Trekking: The Summer 2015 Outdoor Gear Guide


Man isn’t meant to stay indoors — our weekly “Trekking” column can attest to that. It’s a column dedicated to the adventurer inside of all of us, the one pining to ditch the office humdrum for a quick surf session or seven-week jaunt in the Grand Tetons. One day we may highlight an ultra-light stove and the next a set of handmade canoe paddles. Life doesn’t just happen inside the workplace, so get outside and live it.

Summer is the time for many things — i.e. BBQ, beer, beach balls — but above all, it’s a time to get outside. It’s the time when the wildflowers are in bloom and the high peaks have begun to shed their snowpack (or lack thereof); when the alpine streams are actually bearable and the skies are relatively clear. It’s also, conveniently, a three-month span when we often have enough time off to properly act upon John Muir’s most infamous line, “the mountains are calling and I must go.”

Related: Pack it in with the best daypacks for every adventure | The boots of summer

That said, below are a few of our favorite pieces of summer gear, from telescoping fishing rods and utility axes to lightweight backpacks and a terrific sleeping bag that’s perfect for those warm summer nights when a traditional mummy bag is just too hot to handle. Now, if only our window of opportunity wasn’t already fading with the sunset…

Osprey Atmos AG 65 ($260)

Osprey Atmos AG 65

Sometimes the long haul requires more than a simply daypack. Thankfully, the Osprey Atmos AG 65 is primed for such an occasion, outfitted with a continuous panel of torso-conforming mesh that extends from top of the backpanel to the hipbelt. Four compression straps let you balance heavy loads, too, while various straps and loops provide a quick means for attaching gear on the move.

Zippo 4-in-1 Woodsman ($80)

Zippo 4-in-1 Woodsman

The Zippo 4-in-1 Woodsman is the Swiss Army knife of handaxes — one aimed at the car-camping enthusiast looking for versatility without excess weight. The axe quickly converts to a bow saw when you need of clear limbs up to 4 inches in diameter, and more importantly, the back of the 5-inch blade features a mallet and stake puller for quickly assembling and dismantling your tent with ease.

NEMO Tango Solo ($330)

NEMO Tango Solo
There’s a healthy assortment of summer-centric sleeping bags on the market, but nothing quite like NEMO’s Tango Solo. It’s backless design uses a removable hood and built-in elastic to keep any 20 or 25-inch pad beneath you, allowing you to stretch out unrestricted beneath what is essentially a 700-fill down blanket. It’s also light enough for quick backcountry jaunts and rated for 30°.

Owyhee Rod ($160)

Owyhee Rod
Bigger isn’t always better, but in the case of Tenkara Rod Co.’s fishing lineup, sometimes it is. The company’s ultra-light, telescoping Owyhee is its biggest yet, outfitted with a walnut spool, swivel tips, and a green-and-gold color scheme reflective of its namesake. It offers 13 feet of length when fully extended, and when closed, the rod packs down to a mere 21 inches for ultimate portability.

REI Half Dome 2 ($219)

REI Half Dome 2
The Half Dome 2 has long been REI’s flagship tent, and frankly, it’s only gotten better with time. The roomy, three-season tent accommodates two campers with plenty of space to spare, while capitalizing on 40 and 70-denier nylon that’s as durable as it is reliable. The intuitive fly design even lets roll up the sides and ends for maximum airflow and a stunning view of the stars above.

Keen Durand Mid WP ($180)

Keen Durand Mid WP
Keen’s Durand Mid WP is as about as versatile as it comes when talking hiking boots. They’re both light and extremely comfortable, weighing a mere 1.3 pounds and equipped with ample padding. The nubuck leather and polyurethane midsole add to their ruggedness and stability, while grippy outsole ensures you stay grounded on the beaten path, regardless of the water at your feet.

Sea to Summit X-Pot ($45)

Sea to Summit X-Pot
Sea to Summit’s X-Pot is not the lightest or sexiest piece of cookware around, but most others don’t conveniently fold into a disc that’s an inch thick. The cooking pot’s silicone walls quickly collapse for travel, but when propped up at camp, the anodized aluminum base allows you to heat your food within minutes. The translucent lid and integrated strainer only add to its space-saving appeal.

Rab Ignition 3 ($145)

Rab Ignition 3
There’s nothing more iconic to camping than a traditional mummy bag. That said, the Rab Ignition 3 remains one of the best we tested this year for the price, offering considerable comfort when the temperature hovers just shy of 30°. The synthetic fill also renders it both packable and warm, while the 30D ripstop outer fabric allows it to dry quickly and last among the elements.

SportsTek Lightwear 4-in-1 ($40)

SportsTek Lightwear 4-in-1
For most tasks, 220 lumens of light can go a long way. SportsTek’s Lightwear 4-in-1 headlamp is designed for such occasions, providing you with an easy method to light your way from the top of your head, your hip, or the front of your bicycle. The durable, water-resistant lamp also features adjustable straps and lighting modes to boot, so you can tone it up when spelunking and down at dawn.

The Kniper ($145)

The Kniper
The Kniper isn’t your average knife. The lime-green piece of tech is milled from a single piece of 420 high-carbon stainless steel that totes 22 different functions, whether you’re in desperate need of a bottle opener, saw, fork, ruler, wrench, sundial, tobacco pipe, or blade. It’s even a solid throwing knife if need be, though, we anticipate you’ll use that aspect of the blade more for fun than anything else.