Story by Tricia Edgar
Vacay.ca Outdoors Columnist
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — I come from Vancouver. It’s the home of Mountain Equipment Co-op, the brand beloved by weekend hikers and serious camping enthusiasts everywhere. We Vancouverites love some good camping gear. It’s in this vein that I present to you a list of innovative, wacky, and potentially very useful camping gadgets for your summer pleasure.
1. In the Treetops
Camping in rattlesnake country? Or going farther afield to a place where creepy crawlies could creep and crawl right into your tent? Ah yes, then you need a suspended tent.
Everyone loves a hammock, and Hennessy Hammocks come with a roof so that you can snuggle up in them in the evening. Spread them between two trees, and they create a low-impact bed that you can put up just about anywhere, no matter what the ground conditions might be.
2. No More Mummy!
When you’re at home, you love the Snuggie. But what happens when you head outdoors? That’s right: you need a wilderness Snuggie! The Selk Bag fits the bill. This odd-looking sleeping bag is a suit that covers you from head to toe. If you’re prone to thrashing in a mummy bag and you’re tired of sleeping with a toque on, give the Selk Bag a try. It’s also marketed to those who prefer tent-free camping.
3. You’ll Flip Over This Cuppa
There’s nothing like waking up in the morning to a bear in the tent. If you’re a coffee lover in the wilderness, that bear could be you. Scare away the growls of morning by bringing a fantastic, lightweight coffee maker on your camping trip. The Flip ‘N Drip coffee maker is an alternative to instant. Boil water in one part of the coffee maker, attach the filter and the mug, and flip the coffee maker over. Soon, you’ll have fresh-brewed coffee.
4. Now You’re Cooking With Your Smart Phone
You love camping. You love your phone. No, strike that. You adore your phone beyond anything. After all, it has all of those great camping appson it, doesn’t it?
So you’re cooking your noodles on the fire, and man, that pot is warm. Wouldn’t it be brilliant if you could do something with that heat? With the PowerPot, you can. The PowerPot turns your pot into a miniature power plant, converting heat into energy to recharge electrical devices. Thankfully, it also comes with three feet of flame-resistant wire, so that you don’t end up eating iPhone-flavoured soup.
The BioLite Camp Stove puts a different twist on recharging. This stove combines a highly efficient wood-burning stove with a heat-to-electricity converter. This means that you don’t need to pack in petroleum products, since the stove can easily run on twigs, cones, and wood pellets. It also means that your stove’s energy will be reused again to recharge electrical devices. BioLite has also converted this amazing technology into a highly efficient stove for homes in countries that depend on wood fuel for cooking.
5. All Fired Up
Campfires are wonderful. They bring back all of those lovely memories of camping that you have from your youth: the smell of roasting marshmallows, the stickiness of S’mores, and the sight of sparks flying into the nearby trees. It’s that last memory that parks are trying to avoid, with more and more of them implementing campfire bans during the warm months.
If you want the retro feel of a campfire without the danger of setting the forest ablaze, try the Campfire in a Can. This lightweight campfire is gas powered, and with its faux wood it looks very much like a real fire.
6. Got a Light?
What’s that you just tripped over in the dark? Oh yeah – your flashlight. If you’re still lugging around a flashlight or a big, bulky lamp, the Luminaid Solar Light is your solution. This light is a bag that’s inflatable, waterproof, and weighs just 4.5 ounces. Place it in the sun for four hours, and the Luminaid provides six to eight hours of diffuse light, just like a lantern would. Like the Biolite stove, this light is also being marketed as a solution for those in homes with no electricity or for use in disaster zones.
7. Smell Sweet in the Great Outdoors
One of the wonderful things about the indoors is the availability of a warm shower. With a solar shower, you have no reason to avoid camping. Place the Seattle Sports Solar Shower in the sun, and in two or three hours you’ll have water for a lovely warm shower. You’ll be green as well as clean, since this shower is also PVC-free.
8. Put Your Gear Here
Remember fanny packs? They’re so Eighties, right? Wrong. Now, they’re back in a big way with the Rightline Cargo Saddlebag. It’s a fanny pack for your car. This car back carrier can contain 100 pounds of your stuff in 14 cubic feet. It’s an economic and eco-friendly alternative to car-top carriers, which slow you down and use more gas. Carrying your gear behind your car means that your camping goodies will be less exposed to the wind and the rain.
These summer gadgets will get you refuelled, fired up, and ready to go. Make your summer trips a lot smoother by packing lightweight, eco-friendly, and user-friendly camping gear.
Got a piece of camping gear that you think is particularly handy or cool? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about it — or better yet, show us a picture!