It’s crazy to think about how many advances have been made in camping gear. Now more than ever, outdoor enthusiasts can basically bring their favorite comforts of home with them to the Great Outdoors while barely filling a trunk. Glamping is obviously the extreme end of the spectrum, but even if we just want to spend a day or two in a national park or camping by the beach, it doesn’t have to be so rough and tumble, no matter how much that attitude irks the more grizzled among us.
If you want your campground to be as luxurious as possible without going full glamp, or you want to get the most of your adventures without packing the kitchen sink, here are some of the latest products and gadgets that will help take your experiences to another level.
Revv1 Ride1Up Electric Bike
If you can’t tell, I’m riding high on the electric bike wave, and everyone needs to hop on board. For starters, the practicality is amazing for people with short daily commutes, and there’s nothing better than being able to skip traffic. But they’re also just plain fun, especially the newest addition to my concrete armada: the Revv1 Ride1Up Electric Bike.
Whereas I’ve grown accustomed to riding in beach cruiser style, the Ride1Up seems to take its name from the fact that it’s a next-level concept that rides far more like a moped than a bike. In fact, when I was done assembling it, my neighbor remarked that it reminded him of the classic café racer style, and that’s one of the reasons that I love it. This thing just looks sharp, and it didn’t take long to get it out of the box and into riding shape so I could spend a few minutes marveling at its sophisticated style.
But the ride is always the most important aspect, and this thing cruises like it’s sailing on the land. It’s as quiet as it is convenient, and I have no doubt that the Ride1Up will serve me well when it’s time to hit the trails, because there’s a subtle rugged element that just screams, “Let’s get dirty… but not too dirty.” After all, we don’t want to make our camp messy. We do want to explore, however, and with the durable frame, powerful motor, and battery that can last as many as 60 miles, this is the ride of choice.
Bote LONO Aero Inflatable Kayak
The team at Bote has made incredible strides in making it easier than ever to bring stand-up paddleboards and kayaks on road trips, and that’s great because who doesn’t want to spend time exploring lakes and rivers in exciting new locations? The Bote LONO Aero Inflatable Kayak comes in multiple styles that all make spending hours on the water fun and convenient.
Wake up before the rest of your fellow campers and remove the folded kayak from its travel bag, and with only a few minutes needed for preparation, you’ll be out there with a fishing pole in hand and not a worry in the world. And that counts for spilling your drink, too, because the helpful Magnepod base will keep your Bote drinkware (and Bluetooth speaker) nice and safe while you embark on a fantastic adventure.
Between the time I’ve spent trying to master my other fire pits and how often I’ve watched Cooking with Fire Instagram videos while dreaming of being that talented, I feel like nothing should surprise me with these premium camping accessories. And then the BioLite FirePit+ came into my life and made me wish it wasn’t already summertime in Florida, because I want to fire this bad boy up every minute I’m awake.
I’ll admit I was a little skeptical of the “smart” concept with a concept as seemingly simple as a fire pit, but this is so creative that I should have never doubted BioLite. The FirePit+ has a sleek rectangular design with a mesh body, so it’s already exceptional at keeping the smoke low and embers out of your face. But the removable powerpack is the hero of the day, as it not only runs the fan that can be controlled from your smartphone (with an app), working with the 51 airjets to maintain consistent temperatures long into the night, but it also allows everyone to charge their phones and tablets.
My favorite aspect is the adjustable fuel rack, as it can support wood or charcoal, and with a simple adjustment and the installation of the grill grate, it’s kebab, burger, and hot dog time for everyone. Combined with its light weight and the carry bag, this is basically a portable outdoor cooking adventure.
Bearbottom Rapids Backpack 30L
Different adventures call for different backpacks, but if you’re going to be outdoors and by the water, you will definitely want a dry bag for anything you want to protect from the elements. The Bearbottom Rapids Dry Bag 30L isn’t like our fancier backpacks that have soft, lined laptop compartments and hidden pockets for cash, cards, and valuables, but this style is just as important because of its simple purpose: keep your dry gear completely dry.
