Holiday gift guide for campers

While most campers take the winter off to pursue other outdoor adventures, the holidays are still a great time to spoil the camper in your family with some fresh new gear. And, some of the heartier folks out there camp all year long, so they’ll appreciate gifts that they can play with immediately. Here at Gadling, we’re geeks for camping gear and love to get outside. With the holidays approaching and wish lists being compiled, we’re here to help you treat your favorite campers to some goodies that will keep them safe, comfortable and happy when they venture out into the wilderness. From stocking stuffers to big ticket items, every camper will love these gifts.Eureka Sunrise 9 Tent

Who says you have to rough it when you go camping? This three-season, five-person tent features plenty of pocket space for organizing and storing your gear, a mirror and water bottle holders. Don’t be fooled by the amenities, though. This is a durable tent that can withstand strong winds, wet weather and just about anything else that your environs throw at it. Priced at only $179.26 on Amazon, it’s a steal for a five-person tent.

If you’re looking for something smaller, our own Kraig Becker recommends Eureka’s Apex 2XT tent.

Snow Peak Iron Grill Table Set 3

If you want to turn your car camping trip into a culinary wonderland, upgrade from a simple camping stove to Snow Peak’s full-on camp kitchen setup. It includes a BBQ box for charcoal grilling, a single burner stove, stainless steel inserts for preparing your food and bamboo table extensions for extra space to prep and eat. At 26″ tall, it’s the perfect height for sitting but not too low for when you’re cooking. It conveniently folds up neatly into a canvas storage bag for easy storage at home. It’s pricy ($699.95), but Snow Peak gear is durable, so it will last for years. If you or someone you know camps (or tailgates or just needs a portable cooking space for trips to the park or beach), then this is the ultimate piece of cooking gear.

Snow Peak SnowMiner Headlamp

This is without a doubt the cleverest piece of camping gear that we discovered this year. It’s both a headlamp and a lantern without sacrificing in either category. Sure, you can hang any headlamp from your tent ceiling and call it a lantern, but the SnowMiner allows you to adjust its lens to focus a beam of light (for use as a headlamp) or diffuse the light 180-degrees (to become a lantern). You can adjust the brightness in both modes. The headband even includes a hook so that you can easily hang it in your tent. At $49.95, it’s an affordable and creative gift.

Black Diamond Icon Headlamp

Need a slightly more hardcore headlamp? The Black Diamond Icon is the brightest of the climbing brand’s line, lights your way, offers red light for better night vision and is powered by three AA batteries. That power allows it to last up to 145 hours and illuminate an area over 300 feet ahead of you. Perfect for finding your camp after dark, whether you’re leading a night hike or simply returning from a trip to the bathroom. Not too shabby for less than $60.

Osprey Waypoint 65

The last thing you want on any camping trip is too many things to carry. Anytime that you can consolidate items and find multiple purposes for your gear, you’re making your life easier. That’s why we love Osprey’s two-in-one travel pack and daypack combo, the Waypoint 65. Pack your clothes and extra layers in the 50L main pack and your gear for daytime activities in the 15L daypack. The packs zip and clip together for easy transport and detach when the time is right. Like most Osprey packs, the Waypoint 65 is gender specific, so the female camper in your life can get a pack made for women. As a bonus, the Waypoint 65 is perfect for travel, as well, so it’s not just for camping. Available in multiple sizes to fit any torso, the Waypoint 65 starts at $231, which is a great deal two packs, one of which works as a piece of luggage.

Gerber Camp Axe

Perfect for cutting firewood or clearing out a campsite, the Gerber Camp Axe is also lightweight enough to carry along with you on long hikes. That’s thanks to a fiberglass handle, which means the axe is durable while only weighing 2.5 pounds. The plastic sheath securely clips over the stainless steel blade, so it’s safe to carry. For under $40, it’s an affordable and powerful piece of hardware.

Eddie Bauer First Ascent Downlight Vest

As noted above, we appreciate multipurpose camping gear. That’s why we love this down vest that packs into itself and becomes a microfleece pillow. The vest is perfect for cool mornings and evenings and it folds right into its own pocket to create a perfect, compact camping pillow. It’s also water resistant and wind repellent. It’s a great vest and a portable pillow. Two pieces of gear in one for $129 (and also available for women).

Kelty LumaPivot Lantern
It’s multi-directional. It’s powerful (110 lumens). It lasts up to 12 hours. It’s the perfect lantern for lighting up your entire camp while cooking dinner. And, at less than one pound, you’ll barely know it’s there when you pack it up with your gear. That’s a lot of positives for only $39.99.

