Buying Guide
By Peter Koch
on 8.7.14

There was a time when you could walk into an REI and buy camping gear without boning up on terminology (what the hell is Cuben Fiber?!) in preparation. You could pitch your tent at the campground without your neighbor wandering over to geek out about his sleeping bag’s hydrophobia or how he managed to shave a couple ounces off his kit by using his trekking pole as a tentpole. Yes, it was a simpler time, complete with simply designed, back-breakingly heavy gear made of simple leather and stainless steel. It didn’t keep you quite as comfortable as today’s gee-whiz wonder materials, but it also didn’t wear out after a season of hard use.

But everything old is new again. Fueled by nostalgia, quite a few companies are now making beautiful, classically styled camping gear that echoes the simple pleasures of being in the outdoors. This gear is the anti-ultralight camping setup, and it harkens back to a time before words like “craftsmanship” and “quality” were replaced by “technology,” “innovation” and hard-to-pronounce, space-age materials. It’s best used for car camping only. Even then, you’ll want to be sure your shocks are in good condition.

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