For most of us, the goal of camping is to unplug.
But ironically, the latest technological advances in gear, equipment, and clothing will take your mind off the logistics and let you focus on what matters most: connecting with nature and those around you. Here, the 11 essentials for your next great adventure.
Lightweight Hiking Shoes
Unless you’re planning to climb Denali, don’t bother with hiking boots—they’re too heavy, bulky, and stiff. At 11.6 ounces, these slip-on sneakers ($120) won’t weigh you down. On the contrary, they’ll make you feel more sure-footed on unsteady terrain. That’s thanks to a thick layer of high-performance, shock-absorbing cushioning that runs along the entire sole of the shoe. Another plus: They’re made from breathable materials such as mesh and Ariaprene that’ll keep you cool and comfortable on the hottest summer days.
Roughing it isn’t quite an applicable term if you’re sleeping in this tricked-out tent by BigAgnes ($650), with its own LED ambient lighting system, fan, and solar panels that connect to USB charging stations. It covers the basics, too, with a fully water-resistant construction that’s easy to assemble in a matter of minutes.
No-Spray Bug Spray
Never suffocate in a cloud of DEET again. This battery-powered Thermacell lantern ($40) heats up and disperses a natural repellent that’s harmless to both humans and pets. It’ll ward off mosquitoes and black flies for up to 12 hours and keep your quarters lit for 40.
Bring a little Scandinavian design to your campsite with the Onja stove ($140), a minimalist white unit with two burners that can handle frying and boiling alike. It runs for up to 34 minutes on a single gas canister, then folds into a compact carrying case. Bonus: The oak wood top doubles as a cutting board.
It sounds too good to be true: a hot shower in the woods? Believe it. Fill up this ingenious “portable rinse unit” ($90) with a hose or spigot before you leave home, and it’ll provide up to 10 minutes of fully flowing water or 30 minutes of mist when you’re off the grid. The unit stores pressure for up to two months and maintains water temperature for at least a day—but you can buy a separate heating accessory to guarantee a 100-degree rinse. Towel warmer not included.
Leave it to the standard bearer of audio to design a stunning portable speaker that can withstand all the dangers of a campsite. Bang & Olufsen’s new Beoplay A1 ($250) does just that, with a scratch- and water-resistant aluminum and polymer body that delivers focused, warm sound in 360 degrees, even when your “venue” has little to offer in the way of acoustics. The battery lasts 24 hours on a single charge, and a leather strap makes for easy carrying—just latch it onto your backpack or tent pole.
Sleeping Pad Support
As anyone who has spent a sleepless night on hard and cold ground can attest, the importance of a sleeping pad while camping cannot be overstated. Despite weighing a mere 28 ounces, this insulated, inflatable sleeping pad ($280) is big enough to keep two people comfortable and warm all night. Better yet, it takes no more space in your duffle than a small loaf of bread.
The specially engineered fabric on these lightweight trousers by Outlier ($140) will help regulate your temperature, whether you’re exploring the equatorial rainforest or trekking in Acadia National Park. It’s also built to stretch, so you’ll never have to worry about them hiking down or tearing up.
A Blanket That’s Only as Warm as You Need It to Be
These quilt-style sleeping bags ($395) are stuffed with sustainable, 900-fill goose down feathers, and they’re handmade to order in Colorado. But the beauty of the thing is being able to control just how much warmth it delivers. Well-placed zippers let you transform it into a flat quilt (for a little less warmth), while a design that includes "continuous baffles" essentially allows you to rearrange the down insulation to suit your needs. A clever "foot box," for instance, lets you shift more warmth to your toes on nippy nights.
Use birdwatching as an excuse to whip out these beautiful Maven B3 binoculars ($500); aside from the top-notch Japanese optics, nearly every inch of them can be custom-tailored to your personal style preferences. Get them monogrammed, choose the trim color for focus wheel and lens rings, and pick from one of seven colors and patterns for the body armor. In other words, they’ll be just as unique as the finches and warblers they’ll help you spot.
Night Vision Monocular
Night hikes aren’t usually possible without the help of headlamps, but the light can scare away the most interesting of night creatures. Beat the paradox with the FLIR Scout TK ($599), a pocket-size thermal vision monocular that lets you see bald eagles and owls up to 100 feet away. It’ll survive up to five hours of continuous use, and just like traditional night-vision cameras, it’ll function even in pitch darkness.