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2021 camping gear guide: new, top-sellers, must-haves

April 19, 2021

Found in Activities, Gear

Every camping season, we get excited about new gear and fresh product designs – and we know we’re not the only ones. Last year, camping gear flew off the shelves at record speeds. So we thought, why not give you an early season preview of new products and top-selling camping gear at MEC?

For your 2021 adventures, here’s our list of camping gear to watch for, from new-and-exciting to trusted-for-years.

MEC Ohm Tent

MEC Ohm tent, plus image showing packed version that is about twice the size of a Nalgene bottle

The MEC Ohm Tent is brand new – and we’re stoked on this design. The Ohm is a great option for any adventure: lightweight enough for the backcountry, roomy enough for car camping trips. It’s perfect for your first tent or if you’re looking to upgrade, and it will be available in 2-person, 3-person or 4-person sizes. Our favourite features:

  • Panoramic views: Enormous front door unzips almost fully for awe-inspiring views.
  • Waterproof floor: Durable DriBase™ floors keep you and your gear dry, which means no footprint required.
  • Footroom: Angled poles mean toes don’t poke the walls, even with a thick sleeping pad.

“We spent a long time on the design of this tent, and came up with a custom pole architecture that provides loads of usable space. I’m most excited about the roll-up fly – it gives you great flexibility for venting and of course, great views!” – Mark, MEC Label designer

The North Face Wawona 4-Person Tent

The North Face Wawona Tent

Experience camping with the fam without feeling claustrophobic. The North Face Wawona 4-Person Tent has near-vertical walls – so you get ample room for standing and sleeping – and the large front vestibule is big enough to fit camp chairs or store tons of gear. The whole thing is remarkably easy to pitch, so you’ll be out of the car and camping in a flash.

Thule Foothill Rooftop Tent

Thule Foothill tent shown set up on the top of a car, with a bike also on the roof rack

New from Thule for 2021. The Foothill 2-Person Rooftop Tent has a unique design: it only covers half your car roof, so there’s still space to put your kayak, surfboard or bike up top too. Huge windows and skylights give you a clear view of the sky when you’re tucked inside. It has plenty of room for two adults, but if you’re on a solo mission, the telescopic poles are still easy to set up and take down.

MEC Deluxe Pillow

Two sizes of the MEC deluxe pillow

The number one luxury item for camping? A super packable pillow. If you’re ready to graduate from “fleece jacket stuffed with clothes,” then the MEC Deluxe Pillow is a top-seller. It’s light and small enough for backpacking trips, and you can inflate it to your ideal pillow firmness.

“Whenever I bring out this pillow on a camping trip, my camping buddies are jealous – and they usually end up getting one too.” – MEC staffer KB

MEC Reactor 10 Sleeping Pad

Ultra thick MEC Reactor sleeping pad

The MEC Reactor 10 is one of our most popular sleeping pads for a super cushy night’s sleep – read the reviews for stories from satisfied sleepers. At 10cm thick, this is one of the most deluxe pads we carry. Prefer backcountry camping? MEC Vectair Sleeping Pads are best-sellers for cushy sleeps in a portable package.

“The Reactor is my go-to pad for camping. I even slept on it at home for four months without having to add more air.” – MEC staffer Kim W.

Big Agnes Torchlight and Sidewinder sleeping bags

Different angles of the Big Agnes Sidewinder and Torchlight sleeping bags

Side-sleepers, rejoice! Big Agnes has two brand new sleeping bags made to give you more wiggle room. First up, Big Agnes Sidewinder Sleeping Bags with side-sleeper specific features. The hood faces the side, the bag is designed to move with you as you roll over, and the insulation minimizes pressure points while maximizing warmth. Mummy style, and available in down and synthetic.

We’re also stoked on the Big Agnes Torchlight -7°C Sleeping Bag. It’s a mummy bag with two expandable side panels that give you up to 10in. of extra space – so it’s great for campers with wide shoulders, wide hips, or those who like to starfish.

“I’m a side sleeper and I’m so excited to try the Sidewinder. I’ll finally be able to sleep without my face mashed into the sleeping bag hood.” – MEC staffer KB

Nemo Victory Sunshade and Victory Blanket

Nemo sunshade set up over top of the Victory blanket

Bring your own shade to beaches, parks and backyards. The Nemo Victory Sunshade has SPF 50 fabric and is easy to set up with breezy ventilation. If you don’t like sand between your toes, pair it with the Victory Blanket, which has a waterproof bottom and soft flannel top. The blanket makes a great floormat in a large tent, too.

Kammok Swiftlet Stand

Coming soon to

Kammok hammock stand set up to show it with a hammock

Get ready to lounge anywhere. The Kammok Swiftlet Stand turns any campsite, park, backyard or patio into a hammock zone, no trees required. Unlike some other hammock stands, this one is lightweight and portable.

“I just got one and I’m super excited to take it on camping trips. I’ve already set it up in my condo to use it in chair mode for now.” – MEC staffer Kim W.

Nemo portable shower

Helio LX coming soon to

Nemo shower stand and shower

Your own private shower for the outdoors. Set up the Nemo Heliopolis Portable Shower Tent with the Helio LX Pressure Shower inside, and wash off without flashing your camp neighbours. The water is pressurized via a foot pump, and is also great for rinsing off muddy bikes or sandy paddleboards. You can pour hot water into it for an instant shower (unlike other models that need to sit in the sun all day to heat up). Oh, and there’s a drink holder built in to the shower tent too.

“I used this on a two-week camping trip last summer, and it was perfect for keeping clean without needing to use the showers at the campground.” – MEC staffer Kim W.

MEC Ultra Lite Chair

MEC Ultra Lite Chair

The MEC Ultra Lite Chair packs a lot of value into the price and is so popular that it sold out the last two seasons (consider this our “don’t miss out” message). Plus it comes with its own carry bag for extra packability.

“This little chair was my best purchase of 2020. I used it for camping weekends, bike trips, and so many park hangouts.” – MEC staffer KB

Nemo Stargaze Chair

Nemo Stargazer chair and Packlite Stool

The ultimate camping chair. Nemo’s Stargaze Luxury 2.0 Chair gives you the flexibility to lean back, relax, and count stars before bedtime. Yes, it’s a bit pricier than other camp chairs, but it’s well worth it based on heaps of reviews from satisfied stargazers. Pair with a small footstool – we like the Packlite Slacker Chair – to kick up your feet and chill around the campfire.

Eureka SPRK Grill

Eureka SPRK grill

Add seared meats and grilled veggies to your camp cuisine. The compact Eureka SPRK Grill is quick to set up and takes up almost no room, so you can take it where ever you go  ̶  camping, road trips or beach picnics.

MSR PocketRocket

MSR PocketRocket stove

The definitive backcountry stove series. Lightweight, compact MSR PocketRocket Stoves are reliable and simple to use, even if it’s your first time firing one up. They also come in PocketRocket Mini and options.

“We sell so many PocketRockets year after year – they’ve been a huge hit with backpackers and campers for more than a decade.” – MEC staffer Martin U.

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