September 18, 2020

DetourOn camping gear reviews

We’ve mentioned that we have really cool car camping* gear for rent from Big Agnes, Sea to Summit, Marmot, and GSI Outdoors, as well as a few other miscellaneous companies. But is it any good? Here are our camping gear reviews, item-by-item, with the pros and cons of each. Notice our star system – being not so good to being the best (we might be a bit biased, but you’ll soon see that we are also quite objective).

*Just to clarify, car camping is a type of camping that involves driving, rather than walking, to a campsite. The gear we review here is NOT for backpacking since weight is not usually an issue with car camping, though we do try to keep it light for loading and unloading purposes.

DetourOn camping gear rental notes:
We have a maximum rental duration of 30 days. Remember that you can rent a complete camping kit for a cheaper total price. Refer to our partner, Basecamp Outdoor Gear, for a complete list of rental packages and rates. This rental gear is also available for purchase. Check out Basecamp’s used gear for sale or contact Basecamp directly to inquire about the items you want.

Jump to the section you’d like to read about:

Tent reviews

DetourOn tent rental notes:
All tents come with regular tent stakes and rainflies. Basecamp supplements tent rentals with 4 durable stakes, a mallet, extra cord, and a footprint or tarp.

Big Agnes tent – Sheep Mountain 4 and Marmot tents – Limestone 4 and Limestone 6

These tents are huge! They are perfect for family camping in the desert. The ‘4’ in Sheep Mountain 4 and Limestone 4 stand for 4-person tent. In reality, these tents fit 4 people and quite possibly all of their luggage. The equivalent goes for Limestone 6, which is a 6-person tent.

Marmot logo

Specs:
Sheep Mountain 4 floor dimensions: 7’6″ x 8’11”; height 4’7″; weight 10lbs 13oz
Limestone 4 floor dimensions: 7’8″ x 8’4″; height 5’1″; weight 10lbs 13oz
Limestone 6 floor dimensions: 10′ x 8’4″; height 6’4″; weight 16lbs 4oz

Though marketed as 3-season tents, the Sheep Mountain and Limestone do best in warm weather thanks to their size and great ventilation. Our favorite thing about them: quick and easy set-up and take-down! Bonus: They both come in large stuff sacks for easy packing.

Pros:

Camping gear
  • Free standing, easy set-up and takedown (one person can easily do it in less than 5 minutes!)
  • Spacious inside and out, with two doors and two vestibules (once the fly is up)
  • Rainfly comes all the way down
  • Fly and door vents allow for venting options in inclement weather
  • Tall people can comfortably sit inside, shorties can stand
  • Pre-bent poles to weather windy days
  • Best thing about them: Large stuff sacks for easy packing

Cons: Because they are so big, it can get a bit cold and drafty inside. These tents are also on the heavier side, about 11lbs, but that doesn’t matter much for car camping. That’s it for cons. What great tents!

Big Agnes Blacktail tent

NOTE: In case you want to buy new tents, the Sheep Mountain series is only sold as group gear to outfitters. Should you want to purchase it for personal use, we can talk to Big Agnes about it to make it happen. Otherwise, it may be available on Amazon. A great alternative to this tent is the Blacktail, which you can purchase directly from Big Agnes.

Marmot tents – Catalyst 2 and Catalyst 3

Lightweight tents for 2 or 3 people. Though the Catalysts are not ultralight, they are still light enough to be classified as backpacking tents. They are best used for camping near your vehicle or for short-distance, short-duration backpacking trips. As three-season tents, we find that they are very well-ventilated for hot Southwest summers. When the tent fly is on, they also do quite well on cold winter nights. Just don’t take them on a glacier.

Two-person tent

Specs:
Catalyst 2 floor dimensions: 4’5″ x 7’4″; height 3’8″; weight 4lbs 11oz
Catalyst 3 floor dimensions: 5’5″ x 7’4″; height 3’11”; weight 5lbs 9oz

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Quick and easy set-up and takedown
  • Free-standing
  • Tall ceiling allows you to sit up inside, giving the tent a spacious feeling.

Cons: Though the Catalysts are not ultralight, they can pass for short-distance, short-duration backpacking tents. They are best used for camping near your vehicle

Click here to rent these tents.

