The Gizmodo Outdoor Gear Guide

There’s never a better time to head outside and enjoy the outdoors before it becomes too damn cold. Some of the below products will require some international ordering, whereas some are available locally. Who else is amped to camp?

First, you’re going to need some gear . If you’re anything like us city-dwelling bloggers, you’re probably a little light on the essentials. Maybe you have a sleeping bag but are constantly borrowing a tent from your neighbour. Or you’re thinking it might be time to get a little more luxurious in the woods, perhaps with the help of a solar cell or a shower set up. Or you’re sick of car camping and really want to get into backpacking. You’re going to need a backpack!

This is a good year to be shopping for new gear. Even if you think you already have what you need, a host of innovative new products on the market that could change your life. Remember how uncomfortable that old mummy bag is with its zippers and overall lack of space? Now you can sleep in a “backcountry bed.” Remember how annoying it is to figure out how to arrange the tent poles when you’re setting up? Now there are tents that don’t require poles at all.

For outdoor gear, the future is now. And this is your guide to getting up to speed. It’s not an exhaustive list of everything you need for a next level excursion. It is a list of things that we want to take camping.

A Tent That Will Impress Your Friends: Kelty Mach 4 AirPitch

As the name implies, this four-person tent is all about a swift set up. Rather than bumbling through the traditional pole-juggling bonanza that seems to eat up hours of precious camping time, you just pump this guy up. No, seriously. Instead of poles, the Kelty AirPitch tent has tubes that inflate in less than a minute. When you want to break it down, just let out the air and roll it up. It’s a great idea, though some people who bought the tent say the so-called AirPoles can be finicky, too. [$US400]

A Tent That Will Impress You: Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5

To us, Mountain Hardwear is awesome because they make great gear and sell it at a pretty affordable price. The Optic 2.5 is no exception. Beyond boasting some impressive specs — sleeps two people with room to spare, weighs about six pounds — this backpacking tent also features a unique layout. Two adjacent doors mean you get a 180-degree view of nature instead of the silly porthole-sized peek you get from most tents. No wonder Backpacker magazine made it their editor’s choice this year and said it was “like sleeping on a covered veranda.” [$US210]

A Backpack That Will Save the Earth: Fjällräven Kajka 75

You know those cute little backpacks with the fox logo that all the hipsters are wearing? Those are from Fjällräven, a Swedish outdoors company that became famous for making lightweight backpacks with wooden frames back in the 1950s. Well, over half a century later, they have upgraded their set up significantly but still use Finnish birch wood for the frame. (Most backpacks have aluminium frames.) That means the pack is not only lighter but also better for the environment. As Men’s Journal points out, the use of wood reduces the pack’s carbon footprint by an astonishing 98 per cent. And, boy, is it handsome! [$US350]

A Daypack That’s Hip Enough for the City: Topo Designs Roll Top

If you do it right, a daypack can be one of the most useful tools in your gear box. It’s obviously great to have for shorter hikes and adventures but also comes in handy when you’re running around town. The Topo Designs Roll Top is perfect for all of those activities. The vintage look is combined with the latest technology to provide a tight fit and durable construction. It’s also perfect for biking, and available locally. [$270]

A Daypack Practical Enough For Travel: The North Face Surge II

The Surge II is spacious, rugged, and comfortable enough for long hikes, yet practical — with a separate, padded sleeve for laptops — to take to the office every day. It’s a reliable and stylish option, offering a roomy 32-litres’ worth of packing space, enough to hold a water bottle, extra shoes, notebooks, a laptop, and all your other essential gear. I prefer the black. Also available locally. [$173]

A Daypack for Emergencies or Quick Hikes: Black Diamond Bbee

A bare-bones daypack — it’s basically a large pocket — this lightweight option from Black Diamond is a comfortable, no-frills way to bring along only the bare essentials when you hit the trail. Not recommended if you’ve got more than a small bottle of water, a windbreaker, or a pocket-sized notebook to carry, but nearly ideal if that’s all your taking with you into the wild. I went for the Red Clay colour. [$59.95]

A Sleeping Bag That You Never Have to Zip: Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed

This is just brilliant. It’s a sleeping bag that works just like your bed. No zippers. No velcro. No getting stuck in the middle of the night when you have to pee. Just a big cloud of warmth and comfort. The Backcountry Bed is basically a regular down mummy bag with a giant hole that’s sealed off with down blanket. As the name implies, it works just like your bed. You just climb in and snuggle up! We checked it out recently and seriously considered replacing our actual bed with a Backcountry Bed. Bonus: the down is waterproof. [$US300]

