Camping & Climbing

Backpacks | Tents | Sleeping Bags | Climbing Gear | Accessories

One of our favorite things about New England is the proximity that we have to some of our nation's best trail systems, mountain parks, coastal waters, and breathtaking campsites. Some of the most accessible and rewarding recreational activity happens right here in our back yard. Come in and chat with us, we'd love to share stories and maybe point you in a new direction. If you need gear, supplies, or just some pointers for your next adventure, you'll be in the right spot in our camping shop.

The Perfect Tent

06/23/2016


Camping trips are an integral part of the summer months, whether you are venturing into the backyard with the kids or heading out on a multi-day backpacking trip. Nothing quite compares to cooking over an open campfire or sleeping under the stars. It goes without saying that the most important piece of equipment for any camping trip is your tent, but having the right tent will make a world of difference. We have a wide selection of tents that offer different perks depending on your unique camping needs; check out our overview to see which tent will be the perfect fit for your camping style!


TNF Homestead Shelter
tnfshelter
The Homestead Shelter isn't necessarily a tent by traditional standards, but it is a must-have for a multi-tent camp site. Big enough to fit over a picnic table, it acts as the campsite common area, offering a place for everyone to gather together even if the weather doesn't cooperate. We recommend bringing it along on any car camping excursion, and it's also ideal for picnics, festivals, and long sunny days at the beach.


Big Agnes Gilpin Falls MtnGLO
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This large 4-person tent is perfect for family camping, but it also has an unusual trait that makes it quite possibly the most fun tent in our store. Strands of LED lights are integrated into the tent body, illuminating your living space with just the touch of a button. The Joey T55 power supply is included, which can be used to charge the lights along with any other electronics you bring with you. This is the perfect tent for car camping; kids will love the fun atmosphere of the lit-up tent, and it's also great for festivals (you'll never have to spend time searching for your campsite!)


MSR Elixir 3
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This tent is the perfect choice for those of you who typically camp close to the car, but also want the option of venturing out on longer trips without a huge tent weighing you down. With a three-person capacity, you can head out with a couple of friends in tow or even take the family. It gives you the option to car camp with a group, but at under 6 pounds, it's light enough to take with you on a hiking trip to someplace more remote than your standard campground.


Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum
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Big Agnes refers to their Fly Creek 2 Platinum as the"lightest free standing double-walled tent." At well under 2 pounds, it is barely-there-light and stuffs down smaller than any other tent we sell, making it ideal for long treks and multi-day camping trips. It is nice and roomy for the solo backpacker, and we always recommend a tent like this over a single-person option since you'll have the versatility to camp with a friend if you so choose.

Child Carriers

04/28/2016


You don't have to wait until your child can walk to get him or her out on the trail with you! Child carriers allow you to share your love for the outdoors with your baby without sacrificing comfort for you or your little one. These packs are built just like technical backpacking packs, with comfortable suspension and adjustable, weight-distributing hip belts and straps. The only difference is that the main compartment is designed to carry your most precious cargo! As long as your child can sit upright unassisted, you are ready to head out into the wild and explore together. The seats are padded with additional straps to keep your baby safely strapped in, and numerous storage compartments ensure you'll always have space for snacks, toys, and all your hiking essentials. We carry the Poco AG from Osprey and the Sapling from THULE, both of which come with adjustable, removable stirrups, a sunshade, and a washable drool pad. 

 

 

THULE Sapling
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The Sapling is a brand new product this year from THULE! The fully adjustable hipbelt and backpanel make it easy for parents to take turns carrying, and a sleeve for a hydration reservoir ensures that everyone stays cool and hydrated. There are plenty of storage pockets for toys, snacks and more, one of which doubles as a removable daypack. It even comes with a mirror so you can check in on your beloved cargo while on the go.

 
Osprey Poco AG
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There are three different options with the Poco AG: the standard, plus, and premium. Osprey's award-winning AG (anti-gravity) suspension system is highly adjustable, allowing just about anyone to carry it. It also offers superior comfort, with a mesh backpanel that allows for airflow and breathability. The Plus and Premium packs come with a mirror and additional storage space, and the Premium version comes with a removable daypack.


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Best Gear Out on the Trail!

