Everyone’s jumping on the wireless Bluetooth speaker bandwagon, and we couldn’t be happier about it. This one from Eton is pretty similar to the ECOxBT we listed above – just a tad less durable. We’ll forgive it though, since this rugged little Bluetooth speaker does boast one feature that most others don’t – the ability to get a charge from the sun. The Rukus features a solar panel that can fully recharge itself with a few hours of sunlight.
NEMO Helio Portable Shower ($100)
No matter what type of camper you are, there comes a point at which you should bathe. No, really. You should. The problem is, sudsing up in a lake, river, or stream comes with all sorts of complications. Perhaps that’s why solar showers are so desirable. Unfortunately, most solar showers are unwieldy, leaky bastard bags of frustration. Not so with the NEMO Helio. This foot-pump solar shower comes with a spray wand so the solar heated water inside only sprays when and where you want it. Get one — your tent-mates will thank you.
Handpresso Wild Hybrid ($116)
Coffee is definitely a luxury at the campsite, but nothing will put more pep in your step than a tin cup full of java before you hit the trail. For the longest time, this meant packing along a sandwich baggy full of grounds and a couple filters and brewing it like a hobo, but this nifty little gizmo from Handpresso changes all that. Using a pre-pressed coffee packets and a hand pump to get the right water pressure, the Wild Hybrid is undoubtedly the most portable espresso machine we’ve ever encountered.
Nite Ize Reflective Rope ($12)
There’s nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night to pee, finally managing to find the tent zipper just before your bladder explodes, and then tripping on a guyline as you sprint around your tent in the dark. Save yourself from going face first into a pile of pinecones with this super-reflective rope from NiteIze. We’re not sure what it’s woven with, but the stuff is reflective enough to light up and become visible with just a tiny bit of moonlight.
Sony Digital Recording Binoculars ($2,000)
Face it; nobody will believe you spotted a bay-breasted warbler or a golden-crested bushtit if you only bring your standard binoculars. If you want to make all your birdwatching friends jealous at your next Thursday night bridge game, you’ll need hard evidence of all the rare avian species you’ve spotted. With these digital recording binoculars from Sony, you can capture footage of all the wild and exotic birds you see and finally make that skeptical old bat Flora believe you.
GoPro Hero4 Silver ($400)
Planning on doing something insane this summer? Perhaps rafting some gnarly class V’s, slacklining over a canyon, or making the world’s biggest rope swing? Do the world a favor and get yourself a GoPro so you can capture your awesomeness from a first-person point of view. In case you’re not aware, these rugged little cameras are waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, and can shoot in 1080p or 4K. The entire Hero camera class just screams “Do something hardcore and put it on Youtube.” Cue Skrillex music.
Canon Powershot D30 ($300)
A step up over last year’s Canon Powershot D20, the D30 matches the same 12.1 megapixels and 5x optical zoom, and has an even tougher case. Waterproof up to 82 feet, shockproof up to 6 and a half feet, and freeze proof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s easily one of the most durable point and shoots on the market.
ExOfficio Bugs Away Clothes ($9-100)
Who wants to smear themselves with stinky bug repellent over and over again over the course of one hike to keep from ending up looking like they were a snack for an entire ant’s nest? No one, that’s who. But maybe you don’t have time for DIY clothing-prep. ExOfficio has been around since 1987; this is an oldie but a goodie and they just keep getting better. There are a few brands out there designed and treated to keep bugs away, but ExOfficio has a complete collection that keeps away more than just mosquitoes. Forget chiggers, flies, ticks, ants and no-see-ums (or widges). The Premethrin treatment on their duds should last 70 trips through the washer. Check out ExOfficio’s three lines from casual to something like business safari. They have everything from bandannas to button-downs.
Permethrin Spray ($10+)
Premethrin is an active ingredient in anti-insect clothing and a host of other things designed to keep you free of companions with antennae. It’s the same stuff that’s in Nix (that stuff you had to use when one kid gave your whole class lice in grade school), and when creepy crawlies touch it they seize up and die — it’s harmless to humans. If you checked out available insect-repellent clothing brands like ExOfficio’s Bug Away line, Columbia’s Insect Blocker, and Mountain Warehouse’s mosquito repellent clothes, but don’t like their style, grab a bottle of this and apply it to whatever fabric you like. It’t good for a lot of your gear, so get your tents and packs too. This is a tried and true tactic of many a backpacker. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There are even tutorials on how to do it.