August 1, 2002
Filed under Camping Gear, Footwear, Lights & Lamps, Tents

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The Enel (800/757-0505; adventuretrucktent.com) Adventure Truck Tent may make your pickup truck look like a pioneer’s Conestoga wagon, but it will deliver a much better outdoor shelter experience. As a matter of fact, we found the truck-bed-mounted tent to be extraordinarily well put together. All tent and fly seams are factory-seam taped. The tent body is made of 70-denier nylon ripstop, fore and aft panels are poly-coated 70-denier-nylon ripstop, lower tent walls are heavy-duty 420-denier poly-coated nylon taffeta, and the fly is 70-denier poly-coated-nylon ripstop. Five flexible, shock-corded 7000-T-6-aluminum poles (color-coded to ease assembly) are used in pole sleeves to support the tent canopy and fly. The tent features YKK-zippers: two-track zippers on the door and aft vent; double zippers on side vents. The vents are no-see-um mesh covered by poly-coated nylon ripstop flaps. All fabrics are fire resistant.

It’s not tall enough (actual height depends on tent model) to stand erect in, but you can crouch comfortably and move about without feeling like you’re trapped in a pup tent. And although you don’t get a floor, we laid down a big sheet of plastic, topped that with self-inflating sleeping pads, and had a delightful night’s rest in our bags. Enel sells cots and other accessories that are designed to work with its tent.

Setup was a bit complicated the first time around, but the instructions are detailed with good descriptions and photos, so it didn’t take but once to get the hang of it. After final adjustment of the fender straps, we were able to snug the foot of the tent tightly to the truck’s bed sides, making a seal that kept any hint of cold air from getting in. Enel even includes a separate instruction sheet showing you how to build an elevated wooden sleeping platform for your pickup’s bed, allowing the truck’s bed to still be used for cargo while the tent is in use. The Adventure Truck Tent is made in four sizes to fit almost every pickup box made, and it retails for $289. – Stuart Bourdon

Here are two compact, yet sturdy, battery-powered lanterns that are excellent choices for tent or towable campers. CMG Equipment (888/699-0622; cmgequipment.com) offers, among other LED lamp products, the BonFire Tent Light ($25). Its Phoenix Motion Sensing Lantern ($40) is an incandescent product, which uses a bulb about the size of child’s marble. Both lights are smaller than a soda can (weighing about 4 ounces) and come with lanyards for hanging or they can stand on a flat surface. They each operate on two AA batteries.

Using a cluster of amber LEDs driven by a custom-designed circuit, the BonFire has a claimed battery life of 18 hours. The BonFire will brightly illuminate the interior of a small tent (two-person) or provide an excellent night-light for your camping trailer. It also has a “low” mode that extends the battery life. During our examination, running the BonFire in low-light mode and using high-quality alkaline batteries, we achieved nearly a seven-day battery life on the BonFire. It’s a safe alternative to candles, and more efficient than incandescent lamps. A white-LED version will soon be available, too.

The Phoenix uses an infrared sensor to detect motion up to 12 feet away (according to CMG) and we found that to be generally accurate, noting that the sensor’s field of view was approximately 6 feet wide at a distance of 10 feet. It’s also ideal as a night-light for tent or trailer. You must position the lantern so that the sensor eye points in the direction in which you expect motion. When the sensor detects a moving body, the marble-sized incandescent white-light bulb goes on and stays lit for 30 seconds. After that period of time, the Phoenix returns to sensing mode and the light turns off. You can also switch the Phoenix to “light” mode, in which the lantern remains on as long as you have battery power. – Stuart Bourdon

Every time I laced up the Montrail (800/647-0224; montrail.com) Hurricane Ridge GTX shoes, it felt like I was wearing sports cars on my feet – sports cars with the spine of an M1 Abrams tank! These high-performance, trail-running shoes are among the sturdiest pieces of footwear I have been shod with in years, and they weighed less than a pound each. Notable features include a hydrophobic synthetic leather/mesh upper, integrated Stretch-Fit Gore-Tex tongue combined with Montrail’s IntegraFit last for foot-caressing comfort, a bonded Gore-Tex liner providing a waterproof, breathable bootie, and the Terraflex full-length sole plate (polyurethane) for flexibility with protection from trail hazards. The carbon-rubber outsole has an aggressive, saw-tooth tread pattern that makes for hard-biting traction.

The Montrail Integrafit last bears some explaining. Lasts are the forms used to create the inside shape of a shoe or boot. It’s a model of an active, working foot. The Integrafit last was designed using a database of approximately 800,000 pairs of digitally scanned feet – enabling Montrail to create a last that reflects an accurate average picture of a vast majority of the population’s feet. Montrail claims Integrafit will suit up to 80 percent of people.

Available in men’s and women’s sizes, the Hurricane Ridge GTX’s were durable, light-weight, ultra-comfortable, high-traction treads for my weekend canyon-trail scrambles. These babies aren’t cheap, though – retailing for $115 – but you can’t expect to get a Ferrari at Volkswagen prices. – Stuart Bourdon

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