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The 13 best products for outdoor adventure this summer


Spring is time to get out and about.  The wildflowers are up, the snow is melting, the sun is warm with a hint of summer in the air.  The days are getting longer.  

Whether you are going on a day trip or a longer adventure, being prepared is key.  

While everyone has their own style, there are a few essentials we think you should bring along - no matter where life may take you.



Choosing gear is not just about the latest and greatest technology for us - its also about quality, and customer service.  Companies that replace gear when it breaks are worth a lot to us.  We are rough on gear.  For work, as biologists, we frequently hike 65 miles in a week, not on any trails what-so-ever.  Getting gear replaced when it wears out before its time is very important to us, and the products we list below have impressed us with their durability and replacement policies.  


Darn Tough Socks

These socks have a life-time, unconditional warranty.  This is no joke.  If you wear them out (and really, I challenge you to do so), you just send them back.  No questions asked, they'll send you a replacement within a couple weeks.  

Made with a base of wool, they are anti-microbial and keep your feet warm even if they get wet.  Darn Tough socks come in a variety of styles, thickness, and colors, so take your pick!

Even better, their socks are knit at their Northfield, VT factory:  

Hydroflask Water Bottles

Any day in the backcountry or just floating the river needs a water bottle.  And not just any bottle — a Hydro Flask.  Made of 18/8 stainless steel, these bottles are durable, stylish, BPA free, recyclable and backed by a lifetime warranty.  Best of all, they are vacuum insulated, meaning cold liquids stay cold for up to 24 hours and hot liquids stay hot for up to 12 hours.


For day trips or longer jaunts, keeping your gear organized and in a place where you can easily get to it is essential.  There is so much to do and see, the last thing you need is to be rummaging in the bottom of your bag instead of enjoying yourself.

With 5 interior compartments to keep things in their place, the Hoboroll is an adventurer’s ultimate stuff-sack.   A zippered interior (secret) pocket stores your smaller items and valuables, while the shoulder strap allows for easy carrying wherever you may go.  


Sunhats by Wallaroo

Sun-kissed skin is a lovely thing, but skin cancer is nothing to mess with.  Get yourself a good looking sunhat and rock that look all through spring and summer.  

For both men, women, and the most adorable kids hats around, we love Wallaroo hats because they make great hats that don’t break the bank.   The best part about their hat line?  Many of their styles can be squished into your pack and still look brand new when you unpack them.

Adventure tip: In a windy area or hiking up to a ridge-line?  Be sure to get one with a neck-strap to keep it from blowing away!

Ruff Wear (if you have a pup) 

You furry 4-legged friend needs gear too!  We prefer the quality of just about everything RuffWear makes over many brands.  

Ruffwear sells everything from clever waist-worn leashes to dog packs.  They have a satisfaction guarantee on all of their items, so rest assured your little buddy will be happy too.

Headlamps by Petzl

Its always a good idea to tuck one of these in your Hoboroll or bag.  You never know when your hike might take longer than expected.  

Take it from us - being stalked by a mountain lion coming off Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park was one the scariest moments of our hiking careers.  We did not have any lights and it was completely dark by the time we (miraculously) safely made it down to the parking lot.  


Since then, our Petzl headlamps have been a staple.  We have one in every bag.  As a company that stands by its products, Petzl products are guaranteed for three years against any defects in materials or manufacture.  Trust us, they last longer than that.   We have had ours for years, taking them to Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, China, New Zealand, Kenya, and Tanzania - to mention just a few places we have relied heavily upon their headlamps.  

Check out their new TIKKA RXP headlamp - it's rechargeable, adjusts automatically, and you can program it with your computer! What more could we really need?

The perfect inner layer, by IBEX

There is nothing like being warm and cozy in front of a hot fire during a snowstorm in the woods.  But what about the next day? When its time to put your feet into wet boots and start trekking again?  Having high quality base-layers can be one of the most important aspects to surviving long days in the elements.

While synthetic layers claim to do it all, we prefer wool because it is more natural, it is antibacterial and antimicrobial, and it keeps you warm even when wet.  

Ibex makes wool clothing and a brand that consumers can connect with.  Not only are they comfortable and quite good looking, if I do say so myself, but Ibex also uses top quality New Zealand wool (I think I said hi to a few of their sheep in NZ while trekking).  

