Posts Tagged camping
We often talk on here about finding good double-duty travel shoes that will work in multiple situations. So do you really want to take along another pair of shoes you only wear when you’re not out doing something? If you ask your feet, they might say “Yes please!”
These Exit shoes from GoLite Footwear are in a class called “recovery shoes,” meant to be slipped on after a hard-core day of hiking, skiing, rock climbing, or sidewalk surfing. The idea is that you might love those hiking boots when you’re out on the trail, but not when you need to pad around the campfire or walk from your bed to the bathroom.
These are meant to cradle and cushion your feet, to treat them like a client at the spa who needs a good dose of relaxation. They’re lightweight so they won’t tax your legs anymore and the breathable mesh lets your feet cool down. Since they’re loafers, there’s no friction or pressure on top.
Memory foam means these fit better and better the longer you wear them instead of providing less support over time. I liked these better in month two of my tests than I did in month one. They also come with GoLite’s PreciseFit insole that is adjustable to work for narrow, standard, or wide feet—a thoughtful touch in a sea of shoes that act like we all have the same foot shape. I’ve ended up wearing these around the tile and hardwood floor house as much as I took them on trips (same with my Oofos), but I was happy I had them on one that involved two days of hiking with lots of rocky terrain.
The Exit shoes won’t crap out on you though if it’s still rough ground where you spend the night: a rock absorber system protects your feet and the Gecko sticky rubber outsole GoLite is known for provides plenty of traction. As with your favorite pair of slippers or flats though, there’s no built-up heel on them—your feet stay flat to the ground.
The space you have in your bag or pack may determine whether you can afford to pack recovery shoes, but if you can, they sure beat a pair of flip-flops/slides in the cold. They’re comfy and built like peanut butter on a cracker: soft on the top, tough on the bottom.
The GoLite Exit shoes come in several different color options, in stretchy synthetics (what I tried out) or leather, for less than $100. Check prices online at Zappos, Planet Shoes, or Amazon. Amy tried out the women’s version this past summer: follow this link to check out her Elixir review.
See more travel shoes reviews.
Whether you’re playing Santa for an outdoor enthusiast in your life, or just want to fill a stocking full of camping gear for yourself, the following nifty products make for great additions to your holiday shopping list.
Coghlan’s LED tent pegs: We love Coghlans! And I’ve tripped over my tent’s guy lines more times than I care to admit. Coghlan’s 10” heavy duty tent pegs now feature a single LED light for visibility at night. Just twist on, and you’ve got a nice glow around your tent. Just $3.99 for a pack of two at Amazon.
Light My Fire Swedish Fire Knife: I don’t know about you, but I definitely want something called a fire knife in my stocking. Light My Fire’s unique fire-starting knife really is all that: this camp knife comes with a plastic sheath and a high-friction rubber handle, and it creates its own spark via a FireSteel Scout, which twists into the knife’s handle when not in use. Get it on Amazon in one of five fun colors for $28. I also love Light My Fire’s meal kits, perfect for young backpackers.
Arka LED rechargeable lantern: This camp lantern by Industrial Revolution is compact, lightweight, and collapsible, perfect for camping and overnights in outdoor shelters like yurts and fire towers, where electricity may be scarce or nonexistent. Recharge the lantern via USB cable to your smart phone. Can be used as a flashlight or strobe light, too! Pick it up for $69 on Amazon. (See Tim’s review from earlier in the year here: Uco Arka lantern.)
Dublin Dog KOA collars: For the outdoor-loving dogs in your life, how about outfitting them with waterproof collars that don’t stink? Not even after months and months? Our two dogs have been sporting designs from Dublin Dog’s Trout line since summer, and I am sold! They won’t ever wear another type of collar. The KOA material repels dirt and grime, and the collars really do stay fresh-smelling. Pick one up at Amazon for under $30, depending on size.
Icebug ArchFlex Insoles: Talk about the gift that keeps on giving! I’ve been running and hiking with Arch Flex insoles since July, and while I’ve tried many insoles over the years, these are the ones I reach for. They’re slim, easy to get in and out of my shoe, and provide the right shock relief for my repetitive running and hiking movements. Pick high arch or low, plus shoe size. Find them on Amazon.
