New travel gear from Outdoor Retailer

Last week, Salt Lake City played host to the latest Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, a bi-annual event that gives outdoor gear and travel companies the opportunity to unveil their latest creations. The expo is jammed packed with row upon row of backpacks, boots, climbing gear, and other items for the outdoor enthusiast and world traveler. Here are five great items that debuted the show that may find their way into your pack the next time you hit the road.

Outdoor Retailer Travel Gear: The CamelBak All ClearCamelBak All Clear Water Purification System
CamelBak, the company that specializes in hydration systems and water bottles, has introduced a new water purification system that uses ultraviolet light to kill 99.9% of the bacteria, viruses, and protozoa that lives in water. The device connect to the top of the included bottle, and with the touch of a button, it goes to work, making your drinking water safe to consume. The All Clear operates on rechargeable batteries that are good for 70 uses between charges, cleaning up .75 liters at a time. The lamp is rated for 10,000 cycles as well, meaning it will last for years before needing to be replaced.

The All Clear will be available next February with an MSRP of $99 and is ideally suited for travelers headed to destinations with tainted water or backpackers hiking through the backcountry on an extended trek.

Adventure Medical Kits World Travel
Adventure Medical Kits have long set the standard for lightweight, yet well equipped med kits designed for all occasions. They offer ultra lightweight and waterproof kits that are perfect for adventure racers, and they have a line of med kits for the world traveler too. The kits are recommended for travel in remote, developing countries, where travelers have the potential to be hours away from a doctor, and they come equipped for nearly any situation. There are a wide variety of bandages, treatments for blisters and burns, medications for stomach ailments, and so much more. In fact, they’re so well stocked, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one.

The World Travel medical kit is available now with an MSRP of $70.
Outdoor Retailer Travel Gear: The Adidas Fast R SoloAdidas Terrex Fast R Solo
One of the surprises for me at Outdoor Retailer was the impressive line-up of gear coming from adidas. The company that is well known for its athletic shoes is moving into the outdoor market in a big way, beginning with their Terrex Fast R Solo hiking boot. The design on the Fast R is so impressive, it looks like it was sent back in time from the future. It is lightweight, rugged, and comfortable, and perfect for hikers looking to go fast on the trail. With a specially designed sole that was built for performance, even in wet conditions, and a Gore-Tex lining, the Fast R is poised to become a favorite amongst travelers and backpackers alike. Depending on your destination, this may be the only shoe you’ll need to take with you.

The Fast R Solo is due out this fall with an MSRP of $195.

The North Face Havoc Performance Layer
As you would expect from a company like The North Face, there was a lot of gear on display in their OR booth. But what really caught my eye was the new Havoc jackets for both men and women. These versatile mid-layer garments are designed to move with you, whether you’re on the trail or just hanging around town, giving you the comfort and temperature control you need. Both versions of the Havoc will keep you warm and dry in inclement weather, but are also built to breathe and offer ventilation when needed as well. This is a lightweight, highly packable, technical jacket that will work well on it’s own over a base layer or as a mid-layer under a shell.

The new Havoc for men and women will be available next spring for $70.

Outdoor Retailer Travel Gear: The Brooks-Range Foray TentBrooks-Range Foray 3-Season Tent
Brooks-Range came to Outdoor Retailer looking to show off their new line of four tents, each of which was very impressive for backpackers, mountaineers, and cold weather explorers. Perhaps most impressive of all however, was the new Foray, a two-person, three-season shelter that weighs in at just 2 pounds, 10 oz. That’s extremely light for a tent of this quality and design. The freestanding tent takes just minutes to assemble and comes with an optional rain fly for when the weather turns especially bad. This is the kind of shelter that is perfect for any backcountry escape and will serve you well in all but the coldest of conditions.

The Foray is due to hit stores in the spring of 2012 with an MSRP of $475.

This is just a sample of some of the many things that were on display at Outdoor Retailer. Expect more information and gear reviews in the weeks ahead.

Gadling gear review: Eureka Apex 2XT tent

The Eureka Apex 2xt Tent ReviewThe 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.

The Eureka Apex 2XT Tent ReviewInside, 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.

World’s tallest tent opens in Kazakhstan


When you think of Kazakhstan you probably think of nomads living in tents, but today’s Kazakhstan is rapidly modernizing thanks to an oil boom, so it’s appropriate that the Central Asian nation is now home to the world’s tallest tent.