Lambs near the Rob Roy Glacier, New Zealand South Island, 2012

And with their Shak Lite program, with wool from fields in Montana to fabric sewn in California, they’re pushing a more localized supply chain and an American-made collection of clothing.  

Ibex Goes West: Producing a 100% USA Made product.

They also offer that if you feel that you have worn your item to the end of its life and want it to be properly repurposed, you can send it to Ibex with a note letting them know it’s ready for recycle. They’ll give it a nice eulogy and send it along to be made into a felt bag. Now THAT is amazing.  

Ultralight outer layer by Eddie Bauer, First Ascent

There is one jacket that is pretty much our favorite creation. Its a downlight "sweater" made by Eddie Bauer First Ascent.  

We first learned about it when Kristin Hostetter of Backpacker Magazine did a comparison of 6 down jackets.  This was her favorite pick.  On a whim, I ordered one for my trek through Nepal.  It was my favorite garment I have ever owned for cold weather trekking.  

It is super light, packs into its own tiny pocket, and is just incredibly warm.

I now have 3 and my husband has 1 - as minimalists, you must understand, this means we really, really love this jacket! 

Yes, there are lighter weight, more techy jackets out there - but for the cost for quality, it cannot be beat.  

And not be fooled by the fact that Backpacker's review is from 2009.  Backpacking Light also did a review of this jacket and gave it great ratings.  

$249 at Eddie Bauer First Ascent online

Adventure tip: Sign up for Eddie Bauer's email list and get big savings on sales just for email subscribers!


Ultra Rain Gear, by Arc'teryx

We don't know about you, but personally, we cannot put a price on staying dry while outside.  

In the spring, we work outside from 6am-5pm just about every day, searching for rare flowers and other endangered wildlife.  The weather does not always cooperate.  Then in the fall, we try to enjoy trekking on another continent, to mix things up a bit.  

After a pair of REI packable and cheap rain pants and jacket failed to keep us dry during not one but two monsoons that hit us in Asia, we vowed never to skimp on rain gear again.

  Getting wet on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal

Pushing a stuck car around a landslide - not staying dry due to rain gear failure

Arc'teryx might come with a high price tag, but in this case, you get what you pay for.  With taped seams and absolutely the best construction we have seen for the price, we swear by their gear.  


Dry and breathable, if you need to hike wet place, we highly recommend saving for some Arc'teryx gear.   

The superclip - the Qlipter

The Qlipter is the perfect accessory to, well, pretty much anything! It is a clever carabiner-like clip with a rotating hook.  This feature allows you to hang items from just about anywhere, such as the back of a door, your car, the table, a tree - you name it.  Keep your gear off the ground!

These super-clips are ultra-light, weighing only 2.4oz but hold up to 50lbs!

Potable Aqua Water Tablets and Katadyn Water Filtration Systems

Don't be stupid. These things weigh like 2oz and could mean the diff between dysentery on the trail or not.  Just take them.  Metallic mouth taste be dammed, they are for emergencies.  


If you are serious about a safe water supply and plan to spend any amount of time in the backcountry, then you’ll want a professional grade water filter like the Katadyn Pocket. 


Katadyn makes safe, simple and sustainable water filters that provide clean, drinkable water.  Used by the Red Cross and other relief agencies, Katadyn filters can be trusted in the most challenging conditions.  The Pocket’s cleanable silver-impregnated ceramic filter is effective against bacteria, Giardia and Cryptosporidium, and will provide reliable performance you can taste.  With a lifetime warranty you can feel safe knowing that you have the most rugged, longest lasting filter that will keep you safe for years to come.

Sardine Can Survival Kit

Hiking, camping, and trekking are inherently dangerous activities.  While most of the time its all fun and joys, there is the occasional moment when the unexpected happens.  A sunny day in a Zion canyon can turn quickly into a raging flash flood, or a simple cut along the trail can fester if bad weather persists.  

While we all may not want to carry a full-sized first aid kit, especially for a day trek, it doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared.  

Whistle Creek has a brilliant solution - a first aid survival kit that fits in a sardine can!  And literally, I mean this - its in a sardine can.  No excuse to leave home without this clever little box.  

Please share your favorite gear and travel stories with us!  
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