We’re entering July now, which means you’ve spent enough time outdoors this season to realize where you’re short on summer gear. Was it a little chilly at the summit? Were you a little uncomfortable sitting on the ground? Perhaps you need some ideas for one of your buddies with an upcoming summer birthday. Here’s a sampling of summer gear we’ve tried and liked so far. Got recs of your own? Leave them in the comments.
Alite’s new line of products features a “sexy” sleeping bag with built in feet, a backpack that doubles as a cooler, and a pop-up car camping tent. But my favorite newbie is the Mayfly backpacking chair. It combines the qualities of its two other backpacking chairs — the Mantis and the Monarch — with the option for either two or three-legged support. You can use the former on sloped surfaces to control your center of gravity and rock back and forth. Or, you can slip on the third leg to give you complete stability on flat ground. With all things being equal otherwise to the common backpacking chair, I liked this flexibility to tackle uneven ground.
Another one from Alite, but separated out because it’s for the beach or lake, not the mountains. It’s a backpacking chair combined with a chaise lounger, great for relaxing or reading in the sand in the propped up position. It’s a great alternative to a beach chair since it packs down small enough to fit in a day bag.
I rarely wear shorts when I travel, whether it’s on a plane to another country or in the car in route to the mountains, mostly because I feel long pants give you more protection and more flexibility if and when the temperature changes. The Adventure Travel Pants from Clothing Arts are designed with this in mind, light in weight, comfortable, and made of quick-dry material. The pants are a great marriage of the protection and comfort of jeans and the light, fast-drying material of your typical nylon hiking pants. I’m not a paranoid traveler, but I won’t overlook the value of the 11 (yes, 11) secret multi-secure — aka multi-zip — pockets. They’re good for stashing cash or credit cards to reduce your risk of losing your wallet. The pants also come in a business style for people who need to blend in around the office.
Icebreaker’s new MerinoLOFT design technology substitutes normal down filling for what it calls “ethically-sourced merino strong wool.” So, sheep wool instead of duck or goose feathers as filling. The exterior is made of recycled polyester with a focus on being water-resistant. I found this to be a great high-altitude jacket, especially during the summer, when conditions can change quickly from warm to chilly to wet in a matter of minutes. While I’m not sure I’d use it as my primary layer in the dead of winter, it’s certainly more than capable of handling chilly nights at altitude or frosty shoulder-season mornings. And don’t forget about style — it looks good enough to wear out on the town.
If you’re like me and drive a small car, you’re probably aware of the limitations they pose when it comes to owning gear. Despite once living a few miles from the beach in California and now having access to endless lakes here in Colorado, I have never owned a kayak, for fear that it would be bring more hassles than happiness. Which is why I was pumped to discover the origami, or folding, kayaks made by Oru. They use corrugated plastic to construct a vessel that is able to fold up into a box small enough to fit into the trunk of a sedan. Versions of the kayak range from the “Beach” model that’s good for chilling and fishing, to the “Coast Series” that’s fit for more extreme adventures. City dwellers and small car owners rejoice. Your kayak has arrived.