Summer! Time to start cashing in those vacation days (or sick days *cough cough) and spending time out in mother nature instead of at your computer desk. Even though we at Many Many Adventures acknowledge that high-tech gadgets aren’t always necessary for getting out and enjoying nature, we know from experience that the right assortment of tech gear can always improve your experience, by keeping you warm, dry, fed, and entertained. So to help you plan your next trip, we've decided to search out and test some of the best new gear available. Here are our favorites:
“Sleep is God. Go worship.” ― Jim Butcher
Mountainsmith Genesee 4: When it comes to choosing a tent, it can quickly become overwhelming how many choices there are. We've slept in more tents than we care to remember, and on more than one occasion made the mistake of buying a "two-person" tent thinking there'd be enough room for two people AND stuff. While we think of ourselves as fairly light packers, some companies don't seem to grasp the concept of what kind of space is required. For us, with our backpacks and our 5-month-old border collie, Elmo, the Mountainsmith Genesee 4 is perfect. It was less than $200, and had ample room for all of us to be comfortable: the 56 sq. ft. floor would easily accommodate four adults. The setup, consisting of just two crossing poles, meant we could arrive just before dark, set up our tent, and still have time to catch sunset. As a bonus, if it's not raining, leave the rain cover off and sleep under the stars.
UCO StakeLight: Camp enough times and it's bound to happen to you; you're going to trip on the tent rope, or worse yet, hit your foot on a metal spike. One of our favorite new pieces of equipment, and something we're never going camping again without, is the new StakeLight from UCO. The StakeLight includes a built-in 17-lumen LED light in a water-resistant case. With both a normal on setting and a strobe setting, you'll never have to worry about tripping in the dark again. They have a 24 hour running time from a single AAA battery, and if you can't find a flash light, these will work in a pinch.
Sleeping Bag System
Big Agnes Cabin Creek 15: This thing is SERIOUSLY lux. For anyone who has gone camping with their amor, only to be faced with the dilemma of squeezing into a tiny sleeping bag or being separated by a double layer of insulation (not exactly conducive to fun, evening activities), this one is for you! Big Agnes' Cabin Creek 15 sleeping bag is the ultimate mummy-bag system. While a little bulkier than some on the market, this three-season bag eliminates the zip-together dilemma and provides a spacious solution for couples' camping. The double-mummy construction allows both sleepers to have a full hood and individual zippers. Separate pad sleeves keep you from drifting away, and built-in pillow pockets make for comfy dreamtime. An extra 2 inches in the foot box gives taller campers (up to 6 feet 2 inches) some wiggle room, and it's super warm and cosy (especially if you have one super spoiled puppy sleeping in the middle).
....for some sweet snoozes, pair with:
Big Agnes Air Core: The Air Core is that rare and precious thing: a camping mattress that actually allows you to get a good night's sleep! While it takes a little bit of effort to inflate, it didn't deflate during the night, and is a breeze to deflate and pack up in the morning. While this rolls up very small, once inflated it’s really quite thick, and the fact that it was attached to the sleeping bag meant that there was no awkward slipping around once you drifted off.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” ― John Muir
Vertex Ultralight Backpacking Stove: It would be easy to think that you've made a huge mistake and forgotten to pack your stove if you're using Vertex's Ultralight Stove, which weighs a mere 1.8 ounces and packs down to 2.5 mm thick. You can easily assemble the stove in seconds, complete with a full wind screen. It uses only a single Esbit 14 gram solid fuel tablet, and will bring 16 ounces of water to a boil in approximately 8 minutes (depending on temperature, elevation, and the starting temperature of the water). With all of these other equipment that takes up room, this piece of equipment is ideal.
Titan Stormproof Matches: Creating fire with sticks and rocks seems like a great idea, until you try it. And while lighters can be handy, they've been known to run out of fuel. Again, UCO appears to be one of the most experienced brand out there, and these 4 inch long matches are the best we've found. They're water resistant and nearly windproof, and had our fire lit without any problem. For only $10, add these to your travel bag.
PowerPot: We understand that part of the draw of wilderness is a lack of electricity, but in 2015 there are just too many scenarios where its a necessity (not to mention all the times its just nice to have). But it's not always that easy to find electricity outdoors. This ingenious little cooking pot from PowerPractical uses the heat created by your campfire to convert it to usable energy you can use for any USB-powered device. Even if you don't need to charge any device, it's still a great cooking pot
Zippo 4-in-1 Woodsman: This thing just looks, and feels, like it was meant for someone who spends a considerable time outdoors. Just as a small axe, the Zippo Woodsman is enough to make you feel impressive walking around the campground. More than just the machismo though, this device is incredibly useful. The blade is sharp and solid for cutting firewood, or clearing a path for a hammock. The other end makes a great hammer for tent pegs and the like, and don’t forget the saw! This came in very handy when making a space for our tent in the undergrowth, and collecting kindling so we could light a fire to charge our phones (see above).
“Returning home is the most difficult part of long-distance hiking; You have grown outside the puzzle and your piece no longer fits.” ― Cindy Ross
Granite Gear Blaze A.C: The Blaze A.C. from GraniteGear is an award-winning, lightweight backpack, with a simple design that just gets the job done. There's only one main compartment (a separate lid can be purchased additionally), with rip-stop nylon cords attached to allow you to attach additional gear to the outside, this pack is perfect for the hiker who wants to be light and fast. Just pack and go, this bag was perfect for our day hikes. If going for longer hikes, the use of stuff sacks, as well as the additional lid mentioned earlier, could turn this day pack into a weekend warrior!