11/01/2015

This weekend, June 6th and 7th, is Trails Weekend, meaning there are over 200 events statewide to explore, clean up, and celebrate our local hiking trails. Connecticut has 139 state parks and forests, offering endless opportunities for new terrain no matter where you live. Events range from group hikes to volunteer trail maintenance meetups, and there are many events happening right here in Fairfield County. Check out the Norwalk River Valley Trail, built in sections around Wilton and Norwalk, projected to connect from Calf Pasture Beach to Rodgers Park in Danbury. Click here to learn more and find an event for your family to attend. Be prepared for these trail events with gear to keep you safe and comfortable on the trail! 

We've learned a lot from our fellow staff member Kate, who has taught us that even the biggest trails might not be as hard as you think. Kate shares her experience walking 2,185 miles and completing the Appalachian Trail, a journey that most people only imagine! Proper gear makes all the difference, even on the shortest hikes. Her journey began at Springer Mountain in Georgia on April 1st and continued until she reached Mount Katahdin in Maine the following September. When she set off on the trail it was snowy and cold, but the weather soon turned to a rainy spring and finally a beautiful summer. She hiked around 15 miles per day, and her pack was an average weight of around 25 pounds. Surprisingly, she told us that hiking in the woods for six months straight is not the least bit lonely. "There are lot of other people hiking and camping; you're never really alone. I met so many amazing people on my trip," Kate remembered. We asked Kate if there was ever a point at which she felt like quitting. "I never felt like quitting," she said, "but every day until I reached Connecticut, I didn't know if I was going to make it. Once I was in New England, my home region, I realized how far I had come and knew that I could make it to Maine." We asked Kate what advice she would give to anyone hiking the trail now, and with a big smile she said, "Be strong! And have self-confidence!"

Being adequately prepared is just as important for a weekend of hiking and camping as it is for a multi-month trip. Since most of us don't have six months to spare, we can still learn from the trials and tribulations Kate endured. She shares with us the items that were the most significant to her comfort and safety on the AT. We recommend getting comfortable with your gear before embarking on your hike; for example, give yourself some time to break in your boots, and practice walking around wearing your pack with weight. Here are the top five items on the trail you can't live without:

 

A Comfortable Pair of Boots

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Salomon X Ultra Mid 2
The boot is probably the most important piece of gear out on the trail; your feet are at the core of your hike, and you need to keep them happy! Kate recommends Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 for summer hikes because it's lightweight enough for summer hiking, but at the same time sturdy enough to protect your foot from injury. It has a mid-cut ankle to give you the support you need without being too bulky and hot. It is made with GORETEX so you won't have to worry about getting wet on the trail. The gusseted tongue keeps debris from entering the shoe, and an abrasion-resistant lining offers breathability and allows the shoe to dry quickly. When choosing your hiking boot, it is important to try different boots to see which is the best fit for your unique foot. We have a pedorthist here on staff to help you find the best boot for your hike!

 

A Well Organized Backpack

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Osprey Aura/Atmos AG 50

For a full weekend of hiking, we recommend using a 50-liter pack. It can easily fit your sleeping bag, pad, tent, extra layers, and everything else you will need for your trip. We love the new Aura and Atmos AG packs from Osprey. "AG" stands for anti-gravity, which means that this pack has a seamless structure that automatically contours to the body, offering the most comfortable fit and unrestricted movement. The suspension, back panel, harness and hipbelt are all considered to be "anti-gravity." The Fit on the Fly™ hipbelt allows you to adjust the hipbelt to make sure that there is comfortable padding encircling your hips, rather than a harsh strap. According to Kate, "Osprey has thought their packs through very well, putting much consideration into where pockets should be, how it fits your hips, and how comfortably it carries weight."

 

A Warm Sleeping Bag

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Western Mountaineering Summerlite

When hiking in the spring, temperatures may drop quickly; in Kate's experience, it snowed quite unexpectedly in Georgia! Grabbing gear that is versatile is important, and the Summerlite from Western Mountaineering is the perfect bag for this time of year. A temperature rating of 32 degrees, means you will be warm on chilly nights. It is the lightest bag that Western Mountaineering makes in a continuous baffle construction, weighing in at just 1 pound 3 ounces. It has a full-length zipper, insulated draft protection, and down fill. Our favorite thing about Western Mountaineering is that their bags are made right here in the USA!

