Get ready to hit the trails or the water this summer with easy-to-use gear such as a foldable kayak, a cookstove that uses sticks for heat that can also charge your cellphone, and sustainable products such as trailhead pants made from recycled coffee grounds, and stainless-steel containers to pack and go. These cool, efficient, and essential gear will have you ready for a summer of fun.
The whole point of a day at the lake or a weekend camping is to get away for some sunshine and relaxation, right? Except before you can go you have to prep and pack and then double-check that you didn’t forget anything. Once at the lake, there’s unloading the equipment, setting it up, and getting settled. And don’t get me started on the headache of unpacking after the trip. Why can’t it be easier?
All I wanted was to be able to escape for a day or more without hours of prep, strain, and disorganization, and spend more time enjoying some time in nature. Fresh air, kayak on the water, hot lunch by the fire, and maybe an afternoon nap in a hammock. That’s heaven to me.
So I set on a mission to find essential summer gear for either camping or a day on the water. No matter your age.
It started when I was offered the opportunity to sample and review an Oru Inlet Kayak. For years I have been on a quest for the ultimate kayak. My first kayak was an Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Kayak. I purchased it because it’s inflatable and I didn’t want to have to hoist a kayak on top of my small car (I envisioned I’d look like a hotdog mobile driving down the highway). Plus, I had learned from struggling to get my paddle board onto the roof of the car that it was a two-woman job, and, honestly, exhausting to get it on and off and then back on and off again at the end of the day.
This led me to the inflatable kayak that I’ve had for many years. It fits in the trunk of my car and inflates in a few minutes. Yet, although it solved my problem of grunting and groaning to place it on the roof of the car, it was still heavy to carry and I never quite got the air out of it—so it never made it back into the carrier that came with the kayak, rendering it pointless.
When I saw the Oru Kayak, I knew this may be what I’ve been waiting for. It’s light. As in, carry it with one arm, light. At 20 pounds, I could see myself carrying it from the car to the water with ease. And setup time? Three minutes and I’m on the water. It sounded ideal. My only concerns would be how it handled on the water, did it tip more easily, and how hard it was to paddle. I knew from experience that my Advanced Elements Kayak felt safe and sturdy with its buoyancy, but it also was harder to paddle because I sat so low in the water. I was eager to try the Oru Kayak and compare it.
And as often happens, once I started looking for easier ways to get out and spend a day or more on the water, other gear came to my attention. Here’s a look at what I found.
Note that there may be affiliate links in this article and I may earn a commission if you make a purchase, but my experiences are true to what I discovered using these products.
Oru’s Inlet Kayak was designed for ease of setup and lightweight making it their most portable kayak yet. It’s ideal for anyone wanting a quick getaway and the enjoyment of a kayak but doesn’t have the storage space or want to transport it on top of a vehicle. It’s also perfect for anyone wanting a light and easy-to-carry kayak. It sets up in just a few minutes allowing you to get on the water in record time. The ride is smooth and the light shell makes paddling easier than with inflatable kayaks that sit low in the water. With the Oru Pack, you can even check it on an airplane to take with you on a trip.
Holds up to 275 lbs.
9’6” foot kayak
Weighs 20 pounds
The kayak held up to most everything I imagined: easy setup, the ride is secure, fits in the backseat of my car. It’s not made for whitewater; still, it’s perfect for a day on the lake or a smooth river. The only downside I could see was that the seat and footrest are fragile as they’re just strapped in. Loved the large cockpit with plenty of space for gear, a small cooler, or even a dog or child. Very easy to paddle and navigate.
The NOMATIC 30L Travel Bag is the perfect go anywhere, do anything bag. It is made with durable, water-resistant materials and zippers. The patented strap system allows you to go from duffel to backpack carry for those times when you need more flexibility. The shoe compartment has a ventilated door with a water-resistant flap allowing you to choose if you want to keep water out or allow for ventilation.
Watch this video to see all the functions of the NOMATIC 30L Travel Bag.
This is the ultimate bag, loaded with compartments. Use it as a duffle for a day at the lake, or backcountry camping since there’s the option to use it as a backpack. In addition to hauling equipment camping, I plan to use it as my carry-on for travel.
Buy it on Amazon.com: NOMATIC 30L Travel Bag- Duffel/Backpack, Carry-on Size for Airplane Travel, Everyday Use with TSA Compliant Built in Laptop and Tablet Sleeve, Water Resistant, Ventilated Pockets
CampStove 2+ – a small, packable thermoelectric stove that can burn biomass (wood+twigs) and charge your cell phone. AND it’s smokeless.