ECCO Yura GTX: Our favorite new hiking boots! The GTX version of the Yura incorporates a Gore-Tex waterproof lining to help keep your feet dry in wet environments, something I found useful when I was on a quest to get the perfectly angled waterfall photograph, and ended up trekking through ankle deep mud to get it! That said, ECCO also offers the standard model of the Yura that does not have the Gore-Tex lining. The Yura is a stylish looking shoe that acts like a heavy duty hiking boot and looks like a running shoe.
VSSL: If you are the type of person who gets way too excited about fancy gear that packs down into really small containers but is actually really useful and could one day save your life, then the VSSL survival gear series is for you! This aluminum tube, with an LED light on one end and a compass on the other, is crammed full of mini canisters full of life-saving stuff, replacing the need to carry multiple and bulky items. While you can have a bit of fun with their flask/class container, or their all-in-one Zombie kit, the most practical of the bunch if the survival kit, with along with the flashlight and compass, came with a first aid kit, a razor blade, water purification tabs, a wire saw, an emergency whistle, waterproof matches, fishing gear, and more. Trust us, there are a hundred different examples of when you might need this. Buy it and thank us later.
Ibex Outdoor Clothing: Any adventurer, hiker, or grizzly traveler will tell you that the the very best outdoor clothing involves merino wool. Breathable, anti-odor, quick dry, and comfortable, merino is a staple feature of the Ibex outdoor clothing range. If you've never worn merino wool before, you're in for a treat. Unlike other outdoor clothing materials, like Gore-Tex for example, wool outerwear is extremely breathable, which is surprising since it also keeps you incredibly warm. Since we first began using merino wool while traveling around New Zealand, it's become a staple of our travel wardrobe. And with Ibex's slimmer fit, it's also something we can wear in the city!
“It's a good idea always to do something relaxing prior to making an important decision in your life.” ― Paulo Coelho
Kammok Roo Hammock: As two people who have spent a week camping with little more than a hammock before, we place a large emphasis on finding the perfect one. Enter Kammok's Roo, which they claim is “the world’s best camping hammock.” The hammock is made from Kammok's proprietary LunarWave diamond ripstop fabric, is ultra-lightweight (packing down to the size of a large mango, is tear-resistant, and easily fits two people AND a puppy! If you’re worried napping in this hammock and getting eaten by bugs, check out this version with a net.
PolerStuff Napsack: I felt a bit like a child on Christmas when this particular package came in the mail. What at first looks like an old-school style sleeping bag, quickly reveals itself to be much, much more. With a drawstring at the bottom, zippers for the arms, and a hood on top, you can slouch around the campfire and then wander off to bed without ever having to get out of your sleeping bag! And when you awake in the morning, just unzip your arms and hop on up, you're ready to make breakfast.
Swell Bamboo Watch: As wood has become more and more scarce, bamboo is being used as a renewable alternative. To produce a full-grown, hardwood tree can take up to sixty years, and then another sixty years’ time for a replacement. Species of bamboo equal to the height and width of a tree take as little as three years to mature completely. Bamboo is also easy to grow, because of its root systems, which produce several shoots at a time. Like all plants, it takes in greenhouse gases and produces oxygen -- in fact, 35% more oxygen than an equivalent area of trees. With this in mind, I give you the ultra-lightweight, Swell bamboo watch! Stylish and sustainable, a must for those campers who like to accessorize.
Woodies Bamboo Sunglasses: But we can't end there. Woodies sunglasses are handmade from real bamboo as well, and come in a wide range of colors and styles. They are sturdy, lightweight, 100% UVA/UVB, and polarized. Now you can be stylish and eco-friendly!
NO&YO: Soft. That’s the first thing we noticed about NO&YO’s shirts. Whether we were lying around in our hammock or going for a walk with our puppy, we were always comfortable. One of our favorite things about NO&YO is where they come from: like us, they are first and foremost, travelers. After being at a crossroads in their own lives (see their logo), Isabella and Yanni decided to turn their passion into their career and launched their clothing line in southern California two Summers ago.
Toad&Co.: Toad&Co., formerly Horny Toad Clothing, began in a garage in Telluride, CO, making one-of-a-kind, handmade winter fleece hats. Over 2 decades later they are leading the way in comfortable travel clothing, as well as doing their part to better the world around them, two things near and dear to our hearts. For our long road trips, a pair of town to trail pants made from a mix of organic cotton and spandex is exactly what we’re looking for.
Kavu: These guys subscribe to the surf/skate/ski mentality of outdoor clothing: a little hipper and more out-there than most, likely to get you noticed on the trail, in the campground, or at the festival. We loved their crazy patterns and quirky designs, great to mix and match with the rest of our summer staples.
For Your Furry Friend
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
― Will Rogers
We could never forget our little travel companion and neither should you! We here at Many Many Adventures believe that all the adventure pups out there deserve the same level of comfort out on the trail as you do. Depending on just how cold it's going to be, we either bring the Hurtta Summit Parka or the Hurtta Slush Combat Suit with us. Both will help keep your pup dry, but the Combat Suit takes it to the next level by providing protection for your dog's underside and legs. It's completely waterproof as well and helps insulate your dog from elements.