But let’s not pretend that it can’t also serve as an ideal bag for a day trip spent exploring a St. Kitts jungle trail or shopping in Curaçao’s colorful capital city, Willemstad. Its durable design and stylish appeal make it a great choice for any times of excursions, so long as you know how to be a little creative with your packing.
The MoonShade has been a part of my tailgate routine for several years, as it easily attaches to my four-door Jeep Wrangler for wherever and whenever it’s time for an outdoor party. The addition of the MoonWall made it an even more exceptional accessory for those of us living in sunnier states. Now, though, Moon Fabrications is going big with the MoonShade XL, which will be especially beneficial to those wanderers living the van life.
Offering approximately 100-sq. ft. of shade, this lightweight, versatile awning takes less than five minutes to set up (if you can convince Jeff to put down the fishing pole and help) and even better, it takes just as little time to pack up for when it’s sadly time to head home. This version is currently available for order on Kickstarter, so get in line now.
Helinox Royal Box
For mornings and afternoons spent by the lake or on the beach, you’ll also need shade to protect everyone from sun exposure. Convenience is still the key to having a great time, because no one wants to waste a precious moment fumbling to set up a day tent. That’s why Helinox’s Royal Box is such a great choice, because it takes practically no time at all to set and forget while everyone does cannonballs off the deck or belly flops against the waves.
Of course, you’ll also need a pair of the Chair Zero L, an equally convenient style that weighs less than two pounds but offers a shocking level of comfort not found in similar seats. Then, break out the Table One L so you have a place for plates as the burgers and dogs are finished on the fire pit.
The Gladly Family Adventure Bundle
Like fire pits, the wagon is an accessory that feels like it has already been perfected, only to completely surprise me. When taking younger children on outdoor adventures, we need to make sure they’re protected from the elements better than anyone else, and The Adventure Bundle from Gladly Family will do that better than just about anything. Seriously, this is like a rolling tent and it’s amazing.
For starters, the setup on this wagon, right out of the box, is a snap, so parents can waste no time preparing it for the road trip. And while you might worry about size and storage for such a complex ride, this thing folds down so well and slides right into its own travel bag that it’s basically another piece of luggage. (The convenient breakdown is also fantastic for storing at home where space is limited.)
But what matters most is performance, and the Adventure Bundle is basically the Cadillac of wagons. Inside, two seats allow for spacious, comfortable travel as parents pull a child or two along the trail or down to the lake, and for longer journeys, the removable snack tray means kids can have lunch while adults do all the work. For sunnier or rainy locations, the large canopies fold up and down with ease, and a mosquito net can also be installed to keep the bugs away from sandwiches, fruit, and spilled GoGo Squeeze pouches. Parents will especially enjoy multiple storage options for accessories and other treats, and the cup holder and storage container on the pull bar are the cherries on top.
Ostrich 3N1 Backpack Beach Chair
Before I started focusing on my organizational skills as an outdoorsman and traveler, I was a lot like those overdramatic actors in infomercials clumsily dropping all my gear and then tripping over it. All that was missing was a sad trombone. Now, though, clever designs are everywhere and it’s nearly impossible to be a clutz when it’s easier than ever to carry a lot of gear at once. That’s especially the case for a big, comfy beach chair that comes with backpack straps.
The Ostrich 3N1 Backpack Beach Chair is a lightweight, portable seat that has several bells and whistles that will delight anyone who just wants to spend some time by the water. For starters, the backpack straps make it easy to transport from the car to the sand, and it’s not bulky or heavy so bad backs and shoulders will be fine. A storage bag on the back can be used to protect your valuables or keep a few extra water bottles out of the sun, and my favorite aspect is the hole that allows you to lay face down and still keep sipping and reading in ultimate comfort.
Pure Outdoor Portable Refrigerator
Coolers are great for camping trips or simply spending the day at the beach, but they can be a pain to load and lug around. And as important as ice is for keeping our drinks and snacks cold, it takes up a lot of space and melts, which means your cold time is limited, especially in older styles. The Pure Outdoor Portable Refrigerator is the perfect solution for all of this, and it’s not nearly as bulky and inconvenient as it sounds.
