Popular Camping Products
You may be heading to the Rocky Mountains for a week of camping and hiking or your local state park for a day of fishing, but wherever you venture, you’ll need some good outdoor-activity clothing to help protect you against the elements — not to mention your own body.
We’re not just talking about packing your favorite, basic, cotton Tee or your old bulky jacket that’s been through heck and back. A pleasant camping experience can hinge on the clothing you wear during your trip, which is why a number of companies offer complete clothing lines that help protect you from insects, the sun’s harmful rays, inclement weather and even from your own sweat.
As with most products these days, a great deal of the camping and outdoor clothing have become very “techy,” meaning they’re made of special or even patented fabrics for maximum dryness and comfort, and they come with great patterns in modern styles and in a slew of colors. So if you want clothes that help you blend in with your surroundings or to make a personal statement (you can camp and still be stylish), check out the following snapshot of some good buys for you and your family.
Constantly applying insect repellent throughout the day can become a big hassle, so it’s great when you find a piece of clothing that acts as an additional layer of defense against nasty biting bugs. Just in time for peak mosquito season, the women’s Buzz Off Check LS shirt ($69) is one of Ex Officio’s (800/833-0831; exofficio.com) clothing pieces that contains Permethrin, an active insect-repellent that is tightly bound to the fibers of the fabric, creating an invisible and odorless barrier that is supposed to last 25 washings. The Permethrin does not change the feel of the shirt, which is made of 58 percent polyester and 42 percent rayon.
The shirt features a mesh cape vent, covered zip pockets and roll-up sleeve tabs, and its contour shaping and straight hemline make for a casual fit. Offered in poppy (shown left) and in blue, this lightweight shirt also offers sun protection, moisture wicking and is wrinkle-resistant. Pair the shirt with Buzz Off’s high-strength, preshrunk Canvas Capri ($66) and you’ll be ready to ward off small, crawling critters.
Adding weather repellency to the standard midlayer menu, Cloudveil (800/255-8345; cloudveil.com) has come out with its Wister Vest ($130), ideal for men and women. The company says the secret behind this piece is a tightly woven Hardface-treated Wind Pro fleece, which is supposed to shed moisture and prevent pilling. The vest (shown right) isn’t bulky, but still warms you up. It also has a soft, fuzzy collar and offers wind-repellent fleece protection.
For men, a shirt that goes well with the Wister Vest is the short-sleeve Cool shirt ($65). It’s tailored with CoolTouch nylon, which makes it feel soft, and is said to dry quickly and protect you from the sun with its tight-knit fabric (UPF 45). The shirt comes with front pockets that are designed to fit a fly box and has a high sunshade collar to prevent your neck from getting sunburned.
While taking a long hike, you may encounter a change in the weather — from nice and sunny to gloomy and overcast. Be prepared by wearing the Atlas Mountain Pullover ($50) from Columbia (503/985-4000; columbia.com). This men’s pullover (shown left) is made of 100 percent polyester Microtex Micro-Rip, a fabric that’s tightly woven yet breathable and water-repellent, and comes with a front security pocket. While it’s part of Columbia’s Titanium line of technical training apparel, which provides an ergonomic fit and durability for ultimate comfort and performance in outdoor activities, it’s also suitable for when you don’t want to wear a jacket or more than two layers. The pullover is also streamlined for a sleek style, eliminating bulk while maximizing technical features. Some other similar options to choose from include the men’s Cloud Forest Jacket ($80) and the Piedmont Jacket ($100).
At the campsite, typical cotton T-shirts can trap moisture and offer little protection. Make sure you have a Tee that will work for you, not against you. The new VariTECH Plus Performance short-sleeve crew (shown right) from Duofold (800/448-8240; duofold.com) is available for men and women ($13), and provides moisture management and a rapid dry-rate, according to the company.
This base layer is made of a patented polyester/cotton yarn blend technology, which is good for those who prefer performance apparel with the feel of cotton. The shirt adjusts to the body’s skin temperature and is not supposed to retain any body odor — a definite plus for when showers aren’t close at hand.
