REI Half Dome 4
An amazing deal at $259: a real storm-worthy tent that has enough room to feel luxurious for a family of four, but is light enough to carry backpacking. Two doors and two vestibules for easy access and storage, color coded poles make for easy setup. This is a no-compromise tent at a seriously compromised price. $259, 7 lbs. 1 oz. http://www.rei.com/product/794298
NEMO Cosmo Air Combo ($150)
Talk about comfort: This inflatable mattress provides a whopping three inches of cushion, but weighs well under two pounds, so it’s ideal for weight-conscious backpackers who don’t want to skimp on a good night’s sleep. A built-in foot pump eliminates the huffing and lightheadedness that often ensue from blowing up big mattresses. When car camping and weight is not an issue, slip on the Cosmo Pillowtop ($70, 2 lb. 3 oz.), a one-inch-thick comfort foam cover that’s outrageously luxe. $90; 1 lb. 12 oz.; 25”x76”x3”; http://www.nemoequipment.com/cosmo-air_pillowtop
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No camping trip is complete without a hike, and this is one of our favorite packs—sized right for a dayhike or even a light overnight (up to 30 pounds comfortably). It’s got a perfect pocket setup, a hydration pocket and port (I will also show it rigged up with a Camelbak Hydration system, holds 2 liters, $30), and great ventilation so you won’t get sweaty. $140; 3 lbs.
Snow Peak Hozuki Flameless Candle Lantern
The best camp lantern of the year. The secret: A silicone globe that throws a warm yellow glow throughout a whole campsite on high, or a small tent on low. Hang it from a branch or tent ceiling or flip it over and set it on a table. It has three brightness settings, plus a sound and wind sensitive flicker mode, so it acts and looks like a candle. Runs on 4 AAs. $90, 5.9 oz.
(gadget batteries—fits in the lantern)
USBCell Rechargable batteries
So many outdoor gadgets use AAs, and typical rechargers can be a pain. These plug right into any USB port and charge off your computer in about 5 hours.
(totally cool flip-flops with built-in lights!)
Teva Illum Sandals
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Here’s a bright idea: Mount little LED headlights on your flip-flops, so midnight bathroom runs don’t turn into faceplants. Each foots cast a bright beam about 8 feet into the night, batteries are replaceable (little 3 volt, coins style jobs). The flips themselves are extremely comfy—cushy and contoured, made from either a quick dry synthetic material or leather and a sticky rubber outsole. $50, 12.4 oz.
Guyot Designs Squishy Bowls
These super cool and colorful vessels are made with food-grade silicone so they bend and flex for easy packing, yet hold their shape for pasta, soup, or even coffee. Easy to clean (flip them inside and lick them!) $15 for a set of 2