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Buying

Camping Gear in Japan

Overview

Camping gear can be expensive, especially if you're not sure how often you will use it, and lightweight gear for multi-day hiking is even more expensive. And unlike many western countries, name brand gear is often more expensive here. So what are your options? Well thankfully Amazon is becoming more popular in Japan which is helping increase competitive pressure, and there is now an abundance of cheap Chinese brands which are copying the design aspects of the more well known brands, but with a much cheaper manufacturing process. So let's review some of the best options buying hiking and camping gear in Japan.

Note: the price for Amazon products is always the same, but using my affiliate links provides me a small 4% if you make any purchases. It also doesn't matter what product you buy so there is no bias in this review ;)

In store or online?

Should you skip the stores and go straight to Amazon? Depending on what you're buying, you could skip the stores, but if you have the time then the best advice is to check both. Stores will sometimes have good sales, especially if your size is different to the average Japanese customer. Plus you can get an idea about the size, weight, and feel of certain products. It's great to show support to the owners, but if you are price sensitive, then comparing the prices on your phone is a good way to ensure you're saving money. However I must emphasise you need to be respectful and subtle if you are doing this inside the store. And if you want to ask about price matching with Amazon, try to be as friendly as possible or politely ask them while making a purchase. They will usually need to check with their manager so be ready to ask them if they don't seem sure.

So how do you decide which outdoor store to choose? Google maps is where you will find all this information - check the reviews, the locations, or the store websites, then decide which ones to visit in person.

One big advantage Amazon has, is a vastly wider range of products. So the store prices might be the same, but Amazon will simply offer cheaper products under different cheaper brand names. These won't be as good as the top shelf names, but the cost to benefit ratio is much better and in many ways they live up to similar expectations.

The second biggest advantage, Amazon have an incredible returns policy. Any products you buy can be easily returned and refunded within 30 day of purchase, this covers everything from faulty products, misleading descriptions, sizing issues, or if it simply didn't live up to your expectations. The will even arrange pickup from your address, just schedule the time with their online chat team.

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Image by Christian Wiediger

Amazon have the easiest returns policy in Japan

Recommendations for Amazon products 

 

So what are the best options for camping gear on Amazon?

The best affordable tent options

One person tents:

An amazingly convenient and lightweight tent, there are no tent poles, it simply requires two long branches or standard hiking poles. I have used this for a whole season and it always performed well. The size and weight is amazing.

The Naturehike version of the GeerTop tent. I haven't used this one but I have used the 2-man version which is very good and easy to set up.

Two person tents:

Great quality for this price, very easy and intuitive to setup, perfect size for 2 people.

Premium Tents?

For the more premium brands such as North Face or Patagonia, Amazon is not a good choice. Your best bet is to head to a large outdoor store in your area, Google Maps is a good way to check out these options.

Three and four person tents?

I don't have experience with these so I'll leave it up to you to browse Amazon or your local camping store. For Amazon, the best way is to filter the results to show only the products above 4 star reviews and the tent size you're after, then you will need to check the item weight. Anything labelled "ultra" light will be the lightest weight in the brands products range. 

 

Premium Tents?

For the more premium brands such as North Face or Patagonia, Amazon is not a good choice. Your best bet is to head to a large outdoor store in your area, Google Maps is a good way to check out these options.

Three and four person tents?

I don't have experience with these so I'll leave it up to you to browse Amazon or your local camping store. For Amazon, the best way is to filter the results to show only the products above 4 star reviews and the tent size you're after, then you will need to check the item weight. Anything labelled "ultra" light will be the lightest weight in the brands products range. 

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Sleeping Bags

Although there are budget friendly options, a high quality sleeping bag is well worth spending extra money on. In fact, if there's one item you choose to invest in, it should be a good sleeping bag. A high quality down feather sleeping bag will easily last you more than ten years, it will be super light, nice a small, and keep you extra warm while maintaining breathability. With that being said, the cheaper sleeping bags with a synthetic blend are a good compromise between budget and quality. The biggest difference you'll find with these semi-synthetic sleeping bags is the size/weight to warmth ratio, but they will also be half the price.

 

Here is a good option for a budget sleeping baghttps://amzn.to/3SDOt9g 

This is a really good mid-range camping mattresshttps://amzn.to/3zWOr4O

Thermals & Socks

Thermal layers are essential for overnight hiking in the mountains. They are lightweight and very effective for keeping warm, they're especially useful for sleeping in. These are a good example, and like all Amazon products, if you have any issues with size or quality you can return them easily.

Next up is socks. For day hikes, special socks are not essential, despite what many passionate hikers will tell you. But for multi-day hikes you need socks that are designed for sport or hiking. Hiking socks tend to be expensive, so I've always opted simply for sport socks with anti-odour treatment. Specially designed socks, or wool socks, will have advantages such as warmth, reduced moisture retention and faster drying. Regarding blisters and comfort, sporty toe socks are great for this, simply wear them under your normal socks. I highly recommend these toe socks.

Closing

That concludes a short introduction to buying camping gear in Japan. There are so many rabbit holes that we could go down when talking about this topic, but to keep this short I've focused mainly on the most pertinent points. There are many blog articles online about choosing the type of gear that suits you best, so if you need more info a quick google search will yield good results. If there's any extra tips, advice or experiences you'd like to share, feel free to discuss them in the comments section below.

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