Here's Some Great Gear For The Outdoors
March 1, 2016
The SHOT Show (Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trades) was held in Las Vegas this past January. As always, the show was enormous and it took several days to get around to seeing everything. Even after several days, I'm sure I missed some great stuff, but I did see a bunch of things that I can't wait to tell you about.
I remember when my granddaughters were in grade school and I volunteered in the cafeteria. They would give the kids these little plastic sporks to eat with that were basically useless.
The idea of a spoon/fork combo is great, though, and Wildo (a Swedish company) took it a step further by adding a knife to the mix. The Wildo (say it like will do) spork is study and large enough to actually eat with. It even has a small serrated area that can be used as a knife to cut food. They come in a bunch of different colors and wash up easily.
Best of all, they are very light and save a lot of room, making them great for campers and backpackers. Wildo also has the Camp-A-Box® Complete that contains everything you need. Its compact and practical design means it fits perfectly in a backpack or large cargo pants pocket. Available in nine colors, the Camp-A-Box® Complete includes a plate with a lid that doubles as a bowl, a small and a large Fold-a-cup, a cutting board with a strainer, a three-compartment spice shaker, and a matching spork.
The whole kit weighs just over 10 ounces! It retails for around $32 ($23-$25 on Amazon). Check out all their gear at http://www.wildousa.com.
Klymit has the most amazing sleeping pads you've ever seen. They are compartmented to limit air movement and heat loss while making the pad as comfortable as possible. The Kymit Static V is the entry-level mat at around $60, and it inflates in about 10-15 breaths. Best of all, it packs down to the size of a water bottle and even has side rails so you don't roll off at night. Awesome.
The also have several other pads, along with rafts, packs, sleeping bags, pillows, and camp chairs. You can see them all at http://www.klymit.com.
Although this is a tactical-gear company, a lot of their stuff is ideal for hikers, campers, and travelers. Their TT Tactical Touch Pad Cover ($55) holds your tablet and also gives you compartments for pencils, id, credit cards, documents, etc.
The Wrist Office ($24.50) lets you keep a trail map handy without having to stuff it into a pocket or your pack. They also have a variety of pouches, including a folding map pouch. Great stuff! See it at http://www.jtqgear.com.
Those little dayhiker packs with a place for a hydration bladder are all the rage. I have a couple of them myself, and my granddaughters use them too. The one problem with them is how to clean them and keep mold or bacteria from growing inside. It's hard to clean them out when that little fill hole is so small.
So, I was excited when I saw the stuff at the Hydrapak booth. Their reservoirs open completely up at one end and you can even turn them inside out to clean and dry them - you can even put them in the top rack of your dishwasher.
They make a variety of sizes and shapes to fit any pack, and they also make a variety of water bottles and flasks that collapse as they are emptied. They even sell a tube-cleaning brush to get the nasties out of that drinking tube on your water bladder.
Here are some features of their water reservoirs: Besides the top's opening up and sealing tight, they have a silicone high-flow bite valve with a twist shut off, quick disconnect for tube removal, magnetic tube fastener set, anti-microbial to prevent bacteria and mold. They can also be frozen or filled with warm water, and they are compatible with in-line filtration.
Reservoirs run $30-$39, depending on size. Bottles run from about $12 - $23. You will love these! Visit http://www.hydrapak.com.
The Biolite company introduced a low-cost biomass cookstove that dramatically reduces emissions and generates electricity to boot. They also make camping products that use the same technology, so you can make a very efficient fire and cook your dinner while you charge your phone.
New for 2016 is the PowerLight Mini, which is a clippable lantern that you can wear on a pocket or a strap. The USB rechargeable battery gives up to 52 hours of light or you can charge your phone on it. They say it's a lantern, bike light, and charger all in one. It comes in four colors and the bike mount is included. It retails for about $45.
Biolite also offers portable solar panels with battery storage so you can save that power for later ($80), or you can get one without the power storage ($60) and just use it to charge your devices or power your Biolite gear.
Also new this year is a camp stove that doesn't charge your phone, but it gives you 30 hours of clean wood cooking (with very little wood) on a single charge. The charge powers the four fans that allow you to control the flame size for perfect cooking or boiling. No gas!
The stove is just under $100. They're very compact and perfect for camping and backpacking. Each only weighs 1.6 pounds.
Maps are invaluable and that little map app on your phone is great in town, but once you hit the trail, it may show your location as a dot in a blank space. That happens to me all the time.
Trimble has an app for that. It's called Trimble Outdoors Navigator. You can track your location with GPS and find your way on street, aerial satellite, hybrid, topo, terrain, and outdoor maps. You can download offline maps and helpful layers, and once you're out there, no cell service is needed - the app uses the GPS in your phone.
You can mark waypoints and collect tracks, add photos and videos, and check your trip stats. It's a wonderful tool. The app lets you do plenty of stuff, but for the full benefit, there is a yearly fee. If you still love the feel of a paper map (plus you can view a whole lot more area at once), you can go to http://www.mytopo.com and have them print you a custom map. You choose the size, the area - everything. Pay the fee and in just a few days, your beautiful map will be in your mailbox.
DeLorme Earthmate is another map app that gives you a lot of bang for the buck. It costs just under $30, but you get a full-featured GPS navigation app with unlimited access to all North America topo maps that your can store on your device, plus unlimited cloud storage for your data.
Maps are downloaded anywhere, anytime - no cell service needed. You can share your information with others, too. After the first year, there is a yearly fee of $14.95 to continue the service. That is so cheap compared to the price of buying paper maps and atlases!
Delorme also offers inReach, the first satellite communicator with navigation. It will not only show you where you are and how to get back, but also it lets you send an SOS if you need help, even with no cell service.
You can check in with loved ones to let them know things are fine and share your location. If you do need rescue, you can communicate with the rescuers and let them know what kind of emergency it is so they will be fully prepared when they get there. Priceless.
The inReach Extreme Communication Kit includes inReach Explorer Satellite Communicator, Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel, Goal Zero Switch 8 Recharger, and inReach Protective and Flotation Case. This is a $520 total value with a special DeLorme exclusive kit price of $479.95. You can order it online at http://www.inreachdelorme.com.
A satellite subscription is needed to use inReach, but you don't even have to commit for a yearly subscription - you can pay for a single month at any time for as low as $15 for a month, with a $25 fee each year.
These little gadgets have a million and one uses. Gear Tie reusable rubber twist ties have a tough rubber shell that provides excellent grip, a strong wire inside that holds its shape, and a range of bright colors. Gear Ties are available in six sizes (3", 6", 12", 18", 24", 32", or 64") to organize nearly anything from a small cord or cable to large sporting goods equipment.
They also have a variety of lights that you can put on bikes, helmets, shoes, or twist into a stand to light up your map at night. They have a little light called a BugLit that has four Gear Tie legs that you can use to attach the light to almost anything.
Nite Dawg is an LED-lit collar for your best friend so you can see him at night - and so can cars. Look for the lighted handle bar grips, lights for shoes, and the 3-in1 flashlight/lantern - you can browse this site for hours: http://www.niteize.com.
Last but definitely not least, every outdoors person needs a good knife. The Victorinox-Swiss Army 54874 Trekker 1-Handed Opening Knife has 12 functions including a one-handed serrated locking blade, Phillips screwdriver, can opener with small screwdriver, bottle opener with a large locking screwdriver, a wood saw, a reamer, a wire stripper, a key ring, and toothpick and tweezers. You'll be prepared for just about anything with one of these in your pocket. You can get it on Amazon for under $42.