2019 Camp Gear Test campsite

2019 Camp Gear Test: Why We Sent Our Editors Into the Mountains

Our entire editorial staff spent 3 days in the woods relentlessly testing tents, sleeping bags, cookstoves, and more.

With a mountain of boxes in one corner and a more colorful mountain of just-opened gear in the other, the GearJunkie team set upon sorting, claiming, and packing everything we’d need for the week ahead.

Chevy Blazer packed with camp gear

It was like Christmas morning — if you had 10 of everything and had to write a report on each item after using it.

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To be sure, we were all excited; after weeks of emails and reading through press releases, we had some of the most anticipated and popular camp gear from the biggest names in the industry. And we were about to head into the mountains near Evergreen, Colo., to sleep in, snuggle into, and cook on a motley collection of tents, sleeping bags and pads, and camp cookstoves.

Best 2019 sleeping bags in stuff sacks

Those banner items would all settle somewhere into our Best Of stories following the trip. Our goal: to identify and rank our favorite marquee items that are available now at key retailers like REI, Cabela’s, and others. This includes both new items for 2019 and best-sellers that still grace store shelves.

GearJunkie Camp Gear Test 2019

In addition to the four core categories — tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and cookstoves — we also received a wide variety of other campsite goodies. Think lawn and travel games, coolers, lights, chairs, tables, and more. While many won’t appear in a Best Of roundup this time around, some of that gear performed so well, it will receive further testing and a standalone review in the weeks to come.

2019 Chevy Blazer parked at campsite

Perhaps most surprisingly, Chevrolet even leapt at the chance to get in on the action. The brand sent us a 2019 Blazer to load down with gear and throttle through the winding roads to our secluded campsite.

2019 Chevy Blazer parked at campsite

While not a proper or thorough test, our experience with the Blazer was a fun one. In total, we stuffed more than two dozen sleeping bags, a few camp chairs, a giant fire pit, and a few tents, backpacks, and personal items. For cargo hauling, it was stupendous — although we’d prefer a rack or basket on top.

And in AWD mode, it chewed up the rutted, muddy road that twisted the final mile to our destination. That said, an overland vehicle this is not. It’s more of a capable grocery-getter than the hackable Blazer trucks of decades past.

How We Tested 2019 Camp Gear

Best tents 2019 setup

Once we hit camp, we started setting up, using, and evaluating every piece of gear from the core categories. While we narrowed our criteria some — like two-person and four-person tents only, propane car-camping stoves, men’s and women’s sleeping bags — the gear spanned price ranges, feature sets, and weights.

In the weeks to come, we’ll publish the results as Best Of stories by category. And we recognize that many of these products, by nature, require subjective evaluation. For example, some people are cold sleepers who will freeze unless thoroughly insulated. Others, meanwhile, prefer venting or lower-fill options.

So in addition to anointing our favorite product from each category, we also selected other options that excel for certain users. It’s not perfect, but it should help most campers make confident buying decisions on gear that, even at the low end, often requires an investment.

Camp Chef Versatop flat grill

And by no means did we test every product available in every category — that’s a herculean task. But we focused on best-selling items from the most popular brands, employing the “REI Test.” If it’s on Co-op shelves, we should try to test it. And because this was our first full-team, mass-gear test, we know there will be improvements.

So connect with us. Comment on the stories and let us know what you want to see in the next test. After all, we’re doing this to help you get out and adventure more often and have more fun.

Thanks for reading — and enjoy the Best Camp Gear stories for 2019!

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Adam Ruggiero
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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie - from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.

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