2010 Camping Life Editors’ Choice Awards
From the hundreds of new examples of camping gear and outdoor equipment we see every year come a handful of items that strike us as being just right for the family camper. Sometimes it’s a combination of price and features that make it a great value. Or it’s just one of those things that you just have to have. And then, there’s the occasional piece of gear that’s just so much fun to have in camp that it’s worth the cost because it’s going to make your trips so much more enjoyable.
The camping gear featured here in one way or another meets that criteria and got our attention this year. Here are the 2010 Camping Life Editors’ Choice Award Winners.
1. Eureka! Suite V Tent
This is one of the most innovative new designs we saw this year and became a big hit with us. The Eureka! Suite V’s unique V-shape creates a welcoming entryway allowing you to walk upright into a 6-foot-high entrance, as well as a place to sit out of the weather when the front awning is set up. The modified dome features three 12.7mm fiberglass poles, 75D polyester taffeta walls, a 75D polyester floor with 1000mm waterproofing and a bathtub design, and a 75D polyester fly with 1000mm waterproofing. It has two large D-shaped doors, four windows, and the roof is largely no-see-um (great for warm nights), but the fly covers all during the cold wet evenings and still manages to keep things well ventilated. Suite V6, $300; Suite V4, $220. Eureka!: 800/572-8822; eurekatent.com.
2. Coleman Duo LED Lantern
Coleman follows up its Quad LED Lantern of last year with the Duo LED Lantern for 2010. While half the size, it’s in no way half the idea. It’s perfect for situations in which you need a lantern for two children to share. The Duo has 12 LEDs (six per removable side panel) producing 96 lumens of light output from a 4 D-cell battery pack (6V rechargeable battery pack optional). Each panel, operated by a rechargeable battery, offers its own On/Off switch and will run when removed from the docking station for quick trips to the bathroom or anywhere else. Once placed back into the docking station, the panels will be recharged. A foldout foot allows each panel to stand when removed from the base unit. $50. Coleman: 800/835-3278;
3. Leki Khumbu Aergon Hiking Poles
Properly called trekking poles, the new Leki Khumbu Aergons are the latest from the company’s Mountain Trek high-performance category and feature the company’s revolutionary SpeedLock external locking system that concentrates all the force directly on the lower shaft. The Khumbu Aergon also features the new Aergon Soft Grip, the latest grip design that is completely rounded (no edges) and made from a soft natural rubber so you can just as easily grip it or palm it. Until you’ve used trekking poles when hiking, you’ll never know how much support they offer and how much your hips, knees and ankles will thank you later. Using a pair of them is like having four legs for increased stability on rough, rocky terrain. Best of all, they’re offered at a very reasonable reatil price of $100 each. Leki:
4. Therm-a-Rest DreamTime Comfort Cover
How democratic! Cascade Designs has delivered Isotonic Memory Foam to the masses with its Therm-a-Rest DreamTime Comfort Cover. The slipcover rigs any individual self-inflating mattress pad with a cushy memory foam insert and a plush sleep surface, providing additional warmth and cushioning for an amazing night’s sleep. It’s machine washable; and the compression straps and carry handle make it easy to pack and tote. Available in three sizes: Regular (20×72 inches, $80); Large (25×77 inches, $90); X-Large (30×77 inches, $100). Cascade Designs: 206/505-9500; cascadedesigns.com.
5. Princeton Tec Remix
We like headlamps because they offer the convenience of hands-free light; and we love the Princeton Tec Remix for its power, ease of use and feather weight. It outshines the competition with 70 lumens of bright beaming light, offers a choice of a single spot LED or triple LED flood, and tips the scale at just 83 grams. The Remix runs on 3 AAA batteries. $40. Princeton Tec: 609/298-9331; princetontec.com.
