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Gift Guide: Casual Camping, Kayaking + Outdoor Cooking

Essential items to elevate your next outdoor adventure

Weekends spent outside the city hopefully provide an all-important opportunity to relax, but activities like camping, hiking, outdoor cooking and kayaking also offer the chance to reconnect with nature. To make the most out of a weekend in the woods or on creeks and rivers, one needs the essentials, but there are some extra accessories that can elevate a trip from enjoyable to excellent. From packable kayaks to foldable grills and tents that pop up in seconds, the items on this list pack down for easy transport but still perform alongside the most effective in their category.

Kokopelli Hornet-lite 2020

The versatile Hornet-lite ($525) collapses down to the size of a roll of paper towel and weighs just five pounds. Despite its portability, it’s as rugged as any other entry-level kayak, and can be used with confidence—even without prior paddling experience. The 70d TPU-nylon sidewalls and 210d TPU-nylon floor offer rip-proof protection  and a four-inch thick inflatable seat better positions the paddler for more efficient strokes. Manually inflating the Hornet-lite takes about five minutes and a repair kit is included for leaks, rips or valve troubles. A paddle can be added at purchase for nearly 50% off.

Filson + Helinox Tactical Hard Top Table

Born from a collaboration between Filson and Helinox, this Tactical Hard Top Table ($165) breaks down into a compact “stuff sack” and weighs just two pounds. However, when standing it is capable of holding up to 100 pounds. It opens up like a camp chair but its top sits parallel to the ground, offering space (23.5 by 15.5 inches to be exact) for food prep, drinks, a lamp and more. This limited edition iteration comes in just one color—this tan, army fatigue-like hue.

Camp Chef Lumberjack Over Fire Grill

Although Camp Chef produces an extensive collection of grills, pellet cookers and camp-specific appliances, their easy-to-use Lumberjack Over Fire Grill ($31) proves practical for campers and chefs of all skill levels. The 16 by 24-inch grate sits on two hinged legs and folds up for easy transport. It doesn’t require electricity or additional accessories as it sits directly atop a fire or dwindling coals. Plus, since this is the smaller version of their Lumberjack grill, it won’t take up the entirety of your fire, freeing up space for those hovering over it for warmth.

North Face Eco Trail 3 Tent

The North Face’s sustainable three-person Eco Trail 3 Tent ($299) is made from 100% recycled ripstop polyester, a durable material designed to withstand frequent use. While most tents are a complex task to pitch, this straightforward iteration allows for quicker set up, courtesy of its two-pole design. The included rainfly attaches to the built tent, offering coverage from the elements and an added vestibule space for wet shoes, clothes or gear. Three people will fit comfortably inside this seven-pound tent and two doors allow for easy access.

NEMO Flyer Sleeping Pad

During the summer months, you may not necessarily need a sleeping bag when camping out. When temperatures reach the 70s or 80s, campers can find themselves comfortable atop a sleeping pad in their street clothes. As such, a sleeping pad with an R rating—a gauge of its insulation—of somewhere around three (with five being ideal for winter and one for warmer weather) will keep you properly regulated. This six-foot-long NEMO Flyer Sleeping Pad ($130) boasts an R rating of 3.3, and 2.2 inches of padding. Best of all, it rolls down to the size of a Nalgene water bottle.

Rumpl NanoLoft Puffy Blanket

Rumpl’s NanoLoft Puffy Blanket (in Fire Fade) ($179) features a 100% recycled 30D ripstop polyester exterior and NanoLoft Down-Alternative insulation, a combination that balances comfortability and durability. It’s water- and rip-resistant and versatile enough to feel light when it’s hotter out and warming when the temperature drops. Like the items on the rest of our list, this blanket also saves space by packing down into a six by 14-inch sleeve.

Barebones Living Rechargeable Camp Lantern + Phone Charger

Barebones Living’s clever Camp Lantern ($50) features a dimmer switch and lasts up to 80 hours. The lantern hangs from a standard handle, which can be attached to a tent pole for lighting inside or carried by hand during adventures under the moon. Plus, it comes with a USB port for a phone charger. Available in red or bronze, the lantern seamlessly blends retro design and tech-forward features.

Snow Peak Takibi Fire Tool Set

Made from steel with bamboo handles, Japanese brand Snow Peak’s Fire Tool Set ($100) features a miniature shovel for rotating coals or logs, tongs for flipping food and a poker for lifting hot grates or pots. Each measures more than 20 inches long, providing users with a bit of distance from the flame. In the name of saving space in your trunk or bag, all three pack into a portable tote and, in total, weigh just under four pounds.

Images courtesy of respective brands, hero image courtesy of Barebones Living


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