This roundup includes the best new camping gear we found at the Summer 2019 Outdoor Retailer show, with a focus on ultralight and ultra-packable tents, stoves, inflatable sleeping pads, meal kits, and other random but cool things. Starting with cooking, the new Primus Firestick Stove is a seriously small, pocketable camp stove that attaches to any normal camp fuel tank. Designed to simply fold the arms in or out, it reduces pack size while also improving durability. The flame is narrow and somewhat protected from the wind by the fold-out arms, and it has a premium fuel regulator to control the flame size.
The stove includes a piezo lighter and wool sleeve to hold it, and retail is $89.95 for the stainless steel model (3.7oz/105g). But it gets better…there’s also the Firestick Ti for $119.95 that drops weight even more (3.1oz/89g). Both will be avialable in March 2020.
Primus also showed off their Essential Trail Kit camp pot and stove combo that holds everything inside and uses one of the handles to keep it all enclosed. Retail is $59.95. Check them out at Primus.us.
Not as small, we still liked the looks of GSI Outdoors’ camp stoves, which come in both top-mounting and self-supported varieties. If you’ve ever tipped a camp stove because it was sitting on top of a tall fuel can, you know why the hose-fed versions are a safer bet.
GSI also makes complete cook kits under the NForm Ultralight line, with two kits depending on how much you want (or need) to carry. They’re surprisingly affordable at just $49.95 for the Minimalist set, and $59.95 for the Dualist…and there are other options on their website, too, starting around $30.
If you don’t want to carry a fuel tank, there were several other options we found, including some in this post from the demo day. The Esbit Pocket Stove is about as simple as they come. Just fold it open, insert one of their solid fuel pucks and put your pot on top. The pucks are sold separately and seem to be popular amongst hikers – they’re light, non-toxic, last for 15 minutes, and burn down to nothing so there’s no waste or trash. Well, except for the packaging. And they’re cheap (about $8-$12 per pack at REI).
Believe it or not, this grill is actually bikepackable. It’s from Wolf & Grizzly, and there’s actually two parts here. The folding grill is $109 and weighs in at 1kg (2.2lb) with the adjustable frame and wire grill surface. The design allows it to be used flat, or at 6″ or 8″ of height, depending on how you attach the rack. The support folds down, and the grill detaches and rolls up, and you could probably fit two of the complete kits inside a paper towel tube. To cook with it, just set it up over any small camp fire.
The FireSafe is the mini fire pit shown under it and folded up inside the black carry case in the foreground. This is coming in September, available for pre-order now for $79. Combined, you could easily grill meats or just safely contain a fire no matter where you camp, all with items that would fit inside a bike’s frame bag.
Lightweight coffee, flasks & mess kits
Snow Peak is a family-owned Japanese brand that’s been around for a while and is based near the Hakuba region where we went mountain biking last year. From titanium flasks of all shapes and sizes, to a folding pour-over coffee filter brewer ($29.95 at REI), the collection is massive.
Not even remotely bikepackable, this complete camp kitchen table setup was just too cool not to show off. I mean, if you’re gonna car camp, then freakin’ car camp. Think this is over the top? Check out their camp furniture.
UCO’s lightweight mess kit is just $25 but includes everything you need to eat, drink and even store your food. The plates go together and use a silicone seal to keep food inside during transport, meaning you could use this to bring food, eliminating an extra container. The fork/spoon/knife set slide into each other (orange and yellow shown separated, green ones shown together, but the set only includes one of each). The cup has a silicone bottom that pops out to increase capacity, and the whole thing will next together and uses a stretchable strap to keep it closed. Coming January 2020.
Last up, The GSI Outdoors Microlite Coffee Press makes it easier to bring both coffee and a water bottle. The internal sleeve has a filter on the bottom so you can press it down like a French press to make coffee. Then just drink straight from it, no need to pour into a separate cup…because, let’s be honest, this is barely enough coffee for one person, amiright?
Two versions are available, one with an acrylic inner and outer section and fabric insulating sleeve (Commuter, $24.95) and one with an insulated stainless steel body ($29.95). Available soon.
Bikepacking tents and hammocks
Klymit, who’s better known for their inflatable sleeping pads, has jumped into the lightweight tent market with two impressive new offerings. The Maxfield 4, shown above, is big enough for four adults (or three comfortably), and the Maxfield 2, below, is for two.
What makes them special is the weight-for-their-size and the packing method. The Maxfield 4 has a trail weight of 5lb 1oz (2.3kg), which isn’t bad in terms of grams-per-body-held, leaving more room in other bike bags for other shared gear. Fast fly weight (if you’re just using the fly for shelter, with the poles) is 3lb 14oz (1.8kg). Retail is $499.
The Maxfield 2 runs $399 and has a trail weight of 3lb 12oz (1.7kg), fast fly weight of 3lb 3oz (1.4kg). Not the lightest tent out there, but the per-person weight good, and you get a full featured tent with interior storage and oversized vestibule.