Polyester has never felt this comfortable. The cool-breathing Peachskins (prices range from $30 to $35) base layers from Hot Chillys (800/541-5770; hotchillys.com) are made from high performance, 100 percent polyester with a suede, peach feel and a lustery look. You can chose from a variety of colors (autumn, marine, ocean and others) and tops and bottoms are available for men and women. The traditional roll-down turtleneck (shown right; $35) is a good choice for those who like the feel of silk yet want the durability of synthetic. If you’re looking for something different, the company also offers other types of base layers that are made with BioSilver Bi-Ply (prices range from $35 to $40), a natural anti-microbial fabric, offered in relaxed-fit and body-fit styles.
Ladies, you can have clothing that’s suited for camping, but what about clothing that doubles as performance layers for your morning exercise routine? One option is the Zip Neck ($45) from the Isis (866/875-8689; isisforwomen.com) Ambrosia collection. This base layer, as well as other clothing pieces that are part of this line, are made with a micro-polyester/Lycra fabric with Evaporator finish, making this midweight, wicking base layer ideal to wear underneath a shirt or shell when it gets real breezy.
A good match for the Zip Neck is the Ambrosia Long Jane (shown left; $32), which you can wear underneath pants or alone to show off its woven, tone-on-tone floral pattern on warmer days. Its sturdy Duet stretch fabric allows you to move freely while being protected from wind and abrasions.
For those summer days that turn rainy, Isis offers its Rainwear outerwear collection ($99-$175), designed for year-round use and made with XPR waterproof coating, which contains a special protein to reduce condensation.
A new fabric development called Xtreme 10 is being offered in a line of clothing items by Kavu (800/419-5288; kavu.com). Straight from its lab, the woven fabric has the four-way stretch of a knit. Kavu’s Pixee Pullover for women ($79) is made of Xtreme 10 fabric and comes in a new fit. The pullover (shown at top) has Wickster mesh lining, a Kangaroo pocket with a zipper entry on top and on the sides, a two-piece hood with bungee-cord adjustments, and comes in five different colors. Also available is Kavu’s Pixee Jacket ($85). It has an external chest pocket and two side pockets, and a coil zipper with a chin guard.
For men there’s the Alpine jacket ($82), also made of Xtreme 10 fabric. It features a chin guard, articulated arms and two front side-zip security pockets and one inside Napoleon pocket.
More styling is being incorporated into technical shells these days. One such example is the Rim Jacket ($180) from Marmot Mountain (707/544-4590; marmot.com). Although it’s considered rainwear, the jacket comes with a fusion of new technologies that suit a range of activities. The jacket (shown left), which comes in men’s and women’s sizes, is made from a new fabric called PreCip Plus N-240S, made of stretchy, textured yarn for a nonshiny look and rugged feel. Light and compressible enough to stuff into your water bottle (according to the company), the highly breathable Rim Jacket has 100 percent taped and over-coated seams, stretch anatomic articulation, reflective tape on the collar and the hood, PitZips, a sleeve stash pocket and an elastic draw-cord hem.
One alternative to the Rim Jacket is Marmot’s Precip Jacket ($99) for men and women. Made of a lighter PreCip fabric, it also comes with a DriClime lined chin guard, an attached adjustable roll-up hood and a double storm flap over the zipper with a snap/Velcro closure. These shells come in enough colors and styles to travel with you anywhere, be it the mountains or the urban jungle.
Hot and muggy summer camping days call for a cool short-sleeve shirt that can withstand the toughest outdoor elements. This season, comfort comes in stylish patterns, and one good example is the men’s short-sleeve shirt from the Royal Robbins (800/344-7277; royalrobbins.com) Sun Tracker Collection.
Offered in short and long sleeves, the shirt shown right) is made of the company’s Sun Tracker fabric, 100 percent polyester with UPF 30. It also has been treated with Royal Robbins’ Dri-X-Treme moisture management system, which allows the fabric to wick moisture away from the skin to the fabric surface, where it easily evaporates and keeps you dry and comfy.
The Sun Tracker short-sleeve shirt features a hook-and-loop closure collar point and neck-back shield, running gussets and hook-and-loop secured chest pockets, as well as hidden inside pockets. Available in solid colors ($39.95) as well as prints and plaids ($44.95), the shirt is wrinkle-resistant and ready to be packed for a great adventure.
