Road trips are the best way to see a new place and get in some epic adventures. But how do you bring all your food, friends, and camp gear along and still have space for the toys?
We’ve put together a list of some of the best packable outdoor gear that will actually fit in the car. Warning: These things may lead to an epic road trip this summer.
This kayak can fit in your trunk. Or on the roof of the car. Or in the closet. It folds up into a box with a strap small enough to throw over your shoulder. When you get to the water, the package unfolds into a kayak in just three minutes. The strong and durable plastic sides keep it light — only 26 pounds. The Beach LT is 12 feet long with a 28-inch wide beam that keeps things stable and holds up to 300 pounds. The padded backrest and floating footrest are adjustable so you can configure it to your liking and your size. Simply said: It fits smaller and larger folks.
If you want to go farther, Oru also offers the Bay ST and Coast XT models with more features for long-distance paddling. Oru also sells waterproof dry bags, travel bags with backpack straps, and fishing hardware kits.
Even lighter than a foldable kayak is an inflatable raft. But have you seen one that packs down to the size of a roll of paper towel and weighs just 5 pounds? Kokopelli has designed and tested the Rogue-Lite pack raft over the last year. The result is a boar so small and light so you can throw it in your trunk, backpack or on the handlebars of your bike. It’s 85 inches long and seats one person comfortably. The 210-denier sidewalls and kevlar-reinforced floor keep things lightweight but durable. Even Class 2 rapids are doable in this tiny raft. Ride to the river, raft, ride home. Or tuck it in your trunk for adventures on the road.
Stand-up paddle (SUP) boards tend to be long and heavy, requiring roof racks, straps, and some luck to get where you want to go without damaging them. Inflatable paddle boards remove those problems. The Body Glove Performer 11 SUP just rolls up into a bag. Take it to the lake, roll out the board, and inflate. The included dual action pump fills the board quickly to start, then switches to single-stroke mode to finish it off. The floating paddle is adjustable for friends of any height and breaks apart into three pieces to store in the included bag. Three 3 Dura-Fin permanent fins keep you going straight and will never break on rocks or the beach. The bag has a nice, wide, duffel-style opening so it’s easy to pack up, and backpack straps for easy carry back to the car.
Most foldable bikes have tiny little tires and, while packable, fall short of off-road capabilities. Enter the Paratrooper Highline.
The original Montague Paratrooper was designed with a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for actual paratroopers to drop into combat with a bike attached — parachute in, assemble the bike, ride out. The Highline is a lighter version of that original design that fell out of the sky, and with better components. Hydraulic disc brakes, 20 speeds and 27.5-inch wheels let you go anywhere with this bike. Rockshox suspension up front with 100mm of travel absorbs the bumps. Attach a rear rack to carry your gear or go with one of the other Paratrooper models that already has one. If you’re packrafting with a bike, the Paratrooper easily sits on the bow of your Kokopelli Rogue raft. When you get back to the car, the Paratrooper folds in half in two steps.
If there’s no video, it didn’t happen. But how do you have fun if you’ve got your hands full with a camera or a drone controller?
The DJI Mavic Air folds small enough to fit in your pocket, easily tucking into a backpack or camera bag. When you need to film, pull it out, unfold the arms and fly. It shoots beautiful 4K video and can follow you automatically with the push of a couple of buttons on the controller. No one needs to be flying — it will fly itself. You can even ditch the controller and operate it with hand gestures. For more precise maneuvers, assemble the packable controller and channel your inner Maverick.
Drones are not known for their waterproofing. When in the water or out in the rain, we need another way to capture the adventure. GoPro leads the industry with bombproof, waterproof cameras.
The GoPro Hero 6 Black is waterproof without a case down to 30 feet. Swim, boat, board, and rip trails in the rain without worrying about the electronics. With thousands of different ways to mount a GoPro now, you can now put it almost anywhere: the handle bars of your bike, the nose of your SUP, the bumper of the car, etc. Easily control the GoPro with the touch screen and voice controls. Just say, “GoPro start recording,” and it will go to work. When you get back to the car, you can easily transfer photos and video to your phone with a Wi-Fi connection and corresponding app. Load up the Quik Stories app and it will automatically create a video with your days highlights. A couple clicks and your video is online.
At the end of a day filled with filming, paddling, and riding, you need to refuel. Regular barbecue pits are too heavy to carry around, but you can easily pull out the Primus Kuchoma Grill and get the burgers going. The Kuchoma has dual 8500 BTU burners and a high-quality stainless steel body with oak and brass finishes. It runs off standard 16-ounce propane canisters that you probably have kicking around for other camp stoves. There is an adapter kit that will let you use LPG and refillable canisters. The grill grate and drip tray are removable for easy cleaning. Did we mention it’s small enough to fit in a kayak hatch? Without gas, it weighs in at just 9 pounds.
You’ll need some tunes for cooking grub and relaxing at the end of the day, but no one wants to be tied down by heavy speakers or cords to your phone. The Bose SoundLink Micro is tiny and lightweight but has big sound.
The SoundLink Micro quickly connects to your phone via Bluetooth. A free app lets you manage connections to the speaker so everyone can have a turn with the playlist. The battery easily lasts six hours and recharges with a USB connection. Turn on party mode and connect a second Micro for more sound. A tight silicon strap on the back let’s you attach the speaker to pretty much anything. Put it on a backpack strap, bike handles, or a tent pole and forget about it. Don’t worry about dropping it the water or on the ground; dent-resistant materials on the outside and a waterproof rating of three feet for 30 minutes mean it’s totally fine for taking on a quick swim.
Volleyball and bocci are so old school. Spikeball is the new kid on the block (or campsite).
The game consists of just a round net and a ball, but it is highly addictive to play. Get two or more people and start slamming the ball at the net. The ball has to bounce off the net and not hit the rails for a fair hit. Sideways hits, backwards hits, curve balls — anything goes. When you’re done, take apart the net and put it back in the tiny travel bag. Sandy beaches are highly recommended for epic dives and distracting your opponents.