We’re just about to wrap up July, and in my humble opinion the local Colorado kids here are heading back to school waaaay too early. This summer my family was more determined than ever to get out and camp, bike, and hike as much as possible. Personally, I’ve got A LOT of warm weather play and quality mountain time left in me for this season!
One of the perks of being an outdoor blogger is getting to try all sorts of gadgets, technical clothing, and gear. Sometimes it doesn’t live up to the hype, or the price tag. But other times I find quality items that we end up using time and again, which to me truly seem worth the investment.
So without further ado… I present to you the Best-of-the-Best that I’ve found for outdoor adventuring this year: My 2015 Outdoor Gear Essentials Roundup.
Pelican 20QT Elite Cooler
Pelican coolers have a reputation for being virtually indestructible. Although we didn’t personally try loosely strapping ours to the back of an ATV, then having it tumble off at 60 mph… I have no doubts it would withstand this scenario.
With it’s freezer grade seal and thick molded polyurethane walls, you get extreme ice retention. Helpful, when you’re out adventuring for a few days in the middle of nowhere. And if camping in Grizzly infested woods is how you roll – you’ll be happy to hear the Pelican Elite has “bear resistant certification”.
We’ve used the “small” Pelican 20QT Elite Cooler this summer, and it’s the perfect capacity for our family of 4. It’s hefty, so I don’t think we’d even want a bigger one. Still easily carried with the solid handle that folds down flush with the lid. This cooler gets a solid two-thumbs up from me for an outdoor gear essential. We’ll be using it for years to come.
Insulated stainless steel water bottles will have you hooked after the first time you use one, and Hydro Flask makes some of the best available. These versatile bottles are vacuum sealed, and keep liquids cold for up to 24 hours, or hot for up to 6 hours. They’re BPA free, backed by a lifetime warranty, and come in a variety of sizes, colors, and mouth openings.
Motorola Talkabout T400
“Walkie talkies are just for kids (or husbands who are just big kids)”, you say? Think again. We’ve used this Motorola Talkabout T400 set all summer long on hiking and camping adventures, and they’ve become indispensable.
Out of cell phone range, no problem. The kids can head to the end of the campground (still within sight) to go play and explore, and stay in contact by taking a walkie talkie with them. Dad can grab a walkie talkie when he heads out fishing, and mom can let him know when the natives are hungry and restless and he needs to head back. The lazy half of your hiking party can contact, find, and be late joiners to the serious hiking half, enabling them to catch up and see the highlights.
Impressive range, awesome battery life, and easy to recharge. The flexibility and uses for the Motorola Talkabout T400 are endless, and the safety factor of having your wandering family members be able to communicate tops it all off. These are on my “must have” outdoor gear essentials list for families. MSRP: $79.99.
Hoka One One Trail Challenger ATR
Allow me to tell you a little story, about how the Hoka One One Trail Challenger ATR changed my running life! While most companies were pursuing that… I’m just gonna say it… silly minimalist running shoe trend, Hoka One One was designing the shoe that is now taking the world by storm. They are stable, they are cushy, they have amazing tread, they are mindbogglingly light, and they have greatly reduced my runner’s knee pain. I didn’t think that last part was possible, but it’s true.
The Challenger ATRs are stable even on uneven terrain, making it an awesome choice for both trail running or indoor running. And once you get past your initial hesitancy towards their… err… rather chunky soled appearance – you will fall madly in love. Seriously. Just go to REI and try a pair on. You can thank me later.
Stio CFS Hooded Jacket
Where has Stio been all my outdoorsy life? Any gear company based out of Jackson Hole, WY, knows what the heck they’re doing. Just saying.
The Stio CFS Hooded Jacket is a lightweight, pullover anorak with a bit of stretch to it. It’s breathable and UPF 50+, with an adjustable hood and a cool custom Stio® gripper hem so it doesn’t ride up. Awesome layer that’s compact and perfect to take along in your pack for when a chill sets in. My favorite feature? A unique vertical side/back zipper for easy on and off. Or for when you ate a few too many s’mores… and you just want a slightly looser fit through the middle. These things happen.
This brand was new to me, but I want more of it in my life. Thoughtful design details, solid construction, stellar materials, and gorgeous colors. (Hey, there’s nothing wrong with liking to wear GORGEOUS COLORS when you’re playing outside!)
Stonewear Rockin’ Pant
After three years of being a Stonewear Ambassador, alas this season we shall part ways. However, they remain my all time favorite activewear brand, and I would be remiss in not including them here. Because I never, EVER go camping without my Stonewear!
If I had to pick just one favorite, camping-and-hiking go to piece to tell you about in this Outdoor Gear Essentials Roundup… it would have to be the Stonewear Rockin’ Pant. Soft, durable, tough, and incredibly comfortable. You can hike in these, climb in them, or even sleep in them. This is my Outdoor Essentials pick for you ladies on trail!
Bonus: They come in three lengths, petite, regular, and long. So much awesome.
Pelican 1920 LED Flashlight
Who likes flashlights? Who likes powerful yet small flashlights that are lightweight, pack a serious light punch, and take up almost no room in your backpack so they are super easy to always take along just-in-case? Oh, pick me! Pick me!! (You, too?)
The Pelican 1920 LED Flashlight fits this bill nicely, and uses easy to find AAA batteries (I hate when they use ‘weird’ batteries I never have on hand). It has a sleek aluminum body, and hi-lumen output. I like it. I like it alot.
Spoiler alert: Want one? I’m giving one away, at the end of this post!
Earth’s Care Anti-itch Cream
My entire family loves the soothing, all natural ingredients found in Earth’s Care Anti-itch Cream. It’s been so effective in relieving itchy and swollen bug bites around our house, that now I frequently hear from my children, “Mom, can I try some of that itch cream on this?” for any and all random skin problems that summer brings our way. It contains Camphor and Menthol, and is good for skin irritations such as poison ivy/oak/sumac, sunburn, insect bites, and minor cuts and scrapes. Highly recommend this in your camping or even just at-home arsenal.
trilipiderm® Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Trilipiderm are the makers of specialized all-body moisture retention cremes, and have now also added sun protection to the mix. My family has been using trilipiderm® Broad Spectrum SPF 30 this summer as our sunscreen, and it feels luxurious to the skin.
I’ve had skin cancer on my face in the past, so I learned my lesson the hard way how important it is to use sunscreen. Trilipiderm offers a great way to nourish your skin with moisture at the same time as protecting it while outdoors.
The Giveaway ~ from Pelican Products
Pelican Products has ponied up an awesome Pelican 1920 LED Flashlight to giveaway to one of my readers! Open to US Residents, 18+. Enter using the form below. Void where prohibited.
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I received samples of some of the products mentioned in this article at no cost, for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own.