The right kind of base layer will move fluidly with you in all directions without feeling too tight or restrictive. The Zuni Rose Zip-T ($80) from Outdoor Research (888/4-ORGEAR; orgear.com) comes in an ideal length for tucking into your waistband. However, it can also be used over T-shirts or tank tops.
This PowerStretch piece (shown left) offers a smooth, abrasion-fighting, nylon outer surface and a super-soft, brushed polyester surface to the skin. Its three-quarter zipper offers good ventilation and its close-fitting collar offers warmth on those brisk nights.
Some good alternatives to the Zuni piece include Outdoor Research’s Pagosa Rose Pullover ($65), which features a close-fitting collar but doesn’t have a zipper, and its PowerDry Zip-T ($55), which has a high, zippered T-neck and curved seams for a contoured fit.
If your camping days will include fishing, Redington (800/253-2538; redington.com) has its new Wild Fly Pant ($39.95) for men. You can spend time at your favorite summer watering hole in these comfortable 97-percent polyester/3-percent Lycra Dri Flex pants (shown right), which has insect-repelling and wrinkle-free properties, and quick-dry UPF 50+ fabrication.
Although these pants are “techy,” its styling is simple enough to wear during your fishing adventures or for a quick getaway. Pair the pants with the company’s Gasparilla Shirt ($39.95). Made of a quick-drying nylon called Dri Block, the shirt has a UPF of 30+ and helps keep you cool and dry. There’s also the Wild Fly Tee ($29.95) for men, made of quick-drying 100 percent polyester, 180-gram Dri Block knit with a UPF of 30+.
Whether taking long hikes or enjoying activities close to the campsite, having a good pair of comfortable shorts is a must. The Kimberly pair of shorts (shown right; $30) from the White Sierra (800/980-8688; whitesierra.com) women’s line are made from 100 percent nylon Expedition Canvas, a fabric that is lightweight and soft to the touch. The material is abrasion-resistant and quick-drying, and, with a UPF of 30, it also helps protect you from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. The short’s design comes with a 5-inch inseam, two side cargo pockets and a zipper pocket for your basic essentials. A webbing belt featuring a quick-release buckle completes the short.
White Sierra also offers a men’s version called the Safari ($30). Also made from Expedition Canvas, the Safari comes with a webbing belt with a quick-release buckle, leg gussets for easy movement, two front cargo pockets and slanted back pockets with hook-and-loop closures. Both pairs of shorts pack well for travel and are wrinkle-resistant.
Sierra Designs (800/635-0461; sierradesigns.com) offers its men’s Bushido jacket ($99.95), a tough soft shell that’s ready to move when you’re going fast. Super-stretchy, breathable and water-resistant, the Bushido (shown below) is made of Barricade LT fabric, a 100 percent polyester, stretch-woven double weave. Available in black, industrial, slate, chili and stone, it features zippered hand pockets, an adjustable shock cord at the hem and an adjustable draw cord at the collar to seal in warmth.
For women, there’s the Satori jacket ($99.95), available in sangria, sky, limeade, starlight and black. This piece is versatile enough to go hiking up a mountain or strolling around town. It’s also made of Barricade LT, and has an internal hem adjustment at the side seam.
SmartWool (800/550-WOOL; smartwool.com) has introduced some new foundation layers that help regulate your temperature in the summer as well as year-round. One of these pieces is the men’s boxer brief ($34.95), an anti-microbial, highly breathable underwear that has a new fly design and slim logo waistband. Made of 95 percent superfine SmartWool and 5 percent Lycra, the company says these briefs fit like a glove while providing maximum comfort and freedom of movement, and can be worn for two or three days without odor problems.
Another good all-season piece is the men’s Versaweight Tee ($59.95), made of 100 percent superfine SmartWool. A good alternative to cotton and synthetics, the Tee (shown above) moves moisture away from your skin in a vapor state, keeping you dry and comfortable, while reducing the build-up of odor-causing bacteria. All SmartWool garments are naturally anti-flammable — a nice plus when sitting around the campfire.