The airplane camping season is coming up, and it’s time to start getting all of your airplane camping gear together.
Airplane camping is one of the most fun things you can do with an airplane in the summer. Such as with any trip, it’s important to be prepared, especially when you will be camping in remote places.
If you’ve never been airplane camping before, don’t worry. In this guide, we list some of the best airplane camping gear you will certainly need, and mention a number of great products to make your trip as comfortable and stress-free as possible!
What is Airplane Camping?
As the name implies, airplane camping is when you use your airplane to camp somewhere remote or at an airport.
It’s one of the most fun things you can do with an airplane, be it your own or one you rented. Involve your friends and/or family, and go explore some new places by airplane!
Buy or rent gear?
As with many things, we often have the chance to rent camping gear instead of buying it. Although this could be a good budget option, we do recommend you invest in some quality camping gear. Not only will it save you money in the long run, but it’s also one less excuse to not go on an impromptu trip!
Before getting started planning your airplane camping trip, here’s some good advice to keep in mind:
- Be prepared: when you fly out to some more or less remote airfields, there’s a good chance you will not find any nearby stores. Make sure you are well-prepared for different scenarios and possible situations during your trip. This also includes making lists for everything: from camping gear to emergency equipment and food.
- Do not save on good gear: budget gear might leave some more cash to spend on fuel, but it could ruin your entire trip. Spend money on quality gear and you’ll be set for many years and adventures to come.
- Read reviews: Such as with any purchase, check out the reviews online. It’s the best indicator of whether the gear you buy is actually as decent as the seller promises.
The products we listed below are all top-reviewed and top-rated products!
The first thing you will need is a tent. If you’re flying a larger aircraft with a roomier cabin, you might be able to sleep inside your airplane. However, for the full camping experience, we do recommend sleeping in a tent!
When looking for a tent, a few things are important to consider:
- The weight when packed
- The dimensions when packed
- Tent capacity (# of persons)
- Durability & material
- Easiness of set-up
Especially the first two factors are important to take into account, as the tent can easily take up a lot of valuable space ánd weight in your airplane baggage compartment.
Below are a few popular and quality tent options, ranging from 2 to 6 person-tents.
Although quite convenient, we do not recommend those popular 2-second pop-up tents, as they take up quite a lot of space when carrying them in your airplane.
1. Coleman Sundome Tent
The first tent we recommend is the Coleman Sundome Tent. It is available in different sizes, sleeping 2 to 6 persons. It’s on of the top-rated and reviewed tents currently on Amazon, with over 27,000 reviews and an average rating of 4.7/5.
The Coleman Sundome is weatherproof with welded corners and inverted seams to keep water from getting in, with a strong frame tested in up to 35+ mph winds. It can be set up in less than 10 minutes, and the 2-person tent provides a roomy 7 x 5 feet interior with 4 feet center height; fitting 1 queen-size air bed.
2. Coleman Dome Tent with Screen Room
The Coleman Dome Tent is also available in a larger version with a screen room, convenient to store camping gear, bags and more.
3. Forceatt 2-4 Person Camping Tent
The Forceatt 2-4 Person Camping Tent is a light-weight convenient camping tent, available in different sizes for 2, 3 or 4 persons.
Packed, the tent weighs just 2.58 kg and measures 41 by 14 cm. The tent can be assembled in 3 minutes, and dismantled in just 2 minutes.
Depending on your destination and the forecasted weather, it’s important to buy decide on the right sleeping bag. Especially when flying out to colder environments, make sure to buy a sleeping bag with a low comfort temperature.
As there will not always be a restaurant or place to eat at or around the airfield you’re camping at, cooking your own food will be a necessity, especially since it offers the ultimate camping experience.
So you will need some sort of camping stove. Again, weight can be an issue so below we listed some larger as well as more compact and light options.
Important to note: always be very cautious when carrying butane or other gas bottles in your airplane. Most stoves will requires this to work, but always consider the dangers involved and check with your local authorities if there are any limitations or requirements you need to be aware of.
If you’re more into cooking on an open fire, here are a few great portable ‘stove’ options that you can use to cook on wood instead of gas:
What better way to spend your evening than with a few cold beers (if you’re not flying anymore that day of course) around the fire. To make sure your beers (and other drinks/food) are cooled, it’s always a good idea to bring along a cooler. These YETI coolers are some of the best you can get, and depending on the amount of space in your plane, you can pick one size or the other.
When you’re out there in nature, chances are very slim you will find a power outlet next to your tent. To make sure you can charge your phone, cameras and any other electronic devices you are carrying, it’s a good idea to bring an additional power supply with you, such as a power bank.
The powerbank we recommend is this Anker PowerCore with a capacity of 20100mAh, enough to charge the iPhone 8 almost seven times, the Galaxy S8 five times or the iPad mini 4 twice.
When flying out to your camping spot for the night or week, you often spend quite some time in the air. Especially when flying over remote areas, it’s important to bring some safety and survival equipment with you.
Traveling in remote areas can involve some risk. The risk becomes even greater when in an emergency you find yourself without cellphone reception. In those cases, it’s not an unnecessary luxury to have a satellite communicator with you. Both Garmin & Spot offer some great options, that could potentially save your or a loved-one’s life.
It’s also wise to bring a handheld aviation radio with you as well, in case you need to communicate with other aircraft when you’re not inside your airplane (in emergency situations, for example).
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You can read more about handheld aviation radios and which ones we recommend in our Handheld Aviation Radios guide.
Bringing a flashlight with you should be without saying, here are some options we recommend, based on many reviews and feedback from our readers.
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A knife or axe is not only an invaluable tool in the outdoors, it could also one day save your life. It’s, therefore, an absolute must to bring along a quality knife (and axe) when you go airplane camping.
Long hikes and mini-adventures are awesome, but a relaxed day next to your tent and aircraft can be a warm welcome as well. Make sure to bring some books, playing cards or board games with you!
Here’s some recommended reading:
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Other camping gear
Cover photo © Trent Palmer
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