Big Agnes Yampa Sleeping Bag

This 650 down fill bag will keep you toasty until the temperature reaches 45 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a great three-season bag with a built-in pad sleeve so that you never have to worry about rolling off of your sleeping pad. It comes in regular (72″ long) and long (78″ long), so it will fit most any camper. When stuffed into its compression sack, it can pack down to a 7.5″x6″, easy-to-carry bundle. Starting at $159, it’s a terrific sleeping bag for a great price.

Pizza Sleeping Bag

Who says that all of your camping gear needs to be utilitarian? Each one of these delicious sleeping bags is handmade by the artist and requires a $100 deposit. The vegetable pillows will have you sleeping comfortably, as will the satin lining. Worth $300? We think so! But only five feet long? We prefer an extra large pizza, and possibly a meat lovers. It requires some time to make, so you might need to arrange for a rush order in order to get it in time for Christmas.

Gift Guide for Warm Weather Adventurers

As December approaches and the holiday season draws near, those warm summer days that we enjoyed just a few months back are already a distant memory. But no matter what the calendar says, I guarantee the adventurer on your shopping list is already plotting his or her next warm weather escape. Considering summer really is just a short plane ride away, here are some suggestions for what to buy them for their next adventure.

Keen Voyageur Hiking Boots
A good pair of shoes are essential for any adventure and the Keen Voyageur hiking boots are a great option for any summer escape. Both comfortable and durable, these shoes are well ventilated, keeping your feet cool and dry, while also preventing unwanted moisture from getting in. Amazon has them starting at $87.21, making them a bargain for trail shoes of this quality.

Gadling Gear Girl Pam Mandel is a fan of Keen shoes too, recommending the McKenzie as a versatile warm weather shoe for a variety of activities. ($85)

ExOfficio Sol Tech Tee
Staying cool and dry is one of the most important aspects of enjoying any outdoor activity in warmer weather. The ExOfficio Sol tech tee not only wicks moisture away from the body, it is also highly breathable, and provides UPF 50+ sun protection as well. All of that is marketing speak for “it’s comfortable to wear when it’s warm outside.” Available in a variety of colors, the Sol is perfect for hiking a local trail or traveling to the far side of the planet, and is a perfect addition to any adventurers closet. ($25)

Pam also recommends the BugsAway line of shirts from ExOfficio as well. The shirts earned high marks in her review of a variety of mosquito repelling gear. ($40)

Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Shorts
A good pair of cargo shorts are a necessity for any warm weather adventure, and Columbia delivers a comfortable, durable product with the Silver Ridge. Super lightweight and breathable, these shorts are quick drying and include large pockets, as well as an adjustable waistband. With a UPF rating of 30, they also provide solid protection from the sun, and look as good around town as they do on the trail. ($20)Marmot PreClip Safari Hat
Staying protected from the suns rays is an important aspect of any warm weather adventure and a good hat helps considerably. I’m a big fan of Marmot’s PreClip Safari Hat, as it has a wide brim, is comfortable and cool to wear, and is highly packable. It is also waterproof and so lightweight that it actually floats. I’ve carried mine with me on six different continents and it remains one of my favorite pieces of gear. ($35)

Sierra Designs Meteor Light 2 Tent
The summer months are tailor made for camping and a good tent is an essential part of enjoying evenings in the backcountry. The Meteor Light 2 from Sierra Designs is a perfect 3-Season option that stays warm on cooler nights, but provides plenty of ventilation when it gets warm. It sets up in just minutes and sleeps two comfortably. ($210)

Kelty Cosmic Down 20º Sleeping Bag
While a tent is important for any camping trip, when it comes to getting a good nights sleep, it is only part of the equation. A good sleeping bag is essential as well, and the Cosmic Down 20º is a great choice for warm weather outings. Kelty has managed to make a comfortable, lightweight, down sleeping bag that won’t break the bank. ($75)

Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack
Nothing inspires adventure like a good backpack and Osprey makes some of the best. Their Stratos 24 daypack provides plenty of storage for a long day (or even overnight) on the trail. Its size makes it perfect for peak bagging or other short, yet gear intensive, adventures. The Stratos’ integrated suspension system helps you to stay cool on the move and the pack is hydration ready, keeping water close at hand at all times. ($89)

If you’re looking for something a bit smaller, Gadling gear reviewer Mike Barish recommends the Raptor 14, also from Osprey. He found it to be the perfect options for day hikes in warm weather destinations such as Zion Natoinal Park. Read his review here. ($81)

Polar Bottle Insulated Water Bottle
Staying hydrated on our warm weather adventures is vitally important, but that doesn’t mean we have to settle for drinking warm water while on the trail. The Polar Bottle uses an insulating foil to reflect back the heat of the sun, keeping the liquids inside cooler for a lot longer. These bottles make fantastic and affordable gifts for the hiker, trail runner, or cyclist on your list this year. ($11.25)

Great Himalaya Trail now open in Nepal in southern Asia

The Great Himalaya Trail is officially open for visitors in Nepal in southern Asia. This trail, which stretches from Taplejung in the east to Humla in the west near the border of Tibet, is one of the longest and highest hiking routes in the world.