GRAYL Water Filtration Cup: If you have someone headed to a part of the world lacking potable drinking water, the new Grayl makes for a nice gift. Like other water purification bottles, the Grayl has its drawbacks, but is overall a solid choice for travelers who need access to filtered water all day, every day. The cup, which looks and feels more like a bottle, features a duel cylinder construction wherein the user filters water through the bottom of the inner cylinder via a carbon filter. Once you’ve given it a few practice runs, it’s easy to use, though be advised: until it’s well ‘worn in’, the cylinders can be hard to pull apart, due the the vacuum seal. (As I said, not without its drawbacks.) However, the Grayl is sleek and shiny, heavy but definitely portable, and features a nice open-close design. If using abroad, you’ll need to upgrade the filter to the ‘purifier’, but once you’ve done so, you’re good to go for 300 uses. Buy the Grayl on REI for $69.
Cocoon Ultralight Microfiber terry towel: I love Cocoon travel products! I have used their travel pillow and packing cube, but by far my favorite product is their microfiber towel. Perfect for backpackers, campers, and round-the-world travelers, the Cocoon is small, thin, and light, but still actually does the job intended…you know, actually dry your body. Set it outside to dry afterward, and it will be good to go again in no time. Pick it up for your travel or backpacking friend for under $35 on Amazon.
Liberty Bottle Works Topo bottle: I would say I use this 100% recycled aluminum USA-made bottle every day, but I can’t: the minute I got it, my teen son took it. I think he loves the topographical map design best (ours features Mt. Rainier) but it may be the straw or the easy to open and close flip top lid with carrying handle. Pick out the map your hiking loved one can relate to most for as low as $12 on Amazon. It’s also available at Backcountry.com.
My family seems to go through water bottles like a professional tennis player goes through rackets, many getting lost or beat up in our travels. It’s the one thing all three of us pack no matter what and in hot climates, it’s either one of these or your own personal mountain of plastic garbage.
So I’ve tried out quite a few over the years, regularly reviewing water bottles on this gear blog. Not a real exciting item to purchase maybe, but never all that expensive either. Here are three new ones that came my way during the most recent Outdoor Retailer Show, where companies are showing off their stuff. For the past couple months they’ve gotten some real world use.
This Avex Brazos Autoseal bottle is a real bargain at $15. It’s got an innovative design that takes one-hand drinking to a new level. It’s kind of hard to see on any pics, but there’s a trigger on one side and a drinking valve on the other. You press down on the trigger when you want to drink and the water flows freely. Take your finger off the trigger and the flow stops dead, no leaking.
It’s not all that big for something holding 25 ounces and it feels good in the hand. There’s a little hook handle on the top too for carrying or clipping. There’s a part that flips down to cover up where you drink so you can keep dirt out when it’s in your daypack or on a bike holder. The Avex Brazos Autoseal comes in multiple colors, is BPA-free, and you can toss it in the dishwasher. Get it at Sun & Ski retail stores or at Amazon.
The lady of the house is a personal trainer, so she chugs a few gallons a day on the road or not. She’s digging this Hero Sport water bottle from Bubba Brands that holds 24 ounces. With a name like Bubba, yes it’s more plump, but that’s because it’s insulated and will keep your cold water cold for hours without the outside sweating. It’s only a few bucks more than your average plastic one though, retailing for $17.
Like the Avex one above there’s a flip-down valve, though the one on this is a bit more crude. It doesn’t nest inside anything and it’s tougher to operate with one hand. Still it works well in basic use and again it’s a bite valve that doesn’t require a lot of effort. The flip-up handle doubles as something you can carry it with or clip onto something. This water bottle is dishwasher safe.
The double-wall insulated versions of the Hero Sport are all stainless steel color, but the top comes in different colors. It also comes in different sizes, but get this 24-ounce version at Wal-Mart stores or Amazon.