Marmot tents – Tungsten 1

Best backpacking tent ever. Free-standing tent means quick and easy set-up. Tall ceiling allows you to sit up inside, giving the tent a spacious feeling. What else do you need?

Specs:
Floor dimensions: 7′ x 2’4″-3′; height 3’2″; weight 3lbs 8oz

one-person tent
Marmot Tungsten 1P tent

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Quick and easy set up and takedown
  • Free-standing
  • Tall ceiling allows you to sit up inside, giving the tent a spacious feeling.

Cons: Do you really need a tent for backpacking? Try a hammock instead.

Click here to rent this tent.

Sleeping pad reviews

Big Agnes sleeping pad – Two Track 20×72

The Two Track sleeping pads are extremely comfortable, surprisingly durable, and offer supreme insulation! At DetourOn, we have the regular rectangular 20×72 size for rent (1’8″ x 6′), but they do also come in short and long sizes. Again a bonus from Big Agnes, they come in large stuff sacks for easy packing.

Pros:

  • Soft and cushiony for maximum comfort, and very durable
  • Lightweight, yet offer supreme insulation
  • Self-inflating to about 1″. It is possible to blow air into them to help inflate them up to 2″. It takes seconds to self-inflate and just a few seconds more to blow them up to maximum thickness.
  • Super easy to micro-adjust the firmness of the pad using the two-way adjustable valve (which allows for quick inflation and deflation, and holds the air in when needed)
  • Best thing about it: Packs very small and fits in its stuff sack easily

Cons: These sleeping pads are a bit narrow and slippery. Find a flat surface to sleep on so you don’t slide down during the night.

Thermarest sleeping pad – Basecamp 20×72

Reviews coming soon, but you can already rent this pad.

Sea to Summit sleeping pad – Air

Coming soon

Big Agnes sleeping pad – Air Core Regular and Insulated

Reviews coming soon, but you can already rent this pad.

Sea to Summit sleeping pad – Comfort Plus SI

Reviews coming soon, but you can already rent this pad.

Sea to Summit sleeping pad – Comfort Deluxe SI

Reviews coming soon, but you can already rent this pad.

Camp kitchen gear reviews

GSI Outdoors water container – Cube 20L

This is a collapsible water jug for all your camp watering needs. Although GSI Outdoors makes the Cube in three sizes (10L, 15L, and 20L), we think the 20L is best for car camping. When collapsed, it doesn’t take much room in the car. When full, you’ll always have more water than you need.
NOTE: Only use this container for water!

Pros:

  • Large rounded handle for easy lifting
  • Turn tap on and off with one hand
  • Comes with attached hanging loop
  • Food-grade polyethylene container with neutral taste
  • Very durable, no leaks
  • Best thing about it: Folds almost flat for easy packing

Cons: Easy to tip over when it isn’t full. Make sure to place it on a flat surface or hang it on a strong hook for easy pouring. Otherwise, if it’s on the emptier side, you’d have to hold the container steady against your body while pouring with one hand and holding the bottle to be filled with the other.

Coleman 2-burner camping stove

It’s the classic propane 2-burner camping stove that you can pick up at Walmart. Included with a DetourOn rental out of Las Vegas, NV, are two propane bottles and a long-stem lighter. If we ship this item to you, we’ll tell you where you can buy these items nearby.

We have tested the equivalent CampChef, Ozark Trail, and Eureka stoves and found them to be just as good as the Coleman, despite being more expensive! (It may be surprising to you, but we have not tried the GSI Outdoors stove. We imagine it is similar to the others listed here.) All companies also make upgraded stoves with self-igniters, but they seem to fail quickly, so might as well stick with the good ole’ long-stem lighter.

Coleman 50L cooler or similar

It may be big and bulky, but it has to be in order to be well-insulated. If you need extra space in the car, you can go with a collapsible cooler (not yet available for rent from DetourOn), but it doesn’t keep things cool as long as a rigid cooler.

Speaking of keeping things cooler for longer, we recommend supplementing weekend trips with reusable ice packs (not yet available for rent from DetourOn) so you wouldn’t have to stop for ice so much.