 

A Dependable Headlamp

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Black Diamond Storm

If you are going to be in the woods for any period of time, you don't want to be stuck without a headlamp! This 160-lumen lamp is waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes, and is truly meant for all conditions. It features finger tap technology, which allows you to adjust the brightness with just a tap of your finger on the side of the touch-sensitive housing. It has five different light modes, and a lock mode that will keep it from turning on in your pack or pocket. One of its most innovative features is a three-level power meter that shows the remaining battery life for 3 seconds after switching it on. It is very light; with batteries it weighs only 3.9 ounces.

 

A Lightweight Camp Stove

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Olicamp Ion Micro Titanium Stove

If you want to have a picnic on the trail or are hiking overnight, there are endless meal opportunities with this little stove. The Ion Micro Titanium Stove is the smallest, most compact, camp stove out there. It weighs only 1.5 ounces or 45 grams and is incredibly simple to use, fitting any universal screw-on canisters of butane/propane mixtures. One canister is more than enough for a weekend hiking trip. This stove is a must-have for any camping or hiking trip, especially because its tiny size meaning you won't even know it's in your pack!

 

Rock the Campsite, Your Way

07/23/2015

Camping has evolved far beyond the traditional tent and campfire scenario you envision in your head. There are so many unique camping styles, both in terms of places to go and ways to camp, that camping gear has become ultra-specific. Styles range anywhere from backcountry minimalist to high-end glamping, but with all preference aside camping still offers a lifetime of memories for families, friends and loved ones! Read on to learn about the gear that will benefit each type of camper.

Minimalist

The goal is to hike off the grid, bringing only what is necessary! 

minimal

Our Advice for Blending In and Multitasking:

Try hammock camping!
Lighter and quicker to assemble, hammocks can hang anywhere between two trees. You'll never have to worry about finding dry or flat ground, and being elevated can lead to a better night's sleep. Laying on your back with your head raised increases blood circulation and allows for unobstructed breathing, while being off the ground eliminates annoying pressure points. Rather than lug around a tent, sleeping bag, AND pad, a hammock is lightweight and easily stored. 

Cook your meals with ease!
The tiny Westwind Stove from Liberty Mountain is unbelievably quick to assemble and easy to carry. Weighing in at only 4 ounces, you won't even feel it in your pack. It runs on rubbing alcohol, which takes up less space than the tanks of gas that most camp stoves need. This stove will help you save space, time and weight in your pack!

Purify water instantly!  Instead of worrying about carrying enough water, just refill and filter from any stream or lake you pass. The new Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System purifies water instantly so you can drink right through the filter. The device can easily slip into your pocket, weighing in at 2 ounces.

Take notice of the color of your tent!  If you're camping on the fly, blending into the surrounding environment will help you hide from any unwanted visitors. The North Face Tadpole 2-person tent has neutral coloring and low profile, maintaining a reduced footprint and lower height. It's quick and easy to disassembly and packs down to under 3 pounds.

 

Ultra-Prepared

Looking to do it all, they're packing all the equipment to enjoy hiking, biking, and cooking over the campfire!

car-camping

Our Advice for Staying Organized:

Stick to the campgrounds and go car camping!
Having your car with you is more than convenient-it allows you to pack all the essentials and more! Most campgrounds let you pull your car right up to the campsite, so coolers, bikes, and blankets are easy to reach. Don't be afraid to over-pack!

Take advantage of your roof rack!
Loading the big stuff such as bikes and boards onto your roof frees up valuable space in your trunk. A THULE Box holds anything from duffels to frisbees for even more room inside. Another advantage to racks is that they keep dirt from getting into your car when it's time to pack up and go home, as dirty equipment like bikes can go on the roof.

Never run out of battery!
Don't waste power from your car battery to charge your devices--use the Outdoor Tech Buckshot Pro! This little device has a USB port to charge your phone and other devices; it also triples as a flashlight AND a portable speaker! Coming in bright colors it's easy to spot, so it won't get lost!

Bring all your food and more!
No one wants to leave the campsite for more food, and strategically packing food and drinks together to stay cold can be tough! The Tundra 75 by YETI is enormous and has space for all the meals and beverages you'll need on your trip. If you throw a few frozen YETI Ice packs into your YETI Tundra, your food and drinks will stay cold for days--that's right, days.

 

 

Long-Term

Camping in comfort, with the whole family in tow. 

 longterm

Our Advice for Staying Comfortable:

Take advantage of new technology!
Camping has come a long way in terms of gear and technology; our advice is to take advantage of it! There is no need to rough it anymore; it is easy to make the outdoors feel like home for an extended period of time. From showers to fridges and even a kitchen sink, you can live in luxury deep in the woods.

