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.
Buy it on Amazon.com: Oru Kayak Beach LT Folding Portable Lightweight Kayak – for Day Trips, Picnics, and Casual Fun with Family and Friends …: Sports & Outdoors
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
Bonus: NOMATIC Packing Cubes ($39.99): Pack more than you think is possible with the Packing Compression Cubes from NOMATIC. Each packing cube uses a zippered compression system to condense your clothes and maximize your space by 50 percent. Made with strong, water-resistant, lightweight rip-stop nylon.
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!
Buy it on Amazon.com: BioLite CampStove 2 Wood Burning and USB Charging Camping Stove: Sports & Outdoors
Brand Factory products feature innovative materials with thoughtful and elevated design, Brand Factory holds functionality and sustainability at its core. Look no further than the Moka coffee cup made out of coffee grounds and husks, or the Suga water bottle made out of sugarcane.
Moka – It’s printed right on the side of the cup, “This cup is made from repurposed coffee grounds and husk that would otherwise be discarded.” Moka is recyclable, reusable, sustainable, freezer and dishwasher safe, BPA free and yes, made with coffee ground and husk. Moka is also heat resistant, barista friendly with 12 and 16 ounce sizes, and fits into standard cup holders. Available in the earthy shades of Sand and Pebble. Available for $8 – 10 at https://ourbrandfactory.com/pages/moka
Suga – “This reusable bottle is made from renewable sugarcane” is printed on the side of this recyclable, sustainable, BPA free, 22 ounce water bottle that features an easy carry handle. Durable enough for the freezer and dishwasher, Suga is available in four earthy tones: Sand, Sky, Ocean, and Pebble. Available for $10 at https://ourbrandfactory.com/pages/suga.
Beyond using unique materials, Brand Factory’s low-waste design process only uses the materials needed without sacrificing function to create a healthy balance of form and innovation. Brand Factory also manages its own factories, so every aspect of the production cycle is sustainable and ethical. What’s more and especially important right now, these sustainably produced products are also extremely affordable.
Selfcare doesn’t have to stop when you’re on the go. WanderFull makes stylish water bottle bags that are perfect for running to the gym, walking the dog, or watching kids’ sports tournaments. The water-resistant pockets will store your water bottle, phone, keys, wallet, and more while never sacrificing style. It’s perfect for moms on the go! Features include:
· Interchangeable adjustable straps that work great as a crossbody bag
· The waterproof main compartment fits up to 32 oz. water bottle, wine bottle, reusable coffee cup, or flask, and prevents leaking of liquids on your phone or Airpods
· Large, double-zipper pockets for storing all the essentials
· Offered in navy blue, black matte, black patent, army green, gold, and white patent
STNKY Bags are the best way to sort, store, carry, wash and dry everything from sweaty gym clothes, laundry when you travel, scrubs, and just about anything else that gets dirty or sweaty. STNKY Bags lock in those germs and smell from your gear while you go about your day. Then, when it’s laundry time, there’s no need to touch your dirty stuff. Just open the bottom zipper, turn the bag inside out and your STNKY Bag becomes a wash bag. Throw it in the washer and dryer, bag and all, and you’ll be ready to go again!
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.
Buy it on Amazon.com: Ecolunchbox 3-in-1 Stainless Steel Bento Bowl, Tri Bento: Lunch Boxes: Kitchen & Dining
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.
Buy it on Amazon.com: BioLite HeadLamp 200 (Moss Green): Sports & Outdoors
- 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
Buy it on Amazon.com: Coalatree Escalante Hammock: Sports & Outdoors
Trailhead Adventure Pants from Coalatree
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.
Buy it on Trailhead Adventure Pant – Durable, Lightweight, Waterproof, Packable for Outdoors, Travel, Climbing, Hiking (Small (Slim-fit), Gray) at Amazon Men’s Clothing store
Cloud UP 2 People Ultralight Camping Tent
Rainproof fabric and process
Using enough wear-resistant ultra-lightweight 10D nylon tartan material, plus a waterproof coating Waterproof about 2000 +, enough to meet your needs of casual camping against rain.
The redefined hook with two-way cross structure design
Opposite rotation cross hooks, one-handed one-step assembly to enhance hook stability.
Double self-supporting ultra-light tent; ultra-light polyester mesh
With a custom floor mat, you can use the outer tent to build a simple canopy for separate use Inner tent can also be used alone, more comfortable ventilation on all sides; composed of 10D nylon breathable fabric and B3 polyester mesh to balance windproofness and breathability.
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.