How do you make your wallet, your shoulders, and your backpack happier?
Pants that are also shorts. Lights that are also phone chargers. Jackets that are also tents.
In other words: multi-purpose hiking gear.
Multi-purpose gear means less stuff in your bag. The less junk in your trunk — err, backpack — the lighter it will be. Your back and shoulders will thank you, and so will your wallet. Rainbows and unicorns will flutter around the hiking trail. (Wait, that was something else in your backpack.)
Here are a few quality outdoor products that can serve many purposes and lighten your load.
Flashlight + Charger + Weapon
DanForce G1 Pro Flashlight
An essential piece of outdoor equipment, the flashlight comes in many different forms these days. But can your headlamp charge your phone or fend off attackers? The DanForce G1 Pro flashlight can.
The modular G1 Pro gets four hours of battery life at 570 lumens. If you need more juice, or want a heavier weapon with you, attach the second battery for 1080 lumens and another three hours of charge. The second cylinder screws off and can charge up your phone and other USB devices as well. The G1 comes in a slick zippered case with red and green filters, a tactical head, lantern attachment, and a weapon or bike mount.
The G1 Pro screamed through its fundraising campaign and is available for pre-order on Indiegogo. Shipments are expected to start in December 2018.
Lantern + Charger
BioLite BaseLantern XL
BioLite is all about gear that does multiple things. The BioLite CampStove, which can cook your food and charge your phone at the same time, put the brand’s name on the map. The BaseLantern XL extends the company’s dual-purpose goal and smart energy use into lighting.
The BaseLantern XL is a flat-pack lantern that can last 78 hours on low power. Two USB plugs on the side access the 12000 mAh battery (about four phone charges) to power all your devices. Two more ports power other small, medium or large lights from the BioLite SiteLight series.
The BaseLantern also connects to your phone through a low-power Bluetooth connection to change the lights’ colors or brightness. The app can enable a proximity sensor to turn the light on when you get close. Use the light in the morning and wake up gradually with sleep timers.
Water Filter + Trekking Pole
Purtrek Trekking Pole
Imagine never having to hike with water again. Humans don’t last very long without water, so how is that possible? Hiking with a water filter isn’t a new concept for serious backpackers or multi-day hikers. Filters allow you to stop anywhere for water, even dirty puddles. However, many filters are slow or force you to get down on the ground close to the water source. Now you can filter water through your trekking pole.
The Purtrek Trekking Pole has a water filter inside. Stick the bottom in the water, flip open the top, attach the hose, and enjoy clean water with ease. You can pump the water into a bottle or drink straight from the hose. The filter inside is replaceable and lasts for up to 500 liters of water. The carbon poles weigh 17 oz, only slightly more than regular poles.
Purtrek is available for pre-order now and is expected to deliver in February or March 2019.
GPS + Camera
Garmin Oregon 750t GPS
Smartphones are taking over the outdoor world, but when it comes to pure GPS power and peace of mind, the Garmin Oregon 750t has you covered.
The Oregon 750t sports a large touch-screen for easy scrolling. Check out the downloadable birds-eye view satellite imagery so you can plan your hike on the fly. Use the free Basecamp software to load up tons of geocaching information without having to print any directions or clues. The “t” in the name means it’s the topographic version, so it comes complete with topographic maps for all of the United States.
An 8-megapixel camera on the back of the 750t lets you take photos without relying on another device. The photos are automatically geotagged so you know exactly where you took them. When you’re home, all the photos show up on Basecamp maps using the location, so you’ll forget where that beautiful view or perfect fishing spot was again.
Knife + Tools + More
We couldn’t write an article about multi-purpose gear without including a standard multi-tool. Since it’s one of the 10 backpacking essentials, I wouldn’t go anywhere without a multi-tool.
With so many variations out there, it’s hard to pick just one, but the Skeletool from Leatherman is one of our favorites. The Skeletool includes needle-nose pliers, regular pliers, hard-wire cutters, wire cutters, a 420HC steel combo knife, bottle opener, and large bit screwdriver — bad for 5 oz. A new black, topographic color scheme takes this classic to another level.
Pants + Shorts
Fjällräven Keb Gaiter Trousers
Since pants or shorts are required on most treks, there’s no getting around taking them. With the Keb Gaiter Trousers from Fjällräven, however, you get both for the price fo one. Unzip the trousers at the knees for shorts on hot days. The unzipped section has two drawstrings and a lace hook, turning the bottoms into gaiters when you still need to protect your legs or keep the mud off.
The top of the pant around the hips is made from a breathable stretch material allowing you to move without restriction, while the bottom is heavy duty G-1000 waxed canvas. The G-1000 portion comes pre-loaded with Greenland wax, a mix of beeswax and paraffin. Add more wax for increased water resistance and durability or remove with a couple of hot washes for more breathability.
Hat + Face Mask + Neckerchief
While not the most glamorous of the multi-purpose gear, the 1.6 ounce Buff easily earns it’s place in a lightweight pack. Officially, you can wear this piece of headgear 13 different ways, but I’m sure there are many more uses than that.
The four-way stretch, 100-percent recycled Repreve fabric is comfortable to wear, wicks away moisture, and breathes well. The UPF 50 material can keep you protected of the sun, the sweat off your scalp, the wind out, and your noggin warm at night. Buff also has different versions with Insect Shield, to scare the bugs away, and fleece, for the really cold days.
Tent + Poncho
Tents are usually the heaviest thing in a multi-day pack. Why not kill two birds with one tent and wear it as your jacket too to save some weight? Sounds ridiculous, but that’s exactly what you can do with the Gatewood Cape from Six Moon Designs.
The 10-oz, completely waterproof cape covers your top half and includes a hood. Dual zippers let you ventilate as needed. The open bottom allows for ample airflow when it’s warm but wet.
When you get to camp, take the Gatewood Cape off and pitch it as a shelter using one trekking pole. The 35 square feet covers you and your backpack. When pitched well, the Gatewood keeps out rain, wind, and snow with ease. You can use it as your main shelter or just tuck it in your bag for emergencies. Add a Serenity NetTent for a few more ounces to deter all the bugs.