Technically, it’s the world’s largest “tensile structure”, meaning something held up by poles and cables. A tent, in other words. At 150 meters (492 feet), it’s the also the tallest building in the capital Astana. It encloses more than 100,000 square meters, including a park, cafes, restaurants, 700 parking spots, shopping areas, even an artificial beach.

Called the Khan Shatyr, it’s a unique architectural wonder. One of the challenges of building it was Astana’s rough weather. The Khan Shatyr’s website proclaims, “What do you feel like doing everyday at Astana? It is -30C outside.”

Not the best slogan, but certainly realistic. Astana has the distinction of being the second coldest capital in the world (after Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia), with freezing temperatures six months of the year and winter temperatures that have been measured as low as −40 °C (−40 °F). In the summer it can get up to 35 °C (95 °F). The tent’s skin is made from a special plastic that allows sunlight in while still acting as an insulator. Air vents keep ice from forming on the surfaces and keep the interior at a constant temperature.

Kazakhstan has large oil reserves and the government has been riding a wave of petrodollars that it has used to fund a massive building campaign in the capital. Astana is said to be the biggest construction project in the world, and taking a look at the huge structures in the gallery photos it certainly is a strong contender. The city is the brainchild of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has ruled Kazakhstan since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The Khan Shatyr was opened on President Nazarbayev’s 70th birthday.

The government has been trying to sell Kazakhstan’s capital as a tourist destination, and marvels like this will go a long way towards compensating visitors for the weather. With rugged scenery, Baikonur Cosmodrome (where Yuri Gagarin launched into orbit to become the first man in space), ancient mosques, medieval walled cities, and traditional folk who live in much smaller tents, Kazakhstan is a good choice for the adventure traveler.

Image courtesy Nigel Young/Foster + Partners.

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Gadling’s ultimate camping gear guide

With Memorial Day just around the corner, we are rapidly approaching the unofficial start of summer and, with it, the start of camping season. Of course, many people go camping all year long and either live in perpetually warm climates or simply don’t mind bundling up and enduring the cold. The vast majority of campers, however, eagerly await the arrival of Summer so that we can pack up our cars, hit up our favorite campsites and enjoy as many weekends as possible in the great outdoors.

Several of us Gadlingers are psyched about the arrival of camping season (while others who shall remain nameless prefer to stay only in luxury hotels and bathe regularly), so I polled the team on what gear is most essential when heading out on a camping trip. Our list is primarily geared towards car camping, which allows for more (and heavier) gear. But even backpackers will want to grab some of the equipment listed below before heading out on their treks.

We touched on some camping basics in an episode of Travel Talk, but now we’re going to help you pack everything you need before you leave the city (or suburbs) behind.A roof above your head

When you think about camping, what’s the first image that pops into your mind? If you said, “Getting killed by Michael Myers,” then you’ve watched too many horror movies. Most likely, visions of tents pop into your head. While some people choose RVs or campers, most people hunker down for the night in a tent. There are countless tent manufacturers and styles from which to choose.

If you only plan to camp in pristine conditions and perhaps only once or twice a year, you can probably get away with a cheaper, less durable tent. However, investing in a good tent ensures that you will have it for years to come. Meaning that it will have a chance to eventually pay for itself in the enjoyment that it provides over time.

For your large tent needs, the Big Agnes Big House 6 is phenomenal. With 90 square feet of space, you won’t be piled on top of your friends and it’s good for gathering the whole group together for a game of UNO if it rains. Add the optional vestibule and you’ll have a total of 154 square feet of space, meaning you can keep all of your gear close by and covered. For more information, read the full Gadling review of the Big Agnes Big House 6.

For two person trips, the Mountain Hardwear Raven 2 has plenty of room and is fantastically lightweight (only five pounds). Meaning that it’s also a terrific option for trekking. With two doors, two dry-entry vestibules and a color-coded pole system, the Raven 2 is easy-to-use and sacrifices nothing with its light weight.

Both of the tents recommended above come with a rain fly included. Rain flies are essential for keeping you and your gear dry in inclement weather. We also recommend purchasing a footprint for your tent to provide an additional layer of material between you and the ground.

Sleep like a mummy

Once it’s time for bed, you’ll want to curl up in something warm. A comfortable sleeping bag along with a quality pad will help you forget that you’re far away from your expensive Swedish sleep system. Sleeping bags are rated by the minimum temperature at which you would still be safe from the elements. If you are a casual camper planning on camping only in the spring and summer, there is no need to shell out the money for a 0° bag. You want comfort for the conditions in which you will be camping. Anything beyond that will leave your wallet emptier and you sweatier.

