Nothing makes a better hunting camp in the backcountry than the tailgate of your pickup truck. Whether you’re ultimately hunting by foot or by all-terrain vehicle, a solid basecamp where you can sleep comfortably, cook a hot meal and get warm is an essential part of any hunting trip.
Hunting camps don’t have to be complicated. Sometimes the simplest concepts make the most sense. They can also be accomplished with a minimal amount of gear and resources. We’ve broken down the essential components of a tailgate hunting camp so that you might fine-tune your own concepts. Here are the absolute necessities.
The primary purpose of any hunting camp is to have a place where you can get out of the elements and get warm. As in survival, the first thing to consider is shelter. You can always huddle in your camper shell, but we suggest a tailgate canopy. These handy canopies provide adequate protection from the rain and the wind if it has side walls. Position the canopy partially over the truck bed and you’ve got a dry surface on the tailgate in any weather. MSRP $100
The next thing you want to think about is getting warm. A propane heater is an absolute must. A good choice if you really want to save space is the Mr. Heater Big Buddy Portable Heater, which can be hooked into a mini-propane tank or fitted to a larger tank for extended operation. Any number of portable propane heaters that fit right onto the tank will also do the trick. MSRP $135
Nothing says hunting camp like hot coffee, bacon and scrambled eggs in the morning. The Coleman propane stove continues to be one of the most reliable camping items sold in America. Coming next year is Jet Boil’s new Basecamp 2 stove that was much-hyped at this year’s Outdoor Retailer show. This super-efficient camp stove is easy to control and supports a 5-liter pot. At nine pounds, it folds up like a waffle-maker for easy storage. MSRP $350
Now that you’ve got a structure, you need some furniture to mount the cook stove, prepare meals and generally kick back. Consider the old stand-by four-foot folding utility tables. These white table tops are sturdy and light. To accompany them choose a set of folding chairs and you’re almost set. MSRP $150
Utility ice chest
No hunting camp is complete without a cooler filled with eggs, cheese and beer. A cooler is essential to storing camp foods as well as a place to possibly store your meat after a kill before you get home. Consider the 100 quart ice chest by Igloo. This trusted cooler slides easily into the bed of a pickup truck and can hold ice for days. MSRP $50
In any modern hunting camp you’re going to need power and no one likes noisy generators. For a great source of clean electricity, consider the Goal Zero Yeti 400. This 12-volt battery has various outputs including USB, AC and DC, including 400 watt-hours of capacity. Coupled with a portable solar panel, this is the perfect unit for clean reliable energy in the backcountry. MSRP $459
For a convenient knife set for the hunting camp consider the Gerber Camp Kitchen. Part of the company’s Freeskate series, the cutting board comes with two knives, one for slicing and the other pairing, which fits conveniently into a sliding insert. MSRP $88
If you need a way to easily wash your hands and don’t want to waste drinking water, a virtually no cost solution is to use an old laundry detergent jug as a hand washing station. Fasten a roll of paper towels to the top to complete the deal. MSRP $1