A Sleeping Bag That Fits Like a Glove: MontBell Down Hugger

So let’s say you like zippers. A tighter fit is certainly good for cold weather, but if it’s too tight, it can be constricting. With the MontBell Down Hugger, however, that’s kind of the point. It’s stitched at a 45-degree angle which allows for more flexibility, and it uses elastic thread so it actually stretches up to 22 inches as you move. Backpacker magazine’s tester said, “I feel like this bag was custom-made for me.” [$US340]

A Jacket That Never Gives Up: Arc’teryx Alpha FL

No matter where you go or what time of year, you should take a shell. It might rain. You might get chilly. You could just need a tough outer layer. And when it’s tough you’re looking for, Arc’teryx delivers. Celebrated as the Outdoor Gear Lab’s favourite jacket, the Alpha FL shell features three layers of Gore-Tex, a helmet compatible hood, and enough breathability to keep you cool even in summer heat. Plus that sleek and smooth Arc’teryx look is irresistible. [$US400]

A Pair of Boots That Will Last a Lifetime: Vasque Sundowner GTX

It doesn’t get more classic than the Sundowner. Exactly 30 years ago, this boot redefined backpacking footwear and was the lightest thing on the market for a decade. Today, you can find more ergonomic and high performance options, but the Sundowner is all you need. Speaking from experience, you can wear the same pair for at least 15 years, and love every step along the way. Plus, they’re sharp enough to wear around town. [$US160]

A Shower That Feels Good: Nemo Helio Pressure Shower

Part of the fun of camping is getting dirty and feeling rough. If you’re spending a week in the woods, though, you need to bathe. While a standard gravity-fed camp shower is better than pouring your water bottle over head, the trickle is hardly satisfying. That’s why Helio gave it some oomph. You just fill up the tank and pump some air into the chamber to get the pressure up. Then feel free to spray your face or wash dishes with the same kind of water pressure you enjoy at home. Available locally. [$129.95]

A Bluetooth Speaker That Charges Your Phone: Braven BRV-1

While some people like the sounds of nature to be the backdrop on their camping trips, others prefer something with a bit more of a beat. So you’re going to need a speaker. While there are a million different Bluetooth speakers to choose from, you’re going to want something rugged and water resistant. The Braven BRV-1 is exactly that and offers 12 hours of music on a single charge. The real perk about this guy, though, is the fact that it can also charge your phone or camera or whatever. After all, it’s hard to play music when your music-playing device is dead. This one is available locally, but for almost double the price.[$195]

A Solar Panel That Charges Your GoPro: Bushnell SolarWrap 250

So what do you do when you’ve killed the battery on your phone and your speaker? Well, one idea is to take a walk in the woods and get in touch with the nature. The other is to bring along the Bushnell SolarWrap, a solar cell that rolls up like a scroll. It charges up in four to six hours of sunlight and then has enough juice to charge a GoPro twice and a smartphone once. If you want more juice, Bushnell sells bigger SolarWraps, but the 250 is small enough to take backpacking. You might be able to find this one locally, with some work. Bushnell has a presence here, but it depends on finding a local retailer.[$US155]

A Head Lamp That Adjusts to Your Needs: Petzl Tikka R+/Tikka RXP

Unless you really like the dark, a head lamp is an absolute essential for overnight trips. And if you’re going to get one, why not get one that makes you feel a little bit like a cyborg. The Petzl Tikka R+ is an autonomous headlamp. That means that it features a reactive lighting mode that adjusts to the conditions and conserves battery life. It’s also rechargeable via USB. Got a little more money to burn? The Tikka RXP is even better, offering brighter light and multi-beam illumination. [$125.95/$157.45]

A Multitool For The Little Things: Gerber Dime

The Dime is a lightweight, ultra-portable option for quick fixes on the trail, but it’s pretty minimal and it should not be counted on for anything more than the odd gear tweak (or campsite bottle popper). It’s got 10 tools, not all of which are easy to open, but you can carry it in your pocket and forget it’s even there. It’s available locally. If you need more than that, think bigger, such as… [$29.95]

A Multitool For Everything Else: Leatherman Juice CS4

…the Leatherman Juice CS4. Leatherman is the Xerox of multitools: shorthand for all manner of pocketable toolkits, and the Juice CS4 is one of the most useful for outdoors enthusiasts. With more, and bigger, tools than the Gerber Dime, including a handy saw, and even a small (though difficult to use) corkscrew, the CS4 won’t save you if you’re airdropped into the middle of nowhere, but it’s a handy little guy for the campsite and trail. Available locally. [$79.45]

An App That Leads the Way: Motion X GPS

There are a million different outdoor apps out there, many with specific purposes. That’s a wonderful thing. But if you’re going to get just one app for your hiking and camping needs, go with Motion X GPS. Made by the same people behind the technology in the Jawbone Up, this app can be your ultimate location-based resource. You can access maps offline, and you even get Wikipedia information. You can even track your speed. [$1.99]