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Expert Shopper Camping & Outdoors

Parks too crowded? Try camping at home with this backyard gear

Everything you need for backyard camping

It can often be difficult to find an available campsite during peak summer weekends, especially in popular national and state parks. That doesn’t mean you still can’t get the same camping experience a little closer to home. Backyard campouts can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors without having to deal with long drives and crowded campgrounds.

By investing in just a few important camping essentials, both children and adults can have an authentic outdoor experience without ever having to leave their property. 

Backyard camping tips

Add some comfort 

One of the best aspects of backyard camping is the fact that you can bring along some items you’d normally leave behind. Since you won’t be limited to the space available in your pack or vehicle, consider bringing along some comfortable pillows, blankets, clothing, slippers or other luxuries. 

Make it authentic

Being only steps from your house means it may be tempting to keep running inside to check your phone, laptop or other electronic devices. Other than bathroom breaks or other essential reasons, keep your trips indoors to a minimum in order to have a more realistic camping experience. 

Plan some activities

Whether you’re with a group of friends or younger children, having some activities planned can keep everyone engaged and excited. Scavenger hunts and nature walks are great for younger campers, while nighttime star-gazing can bring out the inner astronomer in everyone. 

Get everyone involved

When camping with the whole family, get everyone involved with the setup process. This allows children and other first-time campers to practice setting up a tent and get used to all the essential gear and equipment. For more information on different types of tents, check out the tent-buying guide from BestReviews. 

Top backyard camping essentials


Coleman Skydome 8-Person Tent 

When camping in your backyard, you don’t necessarily have to worry about choosing a tent that’s ultra-lightweight or compact. This eight-person Skydome model has a quick and easy setup process, features a roomy interior that can comfortably fit up to two queen-sized air beds and uses Dark Room Technology to block bright morning sunlight. 

Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods 

Sleeping bag

TETON Sports Celsius Regular Sleeping Bag 

Affordable and comfortable, this rectangular sleeping bag uses a double-layer construction and a mummy-style hood for added warmth on cool nights. Great for both kids and adults, there’s a built-in pocket to hold small personal items. 

Sold by Amazon

Camping cot 

Coleman Camping Cot, Air Mattress and Pump Combo 

While standard sleeping pads or a layer of thick blankets can be suitable for many backyard campers, some people may prefer a premium comfort option, especially first-time campers. This air mattress and cot combo has a double-lock valve to prevent any unfortunate leaks and packs down into an easily transportable package. 

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot


Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock

Hammocks are a perfect camping accessory, but they can also be used as a way to relax while at home, at the beach or in a park. This ENO model is large enough for two people, supporting up to 200 pounds, and is constructed from quick-drying and breathable nylon material. 

Sold by Amazon and Backcountry 


ONIVA Reclining Camp Chair

Having a camp chair keeps you off the ground and comfortable while roasting s’mores around a fire pit or chatting with family and friends. This reclining model features an armrest cupholder, padded seat and zippered back pocket, making it convenient for multiple occasions including concerts, picnics and tailgating parties. 

Sold by Amazon


Kizen LED Camping Lantern

Even with potential light from street lamps, neighboring houses and other sources, it’s still bound to get pretty dark in your backyard. This affordable solar-powered lantern doesn’t require any batteries and sports both a low and high setting to keep the lighting in your tent at the perfect level. 

Sold by Amazon

Fire pit 

UCO Flatpack Portable Stainless Steel Grill and Fire Pit

As long as local laws and ordinances allow, having a small backyard campfire can make the experience more enjoyable. The UCO Flatpack fire pit is compact and safe to use in most environments. It has a grill top, allowing you to cook up some delicious outdoor meals or toast the perfect marshmallow. 

Sold by Amazon

S’mores maker

Nostalgia Electric S’mores Maker 

For campers who don’t have the space or aren’t able to use a firepit, a convenient electric s’mores maker can still allow you to indulge in your favorite campout treat. With four roasting forks included and no open flame, it’s a safe way to add some flavor to your backyard camping trip. 

Sold by Amazon


GoSports Aluminum Frame Cornhole Set 

Adding a little friendly competition can liven up any backyard campout. Cornhole is fun for players of all ages, and this durable game set is weather-resistant and available in an LED version so you can play well into the night. 

Sold by Amazon and Wayfair


Stanley Classic Vacuum Insulated Wide Mouth Bottle

For those who enjoy a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate, utilizing a large insulated thermos will save you from having to run back and forth between your house and your campsite. This 2-quart Stanley model can keep drinks hot or cold for up to 32 hours. Plus, the 8-ounce lid doubles as a convenient drinking cup. 

Sold by Amazon

Insect repellent 

Natrapel Insect Repellent Spray

Just because you aren’t deep in the woods doesn’t mean that mosquitoes, flies and other annoying bugs won’t be an issue. Natrapel insect repellent uses a picaridin formula to prevent bites and is safe to use on children over 2 months of age. 

Sold by Amazon and Backcountry 

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Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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