ACE Staff Share Tips for Enjoying Your Next Camping Adventure!

Summer adventures are here! As many head out to enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, we asked our ACE team for what to look for when buying some camping and outdoor-related items.

Please consider shopping at your local stores and/or purchasing gently used equipment where possible. Or borrow items from friends/family when possible. 


Items to consider:

  • Sleeping capacity – how many people will share the tent with you?
  • 3 or 4-season tent – Three season tents are more lightweight while a four-season tent will come in handy for possible snowfall (may not be needed in many summer locations).
  • Ventilation – During summer months, look for tents that offer decent ventilation to help stay cool.
  • Peak height – pay attention to how tall the tent will be based on whether you want to be able to stand up.
  • Rainflies – consider a separate covering for your tent to help it stay dry during rain.
  • Loops – look for ‘guyout loops’ on the tent to help you fasten it down during any wind gusts.
ACE tent photo

ACE Crew Image

Day Hiking Boots

  • Footwear for day hiking doesn’t need to go above your ankles – you may opt for more of a show with more flexibility and less break-in time.
  • Leather or synthetic – Leather works well for providing waterproof option and long-lasting, but for those seeking synthetic materials, there are many good options available.
  • Look for shoes/boots that offer a supportive, flexible midsole that will keep you from feeling everything underneath you, such as small rocks.
  • Outsole – Finding footwear with adequate rubber treads is important for inclines, wet surfaces and other conditions to keep you safe in the outdoors. Depending on the time of year and possible snow, ice cleats (snow grips) are highly recommended to navigate slippery conditions.

Be sure to allow time to ‘break in’ your footwear before heading out on your favorite trail. For day hikes, one-two weeks is ideal and up to four weeks for leather hiking boots for longer extended hikes on rougher terrain.

Note: For leather boots you may want to add some boot wax to help protect leather fibers and provide some waterproofing support

Camp shoes

Camp shoes are lightweight and often waterproof, making them ideal for river crossings and bathing. They are also a great option to change into after a long day of hiking, providing comfort and allowing your primary hiking shoes to dry and air out. Camp shoe options range from simple flip flops to more supportive alternatives that can serve as a secondary hiking shoe.

Sleeping pads

There are three types of sleeping pads – foam pads, self-inflating pads, and air pads. Foam pads are definitely the most affordable option and require no setup, but they aren’t quite as thick or insulating as the self-inflating pads or air pads. Air pads can pack down super small, are lightweight, and can often be more comfortable than a real mattress! They tend to be the most expensive option, and require blowing them up yourself when you set up camp and perhaps after a few days of use. Self-inflating pads are a good middle ground between the other two.

Foam – Less expensive and come in a wide variety

  • Light
  • Inexpensive
  • Can double up and roll together

Inflatable Therm-a-rest

  • Can roll up to a small size
  • Caution they can pop if laid on a sharp object
  • Depending on the brand and style, some options can inflate to around 2 inches thick, but can get pricey

Campers may want to use both a lighter weight foam pad with the inflatable Therm-a-rest for comfort.

Sleeping bags

  • Down – Warm option and long lasting but see below for consideration.
  • Synthetic – cheaper than down and will keep you warm even if they get wet.

Note that sleeping bags are sometimes different for men and women – women’s bags may be shorter and have a higher density of warmth (amount of insulation used).

Some items to note:

  • Zero degree bag will change over time as it wears.
  • The more you wash a sleeping bag, the more it loses its ‘loft.’
  • You can use a sleeping bag liner to help keep it clean. During colder months, it adds a few degrees of warmth, and in the summer, you can use the liner alone for a lighter option.
  • If you must wash your sleeping bag, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Some ACE staff recommend a 35/50 flip sleeping bag as it has a 50-degree rating for slightly warmer evenings but if you’re still cold, you can flip it to become a 35-degree bag.

Backpack (Daypack)

For hiking during your summer adventures, consider a minimum of a 25L bag to hold your water, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, car keys, phone, raincoat (or other outer layer) and any snacks you may need throughout the day.

Some features for consideration:

  • Individuals often times prefer a backpack with a waist strap which can help distribute weight to our hips so not all the weight is on your shoulders and helps to prevent back pain.
  • Backpacks with a built-in rain cover come in handy for changing weather conditions.
  • Multiple pockets come in handy to stay organized and keep items from falling out.
  • Waterproof, lightweight material with ventilation features is ideal.
  • Elasticized side pockets are good for water bottles, sunglasses or other items you need within easy reach.
  • Consider your height as you look to sizes that are a good fit for your torso and make sure straps offer some padding.

Spending time outside and enjoying our natural landscapes is a great way to create lasting summer memories. Best wishes for your camping adventures and making Summer 2024 your best yet!


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