The last one I’ve been traveling with is meant more specifically for travelers or people going camping. Sometimes you need a water bottle and sometimes you don’t, but normally it’s taking up the same amount of space regardless. One way around that is a Vapur collapsible bag/bottle, but for something sturdier check out this Pack-up Bottle from Light My Fire.
The idea is simple: when you’re using it you’ve got a nice bottle that fits in your daypack and has a wide mouth for use with a SteriPen or other purifier. When you’re going through security though or packing up to go home, it compresses down to this size:
Technically this holds 700 ml (about 24 ounces), but in my tests it missed that capacity by a few ounces—a pitfall for something that keeps changing shape I guess. Speaking of such, how does this thing stand up?
The bottom part is silicone, yes, but when it’s popped out all the way it has a rounded triangular shape on the bottom. It’s a little top-heavy, so it pays to keep the lid screwed on when not drinking, but unlike a Vapur bottle this one still stands up easily when it’s only partially full. It comes in multiple colors and even though it’s made and designed in Sweden, the Pack-up Bottle lists for $20. Get it at Amazon. They also make a pack-up cup for campers that you can get at REI.
I’ve been known to carry a flask along now and then, so I was glad to give this new one from Stanley a whirl after I saw it at their Outdoor Retailer Show booth. Besides it being useful and cool, it’s made of very tough plastic, so I wasn’t worried about it getting dented along the way.
The eCycle in the name makes you feel like you’re doing some good in the world as you drink to Mother Earth. It’s made from recycled food packaging (up to 25% post-consumer) and if the thing gets too beat up to use anymore (or you drop it under a moving vehicle while waving your arms around telling that great story), you can toss it in any recycling bin that accepts #5 plastic. See more details on that at the Stanley eCycle page.
What else makes this seven-ounce Stanley flask different is how you get into it. There’s the normal screw-off circular lid for pouring or swilling, but then there’s another opening too. The whole rectangular top of the container will flip open, allowing you a bigger space in which to pour ingredients for a cocktail to go. Or to just get the thing clean when you want to go from Bourbon to Vodka—never an easy thing in the ones where you just have to keep filling and rinsing. It’s dishwasher safe—how cool is that!
The main drawback of this is…it’s still hard to find. It supposedly came out in July, but retail orders must have been light because only a few of the usual spots you’d shop for Stanley mugs and bottles seem to have it.
The eCycle flask comes in green or blue and sells for $20. I’m guessing I’ll lose this before it even comes close to wearing out. It’s well-designed and very rugged. Pick up one for your camping friend who drinks or your favorite lush who travels. Check a local retail store, L.L. Bean, or add it to the cart at Amazon.
Getting out into the wilderness and roughing it is certainly one way to go when you’re on a camping trip. But if you’re looking for just a tiny bit less rough for relaxation and mealtime, an ultralight chair and table may be just the items to add to your pack. The Helinox Chair One and Table One, distributed in the United States by Big Agnes, adds a little extra comfort and convenience without much extra weight.
Weighing just 2 pounds, Chair One folds into a small 14-inch x 4-inch x 5-inch carrying case. It may be light, but it’s also strong and comfortable, especially with the breathable mesh integrated into the durable nylon fabric. The anodized aluminum poles are the same technology Helinox uses in its tent and trekking poles. I’ve used it on both a camping trip, as well as hanging out on the sidelines of a local marathon.
Table One is made of the same material, and the mesh is used for two cup holders in the center of the table. But even if you place your beverages on the flat surface, they won’t fall over unless you help them along. The table rolls up into a 16-inch x 4-inch x 4-inch case and uses the same poles as the chair does. If you’re thinking that you don’t want to pack along a table, its 1-pound, 5-ounce weight might sway you.
The Big Agnes Helinox Chair One comes in black, red, green, multicam (camo), tactical tan, tactical gray and tactical black. The first three colors list for $89.95 and the multicam and tactical colors list for $99.95, all on the Big Agnes website. The chair is also available on Amazon and priced between $87 and $89.95. It’s also available at Zappos.
See more camping gear reviews from the archives.