I just wrapped up a few weeks of camping, including a week in Algonquin Park, the nearly 3,000 square mile Canadian gem that’s home to an estimated 2,000 black bears, plus moose, wolves, and other assorted wildlife. To keep things interesting, there was an active forest fire in our area of the park as well. We also hiked trails totaling just over 20 miles during the stay, which may not seem like much but we have kids and there were some significant hills involved. As usual, I had a large collection of gear with me. A few of those items stood out and will definitely be added to my regular camping rotation going forward.
Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight
I loved this flashlight and my wife—who is often less than impressed with the gadgets I review—took a liking to it as well. It puts out plenty of light, whether used in the traditional manner or as a floodlight. You can use its battery and USB port to charge mobile devices (which helped out with my phone several times) and it can be charged by plugging it in, using its built-in solar panel, or winding the built-in generator. I set it on the roof of the trailer each morning to keep it topped up. Folding clips and flat surface keep the Torch 250 stable just about anywhere, including hanging from a tree. Great for camping and emergencies. The details in the engineering are impressive and it looks pretty cool too. I do wish it was waterproof, though.
Fugoo Tough XL Bluetooth Speaker
Even in the wilderness, I need my music, especially when sitting around the campfire, having a few cold ones, and winding down from a busy day. The Fugoo Tough XL‘s eight drivers deliver balanced sound with surprising depth, including deep bass even at low volumes—with the power to punch it up if needed. It is virtually indestructible (waterproof, mud proof, and can be run over by a truck), the battery lasts a whopping 35 hours, and you can use it to charge your devices. This is the ultimate outdoor speaker…
Dog & Bone Wetsuit iPhone Case
This waterproof and ruggedized case for the iPhone 6/6S accomplished the seemingly impossible: keeping water out while leaving the iPhone screen uncovered. It uses a seal around the perimeter of the iPhone front to prevent liquid from seeping into the electronics. Glass is already waterproof, so the display is left free of annoying plastic film. It worked perfectly, even when I used my phone in torrential rain. And because my iPhone display is left free, touch functionality is not impeded and it looks as sharp and bright as ever. Thin and light, the Dog & Bone Wetsuit is the first waterproof case I can tolerate leaving on my phone for extended periods of use.
Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini Lantern
Another Goal Zero product, this one is a teeny (fits in a hand) dual-LED lantern. It’s bright, transforms with foldable legs, clips, and even magnets for perfect positioning—and you can charge your phone with its USB port. At its brightest setting, the Lighthouse Mini was able to illuminate a picnic table and surrounding area nicely. In the lowest night light mode, I got 168 straight hours of use before the battery needed recharging.
Apple Watch Sport
I like to keep track of the distance we cover while hiking. A Fitbit would work just as well for that, but with no cellular reception in our campsite, hikes were the only times when we got a signal. With the Apple Watch Sport, I was able to sneak a peek at my messages and Twitter on the trail without being as obvious as staring at my phone. Plus it tells the time.
Kobo Aura HD E-Reader
Still my favorite e-reader out of my collection of Kindles, Sony readers, Nooks, and Kobos, although my next upgrade will likely be that monster big-screen, waterproof Kobo Aura One that was just announced. I can’t go camping without an e-reader. I can snatch reading time while grilling dinner, sitting on the beach, or early in the morning before the kids get up. And with the excellent side-lighting, I read at night when everyone else has gone to bed. Plus, no need to bother packing a charger…
Stay tuned for late September. I have another short camping trip planned (to a bear-free park this time) and expect to be taking a Tentsile suspended tree tent along for the boys to try out, so that should be interesting.