You don’t need the latest gear to hit the trail or head to the campground, but here’s a look at what’s new or notable this year in case your favorite items need replacing.
A tent for tall campers
If you’re someone who can see on top of the fridge, you’re going to love NEMO’s new Aurora Highrise six-person tent. This freestanding dome has a peak height of 77 inches and steep walls that create a palatial feel and let you easily move around. It offers 83.3 square feet of floor space and two large vestibules — each 23.6 square feet — for stashing gear or hanging out. I’m 5′3″ and could pitch the tent myself, though slipping on the fly took a few tries. The Highrise has a fun design on the floor, an all-mesh ceiling for stargazing and ventilation, and four handy corner pockets. Two large mesh windows help boost airflow, while the rain cover over each window prevents droplets from getting inside. You’ll appreciate NEMO’s clever Nightlight Pocket, an orange mesh pocket on the ceiling that diffuses your headlamp’s brightness. The Highrise also comes in a four-person version, which offers 62.5 square feet of room to sprawl, two 19.5-square-foot vestibules, and a peak height of 75 inches. $399.99-$499.99. www.nemoequipment.com.
One mattress for two campers
Big Agnes’s new Rapide SL Insulated Floor Pad works well for couples looking to minimize hiking gear or a parent camping with a child (helping prevent the kiddo from slipping off the mattresses during the night). The inflatable mattress has a tapered design — 50 inches wide at the head and 40 inches wide at the feet — so it fits perfectly in most two-person tents. At 78 inches long, it suits tall campers, too. The three-season mattress measures 3.5 inches thick and has an R-value of 4.2 (a rating of how well it “resists” heat flow). Its PrimaLoft Silver Insulation allows heat and moisture to escape, helping you keep dry, while the heat-reflective technology directs heat back toward your body, boosting warmth when the temps drop. Major bonus: The mattress’s nylon ripstop fabric doesn’t create an annoying crinkly sound when you shift position so you won’t disturb your tentmate. The included inflation sack makes blowing up the mattress a breeze. $299. www.bigagnes.com.
Bed down on this camping cot
Maybe you’d prefer a more luxurious sleeping option for your car-camping adventures. Check out the RIO Gear Smart XXL Camping Cot, a spacious foldable cot that has everything from an insulated adjustable cup holder built into a detachable “tray table” to a double-zippered lockable compartment. The spacious cot sets up quickly — just unfold the legs, open the cot, and lock the legs into place. It holds up to 600 pounds and measures 85.5 inches long, accommodating even the tallest campers. Hook the tray table in place and stash a book, headlamp, car keys, or snacks in the different compartments. It even has a padded laptop holder and padded head rest. It weighs a hefty 17 pounds but comes with a fabric carrying case for transport. $99.99. https://rio.shelterlogic.com.
Lightweight, foldable hiking poles
Preserve your knees and your back with Black Diamond’s new Distance Carbon Z trekking poles, made for ultra-lightweight hiking and running adventures yet sturdy enough to help propel you up steep slopes, provide stability on uneven or tricky terrain, and dampen the impact on descents (your knees will thank you). The poles have a super-narrow carbon shaft to shave weight — just 8.8 ounces per pair for the 100cm poles — and, for the women’s version, slim foam handles to accommodate smaller hands. The Z-style design lets you quickly fold up the poles and stash them on the side of your pack. The poles come with carbide tips, non-scraping rubber Tech Tips, and snow baskets for winter excursions. $179.95. www.blackdiamondequipment.com.
A green pillow
Traveling light doesn’t mean leaving comfort behind. Therm-a-Rest’s newly designed Compressible Pillow weighs just 10 ounces (medium size) and packs down small, so you can justify taking it on your adventures. The pillow stuffs into the attached cover for packing. Come bedtime, you can customize the pillow’s firmness using the new cinch cord to loosen or tighten the cover. Therm-a-Rest uses excess scraps from foam mattress production inside the pillow and 60 percent recycled polyester for the super-soft cover. It also comes in small (7 ounces) and large (15 ounces). $34.95. www.thermarest.com.
Shoulder your load with these backpacks
Forget emptying your backpack to fish out a buried item. Gregory’s newly updated Baltoro (men’s) and Deva (women’s) backpacks have a large, zippered panel on the front so you can lay the pack on its back, unzip, and access its contents from top to bottom. The packs still offer traditional access to the main compartment through the top cinched opening and a lower front zipper. Both packs have Gregory’s clever new FreeFloat A3 suspension system, which includes a hip belt and an auto-rotating shoulder harness that move independently from the frame to significantly increase comfort while hiking. The back panel is made from 3D mesh and a honeycomb structure that boosts breathability to keep you cool. The packs have three pockets on the lid, including one for sunglasses or small items, two handy pockets on the hip belt, and two long, narrow pockets on the front for sandals or rain gear. The Baltoro comes in 65 or 75 liters, while the Deva comes in 60 or 70 liters. $319.95-$349.95. https://www.gregorypacks.com.
A sack for keeping critters at bay
If you’ve ever backpacked in bear country, you know how tricky it is stuffing all food and scented items in a rigid bear-proof container — and then fitting that into your backpack. Protect your supplies from opportunistic creatures big and small with Ursack’s AllMitey Bear and Critter Sack. This ultra-lightweight bag is made from a ballistic-weave (Kevlar) laminated fabric, making it so durable it’s been certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. Ideally, pack your dehydrated food, snacks, and other aromatic items into an odor-proof bag (check out Opsak) and then stuff it into the Ursack and hang it from a tree branch using the 6-foot-long high-tensile cord. The AllMitey comes in three sizes: the 10.65-liter original version ($154.95), 20-liter Grizzly ($209.95), and 30-liter Kodiak. https://www.ursack.com.
A supportive, waterproof hiker
You may know HOKA as the brand that makes top cushiony running shoes — so popular, they’re worn by marathoners and nurses (on their feet all day). The California-based company has incorporated its winning technology into super-lightweight and comfy yet supportive hiking shoes. The women’s and men’s new Anacapa Mid Gore-Tex hikers offer waterproof protection, excellent ankle support for light to moderate loads, and a Vibram Megagrip sole for good traction on rugged and uneven terrain. The gusseted tongue helps keep out pebbles and other trail debris while the flexible, padded pull tab helps you slip on the boot and supports your ankle without cutting into your Achilles area. The boots have a wide toe box and a pronounced supportive heel that helps cushion each step from walking trail to rocky summit. $180. www.hoka.com.
Enjoy your summer camping and hiking adventures whether you’re taking snazzy new gear or trusty old standbys.
Kari Bodnarchuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.