What’s cool is how they pack. Rather than a typical stuff sack, they provide an open piece of material to throw all the tent parts on, then you roll it up and use the compression straps to cinch it tight. This makes it faster and easier to put up and take down, and the roll doubles as an entry mat.
In the image on right is their new mini-pump, which is rechargeable and runs $50. You can expect about 30 sleeping pad fills per charge…but that’s likely for their pads, which means you probably don’t need it if you’re running Klymit gear all around. Keep reading and I’ll explain.
ENO is perhaps the best known camp hammock brand, and now they have two new versions that offer very much appreciated upgrades to the standard hammock. First up is the SkyLite, which integrates folding tent poles into the ends to keep it from collapsing in on you. If you’ve ever been unable to sleep because you’re getting claustrophobic, or just like a little more elbow room, this is the solution. What’s really new is the integrated bug net, so you don’t need to fiddle with that or bring the extra weight of a net that slides all the way around the whole hammock. Weight is 2lb (0.91kg), price TBA.
For a lighter weight option, the new JungleNest also integrates the bug net into a traditional hammock. Compare it to the regular bug net dangling above it, and you can see how much material is saved…not to mention about 5-10 minutes of setup time. And a Featherlite spreader bar inserts into a sleeve on the bug net to prop it open for more interior space. Weight is just 20oz (0.57kg), price TBA.
Sierra Designs showed us more than just their first foray into hip packs, they also have new tents that are light enough to bring along on your ride. Shown here without the rainfly is the new Highside II, a two-person tent that comes in at 3lb 4oz (1.50kg) with everything, and a non-fly weight of 2lb 2oz (1.33kg). Retail is $359.
They’ll also offer a Highside I for a single camper with a pack weight of 2lb 7oz (1.10kg), and fly-free weight of 1lb 15oz (0.88kg) for $279.
Sleeping bags, pads, pumps & blanket things
Klymit upgraded their inflatable sleeping pads with the new Static V Luxe SL (blue pad, left photo), offering a big 3.5″ of cushion and a wider profile so you have more room to sleep. The center V-channel keeps more air under you while still allowing them to use the channeled design that makes them so fast to inflate. They claim it’s just 10-15 breaths to fully inflate it, which is why we kinda think their mini electronic pump is pointless…unless you’re using another brand’s camp pad. Or have to blow up a family’s worth of pads or something. The Static V Luxe also comes in an insulated version, but it adds a lot of size and weight compared to this one, which runs 595g.
If the weather’s not cool enough for a sleeping bag, consider their Versa Blanket. It has a foot box to tuck your toes into at night, and you can snap them around you as a cape, or together to create bigger blanket for two. They’re filled with synthetic insulation and weigh in at 23oz (0.62kg). Retail is $79.95. Oh, and you can stuff the whole thing into the foot pocket and create camp pillow.
Therm-A-Rest also has a new mini pump, and it’s smaller and more affordable than the Klymit one, but requires two AAA batteries. And it’s purpose built for the new Wing Lock Valves that are making their way onto all of their sleeping pads. The new valves are true one-way valves that you can switch to release the air by twisting the wing-nut-shaped bezel. Get the Neoair Micro Pump for $40, or check out the Blockerlite Pump Sack, which you swoosh around to capture air, then push it into the mattress. They say it inflates a mattress in about three fills, and it requires almost no effort.
RAB has introduced a new heat reflective tech in their Mythic Ultra sleeping bag, which promises to keep you warm in a very compressible, packable and lightweight design. The bags use a new fabric, called TILT, that blends titanium-infused fibers into the liner to reflect UV and infrared head back to your body. So, no coatings or liners, which keeps the weight down to just 14oz (400g) for the mid-weight bag, and 21.3oz (606g) for the heavyweight bag.
Rumpl has been making fun camp and travel blankets for a while, and their new one is a mid-sized puffy blanket (center) with 100% post-consumer-recycled synthetic fill that they say has the same warmth as down, but packs down smaller than their typical synthetic fill blanket (left), and almost as small as their down filled blanket (right). The originals are available at REI, the new ones should be there soon.
Rumple also makes travel towels and these puffy parkas, which look amazing for fireside chats even if they are a bit big for bikepacking.
Three more fun camping gadgets
UCO’s tent stakes with built-in LED light are brilliant for two reasons: First, they keep them visible so you don’t trip over them or the fly lines. Second, they provide a perimeter of light around your tent and campsite.
Nomadix has a new, smaller Travel Lite towel that’s still big enough to be luxurious (for a camp towel, anyway…it’s big enough to bring as a beach towel, too). It’s made of 100% recycled water bottles, retails for $30 and will hold 4x its weight in water.
Luumi is on a mission to un-plastic the world, and if you’re on board with that (and, you know, saving sea turtles and all, they’ll help with silicone tooth brushes and ear swabs, as well as straws, food containers, and more. Now, if we could just remember to bring reusable food boxes for leftovers when we went go out for Mexican food…
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