. $180 —John B. Snow
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera
The Instax Mini 90 is the best model in a resurgence of snap-and-print cameras. It combines old-school style with modern features like a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and a high-quality flash. Start lining the camp walls with hero shots as you take them, right next to the Polaroids of Pops. $180 —S.M.
UE Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
Kick back with some tunes after a long day in the stand with this Bluetooth speaker. The compact UE Wonderboom punches well above its weight with crisp, loud sound. And it’s plenty rugged to survive hunting camp. The Wonderboom is entirely waterproof, can withstand a fall of up to 5 feet, and plays for 10 hours between charges. $100 —S.M.
Eagle’s Nest Outfitters Hammock
Hunting is exhausting. Even if you spent the morning seated in a treestand, the middle-of-the-night wake-up call, the eyestrain, and the mental focus make napping a necessity, not a luxury. So if you slip off for a midday snooze around camp or in the woods, bring ENO’s hammock with you. It’s lightweight, comes in plenty of colors and two sizes, and compresses into a stuff sack. Bonus: If your comrades are prone to nighttime nasal distress, deploy it as a backup bunk in a quiet corner. Starts at $60 —N.K.
Last November, deer camp was a wall tent deep in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, with overnight temps in the single digits. But the cold didn’t cost me or my F&S colleagues any sleep, thanks to a couple of these simple, quiet portable heaters. And it’s a snap to use. Attach a 1-pound propane tank, hit the ignition switch, and the Hunting Buddy radiates 6,000 Btus per hour on low or 12,000 on high. Each unit heats up to 300 square feet and features a low-oxygen sensor and an accidental-tip-over safety shut-off. $140 —D.H.
Power up devices, lights, and appliances with no fumes, no smell, and no noise. The new Yeti 1400 isn’t exactly lightweight (47 pounds) or cheap, but if you want a serious gas-alternative power station for base camp or a cabin, this is it. The lithium battery recharges in 25 hours from a wall socket or in 14 to 25 hours via a 200-watt solar kit (sold separately). —D.H.
Forget pulling up a stump to the fire pit. After a hard hunt, your butt deserves better. With a sturdy frame that feels like a permanent deck chair yet collapses flat for easy transport and storage, this camp chair handily beats your average soccer-mom folder. The side table is roomy enough to accommodate your plate of venison burgers (go ahead, have two) and the feature every chair needs: a cup holder. —N.K.