Laundry and dishes can stay clean!
The Sea to Summit Kitchen Sink is great for washing dishes, but that's not all you can do with it. This pop-up container is perfect for hand-washing clothes, a quick way to carry water back to your campsite, and it makes an excellent dog bowl! It's easily collapsible when empty, and a stiffening ring prevents the bowl from tipping over when full.

Rinse off after a hot day!
If you're going to be camping for more than a couple of days, you are going to need a way to stay clean. Some camp showers need to be hung and offer very minimal pressure, but the Helio Pressure Shower from NEMO is actually a tank that sits on the ground, with a handheld hose that offers fantastic pressure. It's not only ideal for showering, but also for rinsing off your gear, your dog, or anything that gets dirty!

 

 

Top Items to Pack

04/23/2015

Some of the best memories of growing up come from summers spent under the trees, sleeping under the stars, staying up late telling stories, cheering and singing with people who become lifelong friends. Whether your child is six years old or sixteen, camp is the best part about summer. It offers kids the opportunity to try new activities, meet new people, and experience being away from home for the first time. We have put together a list of the important items that every kid needs for camp, all of which you can get right here at Outdoor Sports Center. We carry everything from bug repellent clothes to sturdy backpacks to sunscreen, and we only carry the highest quality items and employ the most knowledgeable experts. Whether your kids are going to day camp here in Fairfield County, sleepaway camp in the Berkshires, or a wilderness school across the country, Outdoor Sports Center is your one-stop-shop for all things camp! 

kidsondock

 

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  • Swim Goggles
  • Toiletry Bag and Travel Bottles
  • Water Bottle
    We love Camelbak's wide selection of water bottles, in all styles and colors.
  • Bug Spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Towel
    The brand PackTowl makes ultra-absorbant towels in all sizes that are quick drying, making them resistant to mildew. The large and extra large sizes are big enough to use as full bath towels, and they are $19.95 and $24.95 respectively.
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Headlamp/Flashlight
    It's important to have a strong light for navigating in the dark, telling ghost stories in the cabin, and everything in between. The Black Diamond Cosmo headlamp is an excellent option for hands-free light, and the Orbit is a flashlight/lantern combo; both are $29.95
  • Backpacks
    We carry many different styles of packs from many different brands. Whether your child needs a large backpacking pack, a day hiking pack, a hydration pack or anything in between, we have got you covered, and with a variety of options!
  • Suitcase/Duffel
    Patagonia's Black Hole Duffel and The North Face's Base Camp Duffel are both super sturdy and come in a variety of sizes to hold everything you need
  • Poncho
  • Rain Coat
  • Sleeping Bag
    The Wasatch 45 from North Face is affordable and perfect for making that camp bunk more comfortable. It's made for summer so it won't be too hot on those humid nights, but it still works to keep you cozy and warm when the temperature falls.
  • Hat
  • Bandanas
  • Outer Layers
    The Mossbed Softshell Hoodie ($89.95) from The North Face is a water-resistant windbreaker with a light fleece liner, making it a perfect summer jacket for all conditions.
  • Pants and Shorts
  • Long and Short Sleeve Shirts
  • Swimsuit
  • Wool Socks
    We recommend wool socks for all outdoor activities, as they wick away moisture and do not attract bacteria or become smelly as quickly as other materials do. We carry socks from Smartwool and Fit that come in a wide range of thicknesses, including lightweight summer socks.
  • Bathing Suits
  • Lip Balm
  • Hiking Boots
  • Sneakers
  • Rain Boots
  • Sandals
    Kids need sandals for summer camp just as much as they need hiking boots and sneakers. It is important to get sandals that offer some stability since your kids will likely be walking over rocky paths, and we carry sandals from Chaco and Keen (and Teva and Birkenstocks for the bigger kids) that strap in the whole foot.

 bigpack

If your child is attending a wilderness camp that involves backpacking and sleeping outside rather that in a cabin, here are a few additional items you would want to add to the above list:

  • Camping Bowl
  • Camping Utensils
  • Large Trekking Backpack
    Osprey Ace Series packs are made specifically for young trekkers and are excellent packs.
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Protective Insect Netting

 

Don't forget to send your kids off with some stationery so that they can write you letters, and a journal to write about all their exciting experiences!

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