The EMS Solstice Switchback 25/45 is my personal sleeping bag of choice. It has thicker insulation on one side, meaning it can keep you warm should you elect to use it during the shoulder seasons or in the midst of an unexpected cold snap. The less insulated side is more than warm enough for your typical summer evenings in the woods.

If you plan to take your significant other into nature with you, you’ll enjoy The North Face’s Twin Peaks two-person sleeping bag. More than warm enough (it’s 20° rated), it allows for a little romance and coziness in the wild. If you’re joining a group on an excursion, an invitation to share your Twin Peaks may be the perfect way to escalate things with a new friend. The extra size does mean that it’s significantly heavier than other packs, but you won’t mind the weight once you get to the cuddling.

Under any sleeping bag, you will want to place a pad. The Big Agnes Air Core pad is durable, lightweight and doesn’t leave you winded after inflating it. If you prefer a pad that is self-inflating, the Big Agnes Hinman pad is incredibly comfortable. It even comes in a double-wide (50″) size which is perfect for pairing with The North Face Twin Peaks bag.

Let there be light

Your bladder doesn’t care what time it is. Come nightfall, that walk to the bathroom facility (or into the deeper woods) is going to be pitch black. Campfires provide some light, but they sit in one spot and burn out once you call it a day. Portable light sources keep you safe and also allow you to enjoy time in your tent before falling asleep.

Headlamps keep your hands free to cook dinner, do emergency repairs on your gear or simply unzip your pants. The Black Diamond Cosmo headlamp is perfect for the casual camper or the hardcore outdoorsman. It offers three brightness settings so that you don’t accidentally blind your tentmates.

If you prefer a good old-fashioned flashlight, the Gerber Option 60 may be the last flashlight you ever purchase. It’s water-resistant, bright, lightweight and can take AA, AAA or CR123 batteries. It can handle being dropped and is sturdy enough to use as a weapon should someone try to steal the last hot dog.

When it comes time to retire to your tent to study maps of hiking trails or simply talk with your companions, a lantern is the best lighting option. The Black Diamond Apollo lantern is small yet powerful enough to illuminate even the largest tents. It’s easy to pack and its collapsible loop makes hanging it from your tent a cinch.

Chow time

Plenty of campers cook all of their meals on an open fire. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, though it does add an element of danger and diminishes the control you have on the cooking conditions. If you want to make some eggs for breakfast or brew some coffee without singeing your fingers, you’ll want to pack a camping stove.

A camping grill with one stove top will provide you with all of the flexibility that you’ll need when cooking outdoors. The Brunton Profile Duo can whip up a full breakfast, lunch and dinner even if you can’t get that campfire started. At only ten pounds, it’s easy to pack and can burn for an hour-and-a-half on a single gas tank. It provides a spacious grill and a sturdy burner to meet all of your cooking needs. Obviously, you’ll need to pack a propane or butane tank (or two) to power the grill.

As far as what cookware you’ll use on that grill, it all comes down to how persnickety you are with your pots and pans. I have never used a dedicated camping cookware set. I’ve always packed one pot and one pan from home. However, if you are going to be cooking on the fire, using a cookset with a removable handle will save you from having to worry about ruining your home cookware and scalding your hands.

When it’s time to eat, there may be no better camping utensil than then Light My Fire XM Spork. It’s heat resistant, doesn’t melt, won’t scratch your cookware, comes in an array of colors and it’s a spork that has a serrated knife edge on one its fork prongs! It works perfectly with Sea to Summit’s X Bowl and X Plate. Both are collapsible, which makes them easy to store and perfect for car camping or backpacking. They’re the right size for hearty meals by the fire, easily rinse clean and can take a pretty good beating.

Safety first

Never go camping without a first aid kit. It’s that simple. The Adventure Medical Kit Ultralight/Watertight .9 has all the basics and then some should something go wrong on your trip. We cannot stress enough that a first aid kit is a must-have when camping.

Bug spray is another necessity. Ben’s Insect Repellents keep mosquitoes, ticks and other potentially disease-carrying bugs at bay. They do, however, contain DEET. If you’re not a fan, there are plenty of DEET-free alternatives out there. Like first aid kits, bug spray is a must-have. Whatever your brand or chemical preferences, be sure to pack some kind of repellent to be safe.