6. Mountain Hardwear Pinole 20
Wow! A 20F degree bag for $80 from Mountain Hardwear. Sort of hard to beat that. It’s insulated with lightweight Thermic MX synthetic in an offset quilt construction to keep loft up for no cold spots. The outer shell is a rugged nylon taffeta, the liner’s polyester taffeta has a nice “hand,” and overall, this mummy is designed for comfort with a cut that’s generous, but not wasteful. A roomy footbox is our favorite feature, but you also get a tailored face gasket, hood and draft collar to seal in warmth. Mountain Hardwear: 800/953-8375; mountainhardwear.
7. Osprey Manta 25 Daypack
For 2010, Osprey got together with Nalgene and designed a daypackand hydration reservoir that works together as a system — it’s called the Hydraulics line. The idea was to provide great daypack design with all the goodies like lots of loops and pockets and compression straps you need for a day on the trail or bike, with outstanding fit and comfort, and find a way to properly compress the reservoir for good water delivery while reducing sloshing. Our favorite from the line is the Manta 25. It carries a whopping 1500 cubic inches (25 liters) of cargo and features Osprey’s LightWire peripheral frame and ventilating mesh back panel that keeps the pack off your back and free of sweat, but still keeps it under control while your moving with properly fitting shoulder straps and hip belts. The included 3-liter reservoir features a wide mouth for easy filling, and is made from EVA material that’s taste and odor free, BPA and PVC free, and anti-microbial. $140: Osprey Packs: 866/284-7830; ospreypacks.com.
8. Polarmax PMX TransDRY Cotton Tees
We’ve been telling you for years that cotton was bad when it comes to outdoor apparel — it holds moisture and keeps it close to the skin, instead of wicking it away and keeping you dry. But we all know how good cotton feels, and there’s just nothing like it. However, now there is “good” cotton for outdoor activities. It’s available in September, but we just couldn’t wait to tell you about it and grace it with an Editors’ Choice Award. Polarmax will introduce a new proprietary (highly secret and they won’t talk about it) treatment applied to cotton yarn that enables it to wick (pull) moisture away from your skin and spread it out over the exterior of the fabric. The fabric is woven with a combination of 50-percent un-treated yarns and 50-percent treated yarns to create a product called PMX TransDRY cotton, and will be available in a long-sleeve and a short-sleeve T-shirt. We’ve worn it and it’s amazing. $45 for short sleeve; $50 for long sleeve. Polarmax: 800/552-8585; polarmax.com.
9. Tilley Organic Cotton Hat
A hat may seem pedestrian, but we consider it one of the most important pieces of outdoor gear you can own. It keeps the sun off your face and rain off your head, and it helps keep heat from leaving your body on cold days (you would be surprised at how much body heat is lost through the scalp). Better, yet, there’s the new Tilley Organic Cotton Hat, which is breathable, extremely lightweight and comfortable to wear. It’s made of mostly natural, organic cotton. The material has been sueded to give it a soft, outdoorsy look, and every Tilley is guaranteed for life. You can feel good about your choice too, since the organically grown cotton used no toxic chemicals, synthetic fertilizers or pesticides in its production. The hat comes in two brim widths, is machine washable, repels rain, floats and carries a UPF rating of 50+. $77. Tilley Endurables: 800/363-8737; tilley.com.
10. Kelty Palisade
The Kelty Palisade features a single, large D-shaped door, a dual-entry vestibule to make access and gear storage easy, and a “back porch” area where you can stow equipment out of the way, yet keep it close at hand while you’re inside. And look at all that mesh. Even when the tent is covered from ground-to-peak by its fly, the ventilation is superb. It’s also incredibly easy to pitch this free-standing dome tent. Our favorite thing about the Palisade is the screened vestibule offers pull-down shades for privacy when you want it or protection from wind and rain when you need it. The walls are 70D polyester taffeta, the bathtub-style floor is nylon taffeta with 1800mm waterproofing, the fly is 75D polyester taffeta with 1800mm waterproofing, and the poles are DAC DA17 aluminum. 4-person, $400; 6-person, $500. Kelty: 800/535-3589; kelty.com.
From Camping Life’s May 2010 issue.