Built like a large cooler, this fridge concept allows you to keep everything cold while also storing more in the 25L compartment since you don’t need ice anymore. At only 24 pounds when empty, it’s not difficult to lug around when your buddy Jeff won’t offer to help. Best of all, it cools quickly so you won’t be waiting around long for the White Claws to be chilled to perfection.
More storage space means more snack options, too, so bring fresh fruit and a Blendjet 2 to make delicious smoothies and/or festive margaritas. This portable blender is a godsend for travelers with health and wellness in mind because it’s lightweight and easy to pack, but it also has an exceptional battery life, so you don’t have to worry about it dying while you’re trying to make another round for the squad.
Some blenders are surprisingly difficult to clean, so a small size also pays off big time here, because this is the easiest cleaning process I’ve ever dealt with. A dozen smoothies in the books for me and no sign of fruit residue in hard-to-reach spots.
For those times when space is limited or you just don’t have a lot of gear to haul, the LAKA Cooler can get the job done and do it all in style. Available in 20-, 30-, and 45-quart sizes, this accessory is ideal for a couple’s getaway to the beach or a family picnic just about anywhere. Making it especially convenient are the various easy-to-carry handles, but I’m an especially big fan of the roller bag style of the LAKA 30. You just cannot discount the convenience of being able to stack things and roll wherever you need to be.
Jason Hanson’s Tactical Survival Gear
We don’t talk about tactical gear a lot, because it’s not really at the top of the list or even on the list at all when it comes to packing for big, beautiful resorts. But peace of mind is always an important concept for regular travelers, so it’s helpful to have something in your backpack that could be used in a pinch, when the unthinkable occurs. And I always carry a pen with me for when it’s time to fill out those pesky entry forms, but now it’s the Tactical Pen from former CIA agent Jason Hanson and Train Like a Spy.
I know, it sounds intense for a trip that’s all about R and R, and I was also skeptical that a pen could really do anything for me in a nightmare scenario. But all it takes is handling the pen one time to realize what it can do, with its sharp to the touch pointed end that will definitely make someone think twice if struck by it.
For camping excursions, Hanson also offers the ultralight tactical tomahawk, which weighs just 17 ounces so it’s a great fit for the backpack when you’re out exploring. In the simplest settings, it can make chopping up firewood a breeze, but if the worst happens it’ll be a crucial tool for helping people out of a pinch.
Kōkua Sun Care
All this gear every month and it’s like I’ve forgotten about sunscreen, arguably the most important accessory for any vacation. Kōkua Sun Care has found a permanent spot in my backpack because, first and foremost, the Kōkua Sun Care Hawaiian Natural Zinc Sunscreen SPF 50 is perfect for my son and I, as we both burn easily and need as much protection as we can get.
But the two most important words in sunscreen are “reef safe,” and this brand knows it. No toxic chemicals means our eyes won’t burn once we start sweating a lot, and the coconut vanilla scent is always a pleasant treat.
Fin-Nor Spring Tide
Let’s not forget a great pair of shades. I’m already so head over heels for my Fin-Nor Tilloo sunglasses—that are as great a style for fishing as they are lounging by the pool—so I had zero hesitation grabbing another pair from the five new styles that were just released: Dropfly, Cleat, Sportfisher, Tillies Bank, and Spring Tide.
The last one especially caught my eye (not literally, that would hurt) because I am always looking for accessories that benefit the minimalist traveler, items that work on the sand or in the resort’s best restaurant. The Fin-Nor Spring Tide is an aviator style with fashion-forward arms that have terrific tropical vibes.
Monster Power Grid
Portable chargers are one of the most essential accessories for any travelers, but adventurers typically need a little more depending on the volume of gear. For those of us who travel with smart phones, tablets, laptops, headphones, a Nintendo Switch, and portable blenders, the Monster Power Grid is a generator on the go, offering two AC outlets, three USB-A ports, a 60-watt USB-C port, a Qi charging pad, a 12-volt car port, and 12V DC output port. That’s a lot of juice, friends.
But the last thing we want is to be stuck somewhere in the Great Outdoors with no battery left in our phones, not only because we need to reach people in emergencies, but also because that righteous 80s music playlist needs to keep going until the sun comes down.