Don't go camping without these essentials — from no frills to all the bells and whistles.
Don't go camping without these essentials — from no frills to all the bells and whistles. Age Fotostock

Whether you like camping in an RV or prefer a tent, there are some things that no campsite should be without. Each year, the gear just gets better and better, with bells and whistles ranging from solar panels to intelligent lighting. Here are five products to cross off your checklist before hitting the road for your next trip to the great outdoors.

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1. Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Generator

The Goal Zero Yeti 1250 is a solar-powered version of a gas-powered backup generator. "It's our first product [about which] we can say you can truly take your wall outlet with you," says Norm Krantz, Goal Zero's vice president of product development. "Anything you can plug into a wall, you can run off of a Yeti — even a drill or a blender." The Utah-based Goal Zero first hit the mass market in 2010 and the Yeti 1250 represents a major jump in wattage: The previous high was 400 watts; the 1,100-pound, breadbox-size Yeti delivers a full 1,500 watts. It features USB, AC, DC and other ports, and charges in about 20 hours via sun, a little less time if you plug it into the wall. It's available as part of a kit, with a cart and two solar panels, for $2,000. The standalone unit costs $1,500. Goal Zero also makes a variety of smaller portable solar systems ($130 to $550) if you don't need to run a drill and a blender but do need to charge a smartphone or a laptop once in a while.

2. Kelty Basecamp Kitchen

"Camping can be messy," says Kelty spokesman Scott Kaier. "Getting organized can be a nightmare." But Kelty's award-winning Basecamp Kitchen gets everything in the right place for a new and improved open-air culinary experience. "What it's really all about is campsite convenience," says Kaier. To this end, the Basecamp Kitchen ($159.95) includes all sorts of handy features: a wind-shielded shelf for camp stoves of all shapes and sizes, an aluminum countertop, a paper-towel holder and a zip-up fabric pantry made of ripstop polyester. It's also compatible with Kelty's modular Binto storage system, featuring color-coded polyester bins designed to fit into the Basecamp Kitchen's pantry. When you're ready to hit the road, it all folds down to a very manageable 8" x 32" and fits snugly into its own carrying case.