Can Camping Gear Boost Your Bottom Line?

Give hunters and outdoor enthusiasts one more reason to walk through the doors of your shop by adding camping gear.

Can Camping Gear Boost Your Bottom Line?

The great thing about camping gear is that it’s used by hunters and non-hunters alike. It’s a massive market, one you should try tapping into. Of course, it will be hard to compete with the big-box stores. That’s why you must be strategic in your approach. Making walls in your shop look like the camping section in a Sportsman’s Warehouse probably isn’t the best idea.

“There is a method to my madness,” said one western archery/gun shop owner. “I’ve made camping a big part of my business, but it took a bit of time.”

This shop owner asked that he remain nameless, but I’ve visited his locale several times, and his camping section is quite impressive. In fact, I’ve watched it grow a lot over the years.

“Most of my clients are hunters,” the shop owner said. “I try and stock items they are going to want. When it comes to tents, I don’t move many four- and five-man models. Most guys and gals are looking for one- and two-man tents. I keep several of these in stock. Over the years, I’ve sold multiple one- and two-man tents to fishermen and rock climbers as well. Word gets out that you have quality product, and that’s the key. Don’t carry cheap tent brands. Families going on camping trips are probably headed to Walmart. That’s not your crowd. Your crowd needs ultra-specific gear. They want quality items they can depend on, and if you have it, you can add a little extra to your bottom line.”

Of course, tents don’t make up the entire camping industry, and hunters and non-hunters alike will be looking to find different items.

“We move a lot of headlamps,” said Cody Rowe of Gene Taylors Sporting Goods in Gunnison, Colorado. “All campers need headlamps. Yes, we get a lot of hunters and fishermen through our doors, but we get throngs of campers as well. I recommend carrying a solid selection of headlamps. We offer them across a broad price range. Some guys and gals want them with all the bells and whistles, while others just want a simple $20 headlamp.

“In addition to the headlamps, we also move a lot of camping cookware. Small stoves and the like are great to have on hand. We also carry a selection of quality sleeping bags. Camping is a bit seasonal, but we’ve found during the spring and summer months that we get lots of fishermen and other outdoor recreationalists through our doors. In the fall and even into early winter, we get lots of hunters that need a headlamp or a stove. Then there are those times when someone in camp forgot their sleeping bag. You just never know, but you need to be prepared to meet their needs.”


Backcountry or Bust

I’ve been roaming the canyonlands and alpine peaks of the West since I turned 16 and got my driver’s license. During my backcountry tenure, I’ve experienced most everything. I’ve been lost — bad — twice. My elk-hunting partners and I survived a four-hour golf-ball-sized hail storm followed by a monsoon that created mountain mud slides. I’ve gone to bed in 50-degree weather and awoke to six inches of snow. I found a man in the woods suffering from altitude sickness so badly he couldn’t tell me his name. The backcountry is no joke. One minute it’s peaceful and the next it’s trying to kill you. The good news is, there are some great products — the dozen shown below — on the market that you can outfit your customers with — products that will make their camping venture safe, fun and more comfortable.


(1) Kelty Night Owl 2

When it comes to tents, it’s hard to beat a Kelty. They are light, durable and a breeze to set up. While your choices of what to carry are many, I do recommend the Night Owl 2 (below; $230).

Noted by Kelty to be the ultimate backcountry wingman, the Night Owl 2 is a three-season tent with a pair of doors and a packed weight of just 5 pounds 15 ounces. Kelty Quick-Corner Technology reduces setup time, and the two-vestibule design helps keep gear tidy and organized. The tent also comes with a Stargazing Fly that can be opened and closed from the inside. Kelty also offers this tent in a one-man version. Contact:


(2) Badlands Artemis Two-Man

Badlands knows the backcountry, and if you’re already carrying their packs and clothing, why not add a few tents? The Artemis Two-Man ($490) is a 28-square-foot structure that tips the scales at 4.1 pounds.

This three-season tent was designed to keep campers dry, safe and comfortable. The Artemis packs neatly into a small sack and was designed specifically to be toted around the woods. Like the Kelty Night Owl, the Artemis also comes in a one-man model. Contact:


(3) Alps Mountaineering Zephyr 3-Person

A perfect early-season shelter for a plains pronghorn or high-country muley hunt, the Zephyr 3-Person ($220) from Alps Mountaineering sports walls composed entirely of mesh, ensuring must-have ventilation and air flow.

Though it's a three-man, packed weight is only 6.2 pounds, and the inside living space is a full 40 square feet. A unique two-pole design provides maximum head room, and the pair of doors make entry and exit simple. The included fly buckles to the tent, which is a big bonus on those windy nights when elastic attachments get ripped to shreds. Contact:  


(4) MSR Access 2 Two-Person

Mountain Safety Research’s Access 2 Two-Person tent ($600) is a four-season beauty designed for those who seek adventure in the high country when snow covers the ground.