Camp cooking gear reviews

GSI Outdoors cooking pot – Halulite 3.2L

GSI Outdoors logo

This lightweight cooking pot from with lid from GSI Outdoors will amaze you with its heating speed. Not that any of that matters while car camping, but it is just so cool and convenient! This pot comes in three sizes: 2L, 3.2L, and 4.7L. We found that 2L is never enough for a 2-person meal, though it could be OK for one person, and 4.7L unnecessarily takes too much space in the storage box. Hence 3.2L is the perfect size for 2 people.

Pros:

  • Lightweight (1lb) yet durable
  • Boils water really quickly
  • Silicone-coated side handles fold in for storage
  • Non-slip base for secure hold on stoves and grill arms
  • Best thing about it: Silicone thumb pads and holes on lid make straining pasta safe, secure, simple, and fun (seriously, it’s so cool!)

Cons: The silicone-coated side handles could get hot, so always approach them with caution. Careful pouring hot water out of the pan. Notice it does not have a pouring spout. With the lid on, you can pour out of the straining holes, but water sometimes still escapes from below the lid. Only sometimes. There must be a technique that we haven’t mastered yet here. We have, however, mastered pouring water into our Java Press with the lid off. Without a spout, it’s an acquired skill.

Sea to Summit camping pots – 2-Pot Set

Coming soon

Sea to Summit frying pan – Alpha Pan

Coming soon

GSI Outdoors frying pan – Bugaboo 10″

This durable, sturdy, non-stick lightweight frying pan heats up evenly and is very easy to clean. It comes in three sizes: 8″, 10″, and 12″. We found that 8″ is too small for a 2-person meal, though it could be OK for one person, and 12″ unnecessarily takes too much space in the storage box. Hence 10″ is the perfect size for 2 people.
NOTE: Do not use in microwave ovens, conventional ovens, or open campfires. Wash with hot water and mild detergent, and use only non-abrasive cloths and cleaners.

Pros:

  • Non-stick coated surface heats up evenly and makes for easy clean-up
  • Rugged yet lightweight
  • Sturdy, stable, silicone-coated handle keeps it from burning your hands
  • The handle conveniently folds into the pan for storage
  • Non-slip base for secure hold on stoves and grill arms

Cons: This item does not come with a lid, which is a bit of a bummer. Also, it’s made of Teflon. They say Teflon isn’t good for you. But then again, what is?

GSI Outdoors chef knife – Santoku 6″

It’s a knife. In all honesty, there’s not much that sets this knife apart from any other knife of the same size and shape. We knew we wanted a 6″ blade, we wanted chef knife design, and we wanted a sheath. The GSI Outdoors Santoku answered our demands, but this is by no means the only company that makes this. Examples: Kai Pure Komachi or Chef Craft Santoku. We were ordering a bunch of things from GSI Outdoors, so we also ordered this.

Pros:

  • Stainless steel makes for easy clean-up
  • Ergonomic, rubber handle provides a sure grip for easy dicing
  • Best thing about it: Protective knife sheath ensures safe handling and preserves blade’s sharpness

Cons: The knives we received weren’t as sharp as we had hoped when we took them out of the box (we took a leaf away for that reason). We sharpened them using this kitchen knife sharpener and now they’re OK.

GSI Outdoors cutting board – Ultralite small

It’s a cutting board. We currently include two small GSI Outdoors Ultralite cutting boards in DetourOn’s rental cooking kits, but these are being discontinued (we took a leaf away for that reason) so we may replace them with a different company soon.

Pros:

  • Extremely thin, yet durable
  • Very easy to keep clean
  • Best thing about it: Two-sided, one side marked for cheese and vegetables and the other side marked for meat

Cons: The cutting surface is a bit slippery, which makes it great for cleaning but less so for cutting, and the moat around the edges is too shallow to catch liquid (tomato juice, for instance).

GSI Outdoors cooking utensils – spatula, ladle, big spoon, tongs

GSI Outdoors 3-piece cooking utensils

GSI Outdoors sells the spatula, ladle, and big spoon as a 3-piece set. Tongs are sold separately. DetourOn, of course, rents them together for a $5 daily rate or separately, as you wish. We don’t really have pros and cons for these. They are simple, light-weight utensils that won’t scar the surfaces of the Bugaboo frying pan and the Halulite sauce pan.

The cooking utensils kit also includes a bottle opener and can opener, though these are not GSI Outdoors products.