In that same vein, you’ll want to pack enough sunscreen to last you the weekend. Something waterproof if you plan to enjoy a nearby lake or will be sweating while you hike. Shoot for something SPF 30 or higher for proper protection.

If you’re in bear country, be sure to bring gear to suspend your food above your site. Regardless of wildlife, pack containers to seal up any food and be sure to keep perishables on ice in a cooler.

Whether you’re simply driving in multiple cars on the way to the campsite or splitting up on a hike, maintaining the ability to communicate outside of civilization is critical. A couple of sets of Motorola Talkabout MR350R two-way radios will ensure that your whole party can stay in touch even when cellphones lose signal. With a 35-mile range in optimal conditions, 22 channels, 11 emergency weather channels and 121 privacy codes, these two-way radios will allow you to find an unused channel for communication and track any storms that may be heading your way. 10-4, good buddy.

Pack a pack

The benefit of car camping is that your entire car becomes your pack. However, for the day hikes and short treks that you’ll be taking on your camping trips, you’ll want a solid pack to carry your water bottles, lunch and that first aid kit we talked about. The Black Diamond Nitro pack is comfortable, sturdy and big enough for a day spent away from camp. Available in 22 liter and 24 liter sizes, it’s spacious while not being unwieldy.

Since hydration is key and you won’t have a faucet handy, you always want to have water with you while you’re at camp and when you set out for the day’s activities. The Camelbak Octane 18X hydration pack can carry up to two liters of water while also providing 18 liters of storage space for snacks, trails maps and the Cabbage Patch Kid that you’ve taken everywhere since you were six.

Odds & ends

Any list of camping gear could go on forever. You can truly pack just about anything and make the case for why you need it in the wild. But these items will be handier than others:

A good multi-tool is great for minor gear repairs and saves you from having to pack an entire toolkit. The Leatherman Juice S2 is a pocket-sized dynamo that even the most casual of campers will enjoy. It may not have all of the bells and whistles of its big brothers, but it has scissors, screwdrivers, pliers and a can opener. All of which may come in handy when you’re roughing it for the weekend.

Do not leave home without several books of matches, a couple of lighters and, if you really want to cover all of your bases, a DOAN Magnesium Firestarters Tool. Unless you want to spend half of your trip rubbing sticks together, you need to pack your own fire.

Creature comforts

Beyond the essentials listed above, you can certainly customize your trip to make it more comfortable. To take your trip to the next level, you may also want to pack these treats:

A camping/travel pillow goes a long way towards making your sleep more restful. The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow significantly enhances the comfort level of your sleeping bag and pad setup.

Camping chairs provide more places to sit around the fire and, more importantly, dry spots to sit after a rain.

A camping hammock turns your campsite into a resort. Not in the mood to go for a swim or exhausted after a hike? Steal a nap on the Eagles Nest Outfitters Double Nest Hammock. At only 22 ounces, it’s easy to pack but holds up to 400 pounds.

Camping is about keeping things simple, so don’t go too overboard with the gear. Pack the essentials, be safe and then get out there. If you enjoy camping, then you know that adaptability is key. Follow our suggestions and you’ll be able to handle nearly any situation that comes your way and enjoy your time away from modern life.

Oh, we do have three more items that are 100% necessary for any camping trip: graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows. But those should go without saying.

What are your favorite pieces of camping gear? Did we leave out any essential items? Share your thoughts on camping equipment, suggestions about gear and tips in the comments below!

Photo of the Day (04.24.10)

Between the ash cloud and the tragic plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski (amongst other news stories), the world’s attention has shifted away from Haiti. But, lest we think that the Caribbean nation has fully recovered from the devastating earthquake in January, Flickr user rexa.ch reminds us that there is still a long way to go to fully rebuild.

Back in January, America focused much of its attention on Haiti after the natural disaster. Since then, life has returned to “normal” here in the US and people have gone back to their day-to-day business. Meanwhile, the people of Haiti continue to struggle while putting together the shattered pieces of their lives.

You can still help by donating to the Red Cross. It’s as easy as texting “Haiti” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Even if you donated back in January, consider helping again. We appreciate you taking the time (and, yes, money) to help our friends in Haiti.

Have a picture that personalizes the news? Have you witnessed history? Submit your images to Gadling’s Flickr group right now and we might use it for a future Photo of the Day.