A limited amount of mesh on the tent body helps trap in warmth, and Easton Syclone Poles won’t snap or break no matter how brutal the conditions. The tent boasts a packed weight of 4.1 pounds, has a total square footage of 29 inches and has DuraShield-coated fabrics. Contact:


(5) Coast FL78R

I tip my cap to Coast Headlamps. They offer a wide range of options, and they perform. Whether I’m on a hunt or running a backcountry marathon, a Coast sits squarely on my head. One of my favorites is the FL78R ($70). This lamp features a hinged, tilting head that allows for maximum adjustment of your beam. Also pleasing is the dual power option. Coast Dual Power technology gives you the choice of running the headlamp off standard alkaline batteries or a USB-rechargeable battery. Twist Focus means you can rotate the lamp’s dial to move between spot and flood beams. Contact:

(6) Cyclops 210 Lumen 2 PK

A great buy, the 210 Lumen Headlamp 2 PK ($40) from Cyclops provides the camper with a pair of powerful 3W white LED headlamps. The 210 also has a pair of white, red and green 5mm LEDs, which provide options for the user. The headband is easily adjustable, and campers can count on between six and 16 hours of burn time on a pair of included AAA batteries. Contact:

(7) Therm-A-Rest NeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad

No one likes to sleep on the ground, especially without some padding between your sleeping bag and the tent floor. Enter the NeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad ($155 - $225) from Therm-A-Rest. Weighing just a touch north of half a pound, this sleeping pad shrinks down to nothing, allowing you the ability to store it virtually anywhere in your pack. Separating you from the cold earth is 2.5 inches of cushion, and a Triangular Core Matrix helps maximize rest on those long backcountry excursions. Contact:

(8) Alps Mountaineering Swift Air Mat

New from the minds at Alps Mountaineering is the Swift Air Mat ($70). Weighting just one pound, this mat is sure to make a great backwoods companion.

A number of small, pillow-like chambers provide additional support, meaning you can grind hard the next day after a good night’s sleep. The Swift Air Mat showcases a flat valve that allows for rapid inflation and deflation. A stuff sack and a repair kit are included. Contact:


(9) SlumberJack Ronin 0 Sleeping Bag

Branded with a comfort rating of 0 degrees Fahrenheit, the all-new Ronin 0 Sleeping Bag from SlumberJack ($90) is ideal for mid- to late-fall excursions. The polyester Ripstop Shell boosts durability and promises season after season of no-fail performance. Preventing those frustrating cold spots during the night is layered, offset construction, and External Velcro Tabs combined with dual zippers allow for “arms out” functionality. A compression stuff sack is included. Contact:

(10) MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Stove Kit

I’ve cooked more meals in the mountains with a PocketRocket than you can shake a stick at. The unit is reliable and boils water in minutes. Upgraded for 2020, the Deluxe model ($115) includes a premium lightweight cook and eat kit. The entire kit has a mass weight of just 13.1 ounces, and the compact design allow the Trail Mini Duo Cook Set to efficiently nest in the PocketRocket Deluxe Stove Pot. Contact:

(11) Black Diamond Ergo Cork Trail Trekking Poles

I won’t go into the woods without trekking poles. I don’t care if it’s for a dainty day hike or a 10-day backcountry excursion — trekking poles are a must-have item for any camping enthusiast. Black Diamond’s Ergo Cork Trail Trekking Poles ($130) heed the backcountry call. These poles measure 29 inches collapsed and quickly extend to a max length of 55 inches. The angled natural grip has been updated and features a soft-touch top for better handling. The cork grip keeps hand sweat under control, and when Mother Nature gets nasty, the cork doesn’t get slippery. Double FlickLock adjustability — easy-to-open-and-close buckles on the poles — makes adjustments quick, quiet and ultra-smooth. Contact:

(12) Platypus Big Zip EVO

Available in 1.5-, 2-, 3- and a 2-liter Lumbar option, the Platypus Big Zip EVO ($37 to $40) is an ideal choice for the camping crowd. Ideal for the backpack and around camp, the EVO features Secure SlideLock, which slides in both directions to make opening and securing the reservoir after fill super easy. Other features like the Hand Pincher Grip, High Mount Quick-disconnect and HyFLO Self-sealing Bite Valve make the EVO hard to ignore. Contact:

There you have it: 12 items that can add a little something extra to your shop. Remember, you don’t have to jump headfirst into the camping arena. Test the waters. Take a look at your geographic location and note the months of the year in your area that are hot for both camping and hunting. Put a few items in the shop and see what the response is like. Build up your camping section over time and watch your bottom line grow.


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