The goal of creating this trail is to boost tourism in Nepal and portray the country as the perfect destination for adventure seekers. During the 1,700 kilometer trek, hikers will not only experience nature but also a variety of cultures, as the five month or longer trip encompasses 16 different districts. For hikers who do not want to spend that much time hiking straight through the trail, it can also be done in sections, with each bit offering a different type of landscape to experience.

The Great Himalaya Trail is a great active adventure addition for Nepal, as it is already home to 8 of the world’s 14 highest peaks (all over 8,000 meters), including Mount Everest. For a list of companies that you can sign-up with to complete the trek, click here.

Gadling gear review: Eureka Apex 2XT tent

The summer camping trip has become a tradition for many outdoor enthusiasts, who use the long days and warm nights as an excuse to escape the stressful trappings of modern life, even if just for a little while. As is typical with most outdoor pursuits, the gear that is used can mean the difference between a great experience and a horrible one. This is especially true when it comes to camping, where something as simple as a tent can make or break the experience.

Whether you’re heading out on a weeks long expedition in the Himalaya or an overnight in a local campground, your tent is one of the most important pieces of gear that you can take with you. It is your mobile cabin, the headquarters for your expedition, and shelter from inclement weather. This is just as true in the summer, when the warm weather can be just as uncomfortable as an arctic snowstorm.

Fortunately, there are some excellent tents designed specifically for summer outings. Take for example the Eureka Apex 2XT, which seems to have been designed from the ground up for warm weather adventures. The tent, which sleeps two very comfortably, features two side openings to allow easy access to the interior. Those same side openings are covered in mesh panels, which allow fresh air in and provide plenty of ventilation, while keeping insects out – two very important factors for staying comfortable on any summer camp out. You’ll appreciate how cool this tent stays on all but the warmest of nights.The Apex is an excellent tent for beginner and experienced campers alike. It is incredibly easy to set-up, even the first time you attempt it, and it takes just minutes to have your shelter in place. It is a free standing tent, meaning it doesn’t need to be staked down, and it uses a frame consisting of just two fiberglass poles. The included rain fly adds extra protection from wet weather and provides a sheltered entry point that allows campers to keep their boots, and other gear dry, when entering the main chamber of the tent itself. The simplicity of the tent’s construction is much appreciated after a long day of hiking or when you’re rushing to build it ahead of an incoming storm.

Inside, the tent is spacious and comfortable. As mentioned, it can easily sleep two adults, and possibly a small child as well. There is plenty of room for gear, and there are even built in gear lofts and side pockets for storing items that you want to keep close at hand. The floor incorporates a “bathtub” design, which is add protection against heavy rains or standing water on the ground as well, which is an added benefit for sudden summer storms. The end result is a shelter that will make you feel safe, comfortable, and secure at your campsite, whether its located in your back yard or in your favorite national park.

All in all, the Apex 2XT is a great choice for campers, although buyers will want to keep a couple of caveats in mind. First, weighing in at 6 pounds, 5 ounces it is a bit on the heavy side, making it a less than perfect choice for backpacking. The tent is better suited for car camping or those who will be hiking to their camp site and staying in one place for awhile. If you’re going to be hiking the Appalachian Trail however, you’ll want to look for something that takes up less room in your pack and won’t weight you down nearly as much. You’ll find similar tents that weigh less, but generally cost more, from other manufacturers.

The other thing to consider with this tent is that because it’s designed for warm weather activities, it can become quite cool on nights when the temperature falls below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The features that make the Apex such a good option for warmer weather can be a detriment when it starts to get cool. A warmer sleeping bag can extend the usefulness of the tent, but it is best suited for camping between late-spring and early-fall.

Those factors aside however, the Apex 2XT is a well built, durable option for summer camping. It is the perfect example of Eureka knowing its market well and providing a tent that fits some very specific needs. If you’re looking for an affordable, versatile option for your warm weather adventures, this tent will definitely serve you well. With an MSRP of $130, you can grab one now and get plenty of use out of it this summer and for many summers to come.

Go camping in style with this retro VW camper van tent

Planning a 1960’s style camping holiday, but not in possession of an authentic VW camper van? Firebox, the UK retailer of weird products has just what you need – a VW camper tent.

The tent is a licensed 1:1 replica of the van, with enough room for 4 adults to sleep in comfort. Unlike most other tents, this one is even tall enough to stand inside. The package includes the tent itself along with all the required ropes, pegs and accessories.

It is available in yellow, red and blue, but won’t actually ship till August. Shipping is free, but you’ll need to hand over just under $500 to get your hands on one.