From the Inside Out: 10 Camping Must-Haves
Two weeks until fall? Get out! Please! While you still can. Because as many colors and cozy nights in a tent, as much fresh air and fresh game as fall brings, so too does it bring the foreboding rumblings of winter. The season of suckage. So go on. Last call for volleyball at the park. Bocce in the backyard. And camping. Car camping. Cabin camping. Backpack camping. Camelback camping. Go get 'em while you can. But don't go alone! It's dangerous to go alone! Take these things with you.
Here are my picks for your 10 Camping Must-Haves. (Note: All items' prices are listed as they were at printing. Prices are subject to change.)
Adventure Gear Camping Trailer. $9,000. OK, maybe not a must-have, but this versatile camper from SylvanSport would definitely be a nice-to-have. The GO camping trailer arrives fully stocked with 4 air mattresses, bed and table panels, a rear awning, and abundant storage capacity for boats and bikes. It even has a control-tilt deck for ramp-free loading of motorcycles, lawn mowers, and ATVs when you want to fold up the sleeping/eating accommodations and use it as a pure transporter.
A pack. For day hikers, the Osprey Talon 22 Backpack. $100. A solid 5 stars for this comfortable, adjustable, and gender-specific 22L pack. Contains an exterior hydration compartment for water bladders and attachment for trekking pole storage. Lightweight at 26 ounces.
And for multi-day trailblazers, the Osprey Atmos 65 AG Backpack. $200. A 3D Anti-Gravity Suspension system has been designed to contour the body seamlessly and automatically with a continuous panel of mesh extending from the top of the pack's back panel to its hipbelt. The fit should be flawless, and its effect unrestricted movement with reduced fatigue during use. Wearers can also adjust Atmos torso length at any time using easy release cams behind the harness yoke.
SOL Survival Kit. $35. Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the survival kit is housed in an indestructible and waterproof ABS-plastic case, which itself doubles as a slew of Indiana-Jones-approved defense mechanisms. Integrated into the lid is a flip-up Rescue Flash signal mirror with retroflective aiming aid. The back of the case incorporates a one-hand-operable Fire Lite firestarter, plus a removable liquid-damped compass. And a button release slot on the side reveals a fully-functional folding blade knife, whose handle contains a 100 db rescue whistle and an ultra-bright LED light. And that's just the shell.
VSSL Utility Tubes. $58 to $100. Cylinders stashed with smaller cylinders stashed with everything you might need to survive and present yourself as functional in the outdoors. The outer tubes are made of waterproof mil spec aluminum, and from there you can choose your own adventure from 4 different types of filled VSSLs: Supplies; First Aid; Shelter; and, if you must, Zombie.
Fiskars X7 14" Hatchet. $25. Virtually indestructible and camper-sized for chopping kindling and small to medium logs. The X-Series' weight distribution approach concentrates the majority of the tool's heft in its axe head; FiberComp handles, while still stronger than steel, remain lightweight.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter. $20. A Time Magazine Invention of the Year Winner that removes a minimum of 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria.
Ultralight Canister Camp Stove. $8. Palm-sized and 3.9 ounces. That is a tiny stove. The Danny DeVito of stoves. Made of copper and stainless steel, it screws onto a gas base and lights with a Piezo ignition. Feet at the end of each support member can rotate outward to hold wider pots during cooking. One reviewer found the stove could boil 600 mL of water in a narrow pot in 4:45, and in a wider pot in an even 3:00.
OuterEQ 8-Piece, 1/2-Pound Cook Set. $20. Yep. Half a pound and Russian doll-style, this 1- to 2-person outdoor cooking set includes an anodized aluminum pot and frying pan, a lid, 2 bowls, a rice ladle, a soup spoon, and a scrub sponge to clear the mess. Which shouldn't be too offensive since the cookware is nonstick. Folding handles make the set even more compact for storage.
Selk'Bag Wearable Sleeping Bags. $120. These people-shaped sleepers cater to all outdoor enthusiasts looking to stay warm without the constriction of a traditional rectangular or mummy bag. Rated to 35 degrees F, the Selk'bag Original 4G suits those sleeping in tents, uncovered beneath the stars, even in the back of the pickup on nights you know better than to drive home.
POD Tents. $600 and up. If you've got the cash, grab a grip of Pod Tent segments and make yourself your own campsite labyrinth of polyester walls. The modular POD Tents come in 4 segments: a Maxi Tent; a Mini Tent; a Tunnel Tent; and an Inner Sleeping Cell. All connect to (or hang within in the case of the Sleeping Cell) one another in a number of possible arrangements and with any number of PODs. POD together a PODacre. A PODblock. A PODapalooza!
The Camping Doughnut. A bonus because it does not exist yet, and a bonus because if it did exist, it would be a huge bonus to my camping trips. Or more like my camping life, since I'd consider just moving into one of the tubular tunnels permanently. By intent, the Camping Doughnut is an easily collapsible and transportable cylindrical tent that extends into fully habitable sleeping and lounging spaces with no pitching required. Doughnut sections set up in "I", "C", "S", or "O" shapes depending on the number of campers and their environmental needs. In reality, the Camping Doughnut is still Sungha Lim, Hyunmook Lim, and Han Kim's design concept, so who knows if making and using one would even be possible. If you want one, I say grab the AutoCAD and 3D printer and give it a try.