The tongs, on the other hand, have a super cool design: The silicone grips on the sides help to keep your fingers in place, and they have integrated serrated teeth that provide a solid grip on any food, especially pasta and lettuce. The only downside is that you must apply a strong grip to lift heavy food, such as a fat steak. You can also get them on Amazon.

Camping gear reviews for eating and drinking utensils

GSI Outdoors thermos – Glacier Vacuum Bottle 1L

It’s a thermos. It keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for a long long time. Case in point: We made herbal tea at night in the GSI Outdoors vacuum bottle, then forgot to drink it before going to bed in sub-freezing temperatures. The next morning, we opened it up and had a steaming cup of it while making coffee in the Java Press. In the evening, we drank the remaining tea from the thermos. It was no longer steaming, but it was still hot enough to enjoy!

Pros:

  • Retains heat and cold for up to 30 hours
  • Stainless steel makes for easy cleaning and neutral taste (washing coffee out with water is enough to remove the coffee taste!)
  • Extremely durable, easy to grip exterior
  • Non-slip base the size of a Nalgene bottle, so it fits in wide cupholders
  • The cap can be used as a cup (also stainless steel)
  • Best thing about it: Pour-through stopper (unscrew the stopper just a little and pour liquid into cup for a no-spill guarantee)

Cons: Since it is so well-insulated, it always feels like there should be more liquid in the bottle than there is. GSI Outdoors also makes this in a 0.5L size, but what’s the point? For car camping, even if you’re one person, 1L is the way to go.

GSI Outdoors French Press – Java 30 fl. oz.

There are many great ways to make coffee, and none that are ideal. We wrote a blog about it! After doing extensive research, we’ve decided to settle on the GSI Outdoors JavaPress for our car camping rental items. The reason: This is the quickest way to make the most mud-free coffee with the least amount of clean-up. You can also use it to make loose-leaf tea. Though this press comes in smaller and bigger sizes, we chose the 30 fl. oz. press so we can make a second batch of coffee in the morning to keep in the thermos for later (in the GSI Outdoors 1L vacuum bottle, of course).
maple leafDetourOn Tip: It takes roughly 1L of water (or one Nalgene-full) so you don’t have to guestimate the amount of water to boil, and it also happens to make the exact amount of coffee that the thermos can hold.

Pros:

  • Lightweight, BPA-Free, and shatter-resistant
  • Mud-free coffee or tea
  • Insulated, water-resistant, stain-resistant sleeve holds in temperature while brewing and serving
  • Pour-through spout and lid (pour slowly to avoid spillage)
  • Best thing about it: Quick and easy to clean (throw the mud in the trash, rinse the press with water, and you’re done!)

Cons: The filter plunger is quick to unscrew and dislodge. Make sure it’s screwed on correctly each time before pressing. When pouring, despite the spout, tilt the press slowly and gently or liquid will leak out from the side.

GSI Outdoors eating/drinking utensils – Infinity table set

This one-person set includes fork, knife, spoon, bowl with lid, insulated mug, drinking glass, full-sized plate and a mesh stuff sack. You don’t really need much more than that!
Extra perk: The bowl comes with a lid, and so doubles as a leftovers container!

Miscellaneous camping gear reviews

Black Diamond camping lantern

Coming soon

UCO Madrona camping lantern or similar

Gotta have light! UCO has some really cool products. Unfortunately, most didn’t make the cut for our car camping gear rentals, but they would make for awesome stocking stuffers and birthday presents. Check them out! Their lantern, however, does come in handy for our car camping collection. Some cool features include:

  • 300 lumen with three, super bright LED bulbs (runs on 3 D-cell batteries, included with DetourOn rental)
  • Infinity dial fine tunes light output from dim to high
  • Blue LED mode for a night light
  • Magnetic quick-connect lanyard for mounting the lantern to a tent, tree, or post or just set on a tabletop or flat surface for traditional use
  • Small storage compartment in lantern holds keys and small valuables

And there you have it. A pretty exhaustive list of DetourOn’s car camping rental items and reviews. Contact us if you have any questions. If you’re interested in purchasing these items, we’ve included links to all of them. Of course, we recommend you rent them first to try them out, especially if you live in Las Vegas (you’ll get a locals discount on the rentals). Happy camping!

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