I’m not wild about toting propane or worrying if I’ll run out so I love the idea of using twigs. The single burner is great for making coffee in the morning or a pan of stew for dinner. I like the idea that this cookstove uses twigs – but am thrilled that it’s able to create electricity to charge a phone or use the attached lamp. This is brilliant!
If you’re heading into the great outdoors and want a good cup of joe, take a different approach with ESPRO’s Ultralight Travel Press. This compact, vacuum-insulated, and almost-unbreakable French press makes a much better option for camping than traditional glass or plastic presses. You can use the multifunctional Espro to prepare your coffee and then pour it into a mug, or you can drink directly out of the stainless steel carafe like a travel mug — it has a unique filtering system that keeps the coffee from becoming gritty or bitter once separated. This press makes 10 ounces of coffee at a time but holds up to 15 ounces as a mug.
ECO Adventure Kit – Bento Wet Box
Hot dogs roasting on a stick and a can of veggies warmed up over a fire used to be the standard camping meal but with the right tools, campers can serve up five-star meals in the middle of the woods. The ECO Adventure Kit includes a stainless-steel, stacking container that has three separate compartments for food, a stainless-steel clamping pot-grip handle, and a compact stainless-steel spork. Along with being able to cook food in the stacking containers over a propane flame, they can also be used in a cast-iron Dutch Oven to create delicious, individual meals like mini pizzas, cobblers, and breakfast cinnamon rolls that even the pickiest eater can get behind.
This is ideal for a day trip to the beach. I love that it’s made of stainless steel instead of plastic. The containers stack and then lock together allowing me to bring a salad, some fruit, and soup (to heat up over the camp stove), and fit easily into a small cooler. My life needs more of these to use at home as well for meal prepping.
This small, rechargeable headlamp is the ideal travel light. Weighing only 50g, the compact headlamp provides 200 Lumens, 40 hours of battery life, and 4 different light modes (White spot + red flood + strobe) — this headlamp is great for reading in a hotel room, day hikes, and commuting after dusk. Recharge via micro USB.
This lightweight, rechargeable headlamp is perfect for getting around after dark or reading in the tent. No need to remember batteries.
- Packable parachute nylon hammock
- Measure 4.5’x8′ and weighs 13.4 ounces
- Weight limit 450 lbs
- Two included ropes for securing with minimal effort
- Contrasting stuff sack doubles as a pocket when you’re lounging
These Revolutionary Trailhead Pants are made for Adventure. Coalatree’s Trailhead Adventure Pants are waterproof and stain-resistant. Made out of moisture-wicking material with antimicrobial properties, these pants will look and feel fresh after a long hike. They’re also ridiculously comfy no matter how you choose to move your body with the patent-pending four-way stretch material. The Trailhead Adventure Pants feature a stylish ankle length, slim fit with unisex sizing that looks great on both men and women. Wear them long or cinch them up with drawstring to create capris These pants weigh just 10.9 ounces. Pack them down small by stuffing them into the front right pocket. Coalatree’s factory partners are all Bluesign Certified and use the best available textile technology.
These are officially my favorite pants whether hiking, kayaking, or running around town. They’re super comfortable, water-resistant, and the front pockets are deep. I love that they’re made from recycled plastic and coffee grounds, too.
Sea to Summit just launched lightweight tents – available in lightweight or freestanding models (1-3 person in size).
- THE ORIGINAL 100% ODOR-PROOF BAGS – Conceal and contain even the most pungent smells. Leak-proof, tear, and puncture-resistant.
- AIR-TIGHT DOUBLE-TRACKED ZIP CLOSURE – Sturdy zippers lock in odors and keep contents fresh. Perfect for travel, camping, and hiking. Also ideal at home for freezing, boiling and sous vide cooking.
- MADE IN THE USA – HIGHEST QUALITY – Constructed from heavy-duty 4mm medical-grade nylon-reinforced plastic.
- REUSABLE – Simply wash, air-dry, and reuse again and again. BPA-free.
Available in Men’s and Women’s — the 700-fill down jacket is uniquely constructed with signature Stormlock fabric, a water-resistant, windproof shell to keep the elements out and the warmth in. Folds into a small stuff sack for easy packability